Need another set of eyes on a debate

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Need another set of eyes on a debate

Post  Paul Walker on Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:37 am

This is my first post here, I am pressed for time, will leave introductions for later Smile

What I thought to be a straight forward and self evident argument, it seems that for some reason or another I am not making myself understood.
I am having a conversation with a theist who is proposing the following.
Unchanging logical thought processes (per the classical laws of logic) and changing brains over time (evolution) are incompatible.
You can read it on silverweapon dot com (can't post external links yet)

The example given:
Major premise: all men grow older
Minor premise: Socrates is a man
Conclusion: therefore, Socrates will grow old

I was basically asked how do I know my conclusion to be true.
My argument was through observation.
Men grow old. That is an observation.
Socrates is a man. Also observation.
Socrates will grow old. A LOGICAL conclusion
Basically he is saying that I am engaging in circular reasoning and that I am relying on logic to conclude that my observations are true.
I have already explained that no, I am not relying on logic, but on factual evidence which is both observable, testable AND falsifiable. He is rejecting this answer and restating his counter-argument.
Where is my mistake here? Is there another way I can get my point across?

He goes on further to clearly state what his original point was
"If a brain mutation can enable the ability to determine truth, can't a mutation "uncause" truth (i.e., the ability to determine truth from falsehood)? Of course! The brain is still mutating and changing from person to person. People's brains are wired differently. How do you know that *you* don't have a mutation or unique chemical arrangement that leads you to false conclusions?"

My argument was that this is not what the naturalist point proposes.
Our brain is not wired to reach A conclusion or truth, but to be able to REASON.
He is essentially proposing that the brain is like a very strict and inflexible computer program. Sort of like artificial intelligence programmed to negotiate obstacles which upon being placed in a course unknown, would make wrong turns, hit walls etc.
In other words our brain didn't mutate into "2 lefts the a right", but rather "if obstacle in front, attempt to go around it".

Wanted to get another set of eyes on this and point out my failings.

Paul Walker

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Error: does not compute...

Post  benuk78 on Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:42 am

Did you ever have any luck here?

I don't think its down to your argument so much as silverweapons problem seeing past his/her limits.

Even the first 20 or so lines have faults. Firstly the Socrates example is used as an example only because they are assumed for the sake of the example to be self evident truths. Any extension of this into areas without self evident truths will crash and burn. Silverweapon is obviously living in the land of black and white if they think that most of nature are self evident truths.

In their article they go on to see the reality
'If the logical thought processes that we use (to think about the data that we take in with our senses) were in a state of change, however gradual the change might be... ...we would not be able to depend on human thinking to tell us anything with absolute certainty!'

No exclamation mark is necessary and is only revealing of Silverweapons psychology. It is entirely true that we cannot trust anything with absolute certainty. In fact our experience of life is much like Silverweapons description. There is a variability within peoples ability to reason out and solve problems - even to imagine solutions to them. Just as Silverweapon predicts evolution would create. It is all there for them to see, and they have seen bits of it and been able to comment on it. They just have a psychological issue with accepting it, but that is very different from not being able to express it scientifically or logically. The real world is noisy and chaotic - it has taken for more wrong turns and errors for us to learn it than right ones.

So in reply: "How are unchanging logical thought processes (per the classical laws of logic), and changing brains over time (per evolution), compatible?"

They need only overlap, not perfectly land on each other - and many people struggle with them. We can deduce them, but everything we know about human psychology tells us that the brain does not use perfect logic, it uses something more akin to statistics. The rules of logic, and of maths, are also not binary in terms of understanding, we don't either understand none or understand all. Some are simple and some are hard. Most of us cannot understand much beyond the simpler ones. We also get a guide as to how our mind understands logic through our intuitions, which can hardly be said to be logical. Economic theory for example, has moved past the old idea that we individually behave rationally to considering us as irrational in an attempt to explain market behaviour. The list goes on.

More than anything I think this is a psychological issue on the behalf of Silverweapon overextending a weak argument while at the same time including elements in it that fail to predict the real world. It is just their take on absolutism compared to how real human understanding works. Its always worth remembering that many people have been raised in worlds where they are told they can know something absolutely. This is Silverweapons response to the realisation that atheistic and scientific arguments are saying you cannot. It is freaking them out and they have made a website to say that atheism and science say we cannot know something absolutely so how can they be absolutely right about it. All it is is that they are freaking out about something fairly obvious to the rest of us. But I hope you can see that if its a psychological issue you're not going to disprove it with a little bit of logic - you'll just be ignored until the real issue can be dealt with, which looks to me to be about Silverweapons relationship with absolutism.

benuk78

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Re: Need another set of eyes on a debate

Post  Paul Walker on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:10 am

Appreciate the reply.
You are completely correct in not being an issue with my position but an utter lack of understanding or refusal to do so on behalf of the apologetic.
The back and forth debate ended up in over 800 replies if I remember correctly, on Facebook. It would be utterly tedious to wade through so I will spare you the horror.
However if you are interested in a much more condensed representation of it, there was similar discussion on another board. My username there is shol'va. I'd start at the end and work backwards.
Basically the author was adopting a Sye Ten position of "how do you know"
http://www.wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=10218&start=70

I also want to present you with a humorous account of the kind of weasel and dishonest debate methodology specific to said individual.
In this one we were discussing miracles and, as opposed to the conversation above, clearly cornered him.
http://www.wearesmrt.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=10986

Paul Walker

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Re: Need another set of eyes on a debate

Post  benuk78 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:12 pm

Yep, nice little example of the psychology in play here.

As a geologist I picked up on his claim that the creation of the Earth is a miracle and so proves miracles exist. I know I'm in the lucky position (or unlucky given the cost and effort of gaining it) of holding a degree in how the Earth formed, but if you stop asking questions about a subject at the point your pastor tells you 'God did it' then you stop learning at about a junior school level (as evidenced by the level of my 6 year old).

I know most people think they know enough geology if they know that scientists say the planet formed from a ball of molten rock and that the crust is made of plates that move around, but really, there is a bit more to it than that! Theologians pray on this situation and Silverweapon is the far end of the outcome.

By the way, I knocked up a disproof of God the other day. I'm going to think of this as a functional disproof - obviously not an absolute philosophical one - which is impossible. It concerns a disproof within this idea of NOMA, or non-overlapping magesteria.

It works like this:

Split into two magesteria and considering the scientific magesteria first we can see that no objective proof for God exists. Quite the opposite even. Everything that is explained has occurred through non-God processes. Whether we term then natural or not they are following laws that require no intervention. Furthermore proponents of God have all but abandoned the objective magesteria and only make reference to it through 'god of the gaps' style arguments. No objective argument is presented that is evidenced and all functional theory assumes no God. Therefore to the standard of what is extremely likely and most reasonable the argument for God is unevidenced in the objective magesteria. I take the greatest evidence of this acception, theologically, to be the theological withdrawal from the magesteria to, at best, its hinterland - the marginal boundary with the subjective and philosophical. This tactic, used once pressed, is revealing of the failure of theologians to secure ground in the objective magesteria.

This leaves us with the much harder subjective magesteria; and this is the bit I have pondered on.

Accepting that we will not expect to find an objective disproof within this magesteria and so shifting mindset to that more akin to the arguments of theologians we can still bring a little of our objective skillset to the table. Even though this realm of the argument is not objective, just like many areas of psychology, we can still ask what a disproof of the subjective arguments for God might look like.

Here is what I thought: though the subjective disproof is likely causally connected to the objective proofs we aren't going to be able to pin it down very easily. It is likely quite fluid and personal to different people. Just like many subjective arguments in theology it is going to be about individual interpretations. Even if we cannot define it simply we can still look for its affects outside of the objective realm.

If we have an objective disproof of God, which I believe we do as evidenced by theologians retreat away from the objective, and it is bleeding down into the non-objective magesteria - casting a shadow if you will - then can we measure its affect? I.e. without being able to state exactly what the disproof is in an objective sense can we measure its affect? I think we can. So if we are forced to conclude that a portion of this debate is occurring outside of the objective, which, being human beings, I think we should expect, we can still be hopeful that this is not a safe ground for theology any longer.

Perhaps, though none of us has come up with a knock down blow to non-objective arguments, we can still measure the shadow of the objective being cast upon the subjective. In affect even though no really good knock out subjective argument exists the cumulation, along with the strong objective arguments, has actually created a subjective disproof of God in this magesteria as well. The fact that we cannot easily define it does not stop us measuring the affect of its presence, and the measured increase in deconversion as well as increase in religious liberalism tied in with reported increases in the difficulty of maintaining belief by theists is all the evidence we need that some sort of subjective disproof exists.

I.e. we have both objective and subjective disproofs in place; and with that we can see we have it quite well in hand.

benuk78

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Re: Need another set of eyes on a debate

Post  Paul Walker on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:23 am

I appreciate your insight.

That is a very interesting theory and ... a lot more than I can chew on Very Happy
I'll have to sit down and read it and process it.

Paul Walker

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Re: Need another set of eyes on a debate

Post  benuk78 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:44 am

Cheers.

I guess theres not much to it. It just drives me a little nuts when we get this science and religion do different thing (occupy different spheres/magesteria blah blah blah) and science cannot disprove God etc.

I think thats true, obviously (though be silly enough to define your God and we'll disprove it). This is just a little way of letting us slip in a final word. Sure, we can't use objective science in your religious sphere where you get away with being more philosophical, but then we can act a little more philosophically in your realm too. We can ask whether, even though we can't make an objective proof in your realm, whether there is anything that looks like it is acting as a disproof there too. And I think we can measure that we are creating a proof in this 'subjective' realm whether they want to say we can't or not. After all, if they are right and we cannot have a disproof in their realm then why are we seeing exactly what it would look like if we had created one?

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Re: Need another set of eyes on a debate

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