Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Evolution is a process, not an imaginary supernatural entity


The Atheist Jew sent me the link to this via email -- Cody’s Black Box.

Cody writes, “If any of my atheist friends have any responses, I would love to hear them,” which is an invitation that I am sure he will be sorry he has made. Cody is a 22-year-old theology student and one of his favorite things to do is to discuss “evidences for God” (though he fails to provide any of those evidences, of course). In his post titled “Where does reason come from?” Cody writes:

I have been thinking about the “Argument from Reason,” which is similar to TAG (Transcendental Argument for God). I posted a sort of overview of this argument on a previous blog.

This argument seeks to show that if there is no God, there can be no rationality. If only the material world exists, we would not be able to trust our own thoughts, which are simply chemical reactions much like how our livers secrete bile. Why would we not, after all, trust the bile instead of the “thoughts” which our brains seem to secrete? However, if there were a Being which was pure reason and outside of the physical world, a mind above it all, He could choose to place some form of rationality in His creation.

The atheist might respond to this argument (as Richard Dawkins did in a recent discussion with John Lennox) by saying that reason would be the perfect thing for evolution to create in animals because it would help them to respond to their surroundings and thus live long and reproduce. Of course, this is beside the point because evolution cannot think to give any creature anything!

Dawkins does not answer how reason could come to be in an atheistic worldview, but gives natural selection its own rational abilities whereby it could purposefully give reason to animals. This isn’t too far off from how theists argue God possessed reason from the beginning and bestowed it to us! Dawkins cannot help but assume that reason exists before rational creatures (because it does), which is the very viewpoint that Christians hold, but which no atheist can hold and be consistent with his/her worldview.

Now to back up to this question that Cody asks, “Why would we not, after all, trust the bile instead of the “thoughts” which our brains seem to secrete?” Stop and THINK about that question for a minute, Cody. Trusting bile is the same thing as trusting gods, golden idols, lucky rabbits’ feet, etc. You can make up your own mind and invent your own ideas about where you want to put your trust. You simply use your reasoning powers to choose to trust an imaginary friend of human invention. You are exhibiting just how irrational and flawed that reasoning can be in many humans. If a perfect god was the provider of human reasoning, there wouldn’t be so many dumbasses in the world.

Then please think about this statement you made, Cody…

Of course, this is beside the point because evolution cannot think to give any creature anything!

I am embarrassed for you, Cody. You are exhibiting your total lack of knowledge about evolution and how it works. Evolution is a process, not an imaginary supernatural entity lke your god, Cody.

24 comments:

Cody said...

Maybe I'm just being a dumb@$$ again, but I didn't notice any places where you interacted with my points (I'm trying to be cute and funny here, not rude or boisterous. I'm not the smack-talking type).

But on a more serious note, I would sincerely like to hear where you think the Argument from Reason goes wrong. If it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, I would be glad to abandon it. I don't mind being corrected when I'm wrong. But first I need to know that I'm wrong.

Maybe I'll propose a modified AfR that doesn't deal with the immaterial mind aspect which is so controversial. How about this--
1. Reason (or logic) is absolute.
2. We as human beings USE reason.
3. Our minds do not make reason up, but we appeal to it as something which is outside of us and before us.
4. Reason, being objective and not created by man, requires a source.
5. God provides the perfect source for reason, being that He is an eternal and omniscient mind and not a material being held by time and space. On the other hand, materialism fails to account for reason in any meaningful way.

Now, if you would like to go through this new argument point-by-point showing me where I am being fallacious in my reasoning, I would truly appreciate it. If you can show me where I'm wrong, it would be a service to me (because I could stop using bad arguments) and to your free-thinking readers (because it would show them how dumb us theists are).

Now, I just want to make a quick couple of points before you try to correct this argument. It could be stated that reason is what our evolved brain creates after noticing patterns in the universe based on the laws which the universe functions by. However, this only pushes the atheist back a step, and doesn't solve the dilemma. Now the atheist must account for the laws of the universe, which are so finely tuned (and rational themselves), that they now must account for something much bigger than human reason. Here, the materialist is at an even bigger loss.

But even if the atheist did try to give the aforementioned response, it wouldn't help him/her very much, because it wouldn't explain how our mind can notice patterns and draw logical conclusions from observing the universe.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Stardust said...

It could be stated that reason is what our evolved brain creates after noticing patterns in the universe based on the laws which the universe functions by.

Exactly. There is no reason to bring delusion into the equation.

However, this only pushes the atheist back a step, and doesn't solve the dilemma.

And making up an imaginary friend does solve things? Maybe in your own brain and "reasoning" but not in actuality.

Now the atheist must account for the laws of the universe, which are so finely tuned (and rational themselves), that they now must account for something much bigger than human reason. Here, the materialist is at an even bigger loss.

First of all Cody, the universe isn't so "fine tuned" as you have stated. The universe is actually quite chaotic and disorganized. It is only pure luck that asteroids keep missing us and one of these days we will be hit by a big one again, it's only a matter of time...and your god will not stop it. He never does...because God is Imaginary.

Stardust said...

I see Cody that you didn't respond over at GifS where there are many more readers who would take you to task. In case you simply missed it, I cross-posted this over there.

Cody said...

You can't make a very persuasive argument when you just assume what you are trying to prove in the argument. When you assert that I'm just making fairy tales up (an assertion yet to be proven, but which you take for granted), you show that you are the one who refuses to be open-minded, whereas I am asking for correction and trying to seek the truth, even if it comes from a group of people (atheists) which I generally disagree with.

Secondly, I didn't argue that we make up an imaginary friend to fill in some sort of gap. I said clearly that rationality and laws require a source. Materialism does not provide the source, and it also gives us no good reason to trust in our own rationality. Once again, you have not really dealt with my argument. Which of my 5 points is false? And can you show me why it/they are false?

Also, I don't know what GifS is. Can you explain?

Stardust said...

Cody, you are not being rational. You are the one claiming that an imaginary friend gives us what we need to reason. You have not proven that this imaginary friend or outside source exists. You are making the claim, you are the one who must prove this.

As for our human ability to reason. It is a natural trait, one that comes from our thinking minds. Ourselves...no outside imaginary friends.

Baconeater said...

Cody have you even tried to watch the links I provided for you?

Also, as for an open mind, do you have an open mind when it comes to idol worshiping, or Thor, or Zeuss?

If not, why not?

Stardust said...

Cody, let me get to some of your points...

1. Reason (or logic) is absolute.

I disagree.

2. We as human beings USE reason.

People have different abilities to reason. Yes, we use reason, but oftentimes that reasoning is flawed, absurd or just plain wrong according to tradition and what is acceptable to the society in which one lives...so therefore, your first point is wrong.

3. Our minds do not make reason up, but we appeal to it as something which is outside of us and before us.

Reason is inside our own brains. It is not something that comes from an outside source.


4. Reason, being objective and not created by man, requires a source.

Why? Because you cannot grasp that the human mind is so complex on its own? This is the same flawed "reasoning" god believers use in saying that the universe is so complex that there must have been a creator. Reason is a function of the human mind. When a person dies, his reason does not live on. Reason is not a separate entity, nor does it come from some cosmic hard drive in another dimension telling us what to do and how to think.


5. God provides the perfect source for reason,

Makes sense to the god believer because they make their gods in their own image using their own minds and reason, whatever you want it to be.

being that He is an eternal and omniscient mind

Evidence?

On the other hand, materialism fails to account for reason in any meaningful way.

Not to you because you must have an immediate and simple explanation for things you do not understand. Materialism fails to account to many things to the god believer because it pokes holes in your whole imaginary friend belief system.

Cole said...

Cody,

Why do the laws of logic require a source? They exist necessarily right? Since they exist necessarily I'm not sure I understand why they need a source. I think you would agree that if God exists then He exists necessarily and therefore He doesn't require any further explanation. Why should I think so with the laws of logic? If they require something to ground their existence why doesn't God need something to explain His existence?

Moreover, logical explanations are infinite in number so it would be hard to exsure that one has the best possible explanation. The argument from reason doesn't prove that God exists. God is just one possible explanation.

Cole said...

Cody,

You also said that God is outside time and space. This would make Him timeless. But how can God act or chose do anything if He is timeless? We exist within time.

Motion is change in location over time. Without time there is no change in location, and so no motion.

No time no motion.

Since there is no motion without time God can't move or act if He is timeless. He can't do anything and therefore He can't choose to create, act, or think. In order for God to act or move or choose to do something He would have to be in time since there is no motion without time. If He's timeless He becomes frozen.

A timeless God cannot move or do anything. A timeless God could not have created the universe.

Not only that but causality is a temporal concept. No time, no cause and effect.
Since there is no time at t=0 of the big bang there is no cause. The is no God.

a) If X creates Y, then X must exist temporally prior to Y

b) But nothing could exist temporally prior to time itself (for that would involve existing at a time when there was no time, which is a contradiction)

c) It is impossible for time to have been created

d) Time is an essential component to the universe

e) Therefore, it is impossible for the universe to have been created

f) It follows that God does not exist

Since there is no God then He can't be the foundation for the laws of logic.

Krystalline Apostate said...

1. Reason (or logic) is absolute.
Absolutely what, exactly?
2. We as human beings USE reason.
Not everybody does.
3. Our minds do not make reason up, but we appeal to it as something which is outside of us and before us.
Incorrect. It is a tool that stems directly from the human brain, nowhere else.
4. Reason, being objective and not created by man, requires a source.
No, because words like 'reason', 'objective', etc. are our interpretation of the world around us.
5. God provides the perfect source for reason, being that He is an eternal and omniscient mind and not a material being held by time and space. On the other hand, materialism fails to account for reason in any meaningful way.
This is the Lewisian ploy of the false dilemma. There are multiple versions of materialism: a broad & hasty generalization dishonestly sidesteps any & all possible nuances, & indulges in wrongful reductionism.
Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that anything does exist outside of time/space. Also, alluding to some odd quote from psalms is an indirect inference that your book of fables is actually scientific, which falls apart on simple examination.
It could be stated that reason is what our evolved brain creates after noticing patterns in the universe based on the laws which the universe functions by. However, this only pushes the atheist back a step, and doesn't solve the dilemma. Now the atheist must account for the laws of the universe, which are so finely tuned (and rational themselves), that they now must account for something much bigger than human reason. Here, the materialist is at an even bigger loss.
In a word, ridiculous.
The laws of the universe are far from 'finely tuned'. Cody's response to that is to point out the 'odds' against life existing (the odds are 100%, because here we are), as if his deity is some mustachioed dealer w/a straw hat & a garter on his arm. I keep saying 'hit me!', but no cards get laid on the table.
& how, prey tell, is reason larger than the universe, or vice versa? Neither of these constants can be measure against the other, thereby breaking both the analogy as well as the 'dilemma'.

Cole said...

Cody,

Most philosophers agree that the existence of the laws of logic exist of metaphysical necessity -- that is, they cannot fail to exist. Or to put it another way, they exist in all possible worlds. Why do they think this? For a number of reasons. One reason is that since the laws of logic seem to be timeless, spaceless, and acausal, then it would seem that they are immune to the conditions of concrete existence that render the latter contingent (e.g, if they're timeless, then they neither come to be nor pass away; if they're acausal, then they seem immune from things causing them to come to be and pass away, etc.) The laws of logic seem to hold of logical necessity. They are not just true, but necessarily true and therefore true in all possible worlds. It's natural to think they exist in all possible worlds (otherwise, there might be a possible world in which the law of non-contradiction is false). But if so -- and here's the punchline -- laws of logic don't need an explanation for their existence in terms of something beyond themselves. For they can't fail to exist; if the reason why the laws of logic exist is because it's metaphysically impossible for them to fail to exist, then one can hardly ask for a better reason for their existence than that.

Cody said...

Cole-- Just so no one thinks I didn't deal with your arguments, I saw them on my own blog first and responded there. People are welcome to visit and read our discussion.

Stardust-- Thanks for going through the argument point-by-point. I think that makes the arguing process much more on topic.

You disputed that reason is absolute because "People have different abilities to reason." I said myself that our individual reasoning isn't perfect, but that the laws of logic themselves are in fact absolute, regardless of how well we use them. To say that the laws of logic are not absolute is to argue that, for instance, the law of non-contradiction is only kind of true. I don't think you can argue with my first point, so long as I am careful to define what I mean. And if the laws of logic are absolute, and we just use them (albeit imperfectly), it would seem that they require an ultimate source.

Both Stardust and K. Apostate took me to task for what I mean by fine-tuning, though for different reasons (btw, Dawkins acknowledges fine-tuning, he just doesn't believe God did it, though he admits that it gives the appearance of a Designer). As for K's response, I don't think God is some blackjack dealer. When people talk about fine-tuning at such-and-such odds, they are assuming materialism. God can do anything He wants to, so it would be silly to give odds for whether or not things will work out. But if there is no God, we can question the probability of why the universe allows for life, why our planet has just the right climate, in the perfect place in our solar system, with just the right size sun, and in just the right spot in the galaxy in order for our planet to provide life, etc. Fine-tuning isn't usually used to discuss earth specifically, but it is used to bring up the fact that life in general could not exist if our universe didn't have just the right properties. For the more finite stuff, I recommend the book "the Privileged Planet." If you aren't a fast reader (I'm not) and have to pick and choose what you read, you can watch the documentary on youtube (here's a short sample-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQQm_H7Eo8A).

Cody said...

Baconeater-- I watched the Sagan video. He argued for two minutes that the brain evolved, though he didn't provide any real evidence. Then he jumped into the finer elements of how the brain worked, sharing some things I more or less knew, some things I didn't, but nothing that disproved any of my arguments.

Baconeater said...

Cody there is evidence, lots of it. You choose to ignore the evidence.

Sagan isn't guessing in the video, he was using scientific data to come to the conclusion the brain evolved.

Again, watch Potholer54's series to see the different types of data science uses to confirm evolution.

Stardust said...

But if there is no God, we can question the probability of why the universe allows for life, why our planet has just the right climate, in the perfect place in our solar system, with just the right size sun, and in just the right spot in the galaxy in order for our planet to provide life, etc.

This is pure luck. Just because you can't comprehend such a thing as spontaneous life being formed doesn't mean that a god did it. Humans have been crediting imaginary gods for things they do not understand since the beginning when man evolved enough to reason.

Your questions as to why does not provide evidence. Just as the child finds toys under his Christmas tree and attributes it to "there must be a Santa because there are presents here".

As science is learning via space exploration, there are other possible Earth-like planets in other galaxies that could sustain life. Most likely not life forms such as ours, but life never-the-less.

If you are going to try to put your Intelligent Design theory in the same realm as Science, you must answer the following questions:

What are ID’s scientific predictions?

What are its unifying principles?

What experiments have been done to support your ID theory? WITHOUT THE MYTHOLOGY BOOK.

Stardust said...

Then he jumped into the finer elements of how the brain worked, sharing some things I more or less knew, some things I didn't, but nothing that disproved any of my arguments.

Because, like baconeater states, you simply choose to ignore the evidence and disregard the evidence (or simply do not understand the explanation) because you want to believe in your imaginary friend so badly that it's getting in the way of your "reasoning power".

Krystalline Apostate said...

God can do anything He wants to, so it would be silly to give odds for whether or not things will work out.
But then you go on w/that ridiculous nonsense about 'the odds':
But if there is no God, we can question the probability of why the universe allows for life, why our planet has just the right climate, blah-de-blah-de-blah
I'm going to come right out & call that a load of bullshit.
Further, I'm going to waste some more time pointing out that, as a variant on Hume's argument against design, that you have absolutely NO CRITERION on which to base that upon. You have no examples of a universe that doesn't have 'just the right properties', in fact you have no basis for any of your extravagant claims outside some parroted nonsense culled from a # of ridiculous sources.
If I were you, I'd give up the deep-thinking gig & take up knitting, 'cause you're no good @ it.

tina FCD said...

Wow, interesting comments.

Andrea said...

Perfect climate! And in only 4.5 billion easy years!

Perfect for what, exactly? Billions upon billions of parasites? Because they seem to be doing quite well here.

That Goldilocks mentality actually cheapens the preciousness of life, imo.

Cody said...

Stardust–
ID implements scientific method–
observation:Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI).
hypothesis: Design theorists hypothesize that if objects were designed, they will contain CSI.
experiment: They then seek to find CSI. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity (IC). ID researchers can then experimentally reverse-engineer biological structures to see if they are IC.
conclusion: If they find them, they can conclude design. (source: ideacenter.org)

Please Google Irreducible Complexity or at least watch the film “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” on youtube to understand how this is testable. Irreducible Complexity is a direct response to Darwin’s claim that, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Ralph Seelke is one scientist who has done experiments relevant to ID. He has been monitoring e Coli evolution for 10 years, which is 20,000 generations, which would be comparable to 600,000 years of evolution. He has written and spoken about the results of this monitoring, and they don’t say much for evolution. He has shown that mutations which can be helpful in an environment does occur, but only in small steps. In other words, if an adaptation necessary for a bacteria to live requires multiple steps, the e coli simply cannot do it.

"A requirement for two mutations for evolution to occur remains an evolution-stopper.
Even when a single mutation (in theory) results in a fitness advantage, other mutations may place it on a fitness peak that precludes further evolution." From the powerpoint "What Can Evolution Really Do Pt. III" on http://www2.uwsuper.edu/rseelke/index.htm

In the following paper, Seelke responds to one of his critics:
http://www.discovery.org/a/9951

While this is not the last word on the subject, Seelke is engaged in research that is important and could tell us a lot about evolution in real observable life, instead of the evolution based on speculation which is where we get most of our data on evolution from.

Cole said...

Hey Cody,

I think Stardust is correct in saying there is no testable model of the I.D. movement. Dr. Hugh Ross has interviewed Philip Johnson on this particular issue asking him why he doesn't have a model and he has admitted that he doen't have one. He feels that the time for model building isn't here yet. His strategy of the I.D. movement has been written about in a book called "The Wedge Of Truth"

You can hear the interview at reasons.org. Hugh Ross is a christian scientist who holds to Old Earth Creationism and claims to have a scientifically testable creation model on origins. He calls it the RTB creation model. You can find it in his books. Two of his books give an outline of the model with his predictions:

Creation As Science

More Than A Theory

Stardust said...

Cody, all that babbling and you still have evaded the three specific questions I have asked.

What are ID’s scientific predictions?

What are its unifying principles?

What experiments have been done to support your ID theory?

Giving me "possibilities" and "ifs" are not evidence for the existence of your "divine creator". That is what I am asking. For something to be "intelligently designed" there must first be proof of that creator. Also, you continue to disregard all the mountains upon mountains of evidence that proves evolution to be a FACT. Most people now accept this, and it is only a few loonies who think that the evolutionary process is some sort of "evil" plot.

You point out the theist-influenced "mis-information" for me to read. I was a Christian for more than three decades and am familiar with their resistance to real science and facts. Facts that you think are incompatible with your god beliefs. Most believers have been able to reconcile evolution, science with their god beliefs. That is because they understand it. You tell me to have an open mind, well, it's you Cody who are young and I know that 20 something year-olds think they know everything, but this is something for your own sake, and saving yourself from future embarrassment, that you educate yourself via real scientific sources instead of brainwashing yourself with mythology books.

You probably haven't even read anything at Talk Origins.com, have you? Also, I provide several links to evolutionary websites that are excellent, especially the Evolution on PBS link. It's a great resource, easy to understand.

Stardust said...

I don’t have the time to teach a whole class to you on the subject of evolution. You must do your own research and read for yourself, and not just the theist-based crap that you are filling your brain with.

Here is a short proof of evolution which Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College in British Columbia summarizes so well…and also points out the evidences for evolution which most people in the western world accepts based on the research and evidence which proves evolution to be a fact.

The Short Proof of Evolution

Since you don’t like clicking on links, I will paste it all here for you to read…and do please read it, Cody.

We live, we are constantly told, in a scientific age. We look to science to help us achieve the good life, to solve our problems (especially our medical aches and pains), and to tell us about the world. A great deal of our education system, particularly the post-secondary curriculum, is organized as science or social science. And yet, curiously enough, there is one major scientific truth which vast numbers of people refuse to accept (by some news accounts a majority of people in North America)–the fact of evolution. Yet it is as plain as plain can be that the scientific truth of evolution is so overwhelmingly established, that it is virtually impossible to refute within the bounds of reason. No major scientific truth, in fact, is easier to present, explain, and defend.

Before demonstrating this claim, let me make it clear what I mean by evolution, since there often is some confusion about the term. By evolution I mean, very simply, the development of animal and plant species out of other species not at all like them, for example, the process by which, say, a species of fish gets transformed (or evolves) through various stages into a cow, a kangaroo, or an eagle. This definition, it should be noted, makes no claims about how the process might occur, and thus it certainly does not equate the concept of evolution with Darwinian Natural Selection, as so many people seem to do. It simply defines the term by its effects (not by how those effects are produced, which could well be the subject of another argument).

The first step in demonstrating the truth of evolution is to make the claim that all living creatures must have a living parent. This point has been overwhelmingly established in the past century and a half, ever since the French scientist Louis Pasteur demonstrated how fermentation took place and thus laid to rest centuries of stories about beetles arising spontaneously out of dung or gut worms being miraculously produced from non-living material. There is absolutely no evidence for this ancient belief. Living creatures must come from other living creatures. It does no damage to this point to claim that life must have had some origin way back in time, perhaps in a chemical reaction of inorganic materials (in some primordial soup) or in some invasion from outer space. That may well be true. But what is clear is that any such origin for living things or living material must result in a very simple organism. There is no evidence whatsoever (except in science fiction like Frankenstein) that inorganic chemical processes can produce complex, multi-cellular living creatures (the recent experiments cloning sheep, of course, are based on living tissue from other sheep).

The second important point in the case for evolution is that some living creatures are very different from some others. This, I take it, is self-evident. Let me cite a common example: many animals have what we call an internal skeletal structure featuring a backbone and skull. We call these animals vertebrates. Most animals do not have these features (we call them invertebrates). The distinction between vertebrates and invertebrates is something no one who cares to look at samples of both can reasonably deny, and, so far as I am aware, no one hostile to evolution has ever denied a fact so apparent to anyone who observes the world for a few moments.

Stardust said...

(continued from comment above this one)

The final point in the case for evolution is this: simple animals and plants existed on earth long before more complex ones (invertebrate animals, for example, were around for a very long time before there were any vertebrates). Here again, the evidence from fossils is overwhelming. In the deepest rock layers, there are no signs of life. The first fossil remains are of very simple living things. As the strata get more recent, the variety and complexity of life increase (although not at a uniform rate). And no human fossils have ever been found except in the most superficial layers of the earth (e.g., battlefields, graveyards, flood deposits, and so on). In all the countless geological excavations and inspections (for example, of the Grand Canyon), no one has ever come up with a genuine fossil remnant which goes against this general principle (and it would only take one genuine find to overturn this principle).

Well, if we put these three points together, the rational case for evolution is air tight. If all living creatures must have a living parent, if living creatures are different, and if simpler forms were around before the more complex forms, then the more complex forms must have come from the simpler forms (e.g., vertebrates from invertebrates). There is simply no other way of dealing reasonably with the evidence we have. Of course, one might deny (as some do) that the layers of the earth represent a succession of very lengthy epochs and claim, for example, that the Grand Canyon was created in a matter of days, but this surely violates scientific observation and all known scientific processes as much as does the claim that, say, vertebrates just, well, appeared one day out of a spontaneous combination of chemicals.

To make the claim for the scientific truth of evolution in this way is to assert nothing about how it might occur. Darwin provides one answer (through natural selection), but others have been suggested, too (including some which see a divine agency at work in the transforming process). The above argument is intended, however, to demonstrate that the general principle of evolution is, given the scientific evidence, logically unassailable and that, thus, the concept is a law of nature as truly established as is, say, gravitation. That scientific certainty makes the widespread rejection of evolution in our modern age something of a puzzle (but that’s a subject for another essay). In a modern liberal democracy, of course, one is perfectly free to reject that conclusion, but one is not legitimately able to claim that such a rejection is a reasonable scientific stance.