tiger kills evolution or naturalism

Encountered a "new" argument that we haven't addressed? Post it here.

tiger kills evolution or naturalism

Postby 7od » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:49 pm

a while back i was listening to an old episode of the non prophets (back when it was just matt and dennis) and an anti-evolution argument came up that i heard again in another non-ACA related podcast. I haven't heard the argument since, but i do think it's worth raising from the dead because it's just too beautiful to let die.

the argument, at least in the form i'm familiar with, was brought up by alvin plantinga in a lecture tour he was doing back in '03 titled "An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism." the gist of the argument is this:

natural selection does not care whether or not a belief is true, it only cares whether or not it is useful for feeding, fighting, fleeing and reproducing. therefore, a naturalist can not say that evolution leads to true beliefs.

example:
"there is a tiger nearby; therefore, I should run like billy-o" might save your hide -- but so could the thought "ah, a big orange thing! If I run away from it, maybe it will be my friend," or "gosh, maybe now would be a good time to work on my mile time." But since all the stupid beliefs keep you alive just as well as the right one, evolutionary processes would promote stupid beliefs as readily as intelligent ones. So if evolution is calling the shots, all of your beliefs might very well fall in the category of "stupid, but effective." source

my thoughts on this:
first lets look at the scenario of the tiger. sure, you could come up with millions of scenarios just like that with both positive and negative repercussions. but the bottom line is that ALL of them would some how have to be driven by natural selection.
if someone always ran away from things in hopes they would become friends; it should follow that they wouldn't be eaten by the tiger. however, under what circumstances would the "i run away from those whom i hope to befriend" gene come about?

secondly, if you are an ATHEIST who is being fed this line of apologetics, just sit back and bask in the irony of the moment. just consider the argument that the CHRISTIAN is trying to use to convince you:
if you except both naturalism and evolution, you would have to except the possibility, that some people might believe things to be true, which are in fact false.

:shock: umm... you mean like christianity?
Last edited by 7od on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
7od
 
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:04 am
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Postby Sans_Deity » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:09 am

Plantinga (as usual) is both correct and incorrect.

On a simple level, natural selection would favor untrue beliefs that proved useful (and I'd argue that religious beliefs are the PRIME example of this) because it is the actions produced by those beliefs that are truly beneficial.

This is clear when we realize that an individual can reach a correct conclusion through flawed reasoning.

While he's correct that there's no reason to presume natural selection would produce intelligence and reasoning that leads to truth - he's wrong to imply that these aren't likely possibilities.

In addition to self awareness, our intelligence provides benefits to promote our survival. In some cases, the stupid or wrong may be best suited to survive but, in general, an accurate understanding of reality would be preferable to an inaccurate one. Because of this, it's likely that intelligence would (gradually) evolve toward 'truth'.

In essence, our brains are truth-finding machines and, as a rule of thumb, the better we are at identifying truth, the more likely we are to survive and thrive.

It's an oversimplification that, in my opinion, does more to explain how religious mentalities have managed to avoid being 'filtered out' than it does to point out any flaw in natural selection.

In short, even where he's correct - that doesn't preclude the rise of true beliefs, it only makes them less relevant than other selection criteria.

-Matt
Sans_Deity
Iron Chariots Admin
 
Posts: 700
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:47 pm
Location: Austin, Tx

Postby 7od » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:58 am

yeah, it doesn't point out any flaw in natural selection. this is just another attempt to make it look like intelligence (and therefore existence) is too hard for evolution by itself (must have been the invisible wizard).

i just can't get over how ironic this argument is. plantinga might as well have been standing there behind the podium saying, "if the atheists are right, then we're wrong!" i accept your argument.
7od
 
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:04 am
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Postby donnyton » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:11 pm

I always found it funny how people miss out on another fundamental part of natural selection--the ability of your offspring to survive and reproduce as well.

While a single stupid belief may help you "get lucky" in the evolutionary game by allowing you to avoid some danger in one case, your next generation may face different dangers, and if they inherit, say, a "gullability gene" that helped you survive in YOUR time, that same trait may prove very harmful to your offspring. And by your offspring, I'm not simply saying your children, I'm takling about your generations and generations to come.

For example, promiscuity thousands of years ago would be immensely beneficial to your reproductive success, whereas today not only does it discourage potential partners from sleeping with you, but bastard children aren't usually born into the most loving, sheltered, caregiving families--and those children will have a much harder time surviving and reproducing than you might. Natural selection isn't just about surviving and reproducing for the individual, it's about perpetuating a line of genes that ensure future survival and reproduction.
"To say that it's not okay to believe in something that may or may not be true is ridiculous. Some people like to have that mystical fantasy in the world. It adds flavor."
donnyton
 
Posts: 923
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:17 am

Postby Thousand » Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:56 am

7od wrote:But since all the stupid beliefs keep you alive just as well as the right one, evolutionary processes would promote stupid beliefs as readily as intelligent ones.

It's pretty obvious that true beliefs are more likely to promote survival than false ones. He's only looking at the belief in one situation. To defeat this argument all you have to do is point out that what matters is what works better on average through out your life, not in only one scenario. It's hard to imagine that he thought this one through very well.
Thousand
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:18 am
Location: Austin, TX

Postby dmc514 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:51 am

Case 1: I think running from tigers will make them my friends. Tigers are faster than us. Ted also thinks running from tiger makes them his friends. One day I see Ted running from a tiger and then see the tiger run down and eat Ted. I am unable to alter my beliefs and continue believing that running from tigers makes them my friends. I do not help others who are running from tigers because I think they want to be his friend too. Eventually the tigers eat a bunch of my friends. But some of us survive.

Case 2: I think running from tigers will make them my friends. Tigers are faster than us. Greg also thinks running from tiger makes them his friends. One day I see Greg running from a tiger and then see the tiger run down and eat Greg. My belief is challenged and I can now revaluate it and change it. (For convenience sake, so I dont have to write all the different beliefs that could have arisen but would lose to this one (the true one)) I come to the conclusion that tigers want to eat me and my friends. We work together to detect, evade and fight off tigers. Though tigers still kill some of us, more of us survive.

Though case 1ers still have a chance of surviving. Natural Selection seems to favor Case 2ers.

Natural Selection favors the ability to reason (Instead of not being able to think about and change your beliefs like in case 1) and reason well (Poor reasoning in this case would be seeing someone get run down by a tiger and thinking it was the running that was the problem so next time you stay put). Once you can reason well discovering the truth becomes easy.

Finally I have a question for Plantinga: If you can survive whether you know the truth or not. What reason would god have for making sure that we know the truth that tigers want to kill us. Obviously he knows that the truth is more useful than a falsity that just happens to allow you to succeed.
dmc514
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:43 am

Postby DukeTwicep » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Just a tip.
I noticed Matt speaking about the benefits of our intelligence. If you want to know more about some possible benefits I'd recommend Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". Dawkins also recommends this book in "The God Delusion" and it's very interesting reading.
DukeTwicep
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:45 pm

Postby Lausten » Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:32 pm

Dawkins recommends Jaynes!! Surely you're joking.
Lausten
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:53 pm
Location: N. Minnesota

Re: tiger kills evolution or naturalism

Postby Fyrebrand » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:35 am

7od wrote:the argument, at least in the form i'm familiar with, was brought up by alvin plantinga in a lecture tour he was doing back in '03 titled "An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism." the gist of the argument is this:

natural selection does not care whether or not a belief is true, it only cares whether or not it is useful for feeding, fighting, fleeing and reproducing. therefore, a naturalist can not say that evolution leads to true beliefs.


Ha ha ha! That's supposed to be an argument against something?

I agree, natural selection doesn't necessarily lead to true beliefs. Was it supposed to? This is like saying:

My eyes don't care whether or not what I see is accurate, they only care about capturing light and sending signals for my brain to interpret. Therefore, an optician can not say that eyesight leads to true beliefs.

or

A bowling ball doesn't care whether or not it hits the pins, it only cares about rolling in the direction it's thrown. Therefore, a bowler can not say that tossing the bowling ball down the lane leads to hitting the pins.


I really have a hard time imagining what the argument is even supposed to be suggesting. Is the assumption that we currently live in a world where there are only true beliefs, and we couldn't have possibly arrived here through evolution? I mean, this guy clearly is mistaken about what evolution is -- thus making his belief about evolution false -- so does that, in itself, disprove evolution or something?
Fyrebrand
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:14 pm


Return to New Arguments

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

cron