Re: Stereotypes and reputations

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Sat Aug 06 2005 - 14:42:26 EDT

janice matchett wrote:

> *Tim, you wrote:* /"..It was in that sense that I answered that
> Plantinga doesn't hold that there is an inherent philosophical
> requirement for separate creation of species/./I knew that Alvin
> doesn't think some parts of evolution happened but I don't think he
> claims that it couldn't, from a philosophical standpoint (which the
> latest article suggests)..."
> /*## *That's correct. But there is a bottom line in all these
> discussions. If I read your perspective correctly, we are coming from
> *opposite* *worldviews*. I see the worldview of people like Dawkins,
> Spieth, Ruse, Ayala, Gould,, to be *inherently* irrational.

Not more or less irrational than any other worldview.

> Given the view they hold that they are mere accidents of the
> evolutionary process, they can't even be 100% sure that their thoughts
> are valid - yet, in their cognitive dissonance, they make "just so"
> statements.

First of all the phrase 'mere accidents of an evolutionary process'
requires some additional thought because otherwise one may as well hold
that we are 'mere accidents of a creative process' as well. The fact is
that we observe evolutionary processes, we observe the fact of common
descent, so we infer based on our best evidence that we are the outcome
of a long process of contingency and law. Not just 'mere accidents' per
se, but a combination which shows inherently the possibity of choice as
well as law like conditions.

Even if we were the outcome of a creative process, we cannot be sure
that our thoughts are 100% valid either, because we cannot be certain
that the creator would be rational. In other words, we may believe we
are rational but there is no logical foundation for such a conclusion.
What we can do is test if our thougst are valid when compared to the
thoughts of others, as well as when tested through logic and scientific
inquiry. Thus we have come to realize that the lawlike behaviors exist,
and while they may exist only in our imagination, they are consistent
and allow us to be effective.

> Gould, for instance, said: " If you replayed evolution on this planet,
> the chances of getting any species as smart as humans­ smart enough to
> reflect on itself­are "extremely small." .. "we are, whatever our
> glories and accomplishments, a momentary cosmic accident that would
> never arise again if the tree of life could be replanted from seed and
> regrown under similar conditions." To insist otherwise, to see
> evolution as a natural progression toward intelligent forms of life,
> is to indulge a "delusion" grounded in "human arrogance" and desperate
> "hope."
> As I posted previously, orthodox Christians begin with the warranted
> (because it's rational) presupposition that *God is.*

How do you know this to be rational? There is no logical nor rational
reason why this is correct or even warranted.

> He has spoken; He has created the universe; He has spoken it into
> existence. ... any other proposition is irrational.

That by itself is an irrational premise.

> ...Gould's *Materialism gives us a theory which explains everything
> else in the whole universe, but which makes it impossible to believe
> that our thinking is valid. That’s because an accident cannot think of
> itself in any objective sense*.

If that is the case then we should equally well conclude that a created
object cannot think of itself in any objective sense either. But your
conclusion that materialsim gives us an impossibility to believe that
our thinking is valid is incorrect, or at least it is as correct as
stating that our creation makes it impossible to believe that our
thinking is valid, unless we make presuppositions about the nature of
the creator. But that is based on the outcome that we believe that we
are rational beings. So can rationality not be explained in terms of
chance and lawlike behavior? If the answer is no then why should we
believe that rationality can be explained via creation when we have no
way to infer the level of rationality of our creator? What if our
creator were inherently irrational for instance, how would we know?

> Consider Lewis’s words: “In order to think, we must claim for our
> reasoning a validity which is not credible if our own thought is
> merely a function of our brain, and our brains are a by-product of
> irrational, physical processes.” ....[the] materialist, naturalist
> ..say[s] there is a naturalistic explanation for everything. *How can
> they know what they are saying is true?*

They don't for the same reason a christian cannot know that what they
are saying is true. But one can at least provide for tests to establish,
to the best of our abilities that our world appears to be rational.

> They are making their claim with a brain that supposedly results from
> *a chance collision of atoms* that came out of the primordial soup 8
> billion years ago. .."

As opposed to a contingent act of a creator? What's the difference really?

While I understand your argument for rationality I also believe it is
inherently flawed in many ways, first of all it assumes a strawman
version of the materialistic position, secondly it presumes the
existence of a rational creator. What is the difference between such a
creator being God and such a creator being Nature? In other words, could
nature itself not be the origin of our rationality if we assume that
nature is rational? In other words, nature provides us with sufficient
lawlike behavior to explain our own rationality.

That's why I find claims that other philosophical positions are somehow
irrational but one's own isn't, to be well, irrational.
Received on Sat Aug 6 14:44:00 2005

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