Alvin Plantinga: Science & Religion – Where the Conflict Really Lies


(upbeat music) – Thanks very much, Tom. Let me say, first it’s a
pleasure to be here at Biola. I’ve been here on previous occasions, and had a good time, every time. And it’s a pleasure to be back. I should say about Tom, he was one of the best students I had in 28 years of teaching
grad students at Notre Dame, but I was a little surprised
at his, sort of, approach. I mean, he wanted me to
direct his dissertation. It wouldn’t be necessary
to call me honeycrock, or– (laughter) Or Allibaby, or anything
like that, I mean– (laughter) I mean, there are, you know, I’m, that struck me as just
a shade over the top. (laughter) I suspect not all of you are graduate stu, or, excuse me. Are majors in philosophy. I know, I know that
some people don’t major in philosophy. I mean, it’s distressing, but there it is. (laughter) But on second thought, I
guess I can see why people don’t all major in philosophy. I mean, in some ways, it’s
sort of a miserable subject. Don’t get me wrong, I happen
to like it very much myself, but, well, you often have to think about all sort of disgusting things, if you wanna do philosophy properly. So for example, you have to, if you do epistemology,
theory of knowledge, you have think about
being a brain in a vat. You have to imagine this kind of scenario, you’re captured by aliens
from some other planet, and they take you back to their home base and they remove your
brain from your skull, and put it in a vat of nutrients and keep it artificially alive, and then they attach leads
to it, you know, with, with wires running to their Apple computer. (laughter) And they type in it what
they want you to think. And believe, and feel,
and experience, right? Now, if they did that,
if that happened to me, everything would seem exactly
the way it does seem, right? So how do I know that isn’t happening? That’s one kind of thing
you have to think about, which is, you know, I
think that’s a rather unpleasant topic, myself. (laughter) Another one, another thing
you have to think about is solipsism. So, solip, you’re a solipsist if you think you are the only thing that exists. Everything else being a figment
of your imagination, right? So if you’re a solipsist, you think nothing exists but you, and everything that looks like it exists is just a figment of your imagination. There have been a few solipsists. Bertrand Russell was a
solipsist for a while during his career. I think Bertrand Russell was most anything at one time or another during his career. (laughter) (coughs) And in fact, one time a
lady, I believe her name was Lady Ladd-Franklin, wrote
Bertrand Russell a letter and said that she, she
thought he was probably right about solipsism, she agreed
that solipsism must be true, and she concluded by saying, “I wonder why there aren’t more of us.” You know, about solipsists. (laughter) Well one time, one time when I was just
starting off in philosophy, I actually met a real solipsist. I was at Wayne State
University in Detroit, and I hear that there was,
in the medical school, a professor who was a solipsist. A genuine, honest to goodness solipsist. So I want, I wanted to
see what one looked like. (laughter) I’d never seen one before, so I went to meet this guy, and we had a rather pleasant conversation. He treated me quite kindly,
given that I was just a figment of his imagination. (laughter) I would say he treated
me well, for a figment. And then (coughs) after a while our conversation was over, so as we left, one of his
younger colleagues took me aside and said, “You know,
we take very good care “of Doctor So and So,
because when he goes, “we all go.” (laughter) Well, so much for solipsism. I’m not gonna talk about that at all. (laughter) So, I’m gonna talk instead
about science and religion. The title of my talk is
Science and Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies. And this is part of a
longer piece of work I’m, I’m working on. There are several
different apparent areas, or flashpoints, areas of
conflict or flashpoints, with respect to this conflict, if there is in fact such a conflict. There are several suggestions made as to where there’s conflict between religion and science. For example, some people think the idea of divine action in the world,
God’s acting specially in the world, acting beyond
creation and conservation, which would include,
for example, miracles, Jesus rising from the dead,
but much, many more things too. I mean, both John Calvin
and Thomas Aquinas talk about the way in which
the holy spirit of God influences us, causes us to
see the truth of the great things of the gospel. And those aren’t, that’s not,
those aren’t exactly miracles, but they are, they are
action beyond creation and conservation. Many people think there
is a conflict there. In fact, some theologians think that, and they wonder, you know,
“What can we do about that?” Another area where there is conflict is scientific scripture scholarship, sometimes called historical
biblical criticism. Sometimes called higher criticism. Various theories and proposals
one finds in that area conflict with parts, important
parts of Christian belief. There is what’s called
a scientific world view. Some people think that there
is this scientific world view which supports or enforces naturalism, the idea that there’s
no such person as God or anything like God. Some people find conflict there. And there are other places as well, but I wanna talk about, I just wanna talk about
evolutionary theory here. Contemporary evolutionary theory. I want to argue, I want to comment on the
question whether or not that’s compatible with theistic belief. Belief in God. And I, so what I want to
argue, you’ll see on the handout there, on the first page, I’ll argue that contemporary
evolutionary theory… Oh, thank you. Contemporary evolutionary
theory is not incompatible with theistic belief, belief in God. And I want to argue that the
main anti-theistic arguments involving evolution,
together with other premises, also fail. So somebody might say first
that evolutionary theory just as such, is incompatible
with belief in God, with theistic belief. Somebody else might say, “Well
no, that’s not quite right, “but evolutionary theory
together with some obvious truths “of one kind or another, “all together, is incompatible
with belief in God.” Then I want to argue
thirdly, that naturalism, the thought that there’s
no such thing as the God of theistic religion,
or anything like God. Naturalism is an essential
element in the whole naturalistic world view, which is a kind of semi-religion. It’s a quasi-religion,
or it’s like a religion in the sense that it plays one
of the most important roles that a religion plays. Namely that of answering these
fundamental human questions. Where do we come from? What, fundamentally, is
it to be a human being? What’s most real in the world? What is our connection, how are we related to the animal kingdom, and
the rest of God’s creation? And so on. These questions are ones that
are answered by religions, Christianity, but also
answered by naturalism. So naturalism, you might
think, is a semi-religion. It’s not, perhaps, a
religion just as such. As far as I know, you
can’t get ordained as a minister in naturalism, let’s say. (crowd murmurs) I don’t know, maybe that’s
coming, but as far as I know it doesn’t, it hasn’t happened yet. But I want to argue that there is, then, a science and religion, or
science quasi-religion conflict, but it’s between naturalism and science, and not between theistic
religion, Christianity, let’s say, and science. All right? So that’s the docu, that’s the, that’s the procedure. That’s the plan. So first, contemporary evolutionary
theory is compatible with belief in God. Evolution covers a multitude of theses. The New Testament says, “Love
covers a multitude of sins.” Evolution covers, that
term covers not necessarily a multitude of sins, but
a multitude of theses. First of all, the ancient Earth thesis, that the Earth is maybe
four billion years old. Who knows exactly how old. But certainly a lot older
than, say, it was thought in the 18th century. The universe itself is,
maybe 13 billion years old. So the ancient Earth thesis first. Second, the thesis of
descent with modification, where the idea is that
all the vast variety of flora and fauna, all the vast variety, enormous variety you
find in the living world, all came to be by virtue
of offspring differing, ordinarily in rather small respects, from their parents. And these differences
proliferate and spread out, and as a result you get
this enormous variation that you do find in our
contemporary living world. And then third, there’s
the common ancestry thesis. The idea that if you
pick any two, any two, well, if you pick any
two living creatures, not just any two people, not just any two mammals,
but any two living creatures, and trace their ancestry far enough back, you’ll run into a common ancestor. Right? So we’re all cousins. Not only us people, but we’re
cousins with all living things. You and the summer
squash in your back yard are cousins under the
skin, or under the rind, as the case may be. (laughter) That’s the third one. And then the fourth one, Darwinism, in some ways,
the most important one, well I don’t know if
it’s the most important, but the most, perhaps, discussed one. The claim that the principal
mechanism driving this process of descent with modification is natural selection
winnowing or working on random genetic mutation. So you know, all know how
this is supposed to work. These random mutations occur periodically. Some of the, most of them are lethal, but some, some are in fact,
not merely, not lethal, but adaptive, and the creatures
to which these mutations accrue, the adaptive ones,
if they are also heritable, they leave more offspring
than the creatures that don’t, that don’t have the benefit of them. And eventually, the change
spreads, the whole new genotype spreads through the whole population, and the whole thing can start over again. It’s by virtue of this process. Course it’s not as if it occurs as if there’s just one of
these going on at a time, so to speak (clears throat) in a species. There might be many. But by virtue of this process going on over and over and over again, you start from, just say, a
single living cell of some kind, and wind up with everything
you find in the world now. All the living creatures you
find, including us human beings. All right? (coughs) Now, it’s pretty clear that, and when I speak of, I’m gonna talk about the compatibility of theistic belief and of
Christianity, with evolution, with these various theses. When I think of Christianity,
I’m thinking of something like the intersection of
the great Christian creeds. The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, maybe the Baltimore, the
Catholic Baltimore Creed, Baltimore Catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism, Luther’s small Catechism. All of these creeds,
what they have in common, that’s where you might call
this mere Christianity. And mere Christianity that
C.S. Lewis talks about. That’s what I’m thinking of
when I speak of Christianity. And when, and if you take
a look at these three thes, at these four theses, the first three are pretty
obviously compatible with that. The ancient Earth thesis,
I mean, lots of Christians don’t think the Earth is that old, but it’s not part of the
creeds, part of that, of Christianity defined in that fashion, that the Earth is, say,
only 6,000 years or 10,000 or 100,000 or something like that. They don’t make any
pronouncements on that. And the same for the next
two, the thesis of descent with modification, and the
common ancestry thesis. Where there might be a conflict,
or sort of the best place to look for a conflict, the
most plausible place to look, would be perhaps Darwinism. The idea that what drives
this process of descent with modification is natural selection, working on random genetic mutation. (hand hits microphone) So we have to ask this question. Is Darwinism incompatible
with theistic religion? And a large number of people think so. A very large number of
people say that it is. People both weigh to the left
on the theological spectrum, and also to the right on
the theological spectrum. For example, Dawkins, Richard
Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, those are two of the
four horsemen of atheism, the new atheists, the
four horsemen of atheism. Not to be confused with the
four horsemen of Notre Dame. That’s very different, all right? (laughter) Maybe most of you are too young, even, to remember or know
about the four horsemen of Notre Dame, but they’re very important. (laughter) And Dawkins and Dennett are
two of the four horsemen of atheism. The other two being Sam Harris
and Christopher Hitchens. They all declare that,
as a matter of fact, contemporary evolutionary
theory is incompatible with Christianity, or
any theistic religion. Incompatible with belief in God. And, as a matter of fact,
contemporary evolutionary theory has been scientifically established, therefore, Christian belief is false. In real, real trouble. All right? But on, if you take, if you
just think about it abstractly, it doesn’t seem like that’s right. I mean, as far as mere Christianity goes, that doesn’t say much
about how God created the living world. He could have done this in many ways. Whatever way it pleased
him to do it, really. And if he wanted to, he
could have used some process like some kind of
Darwinian process involving descent with modification, and the whole thing is
driven by natural selection. God could have done it
that way if he’d wanted to. I’m not saying God did do it that way. That’s this whole question as to whether theistic evolution is an
acceptable way of thinking, or is in fact true. But there’s no contradiction there. God could certainly have done it that way. He could have caused the
right mutations to arise at the right time, for example. He could have protected various, various species, various
groups of animals from, from various kinds of hazards and dangers. He could have preserved
various populations so as to orchestrate the
whole process in such a way as to get just the result he wanted. In fact, he wouldn’t
really be orchestrating it, he would be much more intimately
involved in it than that, if, as a matter of fact,
he caused these mutations. You might say, “Well look,
these are supposed to be “random genetic mutations. “Could they both be
random, and caused by God?” But there, the right
answer, seems to me, is that randomness here doesn’t mean uncaused. Doesn’t mean unforeseen by God. Also doesn’t mean uncaused by God. It just means that there
isn’t any causal connection between, on the one hand,
what a given creature needs with respect to its environment
to be adapted properly to its environment, and
the genetic mutations that accrue to it. That’s what it means, and
that’s perfectly compatible with God’s causing
these genetic mutations. Now, where would there,
where would we think that there would be a conflict here? Well, it would be with
respect to this claim on the part of Christianity, and
other theistic religions too, that God has created human beings, created them in his image. He created them in his image, he wanted them to be a certain way. He intended that there be
creatures of a certain kind, and then he acted in such
a way as to bring it about that there be creatures of that kind. Maybe creatures who have knowledge, and have a moral sense,
can tell right from wrong, and who can stand in some
kind of personal relationship with God, himself. All right? I mean, maybe that’s a
certain way of captioning out the notion of, image of God. There are other ways, too. But maybe that’s a, but that’s
one way to think about it. But the point is, God
would then have guided and orchestrated this whole process with a certain end in mind. He wanted there to be a certain, certain kinds of creatures. And it’s that what, it’s that which some people, many people, the ones I just mentioned and others. It’s that that these people
think is incompatible with evolutionary theory. What’s not consistent with
Christian belief is the claim that evolution and Darwinism are unguided. So that’s what’s not compatible
with Christian belief. If God, if we have in
fact come to be by virtue of evolution, by way of evolution, then it would’ve been by God’s
guiding this whole process. Directing it, orchestrating it, okay? So what’s not consistent with
Christian belief is the claim that evolution and Darwinism are unguided. But there are a whole choir
of distinguished experts that tell us exactly that, that evolution is unguided. So, for example, here’s
George Gaylord Simpson. “Man,” and no doubt woman as well. I mean, I interpolated
that, he didn’t say that. (laughter) I guess we could think about that. (laughter) Could it be that man is the result of a purposeless, natural process
that didn’t have him in mind, but not so for women, you know? (laughter) Nobody, as far as I know,
has written a dissertation on that question. But let me, let me recommend
it to you, all right? (laughter) So he says, “Man,” and no doubt woman, I say no doubt woman as well, “is the result of a
purposeless and natural process “that did not have him in mind.” Stephen J. Gould says, “If the evolutionary
tape were to be reround, “rewound, and then let go forward again, “the chances are we’d get creatures
of a very different sort.” Maybe we wouldn’t get anything
at all like Homo sapiens. Maybe you wouldn’t get, maybe
you’d only get bacterium. Well, that’s incompatible,
again, with the idea that if we have come to be by way of evolution, then it’s by way of guided evolution. And here’s how Richard Dawkins puts it. I would say, he’s probably the primary. There are these four horsemen of atheism. He’s the primary horseman. All right, so, here’s what he says. “All appearances to the
contrary, the only watchmaker “in nature is the blind forces of physics, “albeit deployed in a very special way. “A true watchmaker has foresight; he designs his cogs and springs “and plans their interconnections “with a future purpose in his mind’s eye. “Natural selection, the
blind, unconscious, automatic “process which Darwin discovered, “and which we now know is the explanation “for the existence and apparently
purposeful form of all life. Note that phrase, “as we now know.” I mean, someone has in fact spoken of, “As We Now Know ism”. “As We Now Know ism”, you
find this phrase repeated over and over again by
people who are claiming that, that what people knew in the
past didn’t amount to much, you know? Now we know a whole lot of things. We know much better what
other people didn’t know. Our ancestors, let’s say. Our parents, grandparents, and so on. As we now know. “and which we now know is the explanation “for the existence and apparently
purposeful form of all life, “has no purpose in mind. “It has no mind, and no mind’s eye. “It does not plan for the future. “It has no vision, no
foresight, no sight at all. “If it can be said to play the
role of watchmaker in nature, “it is the blind watchmaker.” And in fact, the subtitle
of this book, what the book is supposed to show us, is
“Why the evidence of evolution “reveals a universe without design.” So a whole, so a central claim of the whole book is just that the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. Okay. Now, in this book, Dawkins
really does three things. First, he recounts some of
the fascinating anatomical details of certain living
creatures and their ways. And he’s very good at that. He’s a terrific science writer. So he talks in the book, I
remember he talks about bats, and the way in which bats,
by virtue of their sonar. Bats have sonar, they send out
sound waves and receive them, and can navigate by virtue of that. They can navigate through
a completely dark, pitch dark, pitch black dark cave, full of stalactites that
hang down from the ceiling, and stalagmites that go up from the floor. Or maybe vice versa, doesn’t matter. (laughter) And they can navigate through such a maze at an enormously high rate of speed, and never, never touching one of them. Just by virtue of this sonar. And he describes how this
goes in elaborate detail. It’s very interesting, and very good. Second, Dawkins, in the book,
tries to refute arguments for the conclusion that
blind, unguided evolution could not have produced
certain of the wonders of the living world. So going all the way back
to Darwin’s own time, there were people like St.
George Mivart, for example, who claimed that various kinds of, of structures that you’ll find, and various kinds of features
of animals and plants in the living world, could not have come to be by
virtue of unguided evolution. His example, his favorite
example was the eye. (coughs) Where you’ve got (clears
throat), where you’ve got, you’ve got an astonishing array
of interconnected features of the eye, structures, that all have to, if they were to develop by
way of unguided evolution, they’d all have to make
advances at the same time, along very many different
fronts, so to speak. It could be that an
advance along one front wouldn’t make vision any better, but could do so only in
the context of advances along other fronts. Modifications to other,
different parts of the eye. Michael Behe has talken about, has talken, has talked about irreducible complexity. And it’s the very same idea that
you find in St. George Mivart back in Darwin’s time. Well, one of the things that Dawkins does is to try to show that these
arguments don’t really work. And sometimes he’s reasonably successful, and other times, seems to me
he’s not very successful at all. And then third, he makes suggestions, one thing is to refute
these claims as to how it couldn’t happen. Another thing is he does
thirdly, is to make suggestions as to how it did, in fact, happen. How it could be that these
and other organic systems have developed by unguided evolution. But the principle form of
argument for the conclusion, the basic conclusion here, is that evolution reveals a
universe without design. The principle, the form of
argument for that conclusion, the main argument goes,
as far as I can make out in that book, like this, if you look on the sheet
there, one and two. We know of no other premise. We know of no irrefutable objections to its being biologically possible that all of life has come to be by way of unguided Darwinian processes. All right? That’s the premise. Therefore, here’s the conclusion. All of life has come to
be by way of unguided Darwinian processes. All right? If you think about that argument, I mean, you’ll see that it’s really a
pretty lousy argument, right? In fact, that’s putting it mildly. It is a horrifyingly lousy argument. (laughter) Lots of philosophers
give unsound arguments, and I’ve given a few of my own. Tom Crisp never has, but most of us have. (laughter) So, but very few arguments that
anybody I know of has given have that, show, display
the different, the distance between premise and
conclusion of this argument. It basically goes like, “It
hasn’t been proven impossible, “therefore it’s true.” It hasn’t been proven, so for example, suppose
last year I come to the Chairman of the Philosophy
Department and said, “The President wants me to
receive a $50,000 a year raise.” Well, naturally the
Chairman might want to, you know, why I thought that was true. You know? He’d say, “Really? “What makes you think that’s true?” I’d say, “Nobody has
proven it impossible.” (laughter) Not gonna get anywhere, right? Not the… It’s an unusually bad argument,
as far as I can make out. So Dawkins utterly fails to
show that the facts of evolution reveal a universe without design. He doesn’t show any such thing at all. At best, he shows that nobody’s
proved that’s impossible. But still, the fact that
he and other experts, like the ones I mentioned
in the preceding page, assert his subtitle, that
evolution reveals a universe without design, loudly and slowly, as it were. You know, if you’re talking
to someone whom you think is mentally challenged, a
bit mentally challenged, maybe because of, they’ve
got a hangover, let’s say. Or some reason like that. You’d talk to them
loudly and slowly, right? So the fact that these people do that, can be expected to convince many that the biological theory
of evolution is, in fact, incompatible with the theistic
belief that the living world has been designed. Well, what about the fact that
the relevant genetic mutations are said to be random? I commented on that just a bit ago here. But here are a couple
of quotations that are specifically addressed to this
by people who should know, if anybody does. Ernst Mayr says, “When it’s
said that mutation or variation “is random, the statement
simply means that there is “no correlation between the
production of new genotypes “and the adaptational needs of an organism “in a given environment.” And Elliott Sober perhaps
puts this point even better. Elliott Sober is a very eminent
contemporary philosopher of biology. He says, “There is no physical mechanism, “either inside organisms
or outside of them, “that detects which
mutations would be beneficial “and then causes those
mutations to occur.” Well, I mean if these random,
if these genetic mutations are random in that sense,
that’s perfectly compatible with their having been caused by God. So the point is that a mutation
accruing to an organism is random just if neither the
organism nor its environment contains such a mechanism. Okay. So, so as far as I can see, the claim that evolution demonstrates that human beings and other living creatures have
not, contrary to appearances, I mean they certainly look designed. Have not, contrary to
appearances, been designed. That’s not a part or a
consequence of the scientific theory of evolution just as such. That is what you might call a metaphysical or a theological add-on. The theory just as such is not
a theory of guided evolution, certainly, but it’s also not a
theory of unguided evolution. As a scientific theory, it
doesn’t address such questions as whether or not evolution
has been guided by God, for example. Science typically doesn’t
address questions of that sort. If you study physics, you
learn about natural laws of various kinds. Say, Newton’s Laws. But there isn’t any further
comment in the science as to whether or not
these laws were state, were put before the universe by God, or happened by chance or
something of that sort. That’s typically not
part of science at all. So it looks to me (coughs) that the claim on the part
of all of these people, that the theory of evolution just as such, the scientific theory
includes unguidedness. It looks to me like that’s a metaphysical or a theological add-on. That’s what these people
believe, themselves, but it’s not part of
the theory just as such. But that’s not completely
obvious, I’d have to admit. Not completely obvious, about
the scientific theory as such. After all, if you think
about it, how do you find out specific, exactly what some,
some scientific theory says? In the case of the theory of evolution, it’s not that you can
go to Washington, D.C. and find somewhere, maybe
emblazoned on the walls of the Academy for the
Advan, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, let’s say, an axiomatic formulation
of the theory of evolution. That’s not how it works. You’ve got lots of different people saying lots of different things. How do you tell, then, what
is the scientific theory of evolution? That’s not so obvious. And there are confusions here. So, for example, Pope John Paul Two, and since I taught at Notre Dame, I’m interested in popes
and what they think. Pope John Paul Two, he
seemed favorably disposed towards evolution. He said it was, “More than a theory.” It’s not just a mere theory. It’s better than that. Right? On the other hand, Cardinal Schönborn, important Catholic cardinal, said, “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry “might be true, but evolution
in the neo-Darwinian sense, “an unguided, unplanned
process of random variation “and natural selection, is not.” All right? There, there seems to be a kind of a blip. The pope and the cardinal don’t seem to be on the same page there. In the Catholic Church, the
cardinals are supposed to stay on the same page as
the pope, but occasionally they stray. All right? And in this case, I think they just, they don’t understand
evolution in just the same way. Furthermore, as lots of polls reveal, most Americans have really grave doubts about the truth of evolution. I don’t know just what the figures are, and they change from time to time, and it depends on which poll you take, which poll you take a look at. But in many polls, fewer
than half of Americans believe in, believe in evolution. In some of them, fewer
than a quarter of Americans believe in evolution. And you might wonder why that is. Lots of Americans have grave doubts. Lots of Christians are concerned about the teaching of evolution in the schools. (clears throat) Want, lots of Christians
want something added as a kind of corrective. Maybe, maybe ID or some
other kind of corrective. Or they want theory taught,
or they want evolution taught as a mere theory, rather
than as a sober truth. Or they want objections to
it to be taught along with the evolutionary theory,
itself, and the like. Well, why is this? I think the reason why this
is, is that we are regularly told by the experts, Dawkins,
Dennett, Gould, Simpson, Ayala, and others, that
current scientific evolutionary theory asserts or implies
that the living world is not designed, and that the whole evolutionary
process is unguided. When the experts tell us
this over and over again. The National Association
of Biology Teachers, until 10 years ago, officially
described evolution as, on their website, they described it as, “An unsupervised,
impersonal, unpredictable, “and natural process.” Unsupervised, impersonal, not
supervised, not orchestrated by God or anyone else. Okay? If we’re regularly told by
the experts that in fact the theory is a theory
of unguided evolution, it’s no wonder that many
Christians believe that. The experts are, after all, experts. And if they do believe it,
then it’s not surprising that they don’t want it to
be taught as a sober truth in public schools. Understood in that way, it’s
incompatible with Christian, as well as Jewish and Muslim belief. Clearly, there are
questions of justice here. Would it be just to
teach in public schools positions that go contrary
to the religious beliefs of most of those who
pay for those schools? (coughs) The answer seems
to me, fairly clear. That would not be just. That would not be proper. And therefore, in a way,
these people like Dawkins, Dennett, Ayola, Ayala, and the rest, who trumpet the incompatibility of current evolutionary theory with religious belief, with Christian belief,
as far as that goes, with Jewish and Muslim belief as well. In a way, they’re doing
science a real disservice. Because most Americans are,
in fact, believers in God. Again, polls vary, but
maybe as many as 80 percent. And very many of them
are very serious about believing in God. Very many of them, for very many that’s a sort of linchpin of their whole way of thinking, and if in fact something like evolution is incompatible with that, they’re just gonna, they’re just gonna be very suspicious of evolution. If they’re told evolution, by the experts, the ones who oughta know, that there is that incompatibility, what’s more natural than for them to be inclined to reject it? To be, at best, very suspicious of it? To think it should not be taught
as a sober truth in schools they pay for, and the like? Okay, well so much for that topic. Now I’m going to skip the next bit here, section two. Broader Anti-Theistic
Arguments from Evolution, and go to section three,
Naturalism Against Evolution. (coughs) Tom (coughs) How much time do I have,
what’s a natural thing? Another, who’s the boss here? – [Voiceover] You have ’til 11:30, or so. – Okay. But of course we want to
have questions, right? So we don’t want me to, you know. Okay now, if you return to the first page, I said I wanted to argue that
there is a science religion, or a quas, science quasi-religion
conflict all right, but it’s a conflict between
naturalism and science, not between theistic religion and science. And that’s what section three is about. I want to argue that in fact
there is conflict between naturalism and evolution. Despite the fact that
evolution is often thought of as a sort of supporting pillar
in the temple of naturalism, there is, in fact, I believe, and the longer I think
about this argument, the more firmly I’m
convinced that it’s correct. Course, I could be wrong, but I’m not. (laughter) – [Voiceover] Of course. – Right, of course, right. There is, in fact, a conflict. It’s not that it’s logically
impossible that they both be true, not that kind of conflict. They could both be true. It’s rather that one can’t
sensibly believe them both. Maybe sensibly, one could
sensibly believe evolution. Maybe one could sensibly
believe naturalism. I don’t think so myself, but maybe. But you can’t sensibly
believe the two together. So here, I’m going to use the term, I’m going to use the
letter N as an abbreviation for naturalism, and E as
an abbreviation for the thought that we human beings
and all of our faculties and parts have come to be
by virtue of the processes pointed out or mentioned in
current evolutionary theory. And R is the proposition
that our cognitive faculties are reliable. Here, by cognitive faculties, I just mean things like memory and perception. That’s a cognitive faculty. Memory and perception provide
us with beliefs, you might say. I look out, and I see people. I can’t see ’em very wall,
because of these miserable lights, but there’s people out there. I perceive them, I form that belief by virtue of a certain kind of experience. That belief arises in me. There are people before,
in front of me here. The same goes, another cognitive faculty is that of logical or a priori intuition. Might call it rational intuition, whereby you can see the truth of simple mathematical propositions. Two plus one equals three, let’s say. And the validity of certain
forms of logical arguments, say modus ponens. If A implies B, and furthermore A is true, then B’s gotta be true too. You can just see that these things are so. That’s by virtue of what you might call a rational intuition. There are still other faculties. Thomas Reid spoke of sympathy, whereby you can tell what somebody else is thinking and feeling. I mean, you don’t go through an argument from the way their body
looks to the conclusion the person is thinking
or feeling something. You can tell just by
taking a look, very often. I mean, I can take a look at my wife and see that I’ve done something wrong. (laughter) So there are these cognitive faculties. For them to be reliable is
for them to produce in us, for the most part, true beliefs. All right? Not 100 percent, they don’t
have to be 100 percent reliable to be reliable, but maybe like, and it would of course
vary from area to area what reliability would consist in. But as a general overall
figure, maybe three out of four beliefs have to be true
for the whole battery of cognitive faculties to be reliable. Something like that. We could break it down into
individual faculties if we like, and say a whole lot more here, but, but I won’t. Okay, so then, then we’ve got premise one. The probability of R’s being true. The probability of R, given N and E. Assuming N and E are true, that’s low. All right? Now, maybe not all of
you are acquainted with that kind of symbolism. I’ll betcha not nearly all of you are. But I think everybody’s
acquainted with the idea there. The idea of conditional probability. The probability of one proposition conditional on, on the
assumption of the truth of some other proposition, all right? So for example, you might ask, “What’s the probability that
Mr. A will live to be 70, “given that he’s now 35,
smokes, eats way too much “and is grossly overweight,
never exercises, “spends all his time watching television, “and has grandparents, all of
whom died by the age of 50?” That’s a low probability, right? (laughter) Very likely he’s not gonna wind up to be, get to be 70. On the other hand, you might say, “Well, what’s the
probability that Mr. B will “wind up to be 70, will live to be 70, “given that Mr. B is now
65, runs 11 miles every day, “is trim and fit, watches
his diet like a hawk, “and has grandparents, all of
whom lived to be over 100?” That’ll be a much higher
probability, right? So the probability of
one proposition given some other proposition, on the condition that
some other proposition. Hence conditional probability. What’s the probability that Jock, who lives in Glasgow, Scotland is a Mormon? What’s the probability
that Jock is a Mormon, given that he lives in Glasgow, Scotland? Pretty low, there aren’t
that many Mormons in Glasgow, or in Scotland as a whole. What’s the probability that Brigham… (laughter) That Brigham is a Mormon,
given that Brigham lives in Salt Lake City? Well, that’s gonna be much higher, right? (laughter) So you’ve got the idea,
conditional probability. Now the question here,
with respect to one is, what’s the conditional
probability of the proposition that our cognitive faculties are reliable? That is, R, given that
or on the condition that naturalism and evolution are true? That naturalism is true, and
our faculties have come to be by virtue of the sort of
evolution, evolution that we learn about in school? Okay, that’s the first premise. The second premise is,
if you accept N and E, so you believe N and E, and you also see that one is true, then you have a defeater
for your belief in R. We all have a, we all
believe instinctively, automatically, normally,
that our cognitive faculties are reliable, at least for the most part. But I say if you believe N and
E and you see that one is true, then you’ve got a
defeater for that belief, for the belief that your
faculties are reliable, where a defeater for a
belief is some other belief you’ll acquire, such
that as long as you hold the second belief, you can
no longer rationally accept the first. Let me give an example. Suppose I take, suppose I’m
visiting Aberdeen, Scotland, and I’ve got this guidebook,
which tells me that King’s College Chapel, which is a, King’s College is part of
the University of Aberdeen. Was founded, that King’s College, let’s say that King’s
College was founded in 1596. Well, I’ll naturally believe that, right? It’s a guidebook, so I believe
that’s when it was founded. Then, the next day I go to a
party where I meet the author of the guidebook, and he says
the bane of his existence, the saddest thing that
has ever happened to him, a millstone around his neck, is that he got that figure wrong. It wasn’t 1596, it was 1496. His life has never been the same since. His wife divorced him. (laughter) The bank foreclosed on this house. (laughter) Everything went downhill
from there, right? Well, then I will no longer
believe the first thing I believed. Instead, I will no longer believe that, instead I will believe it was
formed, it was established at the time he said. So I got a defeater there. A defeater for my
original belief that this, that the college was founded in 1596. Okay? Then the next premise is, one who has, one who has a defeater for R, for the proposition that
one’s cognitive faculties are reliable, has a defeater for any belief
she takes to be produced by her cognitive faculties. And of course, that would be
all of her beliefs, right? One’s beliefs that are produced by one’s cognitive faculties. That’s where they come from. That’s the only place they come from. All right? So she, I say one then,
who has a defeater for R, that her faculties are
reliable, then gets a defeater for any belief produced by
her cognitive faculties. And of course, one of those
beliefs is N and E itself, right? I mean, think about it. If you get a defeater for the belief that a certain encyclopedia is reliable, then you get a defeater so
far, for any belief you got by virtue of consulting
that encyclopedia, right? So here, too, if you have a
defeater for the proposition that your faculties are reliable, then you get a defeater for
any belief that you think is produced by your faculties, which of course is all of your faculties. And hence, if you belief N and R, N and E, you’ve not got a defeater
for N and E, right? Well then, it looks as if
N and E is self-defeating. It provides the defeater for itself. It shoots itself in the foot. It is self-referentially incoherent. And we could call it other names as well. (laughter) But the bottom line would be that it’s not rationally acceptable, you
can’t rationally accept it. You can’t sensibly believe both N and E. As I say, maybe as far
as this argument goes, one of them and maybe the other,
but not their conjunction. All right? Well now, there’s a whole
lot to be said about these premises. Quite a lot has, in fact,
been said about them. Some things that have been said about them have been said by Tom,
for example, and others. But I want to give it sort of an argument for the first premise, and
I’ll let it go at that, so that we’ll have a
little time for discussion. The first premise, the probability
of R given N and E, is low. Now, let’s take naturalism
to include materialism about human beings. If you’re a materialist
about human beings, then you think that human
beings are through and through material objects. They don’t have any immaterial aspect or immaterial part. No immaterial soul or self, or ego. Nothing of the sort, say Augustin thought. Or Aquinas or Descartes. A human being is just made
of meat, all the way through. All right? And I want to annex that naturalism, because a matter of fact,
almost all naturalists, at least the ones I
know, believe that, okay? Well if you ask yourself
then, from this point of view, what sort of thing will a belief be? So we’ve got beliefs,
everybody’s got beliefs. What sort of thing is a belief? Is it animal, vegetable, mineral? What sort of thing is a belief, from the perspective of materialism? And the answer is that it’s
hard to see what it could be, except for, I mean the only
thing it could be, really, is a kind of event or structure
in one’s nervous system. Maybe in one’s brain, all right? It’ll be something like a bunch of neurons working together, clicking
away, sending signals, receiving signals, various
rates of fire in various parts of the structure,
and the like of that. Okay. Well now, instead of
thinking about ourselves, I suggest, let’s think about
a population of creatures on some distant planet. Maybe in, now some people
talk about there being all these alternative universes,
mini-universes, all right? Maybe in some other universe then. And suppose that N and E holds for them. So suppose N and E holds
for them, all right? Now we want to ask, “What’s
the probability of R “with respect to N and
E for those creatures?” What we can assume about these creatures is that their behavior is adaptive. We’re assuming E, that
evolution, they came to be by way of evolution. So their behavior is adaptive
to their present circumstances. Or maybe it’s adaptive with
respect to the circumstances of their forebearers. But their behavior is
adaptive, conducive to survival and reproduction. This behavior is caused by
processes in their brains. So you might say, “Well now,
why is it that my arm rises?” Well, it’s because certain
signals were sent from one part of my brain through a chain of nerves, through a chain of neurons,
which would be a nerves, a nerve of some kind, an effector nerve, causing a certain muscle to contract, and up goes my arm. All right? So this behavior is caused
by processes in their brains, which we could call the
underlying neurology. That neurology, therefore,
is also adaptive. The underlying neurology
would be all the structures in one’s brain, and the way in
which it, those things work, is also adaptive in that it
causes adaptive behavior. Now, neurology, further with
this underlying neurology, furthermore, also causes,
determines, brings it about that they have certain
beliefs, that these creatures have certain beliefs. Okay? So the underlying neurology
both causes action of a certain kind, and also
you might say supports belief. Causes belief, brings it about
that these neurostructures have a certain content. But as far as that adaptive
behavior is concerned, the adaptive behavior which
is caused by the neurology, it doesn’t matter whether
those beliefs which are also caused by that neurology
are true or false. It doesn’t make any difference. As long as the underlying neurology causes the right kind of actions, it
doesn’t matter what kind of belief content it also
causes, could be anything. Imagine a frog sitting on a lily pond. A fly buzzes by, the
frog’s tongue flicks out, captures the fly. This is a good thing from
the frog’s point of view, not so good from the fly’s point of view. But it contributes to their survival and reproductive fitness
of the frog, okay? And what counts there is that
this underlying neurology somehow monitors the approach of the fly, and causes the fly’s tongue. I’m sorry, the frog’s tongue to flick out at the appropriate moment. Right? Now maybe that underlying
neurology also causes various, causes belief on the part of the frog. Maybe the frog thinks, “If
some princess came along “and kissed me, I would
turn into a prince.” Who knows what this frog thinks. The point is, it doesn’t matter. If it does have beliefs, if
it does, maybe it doesn’t. But if it does have beliefs, it doesn’t matter if those
beliefs are true or false as long as the underlying
neurology causes the right kind of action. Causes the, kind of
causes adaptive action. Okay? So I say as far as that
adaptive behavior’s concerned, it doesn’t matter whether those
beliefs are true or false. If true, fine. If false, also fine. Either way, the underlying
neurology causes adaptive behavior. But then it doesn’t matter
whether their beliefs are, for the most part, true, or
for the most part, false. Or half true and half false. So take any particular belief on the part of these
creatures we’re thinking about in the, on this other planet. What’s the probability that it’s true? Well, you’d have to say it could
be true, it could be false. No more reason to think
it true than false. You’d have to say it’s about a half. But then, the probability
of R for these creatures is low. If you’ve got, say, 100 beliefs,
then the probability that, and the probability with
respect to each one of ’em that it’s true, is a half, then the probability, say,
that three quarters of them are true, which might be a figure you
could choose for reliability, will be extremely low. It’ll be less than one,
one out of a million. All right? So then the probability
of R for these creatures is really low. That is, the probability of N and E with respect to them is really low. And of course, the same
thing really goes for us. And that’s the argument for premise one. And I’ll stop there, so that
there’s time for questions. Right. (applause) – We will take a few
minutes for questions. I have a mic up here that
I’ll have run around. Let’s limit the questions, to start with, to faculty and students and alums of Biola’s programs in
Philosophy, Apologetics, and Science and Religion, since you pay the big bucks to come here. So we’ll start with you. If you have a question,
raise your hand and I will run a microphone to you, or
have one of my people do it. (laughter) Question. – [Voiceover] Thanks
for comin’ here today. If, I wonder if you’ve
put any thought into the sort of newer form of
evolutionary argument based off of the bi-products of evolution, say referring to dinosaurs or some, something from the
modern perspective as a, atheists might call a failed
experiment on God’s part, where you have these
evolution niche trails that are dead ends, that might seem like leftover parts from a poorly-designed car or something like that,
that it’s the bi-products of evolution that would
seem to work against the idea of an overall design, even if there’s a good design at the end. I was wondering if you had
any thoughts on that idea. (both speak at once) – Oh I see, all right. I wasn’t clear exactly
what you’re talking about. So you’re not talking about
the evolutionary argument against naturalism, but you’re
talking about this point. Somebody might say,
“Here’s an argument for, “for, an argument against thinking that “human beings have been designed by God.” And the argument would be
that there’s been all these dead ends in evolution,
all these ways in which the human body, for example,
isn’t very well designed, so they say. Knees are not well designed. People suffer from back
aches a lot more than say, the creatures that had the good
sense to remain on four legs do, and so on. Is that the sort of
thing you’re thinking of? Is that– – [Voiceover] Moreso the history and the, the idea that if God took so
long to get to this end product, why does there seem to be all these pathways that seem to just go nowhere? Certain species that seem
to have no point of living, if that’s the case? – Right, right. And you could add to that. I mean, if it’s God that
oversees this whole process, if he designed it, and he
wanted it to be the way it is, why is there so much suffering
involved, and predation? I mean, lots of animals
can live only by killing other animals. If you think about what
goes on at the insect world, it’s really horrifying. I mean, I’m glad we don’t, you know, I’m really glad we’re
not shrunk down to that size. That’s a really miserable
part of God’s creation in many respects. Why would that be, if
God himself is guiding and orchestrating evolution? Why would that happen? Well, I mean, I guess you’d, I guess you’d have to
ask the same question about any way in which
a Christian proposes that God is the creator of the world. This is God’s world, why does it have all this stuff in it? You know, it’s not, this question
isn’t specific to evolution. The world is full of predation, nastiness, not only in the animal world,
but also in the human world. Why would, why is that the case? With respect to evolution, I don’t have a very good idea as to why that would be the case. One doesn’t know why God permits things of that sort to go on. But I would direct your
attention to C.S. Lewis who, in one or another of his books, I guess it’s in the
science fiction trilogy, floats the suggestion
that as a matter of– (microphone cuts out) Is this thing working? No. Well then, I’ll just talk a little louder. Floats the suggestion
that as a matter of fact, God has allowed other spirits (microphone rustles) Okay, thank you, thank you. To have an important part in the, in the development of life on Earth. It’s sort of like the Parable of the Tares in the New Testament. That sounds to me, I mean
many people will think this is an utterly fantastic suggestion, and it, and not fantastic in
the sense of really wonderful, you know? Fantastic in the sense
of totally unbelievable. But I don’t think it is
totally unbelievable. But beyond that, I guess I
don’t have any answer to that. I don’t think it’s much of
a objection to the thought that God has orchestrated
evolution, though, because no matter how you
think God created the world, it’s got those features. It’s got these disturbing features. – [Emcee] Another question. – [Voiceover] Hi. If, I just want to ask
something about evolution. Your argument against
naturalism and evolution and everything. If every result of evolution
is adaptive behavior in the case of humans, wouldn’t that mean that
our cognitive faculties and our ability to reason and think is one of our adaptive features? Because we’re, unlike
just lower creatures, you know, less intelligent mammals, we, we survive because we think. We are a successful
species because we’re able to think and reason so well. And so wouldn’t that leave our cognitive faculties
and our ability to survive as not as mutually exclusive
as you made them out to be? I mean, I don’t, it just seems like the probability of our faculties giving us the ability
to understand evolution, in return, wouldn’t be so low. – The probability of our
faculties being such that we can understand evolution? – [Voiceover] We can
believe, understand evolution and hold that belief rationally. I mean, that’s, that was, that was your– – Ah, I see. Okay, yeah. – [Voiceover] Yeah, it
wouldn’t be so self-refuting. – Right. Well remember, I’m thinking about this from the point of view of materialism. I’m thinking of naturalism
as including materialism. And now what I’m asking about is, what’s the connection
between belief and behavior given materialism? All right? If you were a Christian
materialist, you might think, well, the connection
between belief and behavior is what a materialist
ordinarily thinks it is, but God would certainly
bring it about that, for the most part, our beliefs were true. That would be part of what is
involved in being in his image. Right? But if you’re not a believer in God, don’t think human beings
have been created by God, so then you’ve got this level of, this level of underlying neurology. Think again about the frog. That causes the frog to
behave appropriately. Maybe the frog also has beliefs. Maybe it thinks really deep thoughts. Maybe it thinks about
quantum mechanics, who knows? It doesn’t matter for the
adaptiveness of the behavior. The same would have to go
for creatures generally. Right? At least initially. Maybe one could give some
argument for the conclusion that if a given kind of
neural structure produces adaptive behavior, then
if it also produces belief of a certain kind, that
belief has to be true. But on the face of it, that
doesn’t seem to be so at all. Why would it have to be? It produces, it produces, causes the right
kind of adaptive behavior. It also produces or causes belief content of some sort. But why does the belief
content have to be true? For it to, for the
behavior to be adaptive. All it has to do, all the
underlying neurology has to do is cause the right kind of behavior. It doesn’t also have to cause
the right kind of, or true, belief content. – [Voiceover] Isn’t part of that behavior, in the case of humans’ thinking, the ability to make, to think well? I mean– – No. No, evolution doesn’t care
whether you think well or not. You could believe whatever you please, as far as natural selection goes. What counts is how you behave. How your, how your limbs move, right? So as, as Patricia Churchland, who is a eminent atheist worker
in this field, says, as far as, when it comes to evolution, “Truth, whatever that
is, takes the hindmost.” Evolution doesn’t care
if you hold true beliefs. If you behave the right
way, that’s all that counts. – [Emcee] Another question. – [Voiceover] What, what’s
the best response you’ve heard to your argument, and
then what is your response to that? (laughter) – I think the best, the best response… Actually, I don’t know of
any very good response. I’m– (laughter and applause) But if I were responding
to it myself, I would, I would address this, this
point about the connection between, between adaptive
behavior and belief, and I would propose that
maybe there is some theory that someone will come
up with that works here, according to which adaptive… According to which neural structures that produce adaptive
behavior are such that if they also produce belief content, produce, for the most
part, true belief content. Now there is one theory like
that in the neighborhood. In fact, there’s more than one. It’s sometimes called indicator semantics. So the thought is something like this. And a person who, one person
who offers this kind of idea is Fred Dretske, who formerly taught at the University of Wisconsin. He wanted, he talked
first about indication. There are various structures in our body, and the body of other
creatures, that indicate things. There are structures in my body that indicate blood pressure,
and indicate temperatures, and then they cause various
appropriate responses, so that if, if the temperature
of my body’s too cold, maybe the response would
be shivering caused, and that sort, and it’s not anything. And these cases, there’s
nothing I do about it. It’s not that, or maybe the
salene content is too high. That’ll make me thirsty. Salene content of my blood is too high. In that case, it’s not
that I think about that and decide, “Okay, I guess
the salene content of my blood “is too high. “I’m going to have to drink some water.” That’s not how it works at all. I don’t need to form any
beliefs on the subject whatever. Typically I won’t form any belief. I’ll just be thirsty, and I’ll drink. So there are these indicators. Now, according to Dretske, indicators get promoted into beliefs under certain conditions. And what, and the belief content will be what the indicator indicates, right? Are you with me so far? And if that were true,
if that were really true, then, presumably, a structure that accurately indicates something or other, and there are lots of them in our body. And they would have to accurately indicate for adaptive behavior, will also produce true beliefs. The problem with that is that, on Dretske’s, on this
way of thinking about it, a belief, well the basic
problem about that is that there won’t even be any
such belief as naturalism. Because nothing indicates naturalism. There’s no structure in one’s
body or anybody else’s body or any other creature’s body, which is on when naturalism is true and off when naturalism is false. Naturalism is always true or always false. In that regard, it’s like,
say, mathematical propositions. But nothing ever carries the information that some proposition of that sort is true. That sort of information can’t be carried. The, there is no possibility
there of reducing, there’s no way of reducing
the possibilities there, which is what indicators ordinarily do. So if Dretske were right,
there wouldn’t even be any such belief as naturalism, and a person who thought about it, then, could see that there’s a real problem in that, first of all,
this person would know that she believes naturalism. And second, if she accepted this theory, she’d have to think also that
she doesn’t believe naturalism, since there can’t be any such belief. So if I were to try to think about how to evade this argument, I would try to figure out some
view sort of like Dretske’s, without that particular feature, that something like naturalism
can’t even be a belief. But there’s also, but even if I found one, I mean, I would just be proposing it. You know, I’d say, “Well
here’s the way it is. “Here’s how I avoid this argument.” But I wouldn’t, unless I
had some reason to think that was true, it still wouldn’t be much
of a response, right? I mean, if it’s just
something I propose as a way of avoiding that difficulty,
and there isn’t any reason to think of it as true, maybe except it avoids that difficulty, then I don’t, in that case,
have a decent response. – [Emcee] Next question. – [Voiceover] Thank you
Professor, for being here and giving this fascinating talk. With regard to your hypothetical frog and your hypothetical adaptive creatures, it seems that as long as
their behaviors are correct, that, that what we’re
really sort of talking about with those particular
creatures, or the frog, would be that they would be sort of scientific
anti-realists, as it were, right? They, as long as they’re
doing the right things with their limbs, their beliefs, their beliefs about them seem
to be functioning in a way that is useful, that is practical. And seeing that some people
in science would view science in that light, that, that, that evolution itself is
maybe a useful fiction, even. Maybe doesn’t really tell us
how things really, really are, but is useful to us. Would it seem that this argument, this might even be a satient question, but would it seem that this
argument would not be useful against that sort of
scientific anti-realism? – Well, I was thinking of, I was thinking of someone who
actually believes naturalism. And most naturalists also actually believe the theory of evolution. If somebody says, “I’m a naturalist, “but I don’t really accept
the theory of evolution. “I just, I don’t really believe it. “I mean, maybe I accept it
in the sense that I think “it’s a useful way to think,
and a useful way to proceed, “and a good source of
experiments to work on,” and the like of that. I guess my argument wouldn’t
be actually addressed to such a person. In the same way, if somebody says, “Well I’m not really, “I don’t really believe naturalism. “I just find it a good way to think, “so as I proceed through
life, I get along better “by virtue of being a naturalist,
I think, than I would be “if I weren’t a naturalist.” Well again, my argument
wouldn’t be addressed to such a person. I’m thinking about people
who really do believe these two things. I’m saying you can’t sensibly
accept these two things together. But if you don’t sensibly,
if you don’t accept the two together, my argument
doesn’t really apply. It might be that a version of my argument could be worked out with
respect to (clears throat) (coughs) Excuse me. Naturalism, without evolution. So I keep talking about N and E, but maybe if you just, maybe
I could produce an argument that just started from N, and didn’t involve E. If that were the case, that
argument wouldn’t be affected by someone who thought that evolution was just a useful fiction. If that person was a naturalist,
the argument would still have a bite with respect to that person. – [Emcee] We have time for one more. – [Voiceover] Hi Professor. I think, well I’m having trouble like, disconnecting the usefulness
between adaptive ability and true beliefs. Because I think, well I’m
having trouble accepting premise one. Because it hinges up,
accepting premise one, because it hinges upon
the kinda disconnect between the usefulness of true beliefs with adaptive behavior, but as I understand adaptive
behavior, it’s kind of like correctly acting in reality. Like, the frog, acting,
aligning itself with reality, and like a reflex, it
could do that or it cannot. And then, a frog choosing
to catch a fly, compare that with a belief. Sorry, I’m just trying
to think it through. – Well think about, think about this. I mean, do you think the frog
has beliefs about the fly? The frog maybe has beliefs. Maybe so, maybe not. But one doesn’t know what
the frog thinks, right? Maybe the frog doesn’t,
maybe it doesn’t really form beliefs about flies. Right? Maybe the beliefs that are
produced by the underlying neurology, they’re are of
some totally different kind. Maybe they’re about
mathematics, who knows? As long as the fly’s, or
the frog’s tongue flicks out at the right time,
which will be guaranteed by the proper function of its
indicators, you might say, and the underlying neurology. As long as that happens, it just doesn’t matter
what the frog thinks. Maybe the frog, as far as, you know, it could be the frog thinks
there aren’t any flies, or who knows what the frog thinks? – [Voiceover] Well, my
question is, because if adaptive behavior’s
a matter of correctly aligning one’s self with reality, and true beliefs are
understanding that reality, I see a direct connection between true beliefs making
behaviors more adaptive, adaptable, and therefore
true beliefs themselves being adventatient, advantatious
to selection as well. – Well now, it certainly… I would think that adaptive behavior means behavior which brings
it about, or improves your, your possibility of
survival and reproduction. That’s what adaptive behavior is. So adaptive behavior will, of course, have to be adjusted to the environment. It’ll depend on what
the environment is like. It’ll require some kind of, some kind of, some kind of being able to
measure or indicate something about the environment
on the part of the frog. All that’s the case. Now, maybe it’s also the case that having true beliefs is a matter
of understanding reality, or understanding the environment, but it’s not, my point
is it doesn’t matter, you don’t need both of those, as far as adaptive behavior goes. You don’t have to
understand what’s going on. In fact, I suppose, my
guess is most creatures that believe adaptively don’t unders, that behave adaptively don’t understand much about what’s going on. I mean, bacteria also behave adaptively, but people don’t typically
think they’ve got much of a grasp of how things are. So, I mean these two are
clearly separate things. We ordinarily think of
ourselves in such a way that we put these two things together. But from the point of view of materialism, there’s no reason why
they should be together. It would be a piece of
enormous serendipity if they were, from the point
of view of materialism. – [Voiceover] Biola
University offers a variety of biblically-centered degree programs, ranging from business to ministry, to the arts and sciences. Visit biola.edu to find out how Biola could make a
difference in your life.

100 comments

  1. A man saying that Evolution is not true, simply don't understant it, and can't be considered a good philosopher, because he should learn before how to grasp with reality.

  2. People you have to understand that to settle the question of whether or not there is a God, one has to have an agreeable playing field. Science is subjective, it can be used to support or deny God, i.e. the"fine tunning argument", "theory of evolution, etc". The true,level playing field would be philosophy, whether or not there is a God is explainable through philosophical/metaphysical arguments, not strictly scientific/observable phenomenon.

  3. Did I ever once mention a name? I said older people, not Alvin Plantinga. But now that you mention it; because Alvin Plantinga is a respected scholar and has had a long car rear; does that automatically make anything he says as actually true or relevant? Should I be skeptical of what he says, or would that be disrespectful because he is a respected scholar? Plantinga likes to build the strawman of scientism in order to quietly justify his belief in the god of Israel rather than having faith.

  4. There are a myriad things that had a religious explanation that now have a scientific explanation. Tell me, are there any things that once had a scientific explanation and now have a religious explanation?

    The level playing field is philosophy, sure. The philosophy of science is winning. In fact, saying that the Supernatural is not detectable by science is wrong. The proof is that all the Supernatural things are now scientific things. The Supernatural is indistinguishable from nothing.

  5. There is no conflict between science and religion. Science is brilliant. Your religion is not science, it is metaphysical naturalism. There is no scientific evidence for such a religion.

  6. No, sorry, but philosophy is not superior to science in the task of acquiring objective information, it is not a playing field for that task at all.
    If you want to prove the objective existence of a god or goddess, your best tool is science, since philosophy is entirely subjective. Sistematized, organized subjectivity, but subjective all the same.
    The existence of subjective gods should not even be debated: of course any idea you sincerly have exists in your personal experience.

  7. I vehemently disagree with plantinga's position that teaching scientific theories incompatible with specific religious beleifs is unproper.
    There is only one science, and anything thought as science should be science, including disputes between scientific theories, which creationism is not. If your religion doesn't agree with heliocentricsm, spheric earth, germ theory, whatever, tough luck. Only science is admittable in science classes.

  8. No, I think you meant it was tautologic. A syllogism IS a logical argument. Look it up.
    What's sad is that some insist that religion is a valid form of inquiry into objective reality and therefore admissible in science classes, and that, as a result, my statement is a neccesary one to make.

  9. Plantinga seems to imply that (in N) since animals CAN have false beleifs, then it follows our cognitive abilities MUST be wrong, therefore our beleifs about evolution and naturalism are unreliable.
    If so,
    1) Can sometimes = Are always? Wrong
    1) He implies that a christian viewpoint does not allow for wrong beleifs, which contradicts his position that evolution is a false beleif.
    2) If beleifs in N are reliably wrong, that would defeat not only evolution and naturalism, but religion as well.

  10. What?
    For natural beings, supernaturalism is useless since there can be no measurement or contrast of any attributes of the "supernatural" between observers. You can only speculate about anything supernatural, which defeats the idea of objectivity itself, which is "mind-independent" or "subjectivity-independent".
    Observation of the supernatural is indiscernible from fantasy, it's spotting a total dark dot in a total dark canvas, and saying it's special.

  11. Well, I guess, if you asume that the supernatural has access, even observational, to the natural. One would need to assume a supernatural realm that CAN observe the natural perfectly and completely, and not the other way around. It could perfectly be that the supernatural has no interface with the natural.
    I'm not opposed to imagining this scenario (I'm a fantasy and SciFi fan myself), but I am strictly opposed to calliing it true, and further, calling it normative, with no observational basis.

  12. I agree with you completely.
    I hope I don't come off as too defensive, but I'll just mention that the same limitations apply (more?) to any speculation we may make of the not-empirically observable.
    Furthermore, stating our options are "our current empirical observations VS supernatural claims" is a false dichotomy. A more advanced brain than our current ones would very probably give us an improved grasp of reality, and/or capabilities of observation/inference.
    Thanks for the conversation!

  13. To prove that God exists, very simple!

    Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead!

    Do you believe it? Like if you do; Unlike if you don't…it is up to you! Your call.

  14. Good job, bro. I'm pretty sure the multiple-time Gifford Lecturing Notre Dame philosophy professor has heard of the problem of evil, but you know… maybe he hasn't.

    Old comment, but whatever.

  15. Purposelessness cannot beget purpose! Unfortunately DrPlantinga utterly fails 2 realize that the neuronal impulses of belief, governed by the same laws of evolution theory, are just as determinist [meaning just as random meaningless & purposeless] n Darwinian evolution theory as the neuronal impulses of adaptive behavior r random meaningless and purposeless. It is precisely this inexplicable dichotomy that completely destroys evolution theory since science cannot explain away the contradiction.

  16. The irony being that, in the circles of philosophical academia, Plantinga is probably most well known for providing a solution to the problem of evil which has thus far proven impossible to logically refute.

  17. Yeah – that's what I was getting at.

    To be fair though, the transworld depravity stuff only covers evil performed by humans. If you can make the case that natural disasters are "evil," then we need something more than Plantinga's solution.

  18. Like Plantinga, you utterly fail 2 understand that evolution is not random. Darwin never spoke about the survival of the lucky, but the survival of the fittest.

  19. @ifzadra Science taught randomness for well over 100 years & only dropped it when its implications were pointed out 2 them by non-evolutionists, regardless, drop random nothing I said changes. Secondly, n a determinist world of survival of the fittest, your ideological political heroes, having murdered over 200 million people, were only fulfilling their rightful evolutionary destiny & remain blameless, since absent God neither good or evil exist & any conceivable act is as valid as any other.

  20. Well, the guy/girl you are reaction on, has a point. The problem of evil has never been fully answered. Where is free will when it comes to birth defects, diseases, etc? And if God respects my free will to do evil if I want to, why does that God does not respect my free will when it comes to Hell? Providing hell exists I do not want to go there, and I do not want to be a believer either. So god is violating my free will if I end up in hell. .

  21. He answers this nonsense (as argued by Sam Harris).

    Roll for "Bait and Switch" by Plantinga.

  22. No he doesn't. This article is what man does to man, not what is done to man by mechanism controlled or designed by God. With all respect: do you have something relevant to say about my posts, or not? I would like to know. .

  23. Sorry you're having comprehension issues. I'll attempt to simplify it.

    The article is about the difference between the liberty of an intelligent agent to determine his own moral decisions and the maximal autonomy fiction that some atheists confuse with free will.

    If you are informed of the result of an action and choose to act heedlessly of it, you cannot blame it on fatalism.

  24. Well thanks for the article. It is very interesting, but it does not connect on what I posted. Maybe we misunderstand each other here. What I find interesting is that Plantinga states that God cannot be the author of sin, since he is perfectly good. If God is perfectly good, then why are things like birth defects, diseases, earthquakes, floods? This has nothing to do with one person using his/her free will to harm another person. And still it is part of the problem of evil.

  25. God does allow people to be born physically damaged but doesn't cause that damage, the moral evil of man does (e.g. inbreeding, starvation and drinking while pregnant).

    All natural disaster is also likely a consequence of mankind's moral choices. Ideally, these things make us understand the horrors of evil and if we dislike them we ought to pursue the Source of goodness: Christ Jesus.

    It's important not to conflate lack of personal power to change physical circumstances with moral agency.

  26. Some defects skip generations, others dont. A thing like Down Syndrome for instance, it looks like it simply is a flaw in mankind. And if man kind is designed, we need to blame the designer.

    And how do I put this in a polite way.., One of the things that makes people strongly oppose religion are remarks like: "All natural disaster is also likely a consequence of mankind's moral choices". A statement like that falls in the same category as: "thank God for dead soldiers". Cont part 2.

  27. part 2. Statements like that are incredibly offensive to people who have lost loved ones, It puts you on the same level as the WBC.

    About:

    "It's important not to conflate lack of personal power to change physical circumstances with moral agency."

    Well, why not? The Lord gives, and the Lord takes,.If there is a God, he/she/it controls nature, or is responsible for the way nature can kill us. That is hard, that is brutal, and it only shows a designer, and most certainly not a care taker.

  28. You're being very uncharitable with my statements (like the Westboro cult with the Bible). By "consequence" I was referring to mankind in general not to a specific individual's circumstance. Sometimes we suffer because we're sinned against (but God promises justice).

    "The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away" is a quote from Job where he was complaining that God is unfair. God's only response to this nonsense is that Job doesn't see the whole picture. Job's baggage kept him from trusting God.

  29. Well, if God uses a flood, the tool he uses is could very well be so powerful that he kills sinners and non sinners in one go. Take hurricane Katrina. You cannot tell me that all the dead involved were sinners. I've seen your argument before. Usually in a different shape: We cannot always understand why God does what he does, Or: God can do anything he wants.
    I can't see your argumentation as anything else then a defense mechanism for religion. It has nothing to do with the nature of God

  30. According to the Bible "all have sinned." You might not like this, but perfection is God's nature and he is incapable of doing evil. Those who you consider "innocent" may be undeserving of certain specific evils, but God promises justice. (Of course, the people who built in previously flooded low-lying lands bear no blame).

    The argument that God is nonexistent because of evil is nonsense, since without God's character there is no standard to differentiate between good and evil: only preference.

  31. "We all have sinned". If that is the justification for God using floods and earthquakes to kill without discrimination, killing those who feel remorse for possible sins and those who don't.. Than the atonement of Jesus is utterly pointless. Also praying for forgiveness is waste of time. Your particular view of God entails nihilism. "I'm screwed anyway, so I might as well sin and do bad stuff to other people". cont part 2.

  32. part 2. "without God's character there is no standard to differentiate between good and evil: only preference." And yet that is exactly what you do here: you prefer to see God's actions as anything else then what it is: murder. Ending one's life without permission is murder. Any other conclusion is sis subjective morality.

    I've seen your trick before: claiming that God's actions are outside right and wrong. And for me, it is just a trick. cont part 3.

  33. Please stick to one comment and avoid poisonous mischaracterations.

    Part 1. God promises justice. It's coming. Read Romans.

    Part 2. God's actions are based upon omniscience and though he allows death, he is the authority and the standard so his actions cannot be condemned anymore than the doctor removing cancer or the judge ordering the serial killer's death.

    Part 3. You are not omniscient, God is not a creature. Your belligerent pride keeps you from understanding that he only acts in love.

  34. I' m sorry, but in this discussion I am the one who has nothing to lose by examining God. i do not have a religion that has to survive at all costs. So I'm not forced to consider God's action, no matter how wrong, as something mysterious or as something good. This may sound arrogant, but from all the people who studied God, the religious are the ones we can trust the least when it comes to explaining God. and sorry, I use more then 500 characters. cont part 2.

  35. part 2. And I am not the who uses " poisonous mischaracterations.". We simple differ in opinion, to say that I use poisonous mischaracterations is creating a straw-man. And we can and must judge God's actions, for if he is one we need to determine what is wrong and wright we cannot depend on books that say thou " shall not kill unless.." Like the Bible. And if God is omniscient, he still needs a bias to read the information..

  36. Hahaha…typical atheist! You declare victory as soon someone wearies of answering your vapid gibbering.

  37. No. I do not claim victory. I just saw your post about that dream as what it is, a lack of arguments. Nobody wins here. You could have chosen to simply state that there is has been an exchange of arguments, and you weren't able to convince me, and I wasn't able to convince you. And leave it with that. Anyway, have a nice day.

  38. Thank you, I shall.

    Tell me though, since this reasoned response proves you're obviously capable of having a discussion without casting aspersions on the psychology behind an individual's worldview (if you're sincerely seeking truth) why not do so politely? Someone who has asked the same questions that you have might be able to satisfy your desire if they were able to get past your mini-Hitchens sarcasm act.

    God is not responsible for evil, it is a consequence of separation from Him.

  39. Well I don't do acts. Sorry that you feel it like that. As for religion.. I cannot see "God is omnibenevolent" as true. The fact that the religious like to look away when God does bad things has far reaching consequences. It shows a connection beyond reason, for one. I will always fight that notion, that thought. But .. I will never say that people are immoral just because they have a religion. After all, life is about what we do. It is possible to do good stuff based on wrong believes. .

  40. O yeah,sorry I know you dislike these add-ones, but I forget to say I'm not really looking for truth… I'm looking for reliable methods. The chance is big I wont find any:P And I think I'm reasonably polite. I do not attack people, I attack what i see as wrong in their line of reasoning.

  41. There is a difference between speaking candidly and discourtesy. Saying that someone's ideas are a "defense mechanism" even if true is rude. One could say another's rational comes from fear and desire to sin, but that doesn't enlighten.

    Method is only a means to an end and must be built upon a foundation.

    The "far reaching consequences" of God's action are only known in perspective of ultimate consequence. God will resurrect everyone and promises to reward the righteous and punish the wicked.

  42. Okay, thanks for the feedback, I'll use another, more indirect way to put down these arguments in the future.

    With far reaching consequences I meant that people are lulled into a state where some actions are not judged, but ignored or simply explained in a way that acts like a cover up. People learn to be passive, that is what I meant. I'm not saying that religion is bad by definition, but it does have it's downsides.

  43. Like Laurence Krauss T-shirt says : 2+2=5 for extremely large values of 2.
    Have you looked at " Why evolution is true " book & website by Jerry Coyne ? He makes many excellent points.

  44. Like Laurence Krauss T-shirt says : 2+2=5 for extremely large values of 2.
    Have you looked at " Why evolution is true " book & website by Jerry Coyne ? He makes many excellent points.

  45. You might find it interesting to study the history of Ancient Egypt & Babylonia, ANE, The O.T. has a few points of reality but is mostly fiction. Try, " The golden bough " by James Frazer. The Bible is largely the psychological warfare wing of ancient politics.How to keep the serfs in their place. If there is a happy ever after we will all be there. It wouldn't be ethical to let people suffer after death and impossible to do so if we have no immortal part.

  46. That's presuming god thinks like a man, that's also presuming that you believe in good and evil as opposed to just being objective.

  47. Nothing like Atheism and Theology to waste time. Quick, make more uninformed assumptions and push them on people!

  48. I don't think Dawkins has ever said that theism is logically not compatible with evolution. From what I heard and read of Dawkins, he says that God isn't necessary for the creation of species. Actually, what he always says is that there is no evidence for the existence of any god. I think he is an atheist because there are many other evidences that show us that any god described in any religion is actually nonsense.

  49. There's no conflict between science and a religion of God of the gaps. But few people are willing to subscribe to a religion that needs revision every time science makes a new finding.

  50. Utilizing your criteria, all forms of knowledge should be jettisoned immediately. Science itself is quite malleable. Every day, new discoveries are made that either challenge or affirm prevailing hypotheses. Our knowledge is far from static. As a theist, I welcome these advances in science that sometimes challenge my beliefs—others are quite confirmatory. Each of us has a mind capable of apprehending, assimilating, and even creating a potentially infinite number of thoughts or ideas. Enjoy…

  51. I wouldn't believe that someone was resurrected if it happened right in front of my eyes. I would be working on figuring out the scam.
    2000 year old tales of resurrection are so unconvincing….& so numerous as to be utterly unworthy of the slightest consideration.
    Those who believe in the resurrection do so because the bible says so, or because some other person says so. I could never in good conscience accept either of those sources…& there aren't any other sources.
    Fail.

  52. "I am the son of god because my mother did not have sex" What kind of logic is that? It isn't logic, it's complete dribble.

  53. I've read the blind watchmaker, and I think Plantinga is mischaracterizing the argument. The argument isn't merely: Darwinism hasn't been shown impossible. therefore, it's true. its more like darwinism is sufficient to explain complex mechanisms that appear designed. And there are no other viable options. therefore, darwinism is the best explanation and should be believed.

  54. Ok, fair enough, good post. It is a sufficient explanation for *now*. Just as different theories have come and gone. Not to say it won't stay, it absolutely may, but I don't like prideful dogma. I think evolution by now has been established as a legitimate and well founded theory. The problem, is that people morph this theory which should rightly be limited to scientific realms, into an underlying principle that via so called reason, justifies certain toxic philosophies and behaviors.

  55. I think the theory should be promoted as you have made clear, but cultural discussion really needs to take place. There is a complete lack of honest and respectful dialogue in the current culture, and I see that as the main hindrance of any reconciliatory progress. Any ways, sorry, I was just adding on thoughts to yours because your post got my mind started on a trail that wasn't entirely relevant to your post in a straight forward manner. 🙂

  56. Pathetic argument sir, all the arguments for Christianity or any religions would not stand even in a traffic court.

    The tomb was empty therefor the person in that tomb came back from the dead < Ridiculous!

    Evin if it was valid, aliens make a better explanation for that then invoking a whole new plane of existence and a being that contradicts all that we know.

  57. Science equals same results, wherever experiments conducted.
    Religion equals different religions and denominations worldwide – no agreement.

  58. For Jon the Great,

    The problem of evil will never be resolved because no theist knows the mind of God as to why God would allow evil to exist. Myself, as a Christian, does know it is not from God's indifference as my faith evidenced the sacrifice of His Son to save mankind including you. So God is not indifferent.
    I do know that if you believe in evil, you must believe in good. You now have defined a moral code. There must then be a moral code giver. That leads you to God.
    Blessings…

  59. No experiments have proven the the origin of life. The different theories depend on the worldview of whatever scientist you question. Some say seeds were planted here by intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. Some say inert chemicals combined to form molecules containing proteins, information, etc which could replicate and feed themselves. Some say God. Anyway – no agreement. Does that make science religious?

  60. "You now have defined a moral code. There must then be a moral code giver."

    Assuming the concept of evil as it is defined by theism, for the sake of argument, does not equal acknowledging the existence of objective morality. Similarly, I can debate who would win in a battle between superheroes from a comic book.

    Admitting there are logical inconsistencies doesn't mean you can't believe… simply that the belief is not based on logic and reasoned justification, unlike most other things in life.

  61. Plantinga is probably most well known within the circles of philosophical academia for providing a solution to the problem of evil which has, thus far, proven impossible to logically defeat. That's only his most prominent claim to fame. So, good job on completely failing to put forth even a modicum of effort in bothering to inform yourself regarding a subject on which you choose to speak.

  62. Except it isn't. I didn't say his solution was right because of who he is. Dude's post does imply, however, that he doesn't know about Plantinga since, if he did, he probably would have skipped the grandiose preamble and just said "I don't think Plantinga's super-fucking-famous solution to the PoE is good because Transworld Depravity/Axiom S5 blah blah blah".

    Your confused and boring response shows how internet atheists get stupid when their fingers type words.

  63. God does not allow evil, He decrees it. He decrees it in order to glorify His sovereignty and grace in choosing to save some people, and and His justice and righteousness in choosing to condemn others. For those whom He chooses to save, His holy anger poured out against those He has not chosen for salvation is an expression of His mercy and grace to those He has chosen to save. Romans 9 is pretty straightforward about this. Plantinga is not fit to serve the role of a Puritan's footstool.

  64. You included a god of justice in that definition. Between your first and second sentence in that paragraph, you slip in the blatent assumption that the two are incompatible. Its a mere assumption, its not true. Death and suffering can be allowed. Its necessary for manyreasons. If you beleive humans have free will its a result. If you're anyone who has ever experienced pain, youd know its taught you a lesson. Perhaps a tragic death must occur for a great reform to take place.

  65. I don't think he has. But, yeah, if God is so powerful and merciful why would he create species through such a violent way? Why wouldn't he create them at once?

  66. ?!?! Uh… say what?!?!? You are aware that Marilyn McCord Adams has stated that in her opinion Plantinga has absolutely solved the abstract problem of evil, no? Does that sound like she "has nothing positive to say" about him? Why would she consider someone who provided a logical solution to such a problem to be a "cheap sophist"? I'm sorry if Plantinga threatens your ideology or something, but that doesn't grant you license to just make stuff up.

  67. Jesus, Lord and Savior said…
    "Well fuck me and call me cooter!!! The goddamn Germans won the World Cup!!!

    I lost another bet!!!

    O.K. Judas, bend over and spread your legs, I'm going In from the rear this time. And brother, prepare yourself, because my Son of God cock is going to rip you a new asshole that even Elton John would be proud of!!"

    —Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior

    As told to Chuck Norris

  68. Plantinga has a point, however his examples are a bit silly. I can give you a real example of unreliable cognitive faculties, thereby strengthening the proposition that both naturalism and evolution are true. Ready? Theism is a false belief that produces adaptive behavior.

  69. The only 'conflict' between science and religion is that you don't know much of either…
    Classic repartee to 03:22: "That's a lie, I wasn't at Wayne State University in Detroit…"
    This is getting boring real fast: all talk-about-talk but no understanding of what's real…
    "Semireligion…evolution," like listening to all-the-myths-of-the-world barring the truth…
    (And in another video note that "free will" refers to how the gods raised their children.)

  70. Obviously the distinguished lecturer disregards on purpose the real issue of religion which is not only who created the world but mostly the continuous guidance and intervention of God in world and human affairs. This is utterly stupid and cannot be defended. Nor can you defend miracles which mean non-natural phenomena (stop the sun in its track so Joshua can win a battle). There are ample proofs of un-guided evolution even happening today. By extrapolation you can assume that it was not guided before. As in all scientific thoughts, if and when somebody comes up with a proof of guidance, we will change the theory. Nobody has so far. Thus the theory stands. This is science. The distinguished lecturer does not seem to understand that at all.  

  71. Another point – this philosopher considers himself qualified to judge whether Dawkins is convincing in showing that even complicated structures such as the eye could have evolved spontaneously without guidance. Obviously he is not. The derogatory way in which he talks about Dawkins only shows where he really stands on the issue of evolution vs. creationism. Quoting Behe is tops here – Behe is a complete sham.

  72. There should be NO antagonism between scientists of different religious persuasions or the lack of it, for they have one thing in common:  SCIENCE.  What is happening here is that their worldviews, which are not scientific, clash. And if they would only recognize their own fallibility or imperfections, and instead have mutual respect for each other’s worldview and concentrate on their SCIENCE, the world would be a much better place to live in.

    Science has boundaries (Laws of Thermodynamics, Laws of Biology, observability, predictability, etc., etc.). When a theist scientist crosses these boundaries (in search for truth), he never forgets these boundaries’ existence, so he kept himself honest and his theories sane. But when an atheist scientist crosses them, he ignores and forgets their existence, and thus risk making grandiose and dishonest claims. Atheist scientists are beings that have forgotten their dominion; wandered off on foreign soil and proceeded regulating the area and enforce taxation on the inhabitants. This is almost reminiscent of a classic movie plot in an insane asylum that ends up only in a horrifying realization that the doctors were in fact the ones who are really insane. 

    The classic argument “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” The answer to this riddle of course is that the chicken comes first when God created the first chicken (“after its own kind”). “Whoa! Wait a minute!” You'd say. “That is ‘begging the question’ fallacy! You are presupposing that God’s existence is a done deal!” Okay, but for the sake of argument, let’s proceed with the inquest anyway: so, you'd ask “I suppose you have evidence for God’s existence?” Yes! Absolutely! The CHICKEN! The problem here lies simply on the atheist denial of the most plausible evidence right in front of him. (The “chicken” here, in principle, corresponds with the statements found in Romans 1:20 and Isaiah 40:26.)

    Note: The “either the chicken or the egg” dilemma is known as “bifurcation” logic fallacy: the “false dilemma”. This is because there is almost always a third option.

    The atheist's’ position on Evolution and Cosmology is beginning to, if not already has, become untenable.

  73. For those (and I see that there are more than a few in this stream) who are adherents to Scientism (and, for others who seek more information):

    www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1112-barron-religion-scientism-20151112-story.html

  74. "As we know now-ism". It is called learning. We learn new things, and so refute the old. I am disgusted that an educator would not know how that works. It is called progress. Do we use Aristotle in biology class? No. is this a world informed by Newtonian physics? Not anymore. But that is the core of religious power, the sheep must remain stupid. And this man is a teacher, mocking the progress that comes from learning. Shameful. Funny thing though, i would bet that he goes to a doctor when he feels ill. I am sure he can find one in Notre Dame that will bleed him till his humours align.

    Science and dogma are non-overlapping majesteria, and religion hurts science, but science helps everyone.

  75. Adaption and mostly true belief can go hand in hand in the following way: If "meat" evolves memory to store observations, AND, evolves a means to compare observations in memory, AND acts on the comparisons, then true belief arises as certain actions as a result of comparisons are successful and then also go into memory. So for instance an octopus may see and remember that fish often swim through a hole in a rock formation. Then the octopus moves towards the hole, not knowing why or when the next fish will come through it, but assuming one might come through it as has happened before. So the octopus sits on one side of the hole, waits, and a fish eventually swims through and becomes an easy meal. The dumbest octopus may believe that fish just come through holes in rocks, and go sit by a hole, and may starve. The smarter octopus believes that if she has seen many fish come through the hole, then she may sit next to it and nab a fish fairly soon, and will not starve. Why the one acted on one observation and the other acted only on two observations could be due to variations in it's meat-head. Octo #2 has a better belief….will not starve, will likely reproduce. And it's not that the belief is 100% true, just works well most of the time.

    I'm just saying that only prerequisites of memory, access to memory and a comparator are needed to cause a belief which is adaptively advantageous. Of course I have no idea how those prerequisites fall into place in the first place. But then over time, creatures with these prerequisites will flourish due to their beliefs being mostly true.

    The frog example is sort of lame….a better example would be creatures that actively hunt, or know where to lie in wait….such creatures have beliefs that exist inbetween meals and cause action to be positioned to catch a meal.

  76. He mocks Dawkins because Dawkins said, apparently, that nobody has managed to falsify evolution, so that makes evolution true. But underlying this whole presentation is the knowledge that Alvinga is a theist trying to find a crack in science where he can insert his increasingly unnecessary God. And what is the absolute final squeal of protest from a theist… "you can't prove God didn't do it." Which is a much worse abuse of logic than Dawkins, who can lay out a perfectly coherent argument for unguided evolution and a mountain of evidence to support his theory. Alvinga has got nothing except "The God of the Gaps Argument", admittedly well argued, but it's nothing more than that.

  77. I wasn't aware atheists had a pope- Dawkins. Theists/creationists often resort to refuting things Dawkins said as if THAT'S going to refute atheism (if that's possible). – though I don't prefer that label. As for atheism, I've heard/read some atheists comments to the effect of: 'it's personal' – it's unique to each individual. I'm somewhat comfortable with that, but it still troubles me that a label is needed. I prefer to say I hold to metaphysical naturalism. But as for ALL philosophies, etc., I've yet to study one that "gets everything right". On evolution- it's a theory. It's a compilation of observations. It can be and has been used to make predictions. Are there gaps? Sure. Is there something better? Not that I'm aware of. It seems theists ignore the issue of 'reputation'. Scientists use words like, "appears to; could be; the evidence seems to indicate" and some creationists spin that to imply science isn't reliable – specifically evolution. Others try to put words into atheist's mouths, or try to say atheism makes a positive claim. Here's one for you: God isn't real.

  78. 1- We don't know what we don't know. Nobody knows where the universe came from, but ignorance is no proof that an invisible magician God did it. If there is no evidence for any God so far, how did you become 100% sure God exists?
    2- Are you saying God has gone to the obscure part of the universe trying to play hide n seek?
    3- Didn't religion claim omnipresent is one of the attributes of God?
    4- Are you saying the omnipresent attribute claim was made up out of arguments from ignorance by the primitive delusional people?
    5- Absence of evidence is not evidence absence, but there is no evidence that there are two or more Gods that do their magic when they meet either. Do you agree that the reason you believe there is only one God is because you have been brainwashed to believe there is only one God?
    6- Out partially known universe is very hostile to life. There are 7 other major planets in our solar system that do not support life. Do you agree that it is inefficient and unintelligent for a creator to intentionally create so many planets so that a single planet earth can have life on it?
    7- If you were asked to make a home for a couple of homeless people, would you also make 7 other inhabitable homes with poisonous atmosphere to go with it?
    8- Do you agree that when a tiny plant precariously sprouts through an accidentally created crack of 2 ton boulder, neither the boulder was intentionally designed to be of that shape and size, nor the boulder was designed for the plant, nor the crack in the boulder was planned and intentional?
    9- Do you agree that fanged carnivores like lions designed to kill by instinct, and thousands of genetic DNA defects causing stuff like cancer, are expected from an unintelligent, unplanned, unguided, imperfect, unkind, immoral, and unintentional evolutionary process; And they are NOT expected from an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, kind, moral, and perfect designer/creator with intentions and an intelligent plan?
    10- Do you agree that thanking God for choosing you to have good health while hundreds of handicapped babies were ignored by God, in the very same minute you were born, is the show of your ignorance and narcissism which make you believe you are special in your delusional mind?
    11- Do you agree that you are being intellectually dishonesty when you ignore evolution's DNA/fossil evidences in order to make your selfish gullible ass happy with a God-given purpose. No offense.
    12- Do you agree that it is a hypocrisy when the Bible approves eating meat and even suggests what animals to slaughter and eat while thanking God for creating life and also thanking God for creating chicken, lamb, and beef to slaughter and take their precious life away?
    13- Do you agree that it is a hypocrisy when the Bible says "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but it also teaches how to buy slaves, how to beat slaves, how to enslave children, how to pass slaves on to next generation as inheritance, how to not treat relatives the way slaves are treated, how to sell daughters, how to kill unruly children, how to kill non-virgin brides, how to downgrade woman by ordering them to be quiet, and how to slaughter an entire nation including their children, infants and animals?
    14- Do you agree that you should be ashamed of yourself for praising a God who orders the slaughter of even one infant in any context?
    15- Do you agree that your discomfort with ignorance has caused you to jump the gun and be 100% sure God exists?
    16- Do you agree that unless you can prove otherwise, your God is imaginary and you are making up attributes for him out of arguments from ignorance?
    17- Do you not agree that you are being gullible when you believe in God and revelation just because a book claims itself to be the holy truth?
    18- Does God have brain to think with? If God does not have brain to think with, then how does God think without a brain?
    19- If you claim God is immaterial but has a brain to think with, how can an immaterial entity think without a brain?
    20- When God said: "Let there be light."; How did God know what to say without a brain to think with?
    21- When God said: "Let there be light."; What language did God speak in? Did God speak English, Hebrew or Arabic?
    22- When God said: "Let there be light."; Who was God talking to?
    23- When God said: "Let there be light."; Was God talking to himself?
    24- When God said: "Let there be light."; If no one was around, how do you know what God said?

  79. However one feels about science, science has made it abundantly clear that the universe – all matter, energy, space, time – had a beginning. If the universe had a beginning in what scientists call the 'big bang,' then it began to exist. If the universe began to exist, it either popped into being out of nothing, or was brought into existence by 'X' which is outside the bounds of space, time, energy and matter. Theists call X 'God,' because X is not limited by space, time, matter or energy. Atheists argue that the universe simply came into being out of nothing. No one has ever seen even the smallest object just pop into existence out of nothing, and there is no evidence the whole darn universe did either. Indeed, the suggestion that things just pop into existence from nothing is a rejection of science itself.

  80. لو اننا نفهم لغة بعضنا لما حصرنا بالجهل لانكم لاتتكبدون العناء بفهمنا ودرس لغتنا ونتحاور بالمجهول والمحظور من تاريخنا وتاريخكم

  81. Of course science and religion are compatible….too bad religion is based on a belief and not science. If only there were real evidence then believing could turn into science.

    Maybe the most rational explanation is the most rational. Maybe God created the Universe…or maybe there is no God, or maybe there are aliens living on the other side of the moon, or maybe the Easter Bunny does exist, or maybe two intersecting lines don't make a point. All this speculation — pondering the imponderables.

    Believing in things that have no real evidence is intellectually harmful…to intelligent people and for intelligent people.

    I have no idea how life came into existence, whether is was out of the primordal soup in tide pools or some mysterious supernatural force (to which I ask, "Why make That leap?"), but the evidence for evolution is solid.

    I was a Christian for 40 years. Any belief that is worth its salt can stand up to serious questioning….mine did not. Nor could any belief without evidence.

  82. It's a shame to see so many atheists . Almost every time it's the same thoughts. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. But the evidence is you. Its life itself. We all have to ask ourselves what is this phenomenon of being? Why do we come and go? I think atheists should stop dismissing these claims so easily.. we should all examine each side of the argument if we are genuinely seeking the truth. I feel like too many just consider it make believe. But life itself is a miracle. The universe . To live now as we do.

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