Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  jgrow2 on Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:33 am

Objectivitees wrote:I didn't catch the 'problem' to which you refer. Could you specify for poor little overworked and slow me, please?

Sorry. specify the problem in the next paragraph, which is below....

I agree, a good argument should be logically consistent. Too often though, these debates turn into mere word games, and can even devolve further into emotional arguments. They do nothing but while away a few hours and warm up a room with hot air, whether from actual voices or from overburdened CPUs. You get a nice look into the way a particular person perceives reality, but that's all.

...and to your response...

Creations' presuppositions (assumptions)are better justified (by logic) than Evolutions'.

That will be a neat trick for you to pull off, proving that point. Because I don't see it. At all. So I look forward to reading.


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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:19 am

Objectivitees wrote:

I agree. I would however, add that “belief systems” need to be rational and reasonable as well. Only logic will enable us to make this determination.


How? By what means can you - through logic alone - determine the "reasonability" of an idea? You cannot - when you talk about something being reasonable and rational, as opposed to merely logically consistent, you need to step out of the area of pure logic, and enter in some data out of the real world, which you then use logic to draw conclusions from.


The collection of statements:

1. All rocks are made of cheese
2. The moon is made of rock
3. Therefore the moon is made of cheese

Represents a completely logically sound position - but it it's premises are not valid; it does not correspond to the state of reality.

So then, logic does tell us something about reality, namely, in your example, it corresponds with the truth that the moon is not made of cheese. Your Modus tollens is a perfect (and valid)example of such kinds of logic, but just because this particular example doesn’t support it’s conclusion, does not mean it does not tell us anything about reality.

No, the logic doesn't tell us anything about reality, in the example I gave above. We know that the logic in my example is sound, and that is as far as you can go whereas logic goes. The reason we know that the premise of that argument is false when it comes to the real world, is that it contradicts with direct empirical evidence of the nature of rocks - our experience and the study of rocks reveals unequivically that rocks are not made of cheese.

Without experience of the world as it is - say a if you give this inference to someone who's lived in a box and never seen a rock (or the moon for that matter), no amount of logical inference, or application of reason will help them to come to the conclusion that the premise, and thus the conclusion is false.

You ultimately cannot say anything about reality in the absense of empirical evidence of the reality you are talking about - using logic divorced from this sort of evidence can only tell you whether your arguments are logically, structurally valid; no useful information on the way the world is can be derived through this route.


But it can help you determine some things that are true about reality, as I established above.

No, it can't, and you certainly did not establish that, for the reason explained above.


(unless you find a logical contradiction, in which case you can dismiss it as self-contradictory).

Which directly contradicts the first half of your paragraph, above.

I gave, in parenthesis, an exception to the rule - of course it contradicts what went before, it's an exception to the rule. Further, it is easy to understand why this is - surely we don't need to discuss why self-contradictory things can't exist? If I tell you that I have in front of me a flat euclidian circle, but this circle has three sides, connected at the ends to each at a 300 degree angle, you could dismiss my claim without any empirical evidence; simply because I've used a (multiply) self-contradictory description of what's supposed to be in front of me.


This is why in any discussion of evolution, or indeed, any claim of the state of the world, or the phenomena in it, empirical evidence must be brought to bear to settle the matter. Would you not agree with this?

[color=darkblue] No, I would not. Here’s the reason. A discussion on the empirical evidence alone already presupposes my position is wrong; therefore I would be foolish to accept those terms. How would it be possible to make a reasonable defense of my position if I concede at the outset it is wrong?

Huh? That really makes no sense at all - it seems you are saying that you acknowledge that evidence points exclusively to evolution, and therefore we should not consider evidence. If you're not saying that, then I'm at a loss as to what you might mean here.

If you disagree with the interpretations of the available evidence, then we need to hear your interpretations - and to do that, we need to look at what the empirical evidence is. There is much, much empirical evidence for which I - nor anyone I know, scientists or layman - has ever offered a way to interpret the evidence other than common descent, and evolution!

In order to HAVE an interpretation of the evidence in the first place, you have to be aware of the evidence - you have to be familiar with it. Are you? Have you familiarized yourself with any significant portion of the evidence upon which the practically universal acceptance - among life scientists - of common descent is founded? Have you studied the field studies, and experiments regarding the effects of natural selection?


You see, the problems lie not with “the evidence”. They lie in our interpretation of the evidence. Since we have different and diametrically opposed interpretations (Evolution vs. Creation) we will quite naturally interpret the evidence differently.

Now here I can't agree either - what you are calling "interpretations of evidence" here are actually simply beliefs. I accept evolution as a reality, you believe in Biblical special creation, which is why you reject evolution. This is not an interpretation of anything, it is a description of a belief. To have an intepretation of evidence, you need to actually look at the evidence you are interpreting. If you haven't honestly familiarized yourself with the evidence, you cannot have an interpretation of it; you may have an (uninformed) opinion about it.

I'm quite open to hearing your interpretations of the evidence, but cannot fathom how we can talk about your interpretations, if we don't examine the evidence first.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Nathan Barley on Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:27 pm

I believe discussions with creationists to be ultimately fairly pointless. The creationist can claim to find this unreasonable, or that unreasonable, but ultimately they're putting faith ahead of evidence, whilst claiming to have access to the biological equivalent of a replacement for Einstein's Special Theory, or Theory of Relativity.

Instead of wasting time arguing online about logical fallacies, if you have evidence for creationism, or have evidence that evolution is false, then get your peer-reviewed papers out there, sit back, and wait for the Nobel Prize for Biology to come your way. Until then you're just a flat-earther or alien conspiricist.

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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:51 pm

That will be a neat trick for you to pull off, proving that point. Because I don't see it. At all. So I look forward to reading.

Yeah, it will. I expect you won't agree with my reasoning, nor I with yours, so even if I accomplish it to my satisfaction, we will probably still disagree. But I hold hope this approach will at the very least, help both of us to understand the other side better. So, let me thank you in advance, for maintaining civility so far. I much prefer civil disagreements, to the majority of posts where the norm is ad hominem stonewalling. There are some, who drop the civility ball within one or two posts. Thanks for specifying where your hang up is. Steg, seems to be addressing a point I need to address before we can go on, (a point I assume you understand already, as you have not directly challenged on it yet, that being, logic's sufficiency to the task.) So, give me a bit more time to try to see If I can reach consensus in methodology with Steg, before I proceed further with you. Since you (again) did not ask a specific question I could address, I'll assume you don't mind if I attempt to answer his first, and maybe in the process will hit some points you might be forming before you express them. (then again, maybe I won't.)

So here we sit, you not seeing something I think I do see. So far, you seem to hold out the courtesy the Podcasters claim will be a hallmark of their interaction with those who disagree, again, I thank you.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:38 pm

How? By what means can you - through logic alone - determine the "reasonability" of an idea? You cannot - when you talk about something being reasonable and rational, as opposed to merely logically consistent, you need to step out of the area of pure logic, and enter in some data out of the real world, which you then use logic to draw conclusions from.

By the same means you use logic alone to reason your idea that you can’t use logic alone to determine the ‘reasonability’ of an idea. See, my point here is…we all assume logic is valid, for determining truth, no matter what empirical evidence we are reasoning about. It all has its basis in what you call pure logic; because we have to assume that our other senses allow us to accurately see the empirical ‘evidence’ before we can interpret it.

No, the logic doesn't tell us anything about reality, in the example I gave above. We know that the logic in my example is sound, and that is as far as you can go whereas logic goes. The reason we know that the premise of that argument is false when it comes to the real world, is that it contradicts with direct empirical evidence of the nature of rocks - our experience and the study of rocks reveals unequivically that rocks are not made of cheese.

This is only true if your senses accurately relay to your brain the true nature of rocks. See, all you are saying here, is that our definition of rocks comports with our definition of rocks. My question is, ‘what evidence do you have that this happens?’ Is your memory faulty? How would you know? Is the universe in which you live uniform? (Are laws of nature in effect everywhere in the same way all the time?) How would you know? What I am proposing here is not whether our reasoning to arrive at an epistemological conclusion about our apprehension of ‘empirical evidence’ is a good logical chain, but rather are our assumptions about our ability to reason better supported by an Evolutionary worldview, or a worldview that incorporates Creation? If your worldview logically allows for irrationality to be present in physical reality, you cannot depend on any of your conclusions, and neither could I, on mine.

So, in short, I am saying we all make assumptions. The question I am asking is, “Whose assumptions are logically better justified by their worldview? (Note I did not say ‘Proven’) Everyone must have an ‘ultimate standard’ by which evidence is evaluated. If we didn’t, we could not epistemologically claim any knowledge, you or me. (Law of non-contradiction)


Without experience of the world as it is - say a if you give this inference to someone who's lived in a box and never seen a rock (or the moon for that matter), no amount of logical inference, or application of reason will help them to come to the conclusion that the premise, and thus the conclusion is false.

So you’re saying a person who doesn’t know what a rock is, and doesn’t know what cheese is, could not tell you there is a difference between the two when they do see them? I’m saying they could. But only if they make certain assumptions about the nature of reality, (the universe) the nature of their own being (their memory, reliability of senses) and as I have been pointing to all along, the laws of Logic. These are sometimes referred to as the Preconditions of Intelligibility. (Though by far, they are not the only ones) So, the guy in your box must assume these things to claim knowledge, you must assume then to claim knowledge that Evolution is true, and I must assume them to claim knowledge that Creation is true. What I hope to be able to show is, they (the preconditions) make more logical sense coming from a Creationist worldview, than from an Evolutionary one. In other words the preconditions of intelligibility don’t comport with an Evolutionary worldview.

Self-evidently, (I believe you will agree with this) a belief must be true in order to be considered knowledge.

If one does not have a good reason for believing something is true, it would be inappropriate to say they have knowledge of it, even if it were true, because one can have true beliefs accidentally. It is for these ‘accidents’ of ‘ true beliefs’, we require of each other, good reasons. This is the basis for which we all assume logic is valid, it is for the purpose of being able to claim “knowledge”.


You ultimately cannot say anything about reality in the absense of empirical evidence of the reality you are talking about - using logic divorced from this sort of evidence can only tell you whether your arguments are logically, structurally valid; no useful information on the way the world is can be derived through this route.

If this were true, then you are using logic to tell me that logic is insufficient. We all assume logic is valid to be able to claim knowledge. We use only logic ‘divorced from evidence’ (our assumption logic is valid) to start constructing logical ‘good reasons’ for claiming what we believe is ‘real’, is indeed real. Our assumption is what enables us to “derive useful information.” If you deny this, you contradict yourself here.

No, it can't, and you certainly did not establish that, for the reason explained above.

Yes it can, and I just did. (Again.)

I gave, in parenthesis, an exception to the rule - of course it contradicts what went before, it's an exception to the rule.

It’s a contradiction to “the rule”, it’s not an exception and a contradiction.

Further, it is easy to understand why this is - surely we don't need to discuss why self-contradictory things can't exist?

I agree that contradictory things cannot both be true. This is the second law of logic, the principle of non-contradiction. So, you're right, we don't need to discuss it. However we do need to note the law of non-contradiction is a law, it’s not an exception. It can't be both.

In order to HAVE an interpretation of the evidence in the first place, you have to be aware of the evidence –

No, as I have outlined for you above, you have to have an assumption that you can (are 'able', {preconditions of intelligibility}) derive knowledge from the “evidence” before you can have an interpretation of the evidence.

Did this clear up for you what I am trying to say?


Last edited by Objectivitees on Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Emphasis)
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Nathan Barley on Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:34 pm

Can I cut to the chase and ask if this is heading towards Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism? If so, it might save time for all concerned if you said so straight off.

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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  jgrow2 on Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:43 am

Objectivitees wrote:Yeah, it will. I expect you won't agree with my reasoning, nor I with yours, so even if I accomplish it to my satisfaction, we will probably still disagree. But I hold hope this approach will at the very least, help both of us to understand the other side better. So, let me thank you in advance, for maintaining civility so far. I much prefer civil disagreements, to the majority of posts where the norm is ad hominem stonewalling. There are some, who drop the civility ball within one or two posts. Thanks for specifying where your hang up is. Steg, seems to be addressing a point I need to address before we can go on, (a point I assume you understand already, as you have not directly challenged on it yet, that being, logic's sufficiency to the task.) So, give me a bit more time to try to see If I can reach consensus in methodology with Steg, before I proceed further with you. Since you (again) did not ask a specific question I could address, I'll assume you don't mind if I attempt to answer his first, and maybe in the process will hit some points you might be forming before you express them. (then again, maybe I won't.)

So here we sit, you not seeing something I think I do see. So far, you seem to hold out the courtesy the Podcasters claim will be a hallmark of their interaction with those who disagree, again, I thank you.

Of course. It's my pleasure. In the end we may not agree, but I would very much like to see where you're coming from with this. My time as a Catholic/Christian was spent casting off the worst aspects of the former, and considering the metaphoric and symbolic aspects of the latter. I never for a moment during that time, for example, considered the bible anything but symbolic/metaphoric at best and a confused jumble at worst.

I will sit back and read the thread from here, but one thing I would like to see, when you are able, is a run-down of your beliefs. Sort of a "profession of faith," as opposed to the "gospel of doubt" that is elsewhere in this forum.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:59 am

Objectivitees - I'll try not to get hung up on pedantics, so I'll not do a point by point addressing of your response to me, but rather pick a few key points, that I see must be resolved.

Objectivitees wrote:
Stegocephalian wrote:How? By what means can you - through logic alone - determine the "reasonability" of an idea?...

By the same means you use logic alone to reason your idea that you can’t use logic alone to determine the ‘reasonability’ of an idea. See, my point here is…we all assume logic is valid, for determining truth, no matter what empirical evidence we are reasoning about. It all has its basis in what you call pure logic; because we have to assume that our other senses allow us to accurately see the empirical ‘evidence’ before we can interpret it.

I can use logic alone to reason about the reasonability of determining things about reality by logic alone, with the caveat that my conclusion cannot actually end up making claims about what specifically exists or doesn't exist in external reality.

You can use pure logic alone when it comes to issues relating to pure logic and it's limitations - in doing so, you are not making external claims.

This does, again, NOT mean that you can use logic to reliably determine things about the empirical world, without actually looking at the empirical world to see how things are. This is because there are a vast number of logically consistent - but mutually contradictory - hypothetical realities that we can dream up, the vast majority of which do not have a correspondence in the reality we inhabit.

The point is that nothing about an idea being logically consistent implies that this means it must correspond to something in reality. Logic is a tool that may be used in evaluating the consistency of an idea, as well as to evaluate the empirical evidence we gather from the reality around us.

In the absense of the empirical evidence, what you have left is little more than word games. A thousand years of wise philosophers reasoning about an empirical question about reality, without resorting to any experiment or evidence, has no guarantee of arriving at the right conclusion, and indeed, such long contemplation can be rendered invalid by a single empirical experiment that settles the matter.

An example would be Galileo Galilei going against the grain of "common knowledge" by claiming that objects of different weights (being careful to control for factors like wind resistance), if dropped form a tower will hit the ground at the same time. There is nothing in pure logic that would necessitate that this is how it must be in the real world, and indeed, the arm-chair philosophers of Galileo's time ridiculed this notion - only the actual experiment of dropping, say, a musket ball and a cannon ball from a high tower, and seeing them land at the same time, will settle the matter.

One can dream up any kind of a world in which things behave differently from what experiment reveals them to behave like in our world. Without this empirical evidence you can make no real headway.

Objectivitees wrote:
Stegocephalian wrote: No, the logic doesn't tell us anything about reality, in the example I gave above. We know that the logic in my example is sound, and that is as far as you can go whereas logic goes. The reason we know that the premise of that argument is false when it comes to the real world, is that it contradicts with direct empirical evidence of the nature of rocks - our experience and the study of rocks reveals unequivically that rocks are not made of cheese.

[color=darkblue] This is only true if your senses accurately relay to your brain the true nature of rocks. See, all you are saying here, is that our definition of rocks comports with our definition of rocks. My question is, ‘what evidence do you have that this happens?’ Is your memory faulty? How would you know? Is the universe in which you live uniform? (Are laws of nature in effect everywhere in the same way all the time?) How would you know?

Of course, it is well known that if you demand the most rigorous standard for what you call knowledge, you cannot "know" anything at all - I might be a brain in a vat being fed sensory information by an evil scientist for all I know. I might be a simulation in a very advanced computer program. Ultimately this leads to solipsism - for all I know, I might be the only thing that exists. I can't exactly disprove any of these notions, but if we are going to talk about things in reality, we must assume some basic, reasonable standard at which we can say that it would be perverse to doubt something.

For example, returning to the dropping of weights off a tower. How do I know, when I try the experiment, that my eyes aren't lying, that I am not just hallucinating the result?

Well, I might ask other people to witness it with me, and have them independently, without conversing with each other, record what they see on paper, and then compare notes. Now, if there was a hallucination that explained what I observed, and the records agreed with each other, the very same hallucination would have had to have occurred in the other witnesses to the experiment. This seems quite unlikely. I can go further, and ask people all around the world to repeat the experiment, and record their results - thus I get some idea that indeed, unless there's some evil demon conspiring hallucinations consistently in the eyes of everyone around the world, I can trust what the experiment tells me.

How do I know that the laws of physics are the same, say, a hundred lightyears away, as they are here? That question goes deeper into astronomy as I'm comfortable taking this discussion (lest it branch out too much), but briefly, the assumption that the laws of physics are uniform over the visible universe allows us to make predictions of what we should be able to see if that assumption is true. When those predictions pan out, when we indeed see what we would expect to see if the laws of physics were constant, and when we fail to see things that would result from variations in the laws of physics, we can grant confidence to that initial assumption proportional to the evidence; we are justified in belieiving that the laws of physics are indeed constant.

Objectivitees wrote:
What I am proposing here is not whether our reasoning to arrive at an epistemological conclusion about our apprehension of ‘empirical evidence’ is a good logical chain, but rather are our assumptions about our ability to reason better supported by an Evolutionary worldview, or a worldview that incorporates Creation? If your worldview logically allows for irrationality to be present in physical reality, you cannot depend on any of your conclusions, and neither could I, on mine.

Well, a creature who's senses consistently lied to it about the environment it is in would not be likely to fare very well. Evolutionary theory predicts that the senses of an organism are as reliable as they need to be in order to maximize chances of survival and passing on one's genes.

Indeed, one can very well explain the types of cognitive errors people are prone to by taking into account the problems of survival and procreation that their ancestors must have faced. We are, by the evolutionary view, indeed biased, and prone to error, but that is the very point of the scientific method - it is designed to undo the effect of biases and systematically weed out error.

My patience with arguments divorced from actual empirical data is limited, as I see these sorts of arguments as ultimately fruitless, easily descending into petty bickering about terminology and nuances of definitions. Give me a good experiment any time of the day, and see all the bickering settled by the brutal inteverntion of consistently observable reality. But I'm interested in seeing where you want to go with this, so I'm willing to hear you out, and see what shape your argument takes.

Objectivitees wrote:

[color=darkblue] So you’re saying a person who doesn’t know what a rock is, and doesn’t know what cheese is, could not tell you there is a difference between the two when they do see them?

No, I'm not saying that at all! I'm saying that given that they have no experience of rocks or cheese, when presented with the following:

1.All rocks are made of cheese
2.The moon is made of rock
3.The moon is made of cheese

All they could say about it was that that was logically valid. They would have no way of knowing whether the premise is true!

Of course, if they were SHOWN a rock and a cheese, then they could presumably use visual cues to conclude that most probably all rocks are not made of cheese, the premise, and the conclusion being thus invalid.

But notice what they would be doing here - they would be stepping outside the perview of pure logic, and bringing in (through their senses) knowledge of the empirical world. (and again, I'm not saying absolute knowledge - reasonable knowledge - unless you want to argue for solipsism, I suggest you let this go)


So, the guy in your box must assume these things to claim knowledge, you must assume then to claim knowledge that Evolution is true, and I must assume them to claim knowledge that Creation is true.

Yes, this is true. I would say, however, don't have to assume anything more than what you must assume in order to be able to operate in this world, to accept evolution, as it is based on empirical evidence, used in no different manner than we use empirical evidence to make decisions about reality in our every day lives.


What I hope to be able to show is, they (the preconditions) make more logical sense coming from a Creationist worldview, than from an Evolutionary one. In other words the preconditions of intelligibility don’t comport with an Evolutionary worldview.

Ok, lets get into that then, first. I'm really short on time here, so I may reply to the rest of your last post later. I got most of the things I wanted to say through here though, so I might just let it drop (unless, of course, there's something that you specifically need me to address that I didn't). We'll see.
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Here's a great video on that

Post  Sosa on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:30 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wV_REEdvxo
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  jgrow2 on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:47 am

Sosa wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wV_REEdvxo

Oh this is lovely! Thank you for posting it!
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Sosa on Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:02 am

jgrow2 wrote:
Sosa wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wV_REEdvxo

Oh this is lovely! Thank you for posting it!

I just subscribed to that channel, they have tons of great videos
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:47 am

Thank you indeed for posting that link - indeed, very much on topic for the ongoing discussion, at least the first half or so of the video. Objectivees - I would ask that you watch it too; it is very much to the point, and a very clear presentation of what is my stance on the issue as well.

I've seen it before, but didn't think to post it. I've watched all of Qualiasoup's videos - he's without doubt one of the best YouTubers out there. Check out his brother's (Theramintrees) channel too: http://www.youtube.com/user/theramintrees - he's work is more varied, and similar in quality to Qualiasoup's. Theremintrees has videos related to atheism, skepticism as well as more creative work - music and acting. Very much worth checking out.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:43 am

Objectivitees wrote:
Stegocephalian wrote: In order to HAVE an interpretation of the evidence in the first place, you have to be aware of the evidence –

No, as I have outlined for you above, you have to have an assumption that you can (are 'able', {preconditions of intelligibility}) derive knowledge from the “evidence” before you can have an interpretation of the evidence.


Getting back to your last response, this bit is something I need to address.

Of course one needs to have an assumption that you can derive knowledge from evidence, in order to discuss evidence - but is there really any sane person on Earth who operates without this essential assumption? In other words, why bring up an obvious point, that everybody agrees upon?

I might as well object to your objection that "NO, you are incorrect, in order to have an assumption that you can derive knowledge from evidence, you first have to have the assumption that there exists a world in which there is such a thing as evidence"

Of course that objection would be silly, since there being a prior more fundamental assumption behind something does not render that something invalid, just for you failing to mention that prior (self evident) assumption.

The same applies to your objection to my pointing out that in order to have an interpretation of evidence, you must be aware of the evidence you are interpreting - OF COURSE this assumes that you accept the universally accepted assumption that evidence can be brought to bear upon a question to derive an evidence based conclusion, and no, the fact that I did not mention what should be self-evident, does not make my point invalid in the least.

If you don't accept that, then all discussion is utterly futile; communication becomes entirely impossible (after all, why would you believe the evidence of your eyes of the text you are reading, if you don't accept that you can derive knowledge through evidence?). Of course, if you do not accept this basic assumption, then you must also throw out the Bible as any sort of source of knowledge - for all you know you might have just hallucinated the fact that there is such a thing as the Bible in the first place.

To repeat my point, spelling out the assumptions for the sake of completeness:

Assuming there exists a world, and assuming we can derive some sort of knowledge (not absolute knowledge that would be immune to objections for extreme philosophical sceptics) through evidence, you cannot say that you have a "different interpretation of some evidence" than someone else, unless you are familiar with the evidence in question.

So, for example, if someone, let's call him "Bob" was to say that "quantum physics is wrong!", and all the information they had on quantum physics was some vague popularized notions, and they hadn't actually studied quantum physics enough to understand what it says, and then studied the evidence upon which the scientific acceptance of quantum physics is based upon, then Bob's opinion that "quantum physics is wrong!" could not be said to be based on different interpretation of the evidence, as Bob clearly has no clue what the evidence is. Bob's claim would be an uninformed opinion, not a different interpretation of evidence.

If then, later, Bob went on to study quantum physics, and familiarized himself with the evidence, then he might indeed, if he remained unconvinced, have an actual alternative interpretation of the evidence. Whether he did or not, would be revealed by actually discussing the evidence, and having Bob present his alternative interpretation of the results of various experiments.

The same is true for any theory - I have never yet encountered a creationist who could reasonably claim to have a good working knowledge of the theory, and awareness of any significant portion of it's evidence.

Those few creationists who are knowledgeable enough in the evidence, like Michael Behe, are forced to accept common descent as fact (Behe only questions the sufficiency of the natural mechanisms to explain common descent).

So if you truly have a different interpretation of the evidence, meaning that you are aware of the evidence, and truly can explain it in a way that does not include common descent, then you'd be the first creationist of this kind I've had the pleasure of discussing these matters with.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:33 pm

Of course one needs to have an assumption that you can derive knowledge from evidence, in order to discuss evidence - but is there really any sane person on Earth who operates without this essential assumption? In other words, why bring up an obvious point, that everybody agrees upon?

Ok, glad you agree there. This strikes at the essence of what I am trying to say. To be upfront, I haven't read your entire response to me, I skimmed through, time constraints and all... but...yes, every 'sane person' operates with this assumption. I had to bring it up, based on my previous attempts at discussing this topic in other places, because believe it or not, there are Evolutionists out there that that don't agree with you on this, in which case, it's not possible to have a meaningful conversation. I don't think that's going to be an issue now, but one or two minor things I want to comment on, just to be sure...

The reason I bring this point "everyone agrees on" is because what I want to do here is use logic to determine how well a specific worldview comports with the very assumptions we make. It's my point that logic does tell us how well our presuppositions comport with our conclusions. For this, we don't need to examine 'empirical' evidence directly. You admit already that logic allows us to determine a level of consistency between ideas. (You see, it's concepts I want to compare, not evidence) Evidence will play a role, but not a deciding one, as I said before. Would you agree that a belief held by an individual which contradicts with a presupposition of that person's worldview is a belief held inconsistently, and therefore arbitrarily? If so, isn't arbitrariness by the standard of logic held to be irrational?

My argument is that Evolution, when compared logically to it's presuppositions, would require one to hold contrary positions if it were true. Since logic can tell us about consistency, as you acknowledged, it can tell us which position is the more rational, 'rational' meaning logically consistent. We don't need specific 'evidence' to have a philosophical conversation. I think we are on the same page now.

See, what I should have said earlier with reference to your moon/rock/cheese Modus tollens, and logic's ability to help us determine the nature of reality, was not that it shows us the moon is not made of cheese, (mea culpa) but rather it shows us that rocks and cheese are not the same thing, which is a fact about reality. (Law of identity) This conclusion, is one the guy in the box could reasonably reach without ever having seen a rock or cheese, simply by reasoning on the actual syllogism you presented.

Are we closer to understanding each other now?
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:53 pm

Re-reading your entire response now...Here's a point I don't get...
The point is that nothing about an idea being logically consistent implies that this means it must correspond to something in reality.

This suggests to me you are saying Evolution does not have to be consistent with it's presuppositions to be true. If Evolution's "reality" does not comport with it's assumptions, how can one logically (rationally) claim it (evolution) is true?

I'm sorry, but at times you seem to agree with me, and other times it seems you don't. I do hope we can get past this and start the actual discussion.


Those few creationists who are knowledgeable enough in the evidence, like Michael Behe, are forced to accept common descent as fact (Behe only questions the sufficiency of the natural mechanisms to explain common descent).

Right, this makes MB a Theistic Evolutionist, which is a position we have dispensed with, at the OP, albeit, he is a Theistic Evolutionist without an alternate explanation for abiogenisis, that a more traditional Evolutionist would accept.



but if we are going to talk about things in reality, we must assume some basic, reasonable standard at which we can say that it would be perverse to doubt something.

I propose the "standard" be Logic.


Last edited by Objectivitees on Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:13 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Additional quote.)
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Nathan Barley on Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:55 pm

"My argument is that Evolution, when compared logically to it's presuppositions, would require one to hold contrary positions if it were true."

I said earlier that this seems to be moving towards Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. The above post moves it still closer, so it seems my suspicion was probably correct. If so, you are taking a long time getting there. Why not just state it now? The refutation to it is very simple, so the sooner we get to that point, the better for all concerned.

"The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) argues that the combination of evolutionary theory and naturalism is self-defeating on the basis of the claim that if both evolution and naturalism are true, then—according to Plantinga's calculations—the probability of having reliable cognitive facilities is low".

It fails for many reasons, not least because it doesn't take into account the scientific method.

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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:51 pm

Objectivitees - we ARE getting closer to agreement, as the one thing that you brought up as you seeing me disagreeing with you, you actually misunderstood my point. (I'll return to that at the end of this post.)

I have to say though that you have a very, very complicated way of saying a simple thing - had you said that what you are claiming is that evolutionary theory contradicts with fundamental assumptions that are necessary for evolution to be true, this whole exchange could have been avoided.

In other words, you claim that in order to accept evolution, one has to have a set of assumptions which contradict with evolutionary theory - that the naturalistic world view is logically self-contradictory. This is what you are arguing, is it not?

Fine - that's a position we CAN discuss without empirical evidence playing a central role, because what you want to examine is the logical consistency of the idea.

I have to say though that discussing the logical consistency of evolutionary theory is a bit like arguing about whether accepting the Earth going around the Sun would lead to logical contradictions - since the Earth quite clearly, and demonstrably DOES go around the sun, any argument that it is logically contradictory to think so must be flawed. The same is pretty much guaranteed for evolution - we know from mountains of empirical evidence that, at least the central concepts of evolution (like all life on Earth sharing sharing a single family tree) are quite as firmly established by evidence as Heliocentricity.

But, I have no objection to starting out with an examination of your logical argument.

Objectivitees wrote:
Re-reading your entire response now...Here's a point I don't get...

Stegocephalian wrote:The point is that nothing about an idea being logically consistent implies that this means it must correspond to something in reality.

This suggests to me you are saying Evolution does not have to be consistent with it's presuppositions to be true. If Evolution's "reality" does not comport with it's assumptions, how can one logically (rationally) claim it (evolution) is true?

I'm sorry, but at times you seem to agree with me, and other times it seems you don't. I do hope we can get past this and start the actual discussion.

You read something entirely different than what I was saying into that statement.

My point is that you can imagine logically consistent worlds, which are not THE world we are inhabiting.

For example, I could imagine a world in which fairies existed - an actual species of tiny people with wings. I could give them a history and a complete description, all of which was entirely logically consistent. No contradictions at all.

Yet simply me being able to imagine this logically consistent world with fairies, does not mean that OUR world has fairies in it. In other words, my imagining a system that is logically consistent, does not mean that that logically consistent system has any correspondence in reality.

This is what I'm getting to: logic can rule out some options (those things who's definition is self-contradictory, like square circles), but you cannot use logic to establish the existence, in reality, of anything, without actually applying that logic to empirical evidence derived from that reality.

Are we on the same page now?

If so, then I would ask you to present your argument.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:06 pm

I have to say though that you have a very, very complicated way of saying a simple thing - had you said that what you are claiming is that evolutionary theory contradicts with fundamental assumptions that are necessary for evolution to be true, this whole exchange could have been avoided.

Whoops, sorry. But I have found that unless I spell this out, we get bogged down in the kind of argumentation that jgrew pointed out (and I agreed) is fruitless. Forgive my pedantry? I barely have time for this...let alone trying to redirect someone's fallacies of irrelevant thesis. I do think we are on the same page.

To be just a bit more pedantic, I would say that the worldview of "Evolution" would require a person to hold contradictory beliefs, if it were true. (As opposed to your assesment of the argument I am trying to make, which was a pretty fair one, but not as exact as I would say)This is NOT to say that a person who believes Evolution is maintaining them consciously, (most people {unlike you} don't seem to examine their presuppositions) and are overtly claiming contradictory "truths" to both be true. Ahh, but I babble on.. I'll take the first shot when I have a bit more time. Thanks for hanging in there thus far.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Stegocephalian on Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:39 pm

I'm looking forward to your argument.

In the meanwhile though, I just have to address one side-issue, which shouldn't prevent us proceeding with your argument, but which I need to point out:

Objectivitees wrote:
See, what I should have said earlier with reference to your moon/rock/cheese Modus tollens, and logic's ability to help us determine the nature of reality, was not that it shows us the moon is not made of cheese, (mea culpa) but rather it shows us that rocks and cheese are not the same thing, which is a fact about reality. (Law of identity) This conclusion, is one the guy in the box could reasonably reach without ever having seen a rock or cheese, simply by reasoning on the actual syllogism presented.

This is incorrect - this would be a missaplication of the law of identity. Nothing in the law of identity prevents things being called by several names, OR a thing A being composed of a substance B.

If the man in the box would take the moon/rock/cheese Modus Tollens, and try to appeal to the law of identity and conclude that since the word "rock" is not identical with the word "cheese", the premise is false, he would be committing an error.

This can be easily seen if we give this same man the following Modus Tollens:

1.All rocks are composed of atoms
2.The moon is composed of rocks
3.The moon is composed of atoms

Were he to (mis)apply the law of identity in the same way as you suggest he might in the moon/rock/cheese example, he would conclude that the premise is false, (law of identity), and thus the moon is not composed of atoms.

So I'm afraid it's still no - without empirical evidence with which to verify or falsify the premise, the man in a box does not have any means to tell whether the moon is made of cheese or not.

This goes to emphasize the point I'm stressing - you cannot use pure logic in the absense of empirical evidence to derive the existence of something in reality; you can only rule out certain things, namely those claims about reality that contain logical contradictions in their structures.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Sosa on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:12 pm

Stegocephalian wrote:Thank you indeed for posting that link - indeed, very much on topic for the ongoing discussion, at least the first half or so of the video. Objectivees - I would ask that you watch it too; it is very much to the point, and a very clear presentation of what is my stance on the issue as well.

I've seen it before, but didn't think to post it. I've watched all of Qualiasoup's videos - he's without doubt one of the best YouTubers out there. Check out his brother's (Theramintrees) channel too: http://www.youtube.com/user/theramintrees - he's work is more varied, and similar in quality to Qualiasoup's. Theremintrees has videos related to atheism, skepticism as well as more creative work - music and acting. Very much worth checking out.

Thanks, I just subscribed to Theramintrees now...they both do great work
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Pardon me...

Post  PenitenziAgite on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:06 am

So, in short, I am saying we all make assumptions. The question I am asking is, “Whose assumptions are logically better justified by their worldview? (Note I did not say ‘Proven’) Everyone must have an ‘ultimate standard’ by which evidence is evaluated. If we didn’t, we could not epistemologically claim any knowledge, you or me. (Law of non-contradiction)

Do I understand you correctly in that you are saying that whatever conclusions one may draw about certain observable, demonstrable facts are subject to one's particular "worldview", or weltenschauung as I learned it, and that either one or another is equally valid?

It may be true for you that your "worldview" assumes creation by a supreme being. However, it's not necessarily true that one's "worldview" assumes the validity of evolution or creation. For example, my "worldview" does not assume that anything is true or false as a starting point.

Starting with a conclusion and working your way backwards is not the same as starting with a question and weighing the available evidence to reach a conclusion.

One must, in fact, be completely prepared to discard any "worldview" that finds itself contradicted by available evidence. If you're just simply committed to making a certain worldview work no matter what, then what's the point of inquiry?
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Jim on Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:10 am

Nathan Barley wrote:"My argument is that Evolution, when compared logically to it's presuppositions, would require one to hold contrary positions if it were true."

I said earlier that this seems to be moving towards Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. The above post moves it still closer, so it seems my suspicion was probably correct. If so, you are taking a long time getting there. Why not just state it now? The refutation to it is very simple, so the sooner we get to that point, the better for all concerned.

"The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) argues that the combination of evolutionary theory and naturalism is self-defeating on the basis of the claim that if both evolution and naturalism are true, then—according to Plantinga's calculations—the probability of having reliable cognitive facilities is low".

It fails for many reasons, not least because it doesn't take into account the scientific method.
i like how he just ignores you and continues on going where we all know he's going. perhaps he wants to take credit for this mess of an argument himself.
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Aught3 on Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:54 pm

How did Plantinga calculate the probability of having a reliable cognitive faculty? And what did he compare it to?
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Nathan Barley on Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:46 am

"How did Plantinga calculate the probability of having a reliable cognitive faculty?"

He didn't. He just claimed that a false idea about reality is just as likely to lead to your survival as a true idea. For example, you might believe that you should run away from tigers because it's a fun thing to do, rather than because they might kill you.

No kidding, that's the level of his argument.

But doesn't this mean that believers in the bible might equally be wrong? No, replies Plantinga, because creationists aren't claiming that evolution is true, therefore THEY are not throwing in their lot with a theory that says we can't actually know anything, whereas evolution-believers are.

Again, no kidding, that's the level of his argument.

Jim, perhaps we are being unfair and Objectivitee genuinely has a different argument to make. I am sceptical though. He keeps telling us how short on time he is, and yet has managed to type thousands of words so far without coming close to approaching the meat of his argument, apart from telling us that it rests on logic. Which presumably could also be said of ANY argument.

As someone else said, if someone constructs a 'logical argument' which falsifies something for which we have overwhelming evidence, it suggests the fault lies in their syllogisms.

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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

Post  Objectivitees on Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:54 pm

In other words, you claim that in order to accept evolution, one has to have a set of assumptions which contradict with evolutionary theory - that the naturalistic world view is logically self-contradictory. This is what you are arguing, is it not?

That's very close. I would put it this way...'one has to have a set of assumptions which cannot be accounted for by evolutionary theory.'

So, here's the argument...

1) Evolution makes an A Priori assumption that Logic is a valid means for deriving 'Knowledge' in order to posit "True" (or rational) claims, or refute "False" (or irrational) claims about the nature of Reality.

2) Evolution is incapable of Rationally justifying or affirming the the existence of Logic from within the paradigm of it's own worldview making Evolution a rationally unsupported belief, and Arbitrary. {Arbitrary beliefs are irrational. (Premise one)}

Therefore; Evolution is an irrationally held belief.


P.S. Actually, the guy in the box would NOT be misusing the law of identity when assuming that cheese and rocks are substantially different, because if he assumed they were just different names for the same thing, the entire modus tollens would then be literally meaningless, delving into the realm of literary deconstructionism, and consistent Nihilism, where it is impossible to make any knowledge claim whatsoever. Without the logically supported assumption that they were physically different substances, he would in essence be denying the validity of the logic he was using to attempt to derive "knowledge". "For if they aren't different things", he might muse, "then why bother to examine the logic to arrive at what we already know is self-evident?" "The moon is made of rocks I call cheese!" But we can go here in another thread, another time, eh?
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Re: Why Christians Might Resist Belief in Evolution

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