The “Evolutionary Worldview”

PRATT.

The forces that produced our brains may not have had a mind, but they did emphasise ‘truth knowledge’, because being able to correctly perceive and make sense of the world around you has immense survival benefit. It can literally be a matter of life and death. So natural selection favours those individuals that can see a branch move in a certain way and deduce that there is a leopard on it.

A divine creator, on the other hand, may have specifically intended that our senses do not give us correct information, and our brains do not come to correct conclusions. They might prevent us from seeing their agents moving among us, or ensure our brains are wired so that we don’t realise we’re inhabiting a simulation and most of the world doesn’t actually exist; or that we mistakenly conclude that “God is Good” when the opposite is the case.

So our foundation for knowledge is based on survival, while yours has no basis at all.

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Your first assumption isn’t really an assumption - it can be tested. For your second assumption, there are plenty of people whose faculties were degraded or lost after maturity, who know that their senses are not reasonably accurate. That there are sounds they can no longer hear, that there are objects they can no longer see, that there are aromas they can no longer detect. Your second assumption is too strong. Neither assumption is as unverifiable as any of PDPrice’s assumptions.

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Well it is an assumption, but an inescapable one. I’d have to use my ability to reason to test my ability to reason, but if my reasoning is systematically flawed in some way, how could I believe that I am correctly understanding the test or it’s results? You can’t use reason to justify reason. But what is the alternative than to use reason as if it was trustworthy? Stop reasoning entirely? Become unreasonable? The fact is reason cannot be justified, it must be taken as an axiom. In so far as you are reasoning at all, you are making that assumption implicitly. Which you would have to do to begin testing your reasoning, hence arriving at a circular argument.

PDprice’s problem lies in thinking he has found some way of escaping this assumption by just just believing on faith that there is a God and it has made his reasoning reliable. But in making that assumption, he’s employing reason.
But PDprice is of course, just like the rest of us, another ground ape. Who once upon a time was, like all of us, a little child who knew next to nothing about the world, and who then later discovered the Bible and the Christianity he now believes. During this period he went through his life, having implicitly trusted both his senses(like when he trusts his eyes are correctly seeing God’s word on paper, and copy-pasted into posts on this website), and trusting his ability to reason about the world, without God being at any point assumed in any way, consciously or unconsciously, implicity or explicitly. And with these unavoidable implicit assumptions he at some point was “converted” to the conclusion that this book he’s seeing with his accurate eyes, was effectively written by God. Thus PDprice have lived, and still is in actuality, living his life making the same foundational assumptions I am. This God-stuff is all just nonsense he’s piled on stuff later and now insists are his foundations.

He did not, and couldn’t, get to his position, without first implicitly making the assumptions I am. They are unavoidable.

Falsification - you may not be able to show that your reasoning is working correctly, but you may be able to show yourself that it isn’t.

I’m not sure that he is :slightly_smiling_face:

But that’s based on our views, not his.

I have yet to see a creationist or IDer apply their ‘logic’ to other peoples’ conclusions and views as well as their own. Doing so highlights a major flaw in their ‘logic’:

Evolution is correct, and evolution is believed to be correct: Consistent. Evolution may not necessarily lead to humans with trustworthy reasoning abilities, but if it did, this would be the result.

Evolution is correct, but creation is believed to be correct: Consistent. Evolution led to (some) humans with limited reasoning ability, and they have not (yet) determined the true nature of reality.

Creation is correct, and creation is believed to be correct: Consistent. God made us so that we would see reality as it is, and we do.

Creation is correct, but evolution is believed to be correct: Inconsistent. God made us so that we would see reality as it is, but instead (some) people come to false conclusions about reality.

There are ways around that last problem (the fall, etc), but they all undermine PDPrice’s assumptions. The existence of people who disagree with him refutes his argument.

But how can I trust that I have shown that, if I am to understand that result through application of my reasoning?

Suppose I obtain some sort of reasoning-testing machine that outputs to a green or red LED depending on whether I have correctly(according to the machine) reasoned on some given problem. I now have to correctly reason the meaning of a green or red lamp.
But if I could in principle be somehow systematically reasoning incorrectly, then how can I trust my interpretation of the machine’s output? And we haven’t even got to how I can trust the machine. Suppose I made it myself. Then it’s internal function is dependent on my own understanding and reasoning, which could be flawed in some way I do not myself understand. Suppose I relegated that to someone else, how do I know they have made it correctly?

No, there really is no way out of this. No-one can avoid this absolutely foundational assumption.

PDPrice is of course welcome to deny his birth as an infant, his life as a child, and him coming to believe in Christianity and the Bible later in his life, and insist that he somehow just knew the contents of the Bible even before he even came across the book.

Maybe if he insists on it so intensely sweat builds up on his forehead, he could start to believe that himself. I have zero hope of convincing presuppositionalists of anything. It is a hermetically sealed philosophy since they take it as axiomatic that any alternative is impossible.

Yes, and that’s exactly the problem with his kind of presuppositionalism. It consists of exactly all the presuppositions that would make it impossible for him to discover if he is wrong.

Not from his position though, because he just has another presupposition that explains why those people exist. That’s the problem with a person who does not share the principle of modesty in making assumptions. Nothing prevents them from just assuming whatever needs to be assumed to explain away any apparent contradiction, disconfirming evidence, or counter-argument.

I think there is a fundamental disconnect is lost in these conversations.

For (most) Christians, we believe that there is a God, who interacts with us “spiritually”. One of the implications of this is that God can teach us, without going through our normal, “natural”, reasoning process. (There is significant differences in how, to what extent, different Christian’s believe this happens).

Obviously, atheists don’t believe this happens. Given this fundamental difference, if we are to have good conversation, we have to realize this disconnect exists, and seek to find common ground in spite of it. For the atheists, pointing out to Christians that they cannot of this kind of knowledge, is essentially calling a fundamental part of their faith into question. For Christians, suggesting that because they have this knowledge, that all scientists that disagree with them about science have to be wrong and biased is equally as offensive.

Just something to think about.

I should point out, that while I’m jumping into this conversation, I’m doing it as it’s something I see regularly at Peace Science that pulls us apart.

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Yes. I am in fact doing that. I think your faith in that proposition, that you have some sort of trustworthy internal line to God, is without any rational justification. It is just an assumption you make.

Common ground can not be found when one of your foundational assumptions is blocking the path.

The only common ground that can exist is if we agree on a set of principles for how to gain knowledge which are neutral with respect to the existence of God. That means they don’t just assume he exists, nor do they assume he does not.

These principles should make it possible to discover whether God exist, but they can not be to assume the impossibility of the existence of God(or evidence for his existence), nor to assume he doesn’t exist, nor to just axiomatically assume that God does exist and is influencing your brain.

That’s what common, epistemologically neutral ground would look like, and I am standing on it. Please come join me and we can proceed from here.

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Neither of these assumptions are founded on anything. There is no reason to believe that evolution would, or could, produce creatures with these features you describe. The only things that matter in evolution are primarily 1) drift and to a lesser extent 2) selection, both of these acting upon mutations that turn out to be directional and non-random, making the whole thing a sham.

This is my point. In my worldview, it makes sense to assume what I do about human ability to know things. In your worldview, you’re simply taking a blind leap of faith in man, despite a worldview saying man has no intrinsic value and was not created for any purpose.

This is bizarre. The existence of people who refuse to submit to God proves God does not exist? Or the Bible is wrong? I really don’t follow this. The Fall doesn’t remove our ability to reason, but it does mean human hearts are wicked and are in rebellion against God, meaning in general people are against God and do not want to submit to the Truth. God acted to remedy this by way of the Cross, but only those people who accept this and submit to God are even capable of discerning spiritual truths, since these come from God, not from nature.

The condition we find ourselves in today, with creation being correct and evolution believed to be correct, is exactly what the Bible prophesied would happen (or Peter, to be specific) in 2 Peter 3. This “problem” you speak of is actually a confirmation of biblical prophecy going back 2000 years.

I do my own research. I know I haven’t been lied to, because I track these things back to their source. Everything I posted there is accurate. If you don’t realize that, perhaps it is you who have been lied to.

Yes, I agree that it is unavoidable that we must go through life trusting our senses and reasoning abilities. That in no way guarantees that we have true beliefs, or even the ability to arrive at them.

The difference between my worldview and yours is that within my worldview, my ability to know is based upon a foundation: the fact that God, who created me, also created everything else, and has the power to sustain what he created in an understandable way. He created me with the ability to understand, and he created a cosmos capable of being understood.

You have none of these. Your belief in the reliability of your senses and reasoning is a blind religious leap with no God to support them. “survival advantage” is not “truth knowledge”, and it never will be. No amount of bluster and faith statements will change that. And in the real world of genetics (which drives “evolution”), survival advantage is really a side issue in the first place. The main driver of evolution is just plain old drift. That’s what neutral theory is all about, and, as I’ve said, neutral theory is the accepted view in population genetics.

You have to have blind faith in unadulterated luck, and I’m not that superstitious.

The question of whether God exists, is obviously going to be a point of disagreement between us, as will some of our foundational assumptions. I have no interest in trying to resolve those.

My interest, in the context of Peaceful Science, is to have good conversation, and to learn as it relates to science. I think if we avoid focusing on our differences and seek to understand each other, we all gain. (And who knows. Maybe by seeking to learn, our foundational assumptions get changed ).

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That’s right, that’s why they’re called assumptions.

Sure there is. Those reasons are not supposed to serve as justifications for the ability to trust our reasoning(that can’t be done, they have to be assumed for everyone, both you and me), but there are in fact such reasons, such as the straightforward idea that making decisions on accurate information is better than inaccurate information.

Even were the two premises in that statement true(the first one is incoherent, the second is using questionable terms with multiple interpretations you haven’t defined), the conclusion you state wouldn’t actually follow.

Even if evolution was “primarily” due to genetic drift, and “to a lesser extent” due to selection(it isn’t clear what measure of quantity you use to arrive at these proportions), and even if mutations were somehow “directional and non-random”(whatever you mean by that), it simply doesn’t follow that “the whole thing” is a sham. A sham is a kind of deliberately perpetrated hoax. But the whole thing is that evolution is not being deliberately perpetrated by anyone for some purpose or to achieve some end. Of course, something that actually occurs, which you appear to be granting for the sake of argument, thus really does occur, in which case it doesn’t make logical sense to say it’s a sham.

Most of the things you say are borderline nonsensical on even cursory inspection. Apparently you just have this intense need to signal your disapproval of anything related to biological evolution. In the light of typical creationistic propaganda about evolutionary biology it isn’t hard to see why:

That statement implies a circular argument. In your “worldview”, that is to say if we join you in making your assumptions, it makes sense to make your assumptions. Well congratulations.

An inescapable one that everyone, including you, are implicitly making every instant of their lives. In so far as you spend any time cogitating at all, you’ve made it already. You couldn’t even proceed to try to kill yourself by reaching for a gun, pointing to your head and pulling the trigger, without having had to make it.

My “worldview” doesn’t actually say that. Those are conclusions drawn from philosophical and scientific investigations. Though it’s also irrelevant to the matter at hand. There’s nothing about humans having “intrinsic value and purpose” or not, that would entail anything about the reliability of our senses or critical faculties. Even on your view we know this is true, since you do not think the value or purpose of human beings is tied up to how reliable thinkers they are. For example infants are not exactly paragons of logic and reason, and yet I’m pretty sure Christians of all stripes agree they have immense intrinsic value and purpose.

Look, I think you should take a break because you’ve been reduced to blatant incoherence. The things you are saying are so nonsensical you can’t even accurately describe your own position.

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Thank you for stating this. I’m glad to see we at least have some common ground here.

But those are assumptions you are making, in addition to the ones I am making. You’re just piling more on top.

Your ability to make assumptions does not actually “guarantees that we have true beliefs, or even the ability to arrive at them”. Don’t you see the folly of what you’re doing?

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I understand, but I think that willingness to see past the differences has to come from both sides.

Agree’d. And I’d go further. The best discussion actually happens, when for the purpose of the discussion, you set aside your foundational assumptions and have the discussion in the context of the other person’s foundational assumptions.

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Obviously not. It’s also obvious that you’re hiding behind the excuse that anyone who disagrees with you must have rejected something they know to be true and consequently be unable to see other things that you think are truths.

No it isn’t. 2 Peter 3 is about the second coming of Jesus, not about evolution.

Yes there is. Like I said there is no way in hell our species could survive for the length of time it has in the type of rapidily changing environments we have if our cognitive falculties weren’t mostly reliable. Yes, there are some false beliefs that could aid in survival but they are a small subset of all false beliefs. Can we hundred percent know for a fact our faculties are reliable? No. And neither can you. Can you show me that you aren’t actually in a padded room right now and that you aren’t hallucinating all of this? No. But we can rely on probabilities and probability says our cognitive faculties are more likely to be reliable with what we know about human history.

You can’t track to the source something that you haven’t been told about, or have been told doesn’t exist.

But why should I believe you track things to their source? You didn’t track the Lewontin quote to its source, you cited a creationist article instead.

I know I’ve been lied to. I’ve been lied to by creationists and IDers. Thousands and thousands of times. That’s why I know you’ve been lied to as well.

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Accurate information is not needed for survival. Effective information is needed, if any information at all. What information do bacteria possess? Yet, bacteria are more evolutionarily successful than humans. What matters is that you believe what happens to allow you to survive. Nothing more. The ability to grasp lofty abstract notions like “truth” is a luxury your worldview simply cannot reasonably accommodate

What follows is that it’s an intellectually bankrupt worldview based upon mythology. Mutations are not the cause of life or complexity. They are the enemy of it.

That statement implies a circular argument. In your “worldview”, that is to say if we join you in making your assumptions , it makes sense to make your assumptions. Well congratulations.

You have not grasped my argument. I understand it’s circular. Every worldview is circular with respect to starting assumptions. That is indeed unavoidable.

My argument goes further than this. My argument is that we can draw an inference from the fact that we do in fact have to assume our senses are reliable and our ability to reason is effective. We need a worldview that accommodates this. Atheism and materialism cannot. They simply start with a blind leap and they never get beyond that blind leap. Evolution cannot reliably be expected to grant us truth knowledge. The fact that we apparently have the abilities we must assume we do have points to our Creator. All knowledge, and all truth, points to God. Without God, you must become like Pontius Pilate, and say in defeat, “What is truth?”

Look, I think you should take a break because you’ve been reduced to blatant incoherence. The things you are saying are so nonsensical you can’t even accurately describe your own position.

This is what it looks like when somebody gets upset and resorts to namecalling instead of logical argumentation.