Yes, the media does deliberately misrepresent and demonise creationists

If by “creationism” we all mean the belief that evolution is false (and probably a lie from Satan) and that the Universe is almost certainly less than ten thousand years old, then I’m not a creationist. I do not have the dire issues with evolution that creationism has, and I think that creationists tend to have a wildly false understanding of the history of the universe.

But the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. The way the secular media here in New Zealand has treated creationists recently is unspeakably dishonest and wrong. In my home town of Kawerau, the following letter was recently distributed to mailboxes:

Are you a racist?

Evolution teaches “change over time.” The more something has changed, the more it has evolved.

Kids are taught in school that man evolved (changed) from a chimp. So I ask you who changed the most from a black chimp with black hair and brown eyes? A black man with black hair and brown eyes? Or a white man with blond hair and blue eyes?

Are you a racist? You are if you believe in evolution!

drdino.com, creationresearch.net bibleblievers.com, cuttingedge.org.

OK, you can see what the author is trying to say. According to evolution, humans evolved from chimps. Yes I know, he just failed evolution 101, but just follow the argument, see where it goes. Since evolution is change, the author says, the more different you are from a chimp (i.e. the more you have changed), the more evolved you are. Since – simply in terms of eye, skin and hair colour – black people are more like chimps than white people, if you believe in evolution you must say that black people are less evolved than white people, and that’s racist. So if you believe in evolution, you’re racist. The argument is supposed to be a noble one: Racism is bad, so you should give up evolution, because it implies racism. So racism is bad and evolution is bad. The argument goes like this:

1) If evolution is true, then black people are less evolved than white people
2) If black people are less evolved than white people then yay racism.
3) But actually, boo racism, and you should all know it.
4) So evolution is not true.

Just setting the argument out as clearly as this drastically improves it, and yet it’s still arguably the worst argument against evolution I’ve ever seen. In fact it doesn’t even argue against the truth of evolution, it just claims that anyone who believes in evolution is racist. The fact is, having the same hair, eye or skin colour as any other species of animal simply isn’t relevant in terms of a person’s value. Racism only occurs when people are de-valued based on their ethnicity. So there is no reason for someone who believes in evolution to be racist – that is, to regard black people as having less value than white people – on the grounds that they are similar in some respects to another species. The bizarre argument used here would imply that a baby born with four arms is more evolved (since it is less like a chimp than I am), and hence an evolutionist should value that child more highly than anyone else. But this just isn’t the basis on which we attribute value (unless we’re already racist apart from belief in evolution), and as such, the argument is a hopeless flop.

To make matters worse, the letter is just begging to be misconstrued. Clearly the whole point of the argument is that evolution is a bad thing to believe because racism is bad, and evolution is somehow racist. But if a reader is unscrupulous enough, they may well say “Hmmmm, what have we here? The author says that black people have the same eye colour (or hair or skin colour) as chimps. True or not, it’s racist! Creationism is racist!” You’d hope that any intelligent and honest reader would steer clear of that sort of tactic, but you should always assume the worst. It’s bound to happen. I don’t see how anyone distributing this letter could possibly think that anyone would be persuaded by it to reject belief in evolution. That should be the end of it: It’s a lame scare tactic that misunderstands evolution and doesn’t interact with evidence at any level.

But that’s not the end of it. According to a story by John Weeks at the New Zealand Herald, “Racist pamphlets horrified a top fashion model when she checked her mailbox last week.” Really? “Racist” pamphlets? Interesting. And which pamphlets would those be? You guessed it. Remember how I said that, regrettably, you have to assume the worst of some people? Here’s why. Although nothing in the story explains precisely why, the claim made throughout the story is that these pamphlets themselves are advocating racism. We are told, “It appeared the material had been downloaded from fanatical creationist websites.” “Fanatical” here means (I think) that they accept creationism and use strange arguments to defend their view.

Presumably to garner more by way of a reaction to the letters – and of course to generate more to say in the Herald in such a way as to link the letters to the alleged racism of the author, the letter was taken to the Race Relations Commissioner:

People who received the pamphlet should “rip it up and bin it,” said Vicki Hall, a spokeswoman for Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “The commission’s position is that the pamphlet is clearly offensive. However, there is no law that prevents someone from publishing it.”

To make matters even worse, the article quotes an employee of the Literature Board of Review saying that they do not deal with “hate speech.” No context was supplied, so we don’t actually know that this woman called this letter “hate speech,” but the connection has been made, and that’s enough.

And for good measure, the story closes by comparing this pamphlet to literature distributed by groups with neo-nazi sympathies such as “Right Wing Resistance”:

Racist pamphlets were distributed sporadically across New Zealand. Last August, the Right Wing Resistance group distributed pamphlets labelled “Stop The Asian Invasion” in Marlborough. Similar leaflets were found in Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. Reports of creationist pamphlet drops were more unusual.

Reading this left me nearly speechless. A creationist group claims that if you believe in evolution then you must end up saying that black people are less evolved than white people, which seems racist. And racism is bad – and this is supposed to scare you away from believing in evolution. It’s a terrible argument in my view, but to compare this to a group that is anti-immigration and actually is racist is to willfully distort what a dislike religious minority is saying for no other apparent purpose than demonising them.

John Weeks at the New Zealand Herald should be deeply ashamed of himself for this. He’s not, rest assured of that. But he should be. Creationism isn’t true. But this response to it is worse than simply untrue. It’s dishonest in the utmost. I wanted to draw attention to this not because I sympathise with the beliefs of people who write pamphlets like this, but because I want us all to have a consciousness of the fact that creationists, right or wrong, are deliberately misrepresented.

Glenn Peoples

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253 thoughts on “Yes, the media does deliberately misrepresent and demonise creationists

  1. Although this creationist argument is a poor one, the historical connection between evolution and racism has undeniable historical roots. The “Christian” evolutionist, Karl Giberson has written poignantly on the subject:

    • [Evolutionist] Ernst Haeckel nudged the racism of the Third Reich along its malignant road by suggesting that …”You must draw [a line] between the most highly developed civilized people on the one hand and the crudest primitive people on the other and unite the latter with animals.”( Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, 76)

    • How shocking it is today to acknowledge that virtually every educated person in the Western culture at the time …shared Haeckel’s ideas. Countless atrocities around the globe were rationalized by the belief that superior races were improving the planet by exterminating defective elements…there can be little doubt that such viewpoints muted voices that would otherwise have been raised in protest.

    • The Holocaust would have happened with or without Charles Darwin. There can be no doubt however, that the Nazi campaign against the Jews was assisted via rhetoric and rationalization with arguments from social Darwinism. (79)

    Racism seems to be endemic to the theory, even though this is strenuously denied today. While the Bible maintains an absolute distinction between man and beast, evolution postulates a gradual gradient, eliminating absolute distinctions, suggesting relative degrees of kinship.

    Although this man-beast association doesn’t disprove evolution, it should encourage discussion regarding its dangers.

  2. Daniel since none of that is an argument against the truth of evolution, none of it should be used in a discussion over whether or not evolution is true.

    I am also concerned at your use of quotation marks when you refer to ‘The “Christian” evolutionist, Karl Giberson.” I sincerely hope that you do not mean to imply that a believer in evolution cannot be a Christian.

    But my point here isn’t whether or not this is a good argument (although granted, I pointed out why it’s a terrible argument). The point is the shocking lack of honesty used in the Herald story.

  3. Agreed, the Herald news story seems to have missed or confused the real issue (or perhaps that’s just the reaction of shocked readers of the pamphlet). But isn’t the real problem misrepresentation or deliberate distortion of scientific understanding of evolution? Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so in the past and some still do. And there are some really loopy creationists around.

    But it’s telling that the first response (by Daniel Mann) to your post effectively launches into a common creationist lie about evolutionary science -that it “promotes racism and leads to nazism.” And that lie is not restricted just to the loopy end. It’s actively promoted by the “intelligent design” brigade which I think has a lot of influence within evangelical Christianity. In fact the attacks on people like Gibberson are often sourced from the Discovery Institute (The Wedge) people. They appear to have a real hatred for “theistic evolutionists” and actively campaign against them.

    I guess you are more concerned with the unfortunate connection of racism with “creationism.” But surely that word is thoroughly tainted by now – tainted by the fanatics and extremists who use the word to describe themselves and their ideology.

    But I think it would be more sensible to be concerned about the deliberate and malicious attempt to taint evolutionary science. It is very often misrepresented and maligned by creationists of one flavour or another. This particular argument, while it is water off a duck’s back to evolutionary scientists, is getting purchase amongst the Christian community. Propagandists of the ID movement do have influence there and can successfully get their material into that community. Effectively it encourages a significant proportion if Christian to come out against important areas if science – something that would really concerned me if I was theistically inclined.

  4. “But isn’t the real problem misrepresentation or deliberate distortion of scientific understanding of evolution?”

    Well, that’s an issue, yes. But at least in many cases that’s genuine ignorance. The misrepresentation in this Herald article is more sinister. What’s more, everyone seems interested in jumping on the bandwagon every time creationists get science wrong. But when people point out that people are misrepresenting creationists, people try to downplay or even ignore that. Ken, I see that happening in your comment, where you say that the “real issue” is not the misrepresentation of creationists at all. That may be the issue that concerns you more, but the real issue in the misrepresentation of creationists is the misrepresentation of creationists.

    “Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so in the past and some still do.”

    Why would an article using an argument that requires the rejection of racism then go on to justify racism? That’s an interesting (!!) attempt to perpetuate the misrepresentation (and to hop on the old hobby horse of innuendo about religion in general), but in fact I reproduced the letter in its entirety. There’s no part of the pamphlet you didn’t see. It’s just a short letter, and you can view a copy here: http://zess.tumblr.com/post/11903029018/this-got-put-in-our-letterbox-are-you-a-racist I find it interesting that you call it “telling” that another commenter dragged up a bad argument against evolution, and yet you yourself dragged up a nasty innuendo about creationists. That is telling.

  5. I am not sure what you see as a “nasty innuendo” in my comment. I will assume it’s the piece you quote: “After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do.” Can’t see what’s wrong with that – perhaps I could have used “some” or “most” – but all ideologies have lined up with policies in the past we now see as inhumane or immoral and sects of these still adhere to such policies. It’s not innuendo – just factual.

    I don’t think most Christians and/or creationist necessarily think that way now and certainly did not suggest it.

    Thanks for the link to the pamphlet. I can certainly see why creationists were mentioned in the news article because the pamphlet is clearly attributed to creationist sources. And Weekes added his own qualifier of “fanatical.” (Perhaps you should be thanking him for that).

    I don’t see that “creationists” are being misrepresented in public comments because in normal usage it describes somebody who rejects evolutionary science. And as you can see from comments on the blog people really do not look sympathetically on that rejection.

    I think the problem might be that your are possibly trying to retrieve the word “creationist” for a more narrow meaning which does not include rejection of science. Good luck with that – I would think this word is by now thoroughly discredited and tainted and you might be better to consider something else. (Intelligent design proponent perhaps). But even the ID people protest vehemently when they are called creationists – it s a dirty word in their eyes too (Mind you they have been caught revising their documents to replace the word hence the typo “creaintelligent design proponentits”)

  6. “I don’t see that “creationists” are being misrepresented in public comments because in normal usage it describes somebody who rejects evolutionary science”

    Ken, I realise that this is what creationism here refers to, and of course the letter was linked to creationism. It was written by creationists! But that is not how these creationists are being misrepresented (obviously). Instead they are being accused of advocating racism, when in fact they are claiming that evolution somehow supports racism and that’s bad. That is the way in which they are being misrepresented and demonised. Nobody is helped by that kind of thing.

  7. Why I put quotes around “Christian” in regards to Karl Giberson: in his book, he wrote:

    • Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred. (Saving Darwin, 9-10)

    However, afterwards Giberson wrote approvingly of statements by Richard Dawkins about the OT God:

    • “tyrannical anthropomorphic deity,” “commanded the Jews to go on genocidal rampages”…but who believes in this [OT] deity any more, besides those same fundamentalists who think the earth is 10,000 years old? Modern theology has moved past this view of God.” http://biologos.org/blog/exposing-the-straw-men-of-new-atheism-part-five/

    I’ll allow others to judge whether or not to call him a “Christian.” I am merely citing his own profession.

  8. “I am not sure what you see as a “nasty innuendo” in my comment. I will assume it’s the piece you quote:“After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do.” Can’t see what’s wrong with that – perhaps I could have used “some” or “most” – but all ideologies have lined up with policies in the past we now see as inhumane or immoral and sects of these still adhere to such policies. It’s not innuendo – just factual.”

    Except, that was not the comment Glenn quoted nor was it what you said, what you said was as follows:

    “Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do”

    It was this quote in full, not the snipped part you refer to which Glenn cited. It was the full quote he clearly responded to. Anyone who reads the above can see this.

  9. Indeed – the nasty innuendo was the innuendo that this letter itself went on to try to justify racism. This, even after I had quoted the letter in full. The innocent reply of “It’s not innuendo – just factual” is simply false.

  10. Glenn… in response to your comment ” I sincerely hope that you do not mean to imply that a believer in evolution cannot be a Christian.”…

    Of course… one can be a Christian and believe any number of untrue things. One can be a christian and believe many things the total opposite of what the bible says. One can be a christian and say parts of what Jesus said was wrong.

    Lots of christians do this. There are christians who believe in abortion, there are christians who believe in homosexuality, there are christians who believe in polygamy, there are christians who are ok with adultery, who are okay with lying, stealing and the list goes on.

    Does this mean their belief is good or sound? no.

    So sure, one can believe in evolution and be a christian – but it’s a pretty big slap in the face to Jesus to go against what He said he has done.

    But regardless of that, I find your statement “creationism isn’t true” shows a total lack of understanding of science. I mean no offense. Unlike most of what is called “theory” in science, both creation and evolution theories are not totally provable or totally disprovable. No one can go back in time, and there is no 100% proof belonging to either theory. From a scientific viewpoint, any accurate truthful scientist cannot state “creationism isn’t true”… unless he’s built himself a time machine.

    As a scientist, I find your statement laughable. Actually, as a scientist, I find evolution laughable too. It is an unproven joke that basically relies on magic to happen. If many members of the science community weren’t so determined to “prove” that no god exists, it would have been laughed out of consideration more than a century ago.

    There is a reason the intelligent design movement is growing – because evolution is ridiculous. Whether people believe in a 6 day creation less than 10,000 years ago, or in intelligent aliens creating everything billions of years ago… one only has to look at the universe – physics, chemistry, biology and everything in between – to see that there is no way this all just randomly fell into place by accident.

    There was a quote I heard in my early studies, and the chance of even a single cell organism evolving is smaller than the chance of a tornado blowing through a junk yard and putting together a 100% correctly formed boeing 747. billions of magnitudes smaller in chance. And an honest evolutionist will tell you this is true. Yet people choose to believe evolution still. We look at a 747 and know what it was created and built, but yet some people think a human being, something infinitely more complex just magically happened to get here?

    As a scientist and a rational, logical person who looks at the scientific evidence, I vehemently reject the joke of the theory of evolution. But hey… if you want to believe it, it’s not my job to convince you otherwise.

  11. But as a Christian… I can pray for you, mate. I haven’t read enough of your blogs, Glenn, to you know if you identify as christian, or just have lots of views on christianity, but if you are a christian, yes you can keep believing in evolution and still be a christian. You can believe any myth about how the universe got here you like and still be a christian if your goal is to love and follow Jesus.

    But Jesus makes it really clear He CREATED the world, and that He believed the account in Genesis, and if you are a christian, you know He is God and therefore perfect, and therefore what He says is perfect, so if you believe in evolution, you’re saying Jesus is wrong, and it’s kinda disappointing when a Christian says Jesus is wrong.

    Lots of them do it on lots of issues – it won’t stop them being saved, but it’s just kinda really sad to hear christians preferring their own beliefs over what Jesus said was the case.

  12. Ken Ham also asks his readers to pray for those who disagree with him. He also (I think) insinuates that those who don’t share his views on creation must somehow not care what Jesus said, and prefer their own opinion. Julie, all this shows is a willingness to believe the worst of fellow believers, and it’s disappointing to see.

  13. Glenn, I have already acknowledged your point that accusations these particular creationists are racist are not warranted. And repeated that when you pointed me to the link where I could see the full text of their letter. Yes, I had suggested the possibility they had gone on to argue for racism – but I stress the word possibility. And yes I had been relying on the Herald report rather than your quote. Very lax of me – but that brings up some cognitive psychology.

    So lets please put that particular issue to bed – I certainly have.

    But here’s some naive psychology. How did people react to that letter:

    1: Me – I saw the deliberate misrepresentation of the science, a common misrepresentation by creationists. I am also concerned how creationists (including and most particularly the ID people at theDiscoverery Institute) are maliciously argueing that “Darwinism” leads to racism and Nazism and that they have gained some purchase for this idea in the Christian community (and also among Muslims).

    2: You – appeared to be mostly concerned with misrepresentation of creationists. Why the hell you should rush to the defence if this particular motley crew is beyond me. I thought you may be trying to preserve the word to describe a non-racist, pro-science form of creationism. As I said good luck with that – I don’t think it possible, the word is so tainted. But you don’t seem to want to pursue that one.

    3: Daniel wants to justify the argument that “Darwinism” leads to racism – which sort of justifies my concern.

    4: Julie – disagrees with you as she can’t see how a Christian can accept evolutionary science. That’s another argument actively promoted by creationists including the Dscovery Institute.

    5: The people of Kawerau – who knows? But I suspect very few were concerned with the misrepresentation of the science – or even with the origins of the leaflet. They probably reacted strongly to the argument they saw justifying racism. Jessie after all says: I’m pretty sure that saying this shit makes YOU the racist, racist. I’m just mind boggled and disgusted.

    It personally pleases me to see such rejection of racism. The finer point that the creationists arguements were extremely badly put and didn’t get across does not concern me. After all their real point was an attack on science so I am glad to see such failures.

  14. Matthew – I hope your sense of humour is available when I tell you your appearance out of the blue with an irrelevant question reminds me of Pancho coming Don Quixote’s aid against an imaginary windmill.

    My answer to your question is that surely intentional and malicious misrepresentation of facts or people is certainly wrong.

    But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.

  15. “because I want us all to have a consciousness of the fact that creationists, right or wrong, are deliberately misrepresented.”

    who cares, they are deluded morons anyway. like the religious 🙂
    oh, wait, they ARE religious…

  16. Ken: “You – appeared to be mostly concerned with misrepresentation of creationists. Why the hell you should rush to the defence if this particular motley crew is beyond me.”

    Yes, I can tell that you seem confused over why I would defend people you disagree with when they are misrepresented.

    You will note, I am sure, that you left bits out in your depiction of my reaction (something that I think is informative, just as you left bits out of your previous comment that I took issue with, as Matt pointed out). I actually did several things. I firstly said that I think creationists are wrong. I also noted that they misunderstand the science (the chimp reference here was a good example), and I also explained why I think this argument against evolution involving racism is a non-starter. You didn’t mention any of this – I think this is because that would involve presenting my position as more fair and balanced, and that doesn’t serve your ends.

    But why I want to defend “this particular motley crew” is for the following reasons:

    Firstly, I do not want there to be even a shadow of misconception that I’m happy to sit by, turn a blind eye and let them be maligned because I disagree with them and therefore don’t care.

    Secondly, because there seems to be a widespread acceptance that this “motley crew” misunderstands the science. That argument scarcely needs to be made at all, which is why, beyond stating that I think they do misunderstand the science, I chose not to go on about it.

    Thirdly and most importantly, the above point in turn can easily lead to the attitude that those who criticise creationists can do no wrong, and that attention should always be focused on the false beliefs of creationists and any wrongs done to them should simply be overlooked. Indeed, I saw this attitude peeping through when, in response to my concerns, you assured me that this isn’t the real issue, the “real problem” is the way that creationists get the science wrong. You may well have (as quickly as possible) said that the story “missed or confused the real issue” – the critics of creationism couldn’t possibly do that sort of thing deliberately, but the creationists? Oh my, their sins are as willful as possible! This plays into the treatment of creationists as an easy-to-hate minority who should just take everything on the chin, and I think that is very unfair.

    These are the reasons why I chose to “rush to the defence if this particular motley crew.” Do they seem like fair enough reasons to you? I think your responses thus far show quite clearly why the third reason is reason enough.

  17. I think AgeofReason has just made my point eloquently. I noted that these creationists are being misrepresented, and the response? “Who cares?”

    Thanks AoR.

  18. OK Glenn – we seemed to have reduced the discussion simply to your defence of creationists. I get the message this is not due to desire to preserve the word for a more limited use – you reject creationist ideas full stop. Not just the ideas of the specific outfit (the motley crew I referred to behind the leaflet).

    I have learned something today.

    I may be guilty of lack of clarity or slowness in picking up your assurances (I plead this is understandable because there are plenty of Christian apologists trying to sneak elements of creationism into evolutionary science (or philosophy) at the moment). But all clear now – and contrary to your implication I didn’t have a specific agenda or reason for not quoting your post in its entirety.

    Your reasons do seem fair to me – if you still have a soft spot for creationists – even this specific motley crew. After all people and groups are “maligned” even falsely maligned, every day in the media. I just cant understand why you have this particular soft spot. You are not an equal opportunity critic of maligning in general, are you?

    Take for example the extreme malicious and false attacks on climate scientists in NZ and internationally. I don’t see you protest that today – in fact you joined in during the fall out from “climate gate.” You attacked NZ scientists too.

    Or were scientists an “easy-to-hate minority” at the time?

    So it’s still a question to me – why the soft spot for creationists (even these fanatical ones) but not for honest scientists actually working to find the truth about reality and help humanity deal with important problems.

    You see as “most important” the idea that “those who criticise creationists can do no wrong.” Where the hell do you get that idea? I guess as humans we all sort if think we can do no wrong – but creationist are the ones starting thus argument by attacking the science. Are you suggesting that when scientists point out their errors (as you did with this motley crew) we have the attitude that we can do no wrong? If you are that shows a naive understanding of the scientific process.

  19. “You see as “most important” the idea that “those who criticise creationists can do no wrong.” ”

    I don’t even believe that idea, let alone see it as important.

    But I certainly do see that in criticisms of creationists. The attitude seems to be that any negative comments about what creationists have to say is fair game – because they’re creationist dummies. This has little to do with my understanding of the scientific process. The sorts of attacks that bother me – like the one that I identified in this blog post – is not made on the basis of any sort of scientific process.

    As for the comparison with climate scientists – not even close. Contrary to your flamboyant language, those attacks were not extremist. The claim was made that some scientists had used or adjusted data inappropriately. I submit that this is not at all like attacking people as racists.

  20. Glenn, you’re defending these creationists and arguing that they aren’t racist, but are merely pointing out the fact that chimpanzees look more like black people than white people. The thing is, most chimpanzees are fair-skinned! The resemblance between chimps and black people is all in the creationists’ minds. The accusation of racism is therefore entirely justified.

    Daniel (comment 1) says: “While the Bible maintains an absolute distinction between man and beast, evolution postulates a gradual gradient, eliminating absolute distinctions, suggesting relative degrees of kinship.”

    This is wrong too. The human lineage diverged from the chimp lineage some 6 million years ago. Much more recently the human lineage radiated to produce the limited degree of human diversity we see today. This means that all humans are equally related to chimps – no group is nearer the chimps than any other. Think about this Daniel, it’s important, and most people don’t get it.

    And Julie (comment 11) says “…yet some people think a human being, something infinitely more complex just magically happened to get here?”

    Uh, Julie, it’s creationists that believe that! The evolutionary view is that life developed through a process of cumulative selection of beneficial variations, each generation building on what had gone before, over a period of three and a half billion years. I have no trouble accepting that. What I do find hard to accept is that something as amazing as a blue whale or a monarch butterfly was poofed into existence in a single day by some invisible, magical entity who had his mind on a million other things at the same time.

  21. I guess i just have to quote at greater length Glenn. You said:
    “Thirdly and most importantly, the above point in turn can easily lead to the attitude that those who criticise creationists can do no wrong, and that attention should always be focused on the false beliefs of creationists and any wrongs done to them should simply be overlooked.”

    Simply relying on the reactions of the citizens of Kawarau (who appear to have seen the leaflet as advocating racism) or the headlines of a newspaper simply doesn’t justify such an overarching claim. Especially as there is so much malicious maligning of honest science coming from creationists in general. And they give you Christians who accept evolution a pretty bad rap too – they malign you.

    The fact is most criticism of creationists results from attempts to get through to them the facts of the science. I imagine the group behind this leaflet will not be accepting the criticisms of them you made – perhaps they will say you think you “can do no wrong.”

    As for your attempt to claim the the attacks on climate scientist are not extremist I will have to disagree – clearly the accusation of scientific fraud was and is being made. None of the claims had any basis and have all been discredited. No-one here has apologised despite the High Court judgement.

    As a scientist I see accusations of scientifuc fraud as every bit as malicious and damaging (in some ways more so) as accusations of racism. After all how many of this motley crew would face loss of employment and banning from their profession (the usual minimum punishment for scientific fraud) because of racism accusations.

    I guess our positions cannot be reconciled – I have a soft spot for honest scientists – you have a soft spot for creationists and climate change deniers/contrarians/sceptics/cranks.

  22. It’s almost impossible to find a racist biologist because they understand evolution. They understand that if person’s skin color is black, it’s because their ancestors developed to be best able to survive in a tropical environment where there is lots of sun that could cause skin cancer to people with lighter skin. If a person is white that person’s ancestors evolved to be able to survive in a northern climate where there’s much less sun. The lighter skin color makes it easier to absorb more vitamin D from what little sunshine there is. I’m white but where I live in south Florida, a semi-tropical environment, it’s dangerous for me to go outside without a wide brimmed hat. My black neighbors don’t have this problem so it’s fair to say where I live black people have an advantage I don’t have. They are more evolved to survive where I live.

    Anyone who says evolution is a racist idea have it completely wrong because the exact opposite is true.

  23. “The thing is, most chimpanzees are fair-skinned!”

    David: Well, it wouldn’t be the first scientific error they made, David. But that doesn’t make them racist. Remember – they were only talking about colour. You agree, I presume, that they are correct about eye colour and hair colour. Being wrong about skin colour doesn’t suddenly make them racist. They might be making a crazy argument, but that is another matter again.

    Ken: “Simply relying on the reactions of the citizens of Kawarau (who appear to have seen the leaflet as advocating racism) or the headlines of a newspaper simply doesn’t justify such an overarching claim”

    But I never made the case for this observation based on this article. Instead, as I tried to tell you, I responded to this one example in this way because of the many other observations I have made about this tendency – to give any form of a creationist bashing a free pass.

    Oh well.

    PS: The response of the court was to decline to settle the matter, deeming it not a proper matter for the court to settle as it is a specialist field of science. Just so you know. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7634556/Climate-sceptics-fail-in-Niwa-case).

    I do note, however, your attempt to distract from the misrepresentation of creationists with an allegation that other people were (according to you), misrepresented too. So… this creationist motley crew should just suck it up. This reinforces my view that in spite of disagreeing with creationists, I really should stick up for them when they are misrepresented in the media and branded as hateful racists.

  24. Glenn – you can’t pass off your personal responsibility that easily. The High Court ruled on the deniers charges – which were basically accusations of fraud. I pointed this out in my article “High court ruled on integrity – not science (“http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/high-court-ruled-on-integrity-not-science/). And this has basically been the case for every such extremist attack on climate scientists – investigations and court action has never vindicated the deniers. Never.

    No, of course the motley crew should not “suck it up.” They should come out and defend/explain themselves. It is very cowardly that they haven’t.

    But, their cowardice does not explain your willingness to defend them – after all you took the exact opposite approach when honest climate scientists were attacked. You stuck your boots in without thinking and parroted the denier arguments.

    You are not an equal opportunity defender of the rights of the maligned. Only where they conform to your soft spots. And then you exaggerate. Despite your denial the only support for your case that you gave was the Herald article. But in the process you maligned all the honest critics of creationism (which seemed to include yourself).

    Neither yourself (I assume) or myself, or all those honest evolutionary scientists have the attitude we can do no wrong, do we?

  25. “Glenn – you can’t pass off your personal responsibility that easily”

    I don’t have any! And again, you cannot distract or justify what is being said about creationists just because you don’t like what people have claimed about techniques used by NIWA. Your beliefs about the sins of one group do not justify the sins of another.

    “Despite your denial the only support for your case that you gave was the Herald article.”

    Ken, you’re not listening. I commented on the case seen in the Herald article not because I want to use it to show that there was a preexisting trend of people giving creationist bashers a free pass. It’s the other way around. It’s because I so often see people give creationist bashers a free pass that I decided to comment on this article in the Herald.

    There is nothing cowardly about the victims here – the creationists in question. How are they cowardly just because the Herald are viciously misrepresenting them? Or do you think that the people who put that letter in people’s mailboxes have the same access to having their side of the story printed in the herald? That’s not very realistic, is it? Bad argument or not, creationists have made it at various times on the internet, so it’s not like “their side” is some great secret that they’re scared of revealing.

    Do you think it would be appropriate for the herald to apologise for viciously misrepresenting these creationists as racists, Ken? I certainly do.

    Ken, with all due respect I think what’s happening here is that it’s just really uncomfortable for you to see the dreaded creationists simply as victims of wrongdoing, and you just can’t let the moment pass without throwing something back (like suggesting that maybe in the same article they went on to defend racism, or when that was shown not to be the case, pointing at unrelated cases where people in unrelated fields were accused of improper practices). Just take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say: “Creationists were wronged here. They did not deserve it, and people were dishonest in their treatment of these creationists. There is no excuse, and no other examples of anyone wronging anyone else can justify this. I will not wriggle, I will not point fingers elsewhere, I will not try to change the subject. This happened, it was done to creationists and it was wrong. End of story.”

    It’s hard to do when you have so much invested in disliking the victims! But even though I disagree with them, I have brought myself to say exactly this. Good luck doing the same, Ken.

    Do let me know whether or not you think an apology from the Herald would be appropriate. Cheers. 🙂

  26. Some corrections, Glenn.

    The accusations against our NIWA scientists were that they dishonestly adjusted data to achieve a certain result. That is a charge of scientific fraud – an extremely serious charge which should never be made lightly and without evidence. Yet extremists did so and others, in their ignorance, blindly followed (to be charitable). These extremists continue to do do – in the process slandering Justice Venning and claiming all sorts of childish “vindications”. Although that may be trying to divert their own attention from the hefty costs they must now pay. They have never been so active within the walls of their Internet ideological ghetto.

    As for an apology from the Herald – it’s a mild case but I agree they should make one. How about you requesting it of them? I won’t bother – especially as the creationists concerned haven’t made a peep (wonder why?). And I honestly don’t see it as important – they misfired with their message, made fools of themselves, why should I help them? I have agreed with you that Weekes’s article was misrepresentative – but probably did reflect feeling in Kawarau.

    But come off it, the extreme charges made against climate scientists were so blatantly unjustified I think you and others who put the boot on have a moral responsibility to apologise on that issue. That is far more important and involves maligning of honest people who work for us all, not idiots with a bee in their bonnet who can’t tell fact from fiction on scientific issues.

    Surely an apology in this case is morally obligatory. I can understand you are now embarrassed about your former position but the issue is far more important than a few creationists in Kawarau making fools of themselves.

    Now you claim you “often see people give creationist bashers a free pass.” But the evidence isn’t there – only the Herald article. And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?

    Be specific.

  27. Glenn, re Comment 24: (tried to respond to this last night but my reply disappeared into the ether when I tried to send it – hopefully this works better!)
    You say: “You agree, I presume, that they are correct about eye colour and hair colour. Being wrong about skin colour doesn’t suddenly make them racist.” But many Europeans have brown eyes and black hair. We also tend to be hairier than Africans, and have narrower lips, while chimps have almost no lips at all. I say the shoe fits – chimps don’t look any more like Africans than they do Europeans, and for these people to say they do makes them racists in my book.

    I suppose one should ask, why is there this readiness to accept that Africans look more like chimps than we do? Probably it has to do with an old creationist concept, the Great Chain of Being. This held that all of Creation could be ranked, from lowest to highest, from sponges to angels, in an unbroken chain. Since the Creation was the physical manifestation of God’s Thought, a gap in the chain would be like having a gap in the mind of God (as an aside, this is where the expression “missing link” comes from – missing links pre-date evolution and are actually more of a problem for creationism than they are for evolutionary theory). Under this view, the lowest humans must be little higher than the highest animals, and when Europeans first encountered chimps (back in the 16th century), that is the interpretation they came up with. They “knew” that they themselves were the highest form of human, and that Africans, whom they enslaved, were the lowest. The chimps were little different, in their view, from the pygmies running around naked in the forest.

    There is a lot about creationist thought that is profoundly racist. Modern creationists try to play down the ideas of their antecedents (or have forgotten them entirely), but occasionally the old prejudices show through. Evolutionary theory on the other hand, despite creationist claims to the contrary, makes it clear that all humans are very closely related, and all are equally distant from chimps – or for that matter any other species (see my Comment 22 above).

  28. Quite frankly, the letter was incoherent on all levels, and an example of the most awful of human stupidity – it ranks up there with launching firecrackers from your butt.

    They’re so stupid, I can’t conclusively say they aren’t actually raging, though [i]incoherent[/i], racists, that simply don’t understand the most obvious and most basic implications of their own statements. One might even say it takes a bit of a racist mind to carry one’s thoughts through that sort of reasoning process.

    I guess if we were offering the utmost charity, we could say these idiots were giving us a (wannabe) clever, pointed argument from consequence – but I can say you might be giving them far more credit than they deserve.

    The toughest part here is to figure out which sins are worse – the sins of a sensationalist media, twisting the facts so they are most flammable – or the stark, raving idiots who produced this ridiculous nonsense.

    In this case, I think the media committed the lesser sin.

  29. “They’re so stupid, I can’t conclusively say they aren’t actually raging, though [i]incoherent[/i], racists”

    DrJ: That’s pretty poor thinking there. They offered an argument (albeit a bad one) that only works if they tacitly reject racism. If you don’t think that indicates that they oppose racism, then there’s little to say to you about it.

    David: “But many Europeans have brown eyes and black hair.”

    Quite right. But that’s no objection. The author of this argument must simply say that those people, according to evolution, should be deemed less evolved (yes, absurd, I know). Their point was just that those traits are nearly always present in black people, so the evolutionist (allegedly) must say that all black people are less evolved. It’s a really easy argument to understand, even if it’s a really bad argument.

    I know it would be useful for some to brush these people who make these bad arguments off as racists. But that is not honest.

    And Ken – again, it’s silly to say that these creationists haven’t made a peep. How would you know? Do you expect them to have the same level of editorial access to major newspapers? Come off it… But as you wish, continue to draw attention to other issues. Thanks for the chat.

  30. Glenn, interesting that you couldn’t produce any specific examples of “creationist bashing?”

    I am sure if the Kawarau Creationists had responded to the Herald article you would have told me. I imagine that they do not want to be public – no name or contact on to leaflet suggests a cowardly approach. I can’t see them fronting up to the offence they have caused. These sort of people never do – they generally have to be exposed – remember the Exclusive Brethren Fiasco in the 2005 election?

    Anyway if you really feel as strongly as you are maintaining I am sure you will stand up for them by asking for an apology. But I actually suspect you won’t.

    And as I pointed out – you really are not an equal opportunity complainant as your history sticking the boot into honest climate scientists shows. Oh yes, to save the response I agree I am not an equal opportunity complainant either being far less concerned about misrepresentation of these dishonest creationist fools than I am about honest scientists who have been attacked in such an unprincipled way.

  31. Glenn, this is quite simple. They chose characters which they thought made black people look like chimps – namely hair colour, eye colour and (incorrectly) skin colour. They clearly believe black people look more like chimps than white people do. But if you choose other characters (degree of hairiness, thickness of lips) then you could equally (and equally absurdly) claim that white people look more like chimps. The big giveaway is skin colour – it’s usually fair in chimps (though there are exceptions) but these people seem to believe chimps have black skin.

    I saw this pamphlet myself when it did the rounds of my part of the rural Waikato a few months ago. I thought then that it was amusing how they were accusing others of racism when their own racism was glaringly obvious. The unexamined assumption at the heart of this pamphlet is that black people really do look like chimps – that is an incorrect and thoroughly racist view, and Danielle Hayes, the good people of Kawerau and the NZ Herald called it correctly. You do yourself no favours in attempting to defend this.

    Once again, I’m not brushing them off as racists because they’re making bad arguments; their arguments don’t come into it, bad as they are. I’m saying they’re racists because they believe black people look like chimps. Sorry to labour the point, but I’m obviously having trouble making myself understood.

  32. Ken: “Glenn, interesting that you couldn’t produce any specific examples of “creationist bashing?”

    You did not ask for any, nor did I look for any. You did, however, ask me what I meant, and I neglected to answer you: By creationist bashing I mean ridiculing creationists for being creationists.

    “I am sure if the Kawarau Creationists had responded to the Herald article you would have told me.”

    How would I know what they had said? Again – don’t assume that they have the same editorial access to a major newspaper that this writer does. That seems very unlikely to me.

    “Anyway if you really feel as strongly as you are maintaining I am sure you will stand up for them by asking for an apology.” I am maintaining that someone was dishonest in their treatment of creationists. I do not usually intervene and request apologies on other people’s behalf, so why would I start now?

  33. Glenn, I’ll just repeat the question the from my previous comment:

    “Now you claim you “often see people give creationist bashers a free pass.” But the evidence isn’t there – only the Herald article. And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?

    Be specific.”

    We have plenty of evidence of “climate scientist bashing” around here but you avoid a simple question. I don’t think you have evidence of any significant “creationist bashing.”

  34. Yes Ken, precisely as I said. You never asked for examples, so I didn’t look for any. Your question, which you quoted, was simply: “And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?”

    I gave you my answer already: By creation bashers, I mean people who ridicule creationists for being creationists. I can’t answer any more clearly or specifically than that.

    If you now wish that you had asked me to go and fetch examples for you of people who have engaged in ridiculing creationists, that’s another matter. But you didn’t ask that. And if you had, I would not have chosen to run off and search on your behalf. If you have convinced yourself that there isn’t a tendency to ridicule creationists, then so be it. But like it or not, I simply don’t believe that you think this, and I don’t think this question would have been sincere, had you asked it (you didn’t).

    A few moments using Google could do the leg work for you, so I don’t need to. Maybe this will get you started:

    https://www.google.co.nz/search?UTF-8&q=creationist+idiots

    Thanks for stopping by, Ken.

  35. Ken,

    If you are willing to hear some testimonial evidence, let me just share my observations. I have NEVER seen the US mainstream media give one ounce of recognition to creationism or even ID. Meanwhile, we are constantly bombarded with programming that pushes evolution.

  36. Daniel – you can’t be looking. Even from this distance I see US coverage of the antics of creationists/ID people all the time. Think about court cases like the Dover one. There are continuing attempts by creationists to introduce religion into science classes and education standards. Just recently I have read in papers like the NYT Nagel’s review of Plantinga’s book, and reviews of Nagel’s ID sympathetic philosophy book. I could go on. There us a very active struggle going on in the auS which very often makes mainstream media. (And a very active campaign of subversion of science in the the Christian community).

    If you are talking about science coverage – of scientific findings – no – creationism/ID doesn’t feature – how could it without doing any research. The problem they have is that they just haven’t even got a structured hypothesis to research. They are stuck with feeble attempts like “reinterpretation research” -inventing arguments like the one used by that silly Kawarau crowd.

    Glenn – you are pretty predictable – this is what I expected. Sort of confirms my claim that we are not a rational species – more a rationalising one. Your reaction is a text book example in cognitive psychology of how we tend to automatically go with our prejudices and restrict reasoning to discovering anything we can use as evidence for our bias and ignoring anything which doesn’t. It’s lazy but natural -and unfortunately these sort of Internet discussions usually confirm our biases rather than challenge us to put any effort into thinking.

    You have a soft spot for creationists so will protect them. For some reason you will believe the worst of scientists and will consequently look for any argument to avoid facing up to the reality of climate change and similar issues – because expert scientists are involved.

  37. the trouble with “climate change” is that there are expert scientists on both sides of the debate as to whether or not it is anthropogenic in origin. this puts Glenn in a difficult position re climate change, because if he tends to think the worst of scientists [ as Ken insists ] then he will be prejudiced against both sides of the debate !!!

  38. also just to recognise the clarity and depth of expression available in using the English language, i suggest that there is significant difference between ” US coverage of the antics of creationists/ID people all the time” and “US mainstream media give one ounce of recognition to creationism or even ID”.

  39. finally for the moment, there is a fundamental difference between having a soft spot for creationists and objecting to wilfull mischaracterisation in the media [especially if its reporting rather than commentary that is involved].
    i admit that the current fashion for all news to have apparent commentary rather than strict reporting is a pet hate of mine, it makes news reports far less trustworthy.

  40. Jeremy, the argument is not over attribution of current warming to humans but over the accusation of scientific fraud. This is what the deniers were unable to show in the high court judgement. That has been the case throughout the world where these accusations have been, and continue to be made.

    Personally I think people who have made those unfounded accusations, as Glenn has, and refuse to apologise have very questionable ethics.

    The vast majority of climate scientists accept the current position of the IPCC:

    1: there has been unusual global warming over the half century; that is unequivocal;
    2: this warming is most likely to be largely caused by human effects (primarily burning of fossil fuels).

    That position was derived from review of the scientific literature. In reality while 97% of publishing climate scientists accept the position, in reality there will be about 15% who think IPCC possible scenarios of future warming are an overestimate and 15% who think it is an underestimate.

    It’s a very conservative position which is likely to change drastically in the next review if current scientific findings because of the evidence for mechanisms leading to loss of land ice sheets.

    I don’t know what your point is with the creationists. Are you supporting Daniel who claims the media never covers their activity or Glenn who won’t see any criticism if creationists?

  41. Jeremy, I should have explained that accusation of scientific fraud is extremely serious. It can lead to loss of job, banning access to funding and effectively banning from the profession. At a minimum. So it should never be done lightly or taken lightly.

    Misrepresenting of anonymous creationists from Kawarau in the Herald because of an unattributed, poorly written and argued leaflet and the strong reactions of the recipients cannot even be compared with accusation of scientific fraud.

  42. “Your reaction is a text book example in cognitive psychology” [etc]

    This gave me a genuine “out loud” chuckle. And it’s so appropriate that you used the word predictable. Back in the day, nearly every time you came along and ran out of arguments, you’d reach for armchair psychonalysis. Like the return of an old, cantankerous friend, there it is again in the first thread in which you re-appear and run out of arguments. 🙂

    Fair warning though: Further attempts to divert the thread into discussions of the persecution of climate scientists is going to be treated in the way that you agreed to when you said that you’d follow the blog policy (have another read if it’s getting hazy). If it’s that important to you, write a blog about it – just like I did when I wrote this blog post. Thanks.

    Again, thanks for stopping by.

  43. Glenn, have you ever thought of doing an episode on your podcast on creationism. I am interested in hearing more about your comments at the beginning of this article, and how you might differ with certain views of creation and evolution.

  44. Ken wrote: “Matthew – I hope your sense of humour is available when I tell you your appearance out of the blue with an irrelevant question reminds me of Pancho coming Don Quixote’s aid against an imaginary windmill.”

    Ken, perhaps you don’t see it as a relevant question, but actually it is, and I suspect most of Glenn’s readers recognize it is.

  45. Matthew – do I need to repeat my answer?

    “My answer to your question is that surely intentional and malicious misrepresentation of facts or people is certainly wrong.

    But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

  46. Quite so, Ciaron. I am not forbidden from identifying cases of wrongdoing unless and until I also chase up ever case where Ken believes other wrongdoings have been done, and also complain about them. Others are welcome to complain about what is important to them.

    This is a case where I thought it was important for me to do this for the specific reasons I have given, not least because I do not want people to falsely accuse me of giving creationist bashing a free pass just because I don’t share their views. That matters to me, and what matters to Ken really isn’t the concern of this blog.

  47. Glenn & Ciaron – I think I have made my point and really don’t see anything to respond to in your attempted rationalisations. They really only illustrate my comments.

    However, thanks for the advice Glenn. I may well write a blog about the hypocrisy of this situation. People who should be ashamed of themselves for sticking the boot into our scientists are really trying to now avoid the issue. Although the ones still active have retreated into their Internet silos/ghettos and are beyond reason anyway. But why should the others get off scott free for their cowardly and brutish behaviour at the time?

    Might be fun to trawl through the old blog posts eh Matt and Glenn – worth a laugh even if it proves pointless to comment.

  48. “But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

    Is this supposed to be irony?

  49. I just spotted this:

    “I don’t know what your point is with the creationists. Are you supporting Daniel who claims the media never covers their activity or Glenn who won’t see any criticism if [sic] creationists?”

    This is hilarious. After already saying to me: “you reject creationist ideas full stop. Not just the ideas of the specific outfit (the motley crew I referred to behind the leaflet). I have learned something today.”

    Ken is now saying that I won’t allow any criticism of creationists. One minute I reject their ideas, and the next I won’t allow them to be criticised! Any opportunity to make a snide comment without following the genuine discussion is being pursued, it seems.

    But I’m not interested in such tactics. The substantive matter in this blog post is pretty simple. Summary of facts: I’ve never been anti-science and I’ve never expressed anything like antipathy towards scientists per se. Individual people who are scientists, sure (but I am sure that Ken has criticised people who are scientists before as well). But all such chatter about what Glenn thinks of scientists (according to Ken) has been one big red herring. The bottom line is, I wrote this blog post to provide us all with a clear reminder that yes, in fact the media does misrepresent and demonise creationists.

  50. Gee Glenn, you are a worryier – cant leave a dead bone alone.

    By the way, seeing you introduce the topic – what happened to your post from 2010 – “Climate scientists caught lying?”

    I was going to refer to it if I do the blog post you suggest as it is relevant. But it seems to have been removed (or otherwise removed from its link) – although you refer to it elsewhere.

  51. Ken, I believe it was you who kept trying to talk about climate science in this discussion. I certainly didn’t introduce it. And now here you are again trying to give it centre stage! I’m trying to talk about the misrepresentation of creationists.

    In future, queries about the location of unrelated blog posts can be sent privately. I can’t find the one you’re referring to. However I can find other posts that explain that because of comments in that discussion, I had to add a blog policy against libel. This is because a person in that thread engaged in libel, and it’s possible that this is why it was removed (since you brought it up – that person was you). I’ll honestly say that I don’t recall why I removed it, but this may have been the reason.

    I think, however, that instead of shooting back that I’m a “worrier,” you might actually see from the above that you’ve talked out of both sides of your mouth in this thread here, just to have a go at me for defending creationists. Changing your mind about what I think about creationists even. Ah well – I just wanted to get things back on topic (your new comment undoes some of that! Please don’t keep it up – this thread is about this particular blog entry.)

    [Further comments that are simply talking about climate change scientists or my earlier blog entries that relate to them will be removed, as they will be deemed intentionally off topic. Please refer to the blog policy, which all commenters here have read.]

  52. The reactions here are comical in the way that they seem desperate to avoid the point and get on to something else.

    Glenn says: I am not a creationist (in the sense I describe it here), but I’m still going to stand up for them: Look how badly they are misrepresented!
    A couple of creationists come along and say: What? You’re not a creationist? Christians should be creationists!
    Ken comes along and says: Ah, I see, this is because you have a “soft spot” for creationists.

    I can imagine Glenn facepalming!

  53. “I have read in papers like the NYT Nagel’s review of Plantinga’s book, ” Given Nagel is an atheist, and Plantinga in the book in question critiques ID, rejects it and argues for the compatibility of theism and evolution, and explicitly rejects creationism, the suggestion that this is an example of “creationism” being given good press is odd.

    Perhaps if you reflect back on my comment about irony above you might see the point I was making now.

  54. Matt, Plantinga actually uses the arguements of Michael Behe – one of the leading proponents of ID, to argue that random variation is impossible without some sort of guidance – and you know what guidance he wants. In the process he argues that evolution is incompatible with an atheist, or “naturalistic,” outlook. In my post “The paradoxes of theological compatibility” (http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-paradoxes-of-theological-gullibility/) I quote philosopher Marteen Boudry who shows how unscientific Plantinga is being by trying to introduce into science something with no more justification than “logical possibility:”

    But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    Nagel may well be an atheist but philosophically he makes huge mistakes in his understanding of science by supporting this argument of Plantinga’s and by supporting ID by arguing that the success of ID as a science depends only on problems or imagined problems in one or other aspect of evolutionary science. This is just stupid. Simply by saying that random mutation cannot occur at a sufficiently fast rate (not empirically supported) and one can introduce elves, gods, aliens or the Flying Sphagetti Monster to provide the assumed guidance (the unwarranted “logical possibility”) this makes ID a science! Without any effort at all on the part of ID proponents to produce their own evidence or validation!

    Just being an atheist, or a theist, does not make one a good philosopher or make one immune from some of the utmost stupidity. Everybody’s argument must rest on its own strength, logic, evidence and validation – not authority or provenance.

    No I don’t see your point about irony. You referred specifically to my comment:
    “But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misundersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

    You still haven’t explained yourself. Nor have you attempted to deny my point logically.

  55. David whether it happened instantaneously or over billions of years, makes no difference. All the time in the universe can’t provide enough time for the magic needed for evolution to occur.

    Ignoring that it goes against the bible and makes no sense for a christian to believe it, at least theistic evolution makes more sense than non-theistic evolution. The universe just randomly arranging itself… life just randomly arranging itself… even many trillions of years would not be enough time for this to produce even a single cell organism by chance.

    Evolution without supernatural input is virtual impossible, and if you believe in a supernatural being who can make things happen, then you don’t need an impossible theory like evolution to explain how the universe and life got here.

    Any honest evolutionist will tell you that there are so many parts of evolution that cannot be logically explained.

  56. Glenn, I get the distinct feeling you took my comment as a personal attack. I am sorry you feel this way.

    Unfortunately nearly all christians reject some part of the bible (if not all, in a few cases), so it’s definitely nothing personal. I’m quite sure there are things I accidently reject in the bible without even realising. I am just as saddened by that as any of the other people who I see who are christians who reject parts of the bible. It’s definitely nothing personal – it’s something just about all christians are guilty of at some point in their walk with Jesus.

    However, I do find some of your comments insulting and hypocritical. You say you are against creationist bashing but you write comments like “stating that I think they do misunderstand the science, I chose not to go on about it”.

    What you are saying is that highly intelligent people, some with higher IQs than both you and I, who have gained doctorates in their respective fields (sometimes multiple doctorates), have less understanding about their scientific fields than you do?

    While it may not be bashing to the extent your original post mentions, it is still bashing creationists as a whole. You ARE saying they don’t understand science – not just some of them, but every single person who believes in creation, no matter how intelligent and educated, does not understand science properly.

    That’s quite a bold statement from someone who isn’t a scientist and claims to be against creationist bashing.

    As a scientist myself, I can tell you this – other than those who choose evolution from a religious viewpoint and don’t care about whether it’s at all factual, all honest scientists who believe in the THEORY of evolution, will tell you that it’s not proven, it’s unsure, and requires a lot of faith to cover the gaps in the theory that science just doesn’t provide the answers for. Scientists believing in evolution require just as much religious-like faith to believe it occurred as any belief in any god does.

    Anyone who can adamantly say that evolution is right and creationism is wrong is either misrepresenting the facts (as some atheist evolutionists have been caught out doing on many occasions) or doesn’t understand fully the scientific process – which is the trap many non-scientists fall into.

    There is no irrefutable evidence on either side of the argument, and both sides require faith in concepts that have no proof. Both creation and evolution are theory and to be sure one is wrong and one is right requires serious faith.

    To say one is right and one is wrong requires faith. To say one side doesn’t understand the science IS insulting and demeaning and “bashing”.

  57. Julie, I do not believe it’s insulting or hypocritical to say that there are people – even highly intelligent and educated people in the sciences, who misunderstand the science. Not at all. That is not “bashing,” it is merely to say that you think one side is right and the other is wrong, which is what you yourself have done.

    I am sure that you don’t find it insulting or hypocritical to say that people much more educated than you in theology or biblical studies misunderstand the Bible in accepting evolution. Neither, then, is it insulting or “bashing” to say that educated people who accept creationism have gotten the science wrong. Mere disagreement is not bashing, and to take mere disagreement as an insult is to be far too sensitive.

    I have defended creationists against “bashing” (ridicule, unfair lampooning and the like), but that does not forbid me from saying that they misunderstand the science, for that is not bashing, but simply disagreement.

  58. I’m sorry but I disagree Glenn. Saying someone is wrong is very different on one particular subject is very different from saying they misunderstand the whole discipline. I disagree with you on one theological point (probably more than one), but I do not say you totally misunderstand theology as a whole. That would be insulting.

    To say that a scientist misunderstands science as a whole, because they disagree with you on the one scientific concept of evolution is insulting and “bashing”. To even say they misunderstand the science related to the origins of the universe and the origins of life based on the fact that they disagree is insulting enough.

    People can be wrong and still understand the area in discussion. I think you are very wrong in your theology in regards to the evolution vs creation debate. Do I think you don’t understand theology at all? No. I would not not insult you like that. Nor would I insult any theologian who I know to be wrong on the topic. Being wrong does not mean someone misunderstands the whole area – it just means they have usually got one small detail wrong.

  59. Ken, actually Plantinga rejects the views of Behe in his book, and has a whole section p 225-236 critiquing Behe’s arguments and offering reasons why he thinks they are unsuccessful. Nor does he use them to show evolution and theism are compatible. He argues for that thesis in chapters 1 and 2 where he does not mention Behe at all.

    As for your comments about

    “I quote philosopher Marteen Boudry who shows how unscientific Plantinga is being by trying to introduce into science something with no more justification than “logical possibility:”

    “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    This shows how little you understand the argument in question, if the question is whether two beliefs A and B are logically compatible then all one needs to do to show they are is demonstrate a logical possibility of both A and B. Of course if you wanted to argue that the conjunction of A and B were both true you would need to offer something more and Plantinga would be the first to admit this, but as he points out he is not arguing A and B are both true he is arguing they are logically compatible.

    Like I said Ken your comments about not misrepresenting other people strike me and I suspect most people familiar with your MO as irony. Particularly when you claim an author who writes a book with 10 pages critiquing and rejecting an argument actually supports the argument and you continue to do so after its pointed out.

    S0me less charitable might call that lying. But then Plantinga is not a climate scientist and so all those apparent scruples about misrepresenting other people no longer counts.

  60. “Saying someone is wrong is very different on one particular subject is very different from saying they misunderstand the whole discipline.”

    Agreed. That’s different. Of course, neither of those is “bashing.” What’s more, I never said that creationists misunderstand all of science, and I didn’t even say that they understand all of biology, so the above difference isn’t really relevant. When I said that creationists misunderstand “the science” here, I would not have expected anyone to think that this means “all of science.” In fact, if you have a charitable re-read of the post of mine that you have quoted from, you will see that I am referring to those who produced this pamphlet, saying that they misunderstand the science, and I gave their claim about humans evolving from “chimps” as an example. You agree, I am sure, that this is a misunderstanding of evolutionary science, right? I am sure you do.

    But even if I had been talking about creationism more broadly: “The science” means the science that is relevant in this specific subject: The subject of creationism. So they may know a lot about cells, bones, nervous systems, and biology in general.

    “Do I think you don’t understand theology at all? No. I would not not insult you like that.”

    Nor would I insult creationists in the manner you are trying to suggest. Do I think that creationists have no understanding of science at all? No, and I have never said that. But I can tell that you do think I misunderstand “the theology” of creation. Similarly, I think creationism more broadly misunderstands the science that is relevant here. Every single part of it? No, but I didn’t say that – and certainly not every single part of science. Let’s interpret each other charitably. Is it possible that you are trying to read me as saying something over-reaching and mean-spirited because you think I’m wrong about creationism?

    So I will reiterate: I think creationists misunderstand the science on this issue, and I do not believe this counts as bashing. I have been defending creationists against bashing, and I don’t think my simply disagreeing with them in the manner outlined above counts as bashing. I’m sorry if you felt bashed or insulted.

  61. Ken says “Matt, Plantinga actually uses the arguements of Michael Behe – one of the leading proponents of ID, to argue that random variation is impossible without some sort of guidance – and you know what guidance he wants.”

    Not even close Ken,

    ” As far as I can make out, Draper is right: Behe’s argument, taken as Draper takes it , is by no means airtight. Behe has not demonstrated that there are irreducibly complex systems such that it is impossible or even monumentally improbable that they have evolved in a Darwinian fashion” (Pg 231 ‘Where the Conflict really lies’)

  62. Yes, Cornell, I am aware of his qualifications around Behe. But his argument remains that mutations (variability) must be guided. (Or do you have a different explanation for why he says evolution is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it).

    Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility.

    The original examples of Plantinga and Nagel’s were to show Daniel’s assertion that ID ideas never made the main stream media was wrong. Whatever Nagel’s and Plantinga’s beliefs ID was a central issue in their discussions which occurred in the NYT. And they were only single examples.

  63. “(Or do you have a different explanation for why he says evolution is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it).’

    Plantinga says Naturalism AND evolution are incompatible with science. This statement is in regards to his EAAN, not his views on Behe.

    “Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility.”

    First off, let’s get something out of the way before we speak of whether or not Theistic evolution > Naturalist evolution.

    Philosophical naturalism has not been proven to be a scientific fact or proven by philosophical arguments, correct?

    Take Paul Draper’s definition of naturalism (which is what I mean by philosophical naturalism) “the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.”

    It is the denial of the existence of supernatural causes. In rejecting the reality of supernatural events, forces, or entities, naturalism as defined here is the antithesis of supernaturalism.

  64. “Plantinga says Naturalism AND evolution are incompatible with science. This statement is in regards to his EAAN, not his views on Behe.”

    Just jumping in here before Ken misunderstands this – Plantinga doesn’t say that evolution is incompatible with science (he believes in evolution) and that naturalism is also incompatible with science. His claim is that the combination of evolution and naturalism is the problem (and he says that because he thinks naturalism is the problem).

    I explore this argument from Plantinga in the podcast, Episode 13. http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2008/episode-013-plantinga-and-presuppositional-apologetics-part-2/

  65. ^Correct Glenn , I guess I could have been a bit clearer as all I put was ‘ Naturalism AND evolution’ so I can see how it’s possible Ken could be confused here, but I agree with Glenn here.

  66. I see that Ken is relying very heavily on Maarten Boudry’s very unfavourable review for his understanding of Plantinga – instead of reading Plantinga for himself. He has pinned his hope for a rebuttal to Plantinga on Boudry’s remark that “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility,” etc.

    The problem is, Plantinga doesn’t say that a belief is rational just if it’s logically possible. If Ken had read Plantinga for himself and understood his argument, he would know that.

  67. Glenn, a correction. I only came across Marteen’s review a few days back – hence my blog post “The paradoxes of theological gullibility.” (http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-paradoxes-of-theological-gullibility/). It impressed me because he brought out some of the very conclusions I had come to after reading Plantinga’s original article. And of course much more clearly than I could.

    I am now very keen to read more from this philosopher because he seems to have a far better understanding of the real philosophy of science than many of those who politically speak for science.

    I do have Pantinga’s book but originally read it in article form as part of the debate with Dennett.

    Yes, Plantinga does refer to his divine guidance argument as a logical possibility rather than a fact (as did Elliot Sober). The stupidity to me is that giving credence to one logical possibility over all those millions of other logical possibilities is just not science or even good philosophy and doesn’t warrant a claim for divine guidance of variability (mutations) above guidance by demons or the magical flying spaghetti monste, etcr. I am not at all impressed by the arguments used by Sober, Nagel and Plantinga on this issue.

    It surprises me that you and Matt rush to justify Plantinga’s reliance on logical possibility as if I am not aware of the subtleties. It is the very subtleties that are at issue. They just don’t provide the warrant Plantinga argues for in his claim that naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science. They are just an attempt to impose bad philosophical arguments on science. That is why I say we should keep philosophers like Plantinga, Sober and Nagel well away from science. They just really don’t understand the way science works or why it is so successful.

    1. “It surprises me that you and Matt rush to justify Plantinga’s reliance on logical possibility as if I am not aware of the subtleties.”

      Whatever you’re aware of, what you say is what will be responded to. And you endorsed a reviewer claiming that Plantinga says that in order for a belief to be rational it merely needs to be logically possible. This is false, since Plantinga never claims this. Hence, the reviewer misrepresents Plantinga, as does anyone who endorses what the reviewer said.

      In fact (it was a while back and a bit hazy now, but I’m fairly sure this is what happened), in the past you have said that you reject Plantinga’s epistemology because of his concept of warrant – where he linked rationality to warrant, and not just logical possibility (I recall that back then you were saying that the idea of warrant just misunderstands science – the usual old line – but your reasons given were different from the ones you’re suggesting now). Have you reassessed your view of what Plantinga says now? It looks to me like you don’t really know what Plantinga’s argument is.

      I have a question. If you have ever read Plantinga claiming that in order for a belief / theory to be rational it only has to be logically possible, please indicate where Plantinga makes this specific claim. Please be specific with your reference. Thanks.

      PS, if you like, I can show you where Plantinga specifically denies this, and says that a whole set of beliefs can be coherent and logically possible, but not justified at all. But I will first wait for your quote from Plantinga where he says that logical possibility is enough for rationality.

  68. Cornell, I realise you were confused there for a while but am more concerned taty you did not answer my question. I repeat:

    “do you have a different explanation for why he says naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it.”

    It’s a genuine question. If Plantinga is not relying on his logical possibility argument to justify his claim of incompatibility what is he relying on?

    I want to know.

    (Although I realise Glenn could stop this discussion at any pint because it is a diversion from his post. If he does so please pass that information on to me at my blog article on the issue).

  69. Matt – my comments to Cornell also apply to you (sorry I didn’t see your comment at first).

    As for your criticism of Marteen’s argument – I can’t see your logic. Are you insisting that claiming the mere logical possibility that mutations (variability) are a result of guidance by demons is sufficient “evidence” to assert that demons must be an essential part of a theory of evolution by variation and selection? Sufficient for you to claim that the theory of evolution is incompatible with “naturalism” (That is a word I don’t like) because it “excludes” demons?

    I think part of the problem is your misunderstanding of what science is. Evolutionary science is not a “belief.” It’s a collection of facts and resulting theories which make a coherent whole. It does not require “belief” in the way that you are talking about. One accepts science – one does not “believe” in science. Just as well as scientific knowledge is provisional, changing and improve all the time. It’s not a dogma. “True believers” just could not accommodate to that.

    Now, I can’t up understand why you continue to talk of irony – or s that another diversion? Careful!

  70. Ken… that’s where you go wrong… evolutionary “facts” and theories do not form a coherent whole. There are massive gaps with little (if any) attempt at explanation of these problems. Hence why it requires religious-like belief to believe such a theory full of holes.

    Sadly the theory of evolution is a dogma that no matter how many times parts of it are proven wrong, people just stubbornly cling to it and try to save something from the broken pieces. Fundamentalist evolutionists are dogmatic in their beliefs and actions equal to, or greater, than any religious fundamentalist. It’s really sad. As I’ve said already (in slightly different words), if it were any other theory, it would have been discarded a century ago due to it being such an absurd joke, but its worshippers stubbornly cling to their belief in it and won’t let it die the way bad theories should.

  71. Julie – it’s interesting actually – a Christian (in my view) can truly afford to be open minded about evolution. Maybe that’s what happened, maybe not. Either is a genuine possibility. Christians reach different conclusions on the matter based on whether or not they think they evidence from all sources points one way or the other.

    For the atheist/naturalist, however, there’s really no other option. On the question of how we got here, evolution is the only game in town. I don’t doubt that for many or even most, they are quite persuaded that all the evidence supports their view. But the point is, whether it did or not, they would still have to hold it. It’s the view that (according to Dawkins) enables atheists “to be intellectually fulfilled.” They really do need it to be true, whereas Christians don’t.

    (I haven’t said that it’s true or not in making this observation. It’s just an observation about prior commitments that I think is important.)

  72. Sorry, Glenn, I can’t quote Plantinga for you tonight – I won’t have access to my library for a day or so. Family and other commitments – you know. In the meantime, I have Nagel’s article and will just quote him:

    “Plantinga thinks we can reasonably believe that we are the products of evolution provided that we also believe, contrary to naturalism, that the process was in some way guided by God.”

    Perhaps Nagel gets Plantinga wrong – but either way that is so patently just not true. It is not at all reasonable.

    I recommend that you give up any attempt to attribute ideas to me based on a biased memory. Just ask me what my thoughts are and I will tell you. I am far more reliable than you in the subject of my understanding. Understand?

    However -perhaps you can answer the question I put to Cornell. What specifically do you see as the justification Plantinga gives for claiming evolutionary science is incompatible with naturalism (horrible word) or science as I understand and practice (and as Marteen seems to be clear about)? This is the question here – if he isn’t using a “logical possibility” as a justification what is he using?

    Incidentally, on’t you feel this is a diversion from your post and therefore something you should stop?

  73. “I recommend that you give up any attempt to attribute ideas to me based on a biased memory. Just ask me what my thoughts are and I will tell you. ”

    That only tells me what you think now, though. I’m talking about what you said back in the thread on “What is Knowledge.” There, you attacked Plantinga’s view of warrant. Now, you are talking about him as though he had a very different concept of rationality.

    No need to be testy about it. It’s not like it’s a crime to change one’s mind. In any event, do let me know when you’ve located a quote from Plantinga where he claims that a belief is rational simply if it’s logically possible for it to be true. Thanks.

    “Incidentally, on’t you feel this is a diversion from your post and therefore something you should stop?”

    Given that I don’t think you’ve ever seen Plantinga make the claim you attribute to him (by endorsing the reviewer you praise so highly), or even use an argument that relies on this assumption, I can understand why you might like this to stop before it gets to the point where you realise Plantinga didn’t say it. But now you’ve got my curiosity piqued. I want to see what will happen. I don’t think you understand Plantinga’s argument, so I want to see you explain it. 🙂

  74. Glenn – you ignored my question so I will repeat it:

    “What specifically do you see as the justification Plantinga gives for claiming evolutionary science is incompatible with naturalism (horrible word) or science as I understand and practice (and as Marteen seems to be clear about)? This is the question here – if he isn’t using a “logical possibility” as a justification what is he using?”

    Yes, I am enjoying the discussion too . Perhaps seeing you have warmed up sufficient,y that you can now respond to my comments about your sticking the boot into our scientists a few years back. In an attack that was completely unwarranted as almost everyone now accepts. And why not an apology for that misrepresentation?

    Actually far closer to the subject of your post than the intricacies of Plantinga’s argument.

    Seeing you want to see how a free discussion goes.

  75. “Glenn – you ignored my question so I will repeat it:”

    Fair’s fair, Ken. Your question can wait until you’ve answered mine and provided that quote from Plantinga. I asked first. 🙂 Before I look at your questions about the strength of Plantinga’s argument, let’s see you show that you understand it, as requested earlier.

    Cheers.

  76. Glenn – I have given you Nagel’s understanding – do you disagree with it.

    Actually, Glenn, having launched into the argument you have this has cut you off at the knees because you cannot now justify Plantinga’s conclusion as explained by Nagel,

    I’ll show you mine after you show me yours is extremely childish in this situation. I can only take that as an admission that whatever argument you can think of suffers from the same argument as the logical possibility already used.

    You and I agree that Plantinga acknowledges that is not a proof. Marteen and I point out that logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever. The first point is not at issue -the second point (clearly put in Dennett’s “superman” argument) is fundamental but you have ignored it.

    However, there must be some reason Plantinga asserts as strongly as he does the point made by Nagel. And I don’t think you now know how to justify it.

  77. “I’ll show you mine after you show me yours is extremely childish in this situation.”

    That’s your opinion. I disagree. You made a claim about Plantinga’s view that I think is absurd and false, and I don’t really think you’re discussing his position in good faith. I think you’re misrepresenting him and attacking a straw man, and I don’t actually think you care. That is why I’m not really interested in discussing it further until you come up with the goods. I’m sorry if that bugs you, but I can’t even be bothered discussing it with someone who I don’t think is engaging in good faith. You are free to interpret that in any way you like.

    I’ll wait for the quote if you don’t mind (or even if you do).

  78. Doesn’t bug me, Glenn. But doesn’t surprise me either because you have dug yourself into a hole which makes the dubious nature of Plantinga’s argument obvious. Rather confirms what I expected.

    Well, Cornell – I originally asked the question of you. Can you I any better than Glenn?

  79. I’m left wondering exactly how one digs oneself into a hole by merely asking for evidence that somebody said something. Oh well…. maybe I just don’t understand how science works. That must be it.

  80. It’s a short step from castigating creationists, to summarily vilifying religion, to censoring free speech.
    This is why, even Voltaire would probably agree with Glenn’s original post.

    Atheism should not necessarily equate to misinformed and irrational anti theism, any more than Christianity equates to young earth creationism. (furthermore atheism != science …)

  81. Ken, my dispute is with misinformation, not a person. If a person is wrong, I will say something – there is nothing personal about it.

    And Glenn… you hit the nail on the head with your comment with “For the atheist/naturalist, however, there’s really no other option. On the question of how we got here, evolution is the only game in town.” Actually, on a side note, there are a few rather bizarre theories out there… such as human beings become so far advanced in the futhre that they’ve gone back in time and created themselves, ie that we are own creators… interesting but totally bizarre. But no more ridiculously bizarre than the theory of evolution.

    Your statement is exactly why evolution hasn’t been tossed out a century ago. Atheists have no sensible way to explain how the universe and life came about – so they stubbornly cling to what they see as the least illogical theory, fearing that if they let go of it, that they have to let go of the idea that the universe wasn’t created by a higher power. It’s a lousy reason to stick to a theory, but sadly there are a lot of fundamental atheists who do this. They know evolution makes no sense but it’s all they have.

    I just cannot see why anyone who doesn’t have this bias against a higher power existing would believe such a bizarre, unproven, illogical theory like evolution. I’m sure people have their reasons, but I cannot see why anyone other than a fundamentalist atheist who is adamant that a higher power cannot exist in any shape or form, would believe in the theory of evolution.

  82. “but I cannot see why anyone other than a fundamentalist atheist who is adamant that a higher power cannot exist in any shape or form, would believe in the theory of evolution.”

    Well, the reality is that a very large number of very well informed – as well as sincere and deeply devoted – Christians do believe in evolution – people who certainly have no pre-existing reason do deny a higher power. So maybe some time you might want to revisit that assessment, regardless of whether or not you believe in evolution.

  83. Julie – if your dispute is with misinformation I am surprised because you just haven’t dealt with any fact or factual assertion. If you think I have written something factually incorrect you are welcome to discuss that with me -but be specific. What facts are you disputing? And if you want to dump on the current understanding of evolutionary science you will agin have to be specific – what are the established facts or conclusions you dispute and why? And have a bit of humility – scientists with greater minds and expertise than you or I are involved in this field so you might actually find they are right and you are wrong.

    It happens.

  84. Ken says ““do you have a different explanation for why he says naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it.”

    I don’t know what you mean by different explanation, as if his EAAN is correct, then perception and brain structures are definitely genetic and one has a defeater for trusting their cognitive faculties. Take the paranoid schizophrenic. His perception, reactions, and beliefs are impacted by his brain structure and chemistry. If evolution GIVEN NATURALISM were true, it is probable that we are all suffer from something akin to schizophrenia. This is why Theistic evolution > Naturalist evolution

    Let E = Evolution
    Let N = Naturalism (as I defined up above)

    On E&N, therefore, what we call ‘truth’ appears to be no more than just information which holds a heuristic benefit to survival. Alvin Plantinga has made a good case for this. If ‘truth’ is also the product of minds and not a mind then it seems difficult to refute the implication that there is not truth but truths. That it is inherently subjective and not objective [although majority agreements can cause the illusion of the latter].

    It does not look as though knowing what’s true is all that necessary for survival so it’s a huge epistemic leap to think we do. The advocate of E&N has a problem here. How do I know that I am not just evolved PURELY for the purposes of survival and nothing else? This means that what I take to be true is just what my genes want me to take as true because it is best for the heuristic purposes it is being put to task to perform. On philosophical naturalism a naturalist has a very good reason to think she may well be permanently deceived about a great many things!

    So I’m sure you’ve read his argument, so which premise of his argument do you disagree with?

  85. “Logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever.”

    So, these entities have near-perfect knowledge of biology, evolution and genomics, and they have a sufficient reason to act on that knowledge? If yes, how do you know?

  86. Cornell, your “explanation” looks like logical possibilities “all the way down.” I am familiar with Plantinga’s arguments here but find them childish and your explanation hasn’t helped.

    I agree that many of us are deceived about many things, perhaps some permanently. But that’s not surprising.
    Perhaps you need to detail this step better “theistic evolution> naturalistic evolution”. Reminds me of the “miracle” in the famous Harris cartoon.

    You could start by defining your terms – theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins and “naturalistic” is meaningless to me without your definition. I keep thinking of nudists.

  87. It is tremendously difficult to feel sympathy for someone suffering from mangled aggressive illogical statements when they themselves are a shameless purveyor of mangled aggressive illogical statements.
    Few people are careful with deduction and the young earth creationists have amply demonstrated they are just another flavor of liar.

    If they can’t understand the shame they bring to their own beliefs with such awful tactics there’s really nothing you can do with them.

  88. T.B. Smith, if I read you correctly, you’re basically saying that since they are so bad at deduction, young earth creationists are therefore liars (wow…), and so we either can’t or shouldn’t sympathise when people in turn lie about them.

    Have I go that right?

  89. Glen. I said it’s difficult to sympathize with them. You reached for “shouldn’t”…which implies a moral imperative and is a bit untidy.

    I’ve ceased to believe they’re that bad at deduction. It’s not possible to be that bad at deduction. To get to the places they’ve chosen to go requires a lie.

    No intermediate species? Really?

    Radioactive dating is a massive global conspiracy. Really?

    I stood in front of a young earth creationist group last year and outlined the 25 intermediate species of whale that have been discovered since creationists in the 1980s scoffed at the lack of connections between land animals and whales.

    The response was “that’s not enough, where are the others.” Apparently, they are not going to be satisfied until every animal that ever lived is paraded before them.

    Liars? Yes.

    They’re de-legitimizing incredibly important things and degrading ethical and religious discourse on a global scale. They’ve crawled into the pit and you can’t help them until they decide to crawl out of it. Unless you have some special ability to call them to repent you’re better off getting away from them to keep the stink off you.

    I’ve done my bit. And I need a bath.

  90. TB Smith, if we’re going to be picky, you said tremendously difficult.

    In any event, I said “we either can’t or shouldn’t sympathise.” OK, so it’s can’t.

    Your case that they are liars is very weak. They are so convinced of their position that they’ve raised the bar unfairly high when it comes to listening to evidence for other views – your whale example is an example of this. But this doesn’t at all justify your comment of “Liars? Yes.” No, that’s not what follows at all. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I should “get away” from them when people viciously lie about them and just let it happen as you suggest.

    You are seriously underestimating the power of presuppositions over the way people receive and understand evidence.

  91. Alright Glen. If you want to hang with that crowd, that’s your choice. I can respect that, but when it comes to science many others won’t.

    Your own title inclusively attacks “media” universally for viciously attacking creationists. All media? No. Yet you’ve attacked all media for the actions of a few. What will you have to say if you’re lumped in with the young earth creationists? They will have done the same thing you did. People are sloppy. And mean. That is the nature of things.

    There are also much more than presuppositions at play here. I think what you underestimate is the abdication of personal responsibility (i.e. lying) in the consideration of evidence. There are groups like the Discovery Institute deliberately peddling bad studies, contrived stories and outright falsehoods. They shop around these chestnuts to various faith groups who then swallow it whole because those guys are on “their” side. The argon dating from Mount St. Helen’s leaps to mind as an example. The studies the DI uses to “invalidate” the argon dating method don’t even use the techniques required to apply the method…and then they immediately turn around and discount the method. That’s nothing less than an unambiguous intentional lie, presuppositions or no.

    You may have another word for the people who absorb the DI line about argon dating. Failure to look at the data carefully and accept someone else’s word without looking at both sides of an issue is certainly a vice. They understand the logic. Whatever group loyalty or “presuppositions” cause them to do violence to that, at the end of the day, they’re still saying things are untrue. You may have another word for it, but “lie” is close enough for me.

    And that word “should” is not a quibbly one either. That’s where science and objectivity cross over into values and ethics and religion. It’s a bright line that one “should” cross with care and self awareness. No. I don’t think we “should” dehumanize young earth creationists, but it’s clear they’ve more or less done it themselves already…and through the political power they’ve accumulated they’re now doing it to me and my children.

    It is now almost impossible to have a coherent discussion about things like climate change, genetic medicine, astronomy, natural resource management and a host of other incredibly important things because of this young earth baggage. Add to that the militant types that have accumulated around their edges, and you have a real reason to sit up and take notice. These are not tempests in a teapot. They matter.

  92. Glenn, I think you just demonstrate well “the power of presuppositions over the way people receive and understand evidence” – through your own actions. Sometimes we can more popularly represent such cognitive processes as lying.

    On the one hand you think just maybe these poor creationists may be committing the very understandable small mistake of raising “the bar unfairly high when it comes to listening to evidence for other views.” But on the other hand you see critics of creationist tactics as “viciously lie(ing) about them.”

    My accusation of you having a “soft spot” for creationists was obviously far too polite and mild.

    This reminds me strongly of your headlined accusation that our honest climate scientists were lying while at the same time accusing me of libel when I pointed out how dishonest Treadgold and Denekind had been in claiming there was no evidence of a site effects when weather station sites were changed.

    Creationists, like all science deniers, have an extremely low bar when advancing their own pet anti-science delusions. What they have a high bar against is honest evidence.

    No that’s not a soft spot. But it is interesting psychologically.

  93. “Zia, I don’t know, never claimed I did. So I have perfect deniability. But you must admit its a logical possibility, mustn’t you?”

    No, it’s not logically possible for those beings to do what they cannot do. Unless you assert that they infact have the knowledge, power and reason to do so. But if you do, the reductio loses its force.

  94. OK, just to satisfy you Zia, I’ll assert they do have.

    Now don’t push me for a structured explanation how, and remember I am only suggesting it as a logical possibility. I retain deniability exactly as Plantinga does. Our arguments are basically the same. That is the whole point of the “superman” example Dennett used in the debate.

    Argue against me and you argue against Plantinga.

  95. “OK, just to satisfy you Zia, I’ll assert they do have.”

    So is it safe to say that “Logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever.”

    Should instead be stated as “Logical possibility applies equally to any being that has sufficient knowledge, power and reason.” ?

    The point of the first reductio is to show that, if we accept Plantinga’s statement, all sorts of absurd and false statements follow. But, the first reductio is incoherent, unless you change it, like in the revised statement. But then, it’s not a reductio anymore, it’s just a bad objection that fails to refute anything.

    It’s like saying “Oh, you say God can do X? I can imagine another being that can do X!” The statement does absolutely nothing to refute “God can do X.”

    And for the record, I don’t mind arguing against Plantinga. Even if we did encounter a biological structure that MUST have been designed by a sentient being, that does not necessarily prove that it was in fact God that was the designer.

  96. “Cornell, your “explanation” looks like logical possibilities “all the way down.” I am familiar with Plantinga’s arguments here but find them childish and your explanation hasn’t helped.”

    Ok, so what exactly is childish about it? Which premise do you have a problem with?

    “I agree that many of us are deceived about many things, perhaps some permanently. But that’s not surprising.”

    So you admit to being deceived by your senses, so what is your discerning tool in which you use that separates the deception from non-deception regarding sense perception? How do you know this ‘tool’ is reliable?

    “Perhaps you need to detail this step better “theistic evolution> naturalistic evolution”. Reminds me of the “miracle” in the famous Harris cartoon.

    You could start by defining your terms – theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins and “naturalistic” is meaningless to me without your definition. I keep thinking of nudists.”

    Well, how about I just ask what definition YOU were using when you stated this before:

    “Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility. ”

    How were you using ‘theistic evolution’ here?

  97. OK, Zia – but you have already defined your god as something with “sufficient knowledge, power and reason” without saying so. All I have done is the same with superman, aliens, goblins, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    No one is claiming that your god can do X. I am just saying my god, alien, superman, flying Spaghetti Monster, goblin, Joe Blogs down the road, etc., has the same powers as your god with respect to casuing variability (mutations). But notice I have had to say that – you didn’t. I wonder why? Why expect a structured explanation from me but not from Plantinga?

    You say: “Even if we did encounter a biological structure that MUST have been designed by a sentient being, that does not necessarily prove that it was in fact God that was the designer.”

    Of course – it could be Joe Blogs down the road, Superman or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    But that is ther problem withy relying on logical possibilities (even while including an out-clause for deniability) To be honest you have to consider an infinitely large number of possibilities.

    Much better to actually stick with evidence and test it against reality. Why bother with all this dishonesty of the evidence does not requiured a guided cause of variability as an explnation?

  98. Cornell, re the childishness of some of Plantinga’s arguments I will just refer to his claim “Natural selection is interested, not in truth, but in appropriate behaviour.” (I am quoting Nagel’s quote of Plantinga here.) This is part of the particularly childish presentation of evolutionary understanding which thinks because selection favours the variation most suited for the environment it cannot explain things like intelligence or knowledge. After all it is not necessary that the disturbance in that bush is due to a lion – just that we assume it is – often falsely.

    Selection has helped evolution of animal species with degrees of consciousness, self awareness and an ability to reflect. Human’s are one example. The fact that we can then use those skills to make a far more thorough and validated investigation of reality even though this is not relevant directly to survival (but maybe often is indirectly as in understanding climate change for example) in no way argues against the selection process. (Nor is it a sensible argument for guided mutation). Any more than the fact that selection to enjoy sex is selected because of its value in reproduction means that we can’t enjoy sex for recreational rather than reproductive purposes.

    The errors in that sort of rationalisation seem so obvious that I call them childish. They are basic and yet Plantinga relies on them.

    You seem unwilling to clarify your use of “naturalism.” Yet it was an important question because these sort of attacks on evolutionary science rely on an incorrect idea that science only consider the “natural” or is restricted by a “naturalist” world view. This may well be argued by some philosophers (not uniformly – so please no cherry picking), theist and non-theist, but what do they know about how science operates. The fact is scientists do not make those sorts of assumptions – they go into their work to follow the evidence – and they can do that whatever their personal religious beliefs. Science really boils down to doing whatever one can to avoid being fooled by reality. In my scientific career I never once asked question about “natural” or “supernatural” before an investigation – I just got stuck in. If evidence had come up that the phenomena I was investigating was guided by gods, elves, goblins, or Flying Spaghetti Monsters I would have checked it out and if valid included such conclusion in my hypotheses.

    So reliance by Plantinga and his cohort on labelling science “naturalist” is both a red herring and a diversion – right from the start.

    I could go on about Plantinga’s other errors, but this is only a comment. I would rather put a more detailed consideration into a blog post.

  99. Hi Ken, this will likely be my last post because I have a lab report due. I’ll leave you to debate the EAAN with Cornell.

    “OK, Zia – but you have already defined your god as something with “sufficient knowledge, power and reason” without saying so. All I have done is the same with superman, aliens, goblins, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

    I don’t recall providing my definition of God. But if I did, it would be something like “a being that is omnipotent, omnicient, metaphysically necessary and otherwise maximally great” (Yes I know this sounds like an assertion, but the properties of God is a seperate argument). The reason I reject superman, aliens, goblins, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster is because they are finite beings. If you say the FSM is also “a being that is omnipotent, omnicient, and otherwise maximally great” then all you are doing is taking the essence/definition of God and simply giving it a different name. It is logically impossible for there to be more than one distinct maximally great being, you might as well say that married bachelors exist.

    The point of theistic evolution is to show that belief in God and evolution are not in conflict. This is also essentially what Plantinga argues. Simply shuffling the statement around to “belief in the FSM and evolution are not in conflict” does absolutely nothing whatsoever to the original claim.

  100. Zia,

    Mr Key is a finite being – do you “reject” him?

    Actually what Plantinga is arguing is not that theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are in conflict – rather that non-theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are.

    He says the conflict is between evolution (or science) and atheism.

    Personally, having worked alongside atheists, Chrsitians, Budhists, Muslims, Hindus, agnostices, etc (even a member of the Act Party) I don’t see any conflict between religious belief and science. We were all capable of doing science in the same way. But there is a huge epistemic difference between relgion and science – and when pople try to inject relgion into science in the way Plantinga does, that creates a real conflict.

  101. Zia says “I’ll leave you to debate the EAAN”

    Ken says “WTF is “the EAA”?

    Ken I’m not sure whether or not you are trolling me, but this I must say this = /facepalm

    Also thanks for ignoring my question about ‘theistic evolution’ and what exactly your tool of discernment would be for the reliability of your sense perception.

    Anyways:

    The topic of discussion is EPISTEMOLOGY, so when I say naturalistic evolution, I mean Evolution without the guidance of God, hence for the sake of this argument of Plantinga’s God would not exist (Also I gave you the definition of ‘naturalism’ up above. I quoted Paul Draper, so from now NATURALISM = NO GOD)

    Plantinga admits his cognitive faculties are reliable, but he is arguing what they be like IF naturalism and evolution were true at the same time. Plantinga is definitely worthy enough to speak on topics of related the branch of philosophy called epistemology.

    http://certaindoubts.com/?p=761

    Along with his numerous peer-reviewed articles and published books.

    http://philpapers.org/s/alvin%20plantinga

    Also what you say here is totally wrong:

    You say “He says the conflict is between evolution (or science) and atheism.”

    No, He says evolution (or science) and NATURALISM.

    Naturalism =/= atheism

    cf: Buddhism

    Also we have atheist philosopher Stephen Law who stated he doesn’t commit to naturalism

    “I am not committed to naturalism either”

    ‘None of this is to assume naturalism is true, notice. It may not be. Personally, I’m undecided.’

    cf: http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2012/09/marshall-vs-law-is-resurrection.html

    Stephen Law’s 1st comment

    ————————————–

    Now for the 3rd time, I’m not interested in your approach to science, I’d like to know WHICH PREMISE DO YOU DENY in Plantinga’s argument, please write out the premise as it is in it’s formal syllogism.

    ty

  102. @Ken

    Zia said: “The point of theistic evolution is to show that belief in God and evolution are not in conflict.”

    And you (Ken) responded with:

    Ken “Actually what Plantinga is arguing is not that theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are in conflict”

    Actually Zia was correct, as Plantinga was making arguments to DEFEND Theistic belief and evolution as being compatible, because we have atheists like Richard Dawkins who have stated in the past that it WAS in conflict. Now if you read the book you might actually understand his position, instead of taking guesses through other peoples reviews.

    Dawkins states in the ‘Blind Watchmaker:

    “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way…. 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, has no purpose in mind…. 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”

    Plantinga states in ‘Where the conflict really lies:

    “The conclusion can be drawn, I think, is that Dawkins gives us no reason whatever to think that current biological science is in conflict with Christian belief. His reasoning was not impressive” (pg. 30-31).

    In conclusion, Ken is incorrect and I think he would be better off reading the book for himself, and Zia was correct, as I’m pretty sure he actually READ THE BOOK or at least did his homework pertaining to what the book was about.

    ty

  103. Cornell – simply a matter of clarity – I think TLAs and FLA’s are disrespectful. Abreviations should only be used after prior definition or when common to a common discipline. Yours aren’t.

    And I still don’t know what you mean by “EAAN”

    I told you theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins – starting with those who accept evolutionary science but because of social pressure for their peers (church) feel obliged to add the T word. Plantinga is much further to the other extreme, of course.

    But, just a minute – I was the one seeking clarification from you – you refused to give it and now you pick on me for not including a detail after my already too long comment! Jees.

    “NATURALISM = NO GOD” but also “Naturalism =/= atheism” – bloody hell.

    Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.

    So Stephen Laws doesn’t “commit” to “naturalism.” Neither do I – because its a confusing term and I think the philosophers who do use the term (not all do) create confusion.

    I am not sure you are correct to claim that “Plantinga admits his cognitive faculties are reliable” – I will have to check. If he thinks that he is decieved. Our cognitive faculties are not reliable in that they can only give us a model of reality – not reality itself. This is well understood scientifically. But it is childish to argue from that to a position which says that we cannot form a relatively accurate picture of reality, sufficient for us to get by, even change our environment and understand it. We just have to work at it.

    Now, I have already given you what I consider a fundamental mistake Plantinga makes in his understanding of evolutionary science. Did you not understand it? – or do you want to test my counting ability?

    So “when I say naturalistic evolution, I mean Evolution without the guidance of God” does this mean you are not talking about evolutionary science? Because in science we just don’t use terms like “gravity with/without god,” relativity with/without god,” etc. The inclusion of gods, demons, goblins. etc., in a theory of course rely on evidence, validation and testing. Our thoeries are derived from reality, not from religion or belief. To automatically include or exclude a phenomeon, object or postulate beforehand is hardly following the evidence. It is not scientific.

    You are acknowledging that Plantinga is talking about (or using underneath), epistemology, not science or evolutionary science. Hence the conflict that results. My point exactly. Plenty of believing scientists can do science, including evolutionary science, in the same way other scientists do wohtout any conflict. Because by the very process of science they use that are taking their ideas from reality, not from their beliefs – religious or otherwise.

  104. Cornell, Plantinga gives the purpose of his book this way:

    “My overall thesis: there is a superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, and superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism.” (The latter is of course his chief purpose.)

    And concludes:
    “I mean to argue that one can’t sensibly believe both naturalism and the scientific theory of evolution. If my argument is cogent, it follows that there is deep and serious conflict between naturalism and evolution, and hence deep conflict between naturalism and science. . . . .
    one can’t rationally accept both naturalism and current evolutionary theory; that combination of beliefs is self-defeating. But then there is a deep conflict between naturalism and one of the most important claims of current science.”

    And

    “there is indeed a science/religion conflict, all right, but it is not between science and theistic religion: it is between science and naturalism. That’s where the conflict really lies.”

    Perhaps you suffered from your unreliable cognitive faculties when you read the book (perfectly natural – that’s the way we evolved).

    Your quote from Dawkins does not say there is a conflict between science and religion as you claim (it doesn’t even mention religion – again your cognitive faculties have been unreliable). Dawkins has simply stated the basic understanding of modern evolutionary science (and after all he should know). It is a formulation that atheist, Christian, Muslim, etc., etc., evolutionary scientists agree on. It doesn’t conflict with their (reasonable) beliefs in any way. It is purely what the evidence shows and what has been validated by testing against reality.

    Now, Plantinga comes along and deigns to pronounce on a science for which he has not sufficient background. Specifically he wants to demand that evolutionary science must include guided evolution despite the evidence to the contrary. He claims scientists are “confusing evolution as such with unguided evolution” and says this “deserves not respect, but disdain.” (he is rather emotional about it, isn’t he?).

    Plantinga argues that “The scientific theory of evolution just as such is entirely compatible with the thought that God has guided and orchestrated the course of evolution, planned and directed it, in such a way as to achieve the ends he intends. Perhaps he causes the right mutations to arise at the right time; perhaps he preserves certain populations from extinction; perhaps he is active in many other ways.” Plantinga wants to throw away an important aspect of evolutionary understanding even declaring this blind nature of variation “is no part of the scientific theory as such.” (He is wrong there).

    He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the…

  105. For some reason my last paragraph got chopped – here it is:

    He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the scientific theory of evolution. Nor is it an argument for the conclusion that unguided evolution could not produce creatures with reliable belief-producing faculties” are typical of him and allow his apologists like Glenn to deny practically any criticism his critics make.

    Simply put, one can believe in gods, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, etc., etc., yet not have a conflict with scientific knowledge based on reality. After all, it is a very jealous god which insists they be included in every aspect of knowledge despite no evidence. People have no problem understanding that in fields like plumbing, accountancy, mechanics, aviation, relativity, chemistry, etc., etc.,. Nor should they have a problem with the fact that to date it has not proved necessary to include your god or my flying spaghetti monster in evolutionary science. Nor is there any evidence for it.

    The conflict only comes when religious people demand inclusion of their god, despite the evidence of reality.

  106. Obviously Ken you have no idea what you are talking about and you are grasping for straws:

    You simply cannot LIST A PREMISE in fact you say:

    “And I still don’t know what you mean by “EAAN”

    So I don’t know what you are arguing against, you don’t even know what his argument is.

    Now let’s go through this garbage:

    First you say: “Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.”

    Here is a scientist using the word “naturalism”

    “According to Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, an advocacy group opposing creationism in public schools,[4] naturalism is a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by Biblical creationism”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_naturalism

    Website going over naturalism

    http://www.naturalism.org/

    American Physicist and philosopher of science THOMAS Kuhn

    “Much naturalistic epistemology looks to psychology and, in certain cases, the natural sciences to develop an understanding of knowledge. Especially in the philosophy of science, however, Thomas Kuhn’s work has inspired a naturalistic approach that applies the social sciences to epistemological questions. Kuhn-inspired naturalism is not incompatible with the naturalism that draws on psychology and the natural sciences. Such naturalistic epistemologists as Alvin Goldman and Philip Kitcher have fruitfully applied insights from both the natural and the social sciences in the attempt to understand knowledge as a simultaneously cognitive and social phenomenon.”

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/nat-epis/

    So that’s Ken’s first booboo

    “NATURALISM = NO GOD” but also “Naturalism =/= atheism” – bloody hell.”

    Yes Bloody hell, as I pointed out before one could be a Buddhist but not believe in a God, HOWEVER still hold to supernaturalism, though commiting to naturalism as I defined before from Paul Draper:

    “the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.”

    Source: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/naturalism/

    So that’s Ken’s second booboo

    Back to this, let’s see modern scientists attempt philosophy, this is usually a good laugh. Now you say:

    “Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.”

    Please verify the validation of the reliability of the senses? You’ve ignored this constantly, I’d like to hear how you deal with this? How do you test the reliability of sense perception via use of science?

  107. Cornell,

    Yes, it’s easy enough to find philosophers of different stripes using the term “naturalism” – I already made that point and asked you not to cherry pick. Having read many of these people, seen where I think they are mistaken, and read others who disagree with them such cherry picking does not impress me. Intelligent reading of philosophy requires one to be aware of differences, and how other philosophers now see people like Kuhn and his ideas from the advantage of temporal distance.

    My point is that the term is confusing (for example you define it differently to others) and attempts to dictate to science how it should be done. It is far better to understand how science actually is done – many philosophers of different stripes don’t. I certainly don’t think Plantinga understands from the evidence of his pronouncement s on the subject. I, at least, am giving you my understanding achieved from over 40 years of doing science – in practice. Not just thinking about it and pronouncing on it.

    I don’t know how you can logically get from my point about how scientists actually work, without ever resorting to judgements of “naturalism” etc., to your question :

    “Please verify the validation of the reliability of the senses? You’ve ignored this constantly, I’d like to hear how you deal with this? How do you test the reliability of sense perception via use of science?”

    That is the sort of “trick” first year philosophy students and naive apologists like Craig resort to.

    Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check if it was a lion (as you assumed) or the wind. To run the video again to check the claim that a gorilla walked through the group although you didn’t see it first time around?

    Would you ever board a plane, sail in a boat, or do practically anything using tools produced by science and technology if you had no confidence that humankind was able to dig deeper than our faulty cognitive systems to check our perceptions and correct them (to the degree possible) using those same cognitive systems more rigidly and with suitable logical systems such as mathematics?

    The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation. You demonstrate a huge confidence in that science because you continue to use it – without doubts, without even thinking. It’s part of your life.

    It’s just puerile to claim science is not capable of checking perceptions when your very actions show you assume it can.

  108. “You are acknowledging that Plantinga is talking about (or using underneath), epistemology, not science or evolutionary science. Hence the conflict that results. My point exactly. Plenty of believing scientists can do science, including evolutionary science, in the same way other scientists do wohtout any conflict. Because by the very process of science they use that are taking their ideas from reality, not from their beliefs – religious or otherwise.”

    Without being too unkind I think it’s fair to say that this is yet another indication of what Einstein thought. He said he thought scientists made lousy philosophers and it appears we have before us today a whole host of scientists just lining up [especially Non-Theist ones] to prove Einstein correct.

    I can tell that you are bit new to philosophy, so let me go through this:

    I’ll take an example that a friend of mine uses, let’s see if you actually understand how important it is for you to make an attempt to undermine the EAAN.

    Well I think you’re underestimating the problem here of unreliable cognitive faculties as the EAAN uses it. Let me give an example inspired by Plantinga himself. Suppose you ingest drug XX (at an overly spirited party perhaps) that causes global cognitive unreliability, but a small percentage of the population have a gene that blocks the effects of the drug. Later after you’ve taken the drug, you have a memory of getting a phone call from your doctor telling you that have the blocking gene. Should you rejoice? No, because that memory was probably produced by unreliable cognitive faculties.

    It’s the same sort of problem naturalism and evolution. You can’t rely on observation and alleged peer review (especially if your peers have unreliable cognitive faculties) because you’re still relying on cognitive faculties that are unreliable. Again I ask, if Rex takes drug XX, how does he know that peers exist or that their opinion is reliable? The answer: he doesn’t, just as Rex doesn’t know his doctor called him about his alleged immunity after he took the drug, because all such beliefs were produced by (probably) unreliable cognitive faculties.

    You haven’t listed a premise, because you don’t know the argument and you aren’t getting why the argument is crucial to the position of a naturalist. (AGAIN I DEFINED NATURALISM BY PAUL DRAPER’S DEFINITION) I will use his definition from here on out.

    “He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the scientific theory of evolution. Nor is it an argument for the conclusion that unguided evolution could not produce creatures with reliable belief-producing faculties” are typical of him and allow his apologists like Glenn to deny practically any criticism his critics make.

    Simply put, one can believe in gods, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, etc., etc., yet not have a conflict with…

  109. Oh, yes, you still have not defined EAAN. I am beginning to suspect you copied and used the term to impress and actually haven’t a clue to its meaning. Why else avoid my question?

  110. Oh good lord… Ken, have you ever heard of Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism? You know, the one you think you understand well enough to call childish? The one that I am still waiting for you to show that you understand? You know, the one that is routinely referred to in the literature as the EAAN?

    Jut copied the term to impress you… just wow.

  111. “Yes, it’s easy enough to find philosophers of different stripes using the term “naturalism” – I already made that point and asked you not to cherry pick. Having read many of these people, seen where I think they are mistaken, and read others who disagree with them such cherry picking does not impress me. Intelligent reading of philosophy requires one to be aware of differences, and how other philosophers now see people like Kuhn and his ideas from the advantage of temporal distance.”

    I don’t know any philosopher in academia that is a naturalist and a Theist at the same time. It really makes no sense

    It’s not intelligence, it’s more of not being ignorant. You are ignorant when it comes to philosophy, I can tell. I’ve been asking you questions about Plantinga’s argument and asking you for which premise you disagree with and you finally answer with.

    “What is a EAAN?’

    And look at this, This made me laugh:

    “That is the sort of “trick” first year philosophy students and naive apologists like Craig resort to.

    Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check if it was a lion (as you assumed) or the wind. To run the video again to check the claim that a gorilla walked through the group although you didn’t see it first time around?

    Would you ever board a plane, sail in a boat, or do practically anything using tools produced by science and technology if you had no confidence that humankind was able to dig deeper than our faulty cognitive systems to check our perceptions and correct them (to the degree possible) using those same cognitive systems more rigidly and with suitable logical systems such as mathematics?

    The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation. You demonstrate a huge confidence in that science because you continue to use it – without doubts, without even thinking. It’s part of your life.”

    The scientific method is NOT an epistemology though!! It can either assume rationalism or empiricism or some Kantian hybrid but it’s not a philosophy in itself. It’s a METHODOLOGICAL approach to discerning what is true about the physical world around us and, for that purpose, it works very well. But, try to take that method and apply it to metaphysics and you’re going to get rightly ridiculed

    The main argument, of course, is that hyperbolic skepticism about the external world cannot be resolved by pointing to the external world [as the epistemically naive do all the time]. What I’m asserting is that the mind has no assurance of the validity of corporeality

    What your doing here does no justice, I’m getting embarrassed for you now, your argument is circular. You are being asked to demonstrate the existence of the physical world and you are trying to use the physical world (cf: look at the planes and the boats) to demonstrate it. You’ve…

  112. “Oh, yes, you still have not defined EAAN.”

    /Godzilla Facepalm

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/an_evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism.pdf

    ^Here is an easy one to follow^

    He still doesn’t know what the EAAN is, I guess I shouldn’t feed the trolls anymore.

    It’s like:

    Ken: “Plantinga’s argument fails, although I don’t know what it’s called, and I don’t know the premises, but it fails because I said so.”

    Glenn I need to learn your patience, I don’t know how you do it, but God bless you!

    And I do apologize for getting a bit snarky, but I figured there was a good chance Ken is a troll that isn’t really interested in the truth. I guess this statement of his up above gives evidence that he is.

  113. This got cut out before:

    “your god or my flying spaghetti monster in evolutionary science”

    As a rule, an analogy needs to be analogous to have any potency.

    FSM = physical being living in our world
    FSM = a creature
    FSM = contingent being
    FSM = was born
    FSM = mentally limitted
    FSM = has some power

    God shares NONE of these characteristics. In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find ANY AT ALL!!! So when there is nothing analogous so how can it be an analogy?

    FSM = physical and contigent, so it already fails the test at being necessary.

    “Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check”

    I’ll show you why this fails, ” I am conscious of the bush right now” That makes the assumption the bush exists, I think what you mean is that your are conscious of the sensory data being given to you (and which you classify as a bush). However sensory information cannot be shown to exist beyond consciousness, hence its all in your mind.

    “The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation”

    Yeah and? It (Science) doesn’t tell us whether or not truth is important, PHILOSOPHY does.

    Also where is the scientific validation method that validated the premise ‘science must continually validate ideas?’ How does one use the validation principle to validate the validation principle? I notice you make alot of statements that aren’t validated by science, in fact they are just words on a computer, should I dismiss them as meaningless?

  114. Regarding the comments getting cut off: This blog has had a character limit on comments for some time now (3100 characters). Now that I’ve changed the blog’s theme, the countdown (see below) isn’t working properly. I’m looking into it.

  115. Glenn, so that’s what EAAN stands for – wonder why Cornell couldn’t at least say that? Problem is that the FLA still does not express the argument and one must deal with details – not just pretend sophistication by using the FLA.

    Perhaps, rather than getting pretentious Cornell and you could deal with my critique of Plantinga’s arguments.

  116. Cornell, I electronically searched through the linked document and EAAN isn’t there. You made it up didn’t you. All very pretentious.

    Why not just use Glenn’s words “Plantinga’s evolutionary arguments against naturalism.”? And isn’t that what I have been critiquing?

    Apart from that you seem to have gone off at an emotional tangent. I’m trawl through your comments and see if there is nothing worth commenting on.

    1. “You made it up”?

      Ken for crying out loud, Google it. http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=EAAN

      And as for people who just make things up, have you managed to find that quote from Plantinga yet? The one where he states that in order for a belief to be rational, it only needs to be logically possible. I’m sure neither you nor your new favourite philosopher made it up, so I’m sure you’ll get around to finding it.

  117. No Glenn – it was more fun taunting Cornell’s pretentiousness. Really intrigued that he could not give a straight answer – telling I would say. I have never trusted people ho rely on TLAs and FLAs.

    As for quotes – I gave a few in a recent comment. I also note how Plantinga uses that old theological trick of qualification to enable a retreat when criticised – as you are well aware. I repeat for example:

    Plantinga argues that “The scientific theory of evolution just as such is entirely compatible with the thought that God has guided and orchestrated the course of evolution, planned and directed it, in such a way as to achieve the ends he intends. Perhaps he causes the right mutations to arise at the right time; perhaps he preserves certain populations from extinction; perhaps he is active in many other ways.” Plantinga wants to throw away an important aspect of evolutionary understanding even declaring this blind nature of variation “is no part of the scientific theory as such.” (He is wrong there).

    Here he is using what he thinks are logical possibilites, but at the same time inserts the word “perhaps”. In other places he is even more extreme in his deniability assertions.

    His whole argument is based on such “logical possibilities” even though made deniable.

    But he still ends with strong assertions.

    He gives the purpose of his book this way:

    “My overall thesis: there is a superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, and superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism.” (The latter is of course his chief purpose.)

    And concludes:
    “I mean to argue that one can’t sensibly believe both naturalism and the scientific theory of evolution. If my argument is cogent, it follows that there is deep and serious conflict between naturalism and evolution, and hence deep conflict between naturalism and science. . . . .
    one can’t rationally accept both naturalism and current evolutionary theory; that combination of beliefs is self-defeating. But then there is a deep conflict between naturalism and one of the most important claims of current science.”

    And

    “there is indeed a science/religion conflict, all right, but it is not between science and theistic religion: it is between science and naturalism. That’s where the conflict really lies.”

    These are extremely strong assertions to base on a logical possibilities which even he concedes are only that. Hence the validity of Dennett’s superman argument which Plantinga could not refute but could only get upset about.

    Now, could you point me to the argument you claim is not reliant on deniable logical possibility? I haven’t seen it – but then again I may be more critical. But it is vital to his credibility, surely.

  118. “As for quotes – I gave a few in a recent comment.”

    I didn’t just ask for any old quotes though. You’ve endorsed a review that accuses Plantinga of lowering the bar of rationality to mere logical possibility. Thus far you have not shown where Plantinga does this. That is the quote I’m still waiting for.

    I know that this is not Plantinga’s approach, but since you’ve said that it is, I will wait for you to produce a quote where Plantinga affirms this. It shouldn’t be hard if he actually said it, so no need to be coy – out with it. I am waiting to see that you actually understand Plantinga’s argument.

  119. No, Glenn, you misrepresent me (the old problem with our inaccurate cognitive facilities). I endorsed a review which said:

    “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    That resonated with what I thought when I read Plantinga’s book and listened to the debate.

    Marteen was pointing out the consequences of relying on logical possibility alone – which I think Plantinga does (until you provide a contrary example which do far you have refused). He maintains deniability but draws extreme and strong conclusions which he could have equally done with Superman – as Dennett pointed out.

    Marteen was not attributing to Plantinga an epistemic claim that logical possibility was all the evidence required. You put words into his mouth, unjustly.

    But until you explain where Plantinga relies on evidence for his assertion of guided mutation and selection I can only conclude that Plantinga is making that basic error while maintaining deniability. How else does he reach such strong conclusions specific to the god he believes in or something like it (not Superman)?

  120. Cornell, just mopping up a few of the scraps – really the only points i could see worth discussing.

    You are “asserting . . . that the mind has no assurance of the validity of corporeality”. Oh yeah, on what basis – logical possibility again?. And you don’t act as if you believe that at all.

    “You are being asked to demonstrate the existence of the physical world and you are trying to use the physical world (cf: look at the planes and the boats) to demonstrate it.” Not true – I pointed out you use planes and boats and computers. I didn’t say “look”. Think about Marx’s Feurbach theses – something along the lines that up till now philosophers have only attempted to describe the world, but the point is to change it. (Don’t rely on my quote – look it up, maybe google it. It’s a very powerful statement and if you don’t understand it’s meaning you can’t understand a scientific philosophy). To know reality you must interact with reality – not just look at it or abstractly think about it. Therein lies the significance of Marx’s thesis. This is what science does and you admit it is extremely successful. The proof of the pudding is in the eating – another important philosophical principle.

    You could not live if you refused to make the reasonable inference that reality exists and attempted to deny that because you didn’t have a water-tight deduction. The very fact that you participate in a discussion, use computers, and whatever else you do attests to the fact you do make that inference and are quite happy with it. As I said, the “prove reality exists” debate is a naive trick performed by first year philosophy students (well they did 50 years ago – it looks like nothing changes). Most grow out of it. And anyone who uses it demonstrates they don’t understand the nature of scientific inference or scientific knowledge.

    “I don’t know any philosopher in academia that is a naturalist and a Theist at the same time. It really makes no sense.” Yes, another reason to keep well clear of undefined words with confusing and multiple connotations. Do you know any scientists? Are you aware that many scientists are religious believers, mostly Hindu, but quite a lot of Christians? Yet they have no problem with evolutionary science as described by Dawkins in your quote (which I think you would say is “naturalist” – I don’t). The science doesn’t include any gods, goblins, or whatever – because there just isn’t the evidence or necessity. It’s got nothing to do with religious orientation. They don’t feel the need to include their gods or demons in the way that Plantinga insists. And they don’t see that as a threat to their beliefs, as far as I am aware, because they are still protected by logical possibility despite no evidence. Certainly I have never insisted that all my beliefs, however irrelevant, be included in any scientific hypothesis I have formulated. Unless, of course, there was good evidence to do so. It would be childishly unscientific to do that.

    I think it’s fair to say that this is…

  121. Bugger, chopped if at the knees again:

    I think it’s fair to say that this is yet another indication of what Einstein thought. He said he thought scientists made lousy philosophers and it appears we have before us today a whole host of scientists just lining up [especially Non-Theist ones] to prove Einstein correct. Ah, the naive science-philosophy conflict. Often precipitated when a scientists makes a philosophical claim – but in this case it’s asserted when a philosopher of religion (Plantinga) makes a scientific claim – that variability and selection in evolution is somehow guided by his god or something just like it. No evidence in support (plenty against) but his concept of his philosophy is that it gives him the right to dictate to science – bugger the requirement for evidence. Poor old Einstein, he’s always being quoted out of context.

    I have had a long interest in the philosophy of science and was aware from my undergraduate days that philosophy was by no means uniform. This was clear when our professor gave his potted version of the philosophy of science which contrasted with my reading. There is clearly philosophy and “philosophy” and in my view and experience the religious variety belongs to the latter. That is where most of the challenge to science and scientific epistemology comes from. They are the people (but not the only ones) most in love with the concept of “naturalism” – purely as a way to discredit their ideological enemies. Scientists just get on with investigating reality and helping humanity. And the good philosophers keep well away from such confusing and misleading concepts or, like Boudry, at least challenge the naive way they get used – by theist and non-theist philosophers alike.

  122. “Not true – I pointed out you use planes and boats and computers.”

    Ken, this doesn’t even begin to address Cornell’s question. Not even in the least. What if Cornell is wrong about the physical world existing? What if you’re the only person that even exists. You really – really – are missing it.

  123. “No, Glenn, you misrepresent me (the old problem with our inaccurate cognitive facilities).”

    That’s not true. Several times now I have represented you this way. Until now you have accepted my representation of you, and you gave your reason for not having quoted him already: “Sorry, Glenn, I can’t quote Plantinga for you tonight – I won’t have access to my library for a day or so. Family and other commitments – you know.”

    Now, you deny that you ever said this. And yet you – in the same comment – quote the very thing you now say I am falsely attributing to you: “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    Note what the reviewer attributed to Plantinga: That he is lowering the bar for rational belief to mere logical possibility. But this is a misrepresentation. Plantinga never says that if a belief is merely logically possible then it’s rational. None of his arguments even work that way – not a single one of them.

    I hope you’re not trying to wriggle out of your endorsement, Ken.

    And then this! “Marteen was pointing out the consequences of relying on logical possibility alone – which I think Plantinga does (until you provide a contrary example which do far you have refused).”

    OK, so you do indeed say that Plantinga relies on logical possibility alone in order for a belief to be rational. And don’t play games – it’s not up to me to reproduce all of Plantinga’s work to prove that he never says or does this. You need to show that he does. You have never done this.

    And now you back away – saying well OK he never says that… But I think he presupposes it (or that appears to be the new version of your claim). OK then Ken, the burden is still yours. Show how his claims logical imply that logical possibility is all that’s required for a belief to be rational. Show that you really do understand Plantinga’s argument, and that this is the way it works (or that this is what he must ultimately rely on).

    I’ll wait.

  124. Glenn – you are joking to make the claim that my quoted comment “doesn’t even begin to address” when it is in fact the beginning of several paragraphs addressing Cornell’s use of first year student tricks. And why do you feel the need to intervene on his behalf? He will learn more by doing his own dirty work.

    Now Glenn, I said I wasn’t surprised at how you manipulated and misrepresented my comments and quote from Marteen’s review. You are so blatant as to start your bolding from the quote after the “if” rather than before as it suites your misrepresentation better. Again the old problem of failures in the cognitive faculties, eh? Or is it something more conscious.

    I believe that Plantinga does rely purely on logical possibility. Sure he makes this reliance deniable – the common theology trick – but given the strength of his conclusions and his complete lack of evidence for his attempt to claim “divine” guidance in variation and selection, that is the only conclusion I can draw. Now, if you believe otherwise provide the justification. Tell me where Plantinga provides evidence for a claim which he makes about the science (but actually conflicts with what the practitioners of that science know).

    It’s a simple request you can easily satisfy if you are honest in your claims. If you aren’t honest you’ll continue to attempt diversion and confusion by misrepresenting me. By claiming that I was making the naive assertion that Plantinga believes that simple logical possibility is sufficient to establish an important scientific theory or body of knowledge. I have said clearly I don’t think Plantinga believes or asserts that at all – his use of the deniability clauses shows that. Just that this is, despite his denial, what he is actually doing by coming to such strong conclusions in the absence of evidence. Again, perhaps he could blame his faulty cognitive faculties. But it’s a simple matter – just point me to the evidence you claim he uses.

    I repeat, Glenn, that if you are honest you will describe the evidence you claim Plantinga relies on, and perhaps that will clear up a misunderstanding on my part. If you are dishonest you will continue to confuse the matter, continue to distort and misrepresent and avoid searching for any evidence Plantinga has hidden in his text.

    I have fulfilled the childish demand you put on me for quotes. Your behaviour now will identify where you stand and that will either lead me to revise my beliefs about Plantinga’s claims or confirm me in my current beliefs. I don’t mind either way. But I will draw my conclusions – no more mucking around.

    However, obviously I won’t hold my breath – nor will I waste any sleep on the matter. I am off to bed and will check tomorrow to see if you have found the missing evidence.

  125. “Now Glenn, I said I wasn’t surprised at how you manipulated and misrepresented my comments and quote from Marteen’s review.”

    Again – nope. So let’s just instead see your evidence, which you, in your last post, have now tried to explain. Great! This is what I was hoping you would do. This, presumably, is your attempt to show that you do understand Plantinga’s argument. Let’s see if it justifies the claim that poor old Plantinga (even unbeknownst to him!) really does treat mere logical possibility as enough in order for a belief to be rational. So what have we got here:

    “given the strength of his conclusions and his complete lack of evidence for his attempt to claim “divine” guidance in variation and selection, that is the only conclusion I can draw.”

    Nope, not good enough. That’s not evidence at all, and it doesn’t even show that you know what Plantinga’s argument is. You will need to be specific. Show where he draws on logical possibility – and most importantly, show the role that it plays in his argument. You don’t get to just sneer, I’m afraid. Out with it, let’s see the evidence. If I recall, you haven’t actually read the book in question (or have you?). If you haven’t, then clearly you can’t yet talk about anyone’s lack of evidence.

    If I am “honest”? If you are honest you will simply provide the clear basis for your claim about Plantinga relying on logical possibility alone. It’s a simple claim – you make it, so just support it. That’s all. If you’re dishonest (to borrow your line) you’ll kee pretending that you have no moral responsibility to do so or that really it’s up to me to unpack Plantinga’s work for you in order to prove he negative claim that he doesn’t commit to the silly view you have attributed to him, in spite of the fact that it is your claim we are discussing, and I am just sitting here waiting for some evidence for it. Just a smidgeon. It’s not up to me to do any of that work when it’s not my claim. Show that you understand Plantinga’s argument, and that it relies on the mistakes you say it does.

    Until some evidence is forthcoming, I do note the irony: You (incorrectly) say that Plantinga’s view requires that mere logical possibility is enough for a belief to be rational, and yet this belief of yours is not supported by any evidence (or none that you want to reveal anyway), and is merely logically possible!

  126. Ken, my advice would be to drop the whole reductio/FSM business. It is childish, and it is poor philosphy. As Cornell and I have shown, they don’t get you any traction. You yourself stated that a position must be supported by good philosophy and reason. To counter Plantinga’s EAAN you should probably first read his recent formulation first. (Is it okay if I link the paper Glenn?)

    http://philosophy.nd.edu/people/all/profiles/plantinga-alvin/documents/CONTENTANDNATURALSELECTION.pdf

  127. “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility,”

    This is one of the worst misrrepresentations of Plantinga that I have seen. I’m just commenting in order to subscribe to this thread, as I want to see the attempt to back this up. It’s going to be painful, I suspect. But we’ll see. Make it good, Ken!

  128. OK Glenn – you have confirmed my own conclusions that Plantinga actually doesn’t have any evidence (that either you or I can find) for his strong conclusions. And so consequentially his claims that evolution must be guided are unwarranted. They rely only on his arguments from logically possibilities. The “clear basis” for my conclusion – the quote you want – is the whole book itself. It is evidence that Plantinga provides no empirical evidence – and because he doesn’t the basis must be the whole book. (If he did provide evidence it would be easy to isolate the quote and prove my conclusion wrong). I assume you have the book, you haven’t been able to find any credible basis, empirical evidence for Plantiga’s claim that variation and selection is guided (at least one that he doesn’t provide deniability for).

    Pity, the scientist in me hoped that you could find evidence – I am always willing to learn and adjust my thinking and there is always a feeling of progress when I identify a mistake on my part. But I do admit to some satisfaction that my own reading of the book and understanding of Plantinga’s arguments prove to be correct – at least when subjected to critique from a declared disciple if Plantinga.

    Philip, you have entered late and are obviously not aware of the preceding discussion but I welcome any evidence that you can produce from the book to support Plantinga’s conclusions – apart from deniable logical possibility.

  129. Plantinga actually has a forthcoming paper titled “Content and Natural Selection,” where he presents a recent formulation of his EAAN and defends it. It is 34 pages long and provides a very good basis for the debate (concerning the compatibility of Naturalism and Evolution). It can be viewed through the University of Notre Dame’s philosophy page (People -> Alvin Plantinga).

    I encourage the interlocutors in this comment thread to check it out.

  130. Zia, I can’t understand the usefulness of hunting out a new paper. Does this paper have the missing evidence which would provide legitimate premises for Plantinga’s logic and strong conclusions?

    I would think given the public nature of the original debate with Dennett and everyone’s reliance on the current book if he hasn’t produced the evidence here it is unlikely to be in this next paper.

    Tell me if I am wrong but, given my interests and priorities, I don’t see the point of frantically searching through his publications to find evidence he doesn’t appear to have. After all there are a huge number of research papers that do provide the evidence for our current understanding of evolutionary mechanisms and I don’t think any of them support Plantinga’s apparent assumptions. (I say “apparent” because he will do things like quote Behe, then deny Behe, but in effect still rely on Behe.And his emotional commitment to Behe, above all other researchers, was obvious in his response to Dennett’s criticism of Behe and his comment on Behe’s standing among biological researchers – and indeed in his own department).

    The politicians call that deniability.

  131. The paper is about his EAAN, not about theistic evolution or Behe. He presents and defends his claim that naturalism and evolution are logically incompatible, kind of like a square circle or a married bachelor. If he is successful in showing that the two are logically contradictory, then he does not need experimental data. No amount of empirical evidence is required to say that a square circle cannot exist.

  132. OK, Zia, so nothing in this new paper to support his premises. I won’t bother reading it then – there is no point.

    Your squares and circles are logical tricks, dishonest ones. Given the empirical evidence no amount of logical trickery can buttress Plantinga’s claim that evolution is guided – the evidence is that it is not guided (in the way Plantinga argues – although there is evidence that some evolutionary mechanisms are not completely random). That is your basic problem and you confront that with empirical evidence, not circular logic.

    A lot of this trickery also centres around what is meant by “naturalism” – a very unuseful word which in many cases is applied incorrectly to science and understood incorrectly by commenters on science. Even by some official science organisations and otherwise good philosophers of science. There has been an unfortunate political opportunism arising in US science and philosophy as a result of creationist political attacks on science. Personally my advice is keep well away from the word – it is usually evidence of deception or political opportunism.

    Plantinga is not attacking “naturalism,” he is attacking evolutionary science and he does so by inventing a guided evolution for which he cannot produce any evidence. Of course he will fool some lay theists and philosophers of religion (even some sympathetic but non-theist philosophers like Nagel) but he is not going to fool any evolutionary scientists

  133. “OK, Zia, so nothing in this new paper to support his premises. I won’t bother reading it then – there is no point.”

    “Your squares and circles are logical tricks, dishonest ones.”

    “Plantinga is not attacking “naturalism,” he is attacking evolutionary science…”

    Therein lies your problem. You are arguing against Plantinga’s EAAN based on one line from a review. That’s equivalent to a creationist attacking evolution without even reading a biology textbook. And explain to me how “squares and circles” are logical trickery. All I am saying is that a contradication cannot ever be true, like a married bachelor. That is Logic 101, the Law of Non-Contradiction. How is that a dishonest? And Plantinga’s EAAN is not attacking evolutionary science. Just read the paper. He is using evolutionary theory to argue not against methodological naturalism, which is an assumption of science, but rather he is attacking metaphysical naturalism. Emphasis on metaphysical. As in the philosophical worldview. Though I am now convinced that simply asking you to read and understand your opponent’s argument before debating is too much.

  134. So basically Ken, you will not show that you understand Plantinga’s arguments and that they depend on logical possibility alone. You brought nothing but a vague accusation, and when challenged you refuse to back it up. Doesn’t sound like there IS a scientist in you. Thanks for playing.

  135. Zia, you know very well my arguments against Plantinga are not based on “one line in a review.” That assertion is clearly dishonest and an attempt to avoid the real issues. I expect more.

    Are you equating Plantinga to the “creationist attacking evolution without even reading a biology book.?” Sounds like you could be as his arguments do not have biological or any other empirical premises (especially as he traps himself with deniability when he tries to use questionable sources).

    Is Plantinga arguing for guided mutation and selection? Is he not critiquing random unguided mutation? Did he not quote Dawkins as a source in what he condemns? Is not Dawkins’ description of the evolutionary process what we mean by evolutionary science? Is Dawkins’ description in any basic way different to how evolution is described in recent books by Jerry Coyne (an atheist) or Ken Miller (a Catholic) – both evolutionary scientists?

    Methodological materialism is definitely not an assumption of science – despite what some politicians and philosophers (probably a minority) claim. In my whole career I never, ever, introduced such an assumption into my research – and neither did any of my colleagues. You have been badly misinformed. (If you disagree – let’s discuss it. Might give me a chance to get some definitions straight and explain to you how scientific research actually operates).

    Plantinga is welcome to attack anyone’s philosophy or ideology (as we have a right to attack his ideology and philosophy – but not the science done by those people. Only when such ideologically motivated people attempt to introduce their ideological beliefs or claims into their scientific theory should they be criticised. (Have you any evidence to indicate this occurs). Scientists are sensitive about that because there are too many examples where ideological intrusion has occurred (in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s’ China) and there are similar current attempts from the ID Wedge people, big business interests attacking scientific knowledge in areas like climate change, tobacco industry, etc.

    Zia, it’s simple enough to state the reasons you support Plantinga. And especially to identify anything for me other than logical possibility or motivated logic from a bad premise. Perhaps you should identify the premises he uses and what you think of them.

    There is absolutely no need to make childish assertions that your discussion partner has not read the document when they clearly have. After all I am the only one referring to specific claims in the book – no-one else does. No-one here attempts to justify his claim of guided evolution. One person referred to his claim that unguided evolution could not produce intelligence – and then backed away. He clearly had not understood the science.

    I see such unwarranted assertions as a sign of weakness or laziness on your part.

    Come on Zia. I have asked pacific questions here – perhaps you could answer them honestly. I have also asked you to look at Plantinga’s premises (not his logic) – tell me which ones you think are empirically supported and which not. I have given you specific…

  136. Chopped off again:

    I see such unwarranted assertions as a sign of weakness or laziness on your part.

    Come on Zia. I have asked specific questions here – perhaps you could answer them honestly. I have also asked you to look at Plantinga’s premises (not his logic) – tell me which ones you think are empirically supported and which not. I have given you specific examples – you could consider them, tell me where you think I am wrong if you do. I welcome a spirited debate between people with different understandings as long as it is honest.

    None if these silly assertions about reading only one line of a review.

  137. Ken – of course it was “chopped off.” There’s a character limit, and a countdown to let you know when you’ve gone over it. When the counter reaches zero and your post stops getting longer as you type – that’s a message that it’s reached the limit and you need to be more succinct. I did that by design.

    Ken, since I strongly suspect that you’ve never even seen a copy of Plantinga’s book (while feeling free to criticise it and its contents as “childish,” Here’s a snippet I came across today while reading my copy. I didn’t even hunt this one out, just a random example. Notice how he uses logical possibility. Observe:

    Darwinian science could perhaps show that it is possible that the structures and traits in question have come to be by way of unguided evolution. It wouldn’t be necessary to show that they actually did come to be by way of unguided evolution; it would suffice to show that it could have happened that way. So the idea would be to show that the eye, for example, could have come to be by Darwinian evolution, unguided by the hand of deity (or other intelligent agents). Of course bare logical possibility is not enough: it is logically possible that the horse, say, sprang into being from the unicellular level (bacteria, perhaps) in one magnificent leap. What the Darwinian has to show, to provide a defeater, is an unguided evolutionary path which is not prohibitively improbable.

    This isn’t part of his argument for theism, as I said it’s just a random selection. But it might be educational for you to look at the role he sees for logical possibility. He points out that the very least that the proponent of any position must do is to show that a belief is possible – but not just logically possible, because that’s far too weak (are you listening?). Arguments for a position must also show that the position in question is probably (stated negatively – not prohibitively improbable). In other words, when it comes to showing that a theory is possible, Plantinga goes out of his way to explain why logical possibility isn’t enough.

    Worth remembering when engaging in future discussions about Plantinga’s views, perhaps. Better yet – read the book. 🙂

  138. Glenn, our discussion was completed. I gave you plenty of opportunity and you could not produce any evidence supporting Pantinga’s premises. As promised, I have drawn my conclusions.

    And I repeat the advice I gave to Zia, it’s childish and dishonest to claim I have not read the book. I interpret you resorting to such smearing as a sign of weakness on your part (which is also supported by your inability to find any reliable empirical evidence in the book to warrant Plantinga’s strong conclusions).

    I am not prepared to waste any more time with you – specifically. I am just not prepared to tolerate such childishness any longer.

    But I still hold some hope that the other commenters may actually be a bit more mature in their approach so welcome their comments.

  139. Ken, you must be well aware of how dishonest that is. You made a claim about what Plantinga’s beliefs commit him to. I brought up a request for evidence, to see if you actually understood his argument at all. The stage was set. You then held out, didn’t respond, and then finally responded by reversing the burden of proof and requiring me to show that Plantinga’s argument does not imply what you say (perversely meaning that I would have to reproduce all of his arguments, showing that in no place does he do what you allege!) – all without offering up even one shred of evidence. Not one quote, not one summary of an argument of his – not even the slightest bit of evidence that you know what his arguments are. Literally nothing. This was your job to make your case in response to a modest request. You didn’t do it.

    And now in retrospect you try to insinuate that this shows that I came up short somehow! Indeed, you have drawn your conclusions. You drew them before reading Plantinga for yourself, and even when pressed for just a little bit of evidence, you have refused to offer any – and of course, your opinion remains unchanged. It now appears that you wee trolling me this whole time with no intention of offering anything informative other than vague accusations about some guy you’ve (apparently) never read.

    And to think that you brush it all off with the ad hominem attack that others are not “mature.” This is a good indicator of just how seriously readers should take your criticisms of the likes of Plantinga. You don’t take the time to read them, you certainly never show that you have understood them, and when someone asks you for evidence for your assessment of them. you demand that they do all the work and then insult them.

    (The truth is, elsewhere I have said much about Plantinga’s argument, describing and assessing them. I did a podcast series on it and have talked about it in a few blogs. But that’s not relevant, since this exchange has been about me asking you for some evidence for your claims about Plantinga, and you not providing any.)

  140. For what it’s worth – I noted the claim about Plantinga that Ken made (Glenn drew attention to this)

    I noted that Glenn specifically asked for Ken to back this up.

    I noted that Ken then made his whole case by saying: Well… I don’t understand how it couldn’t be true. Glenn – explain it for me.

    I noted that Glenn pointed out that it’s not his job to do this, because Ken had made a claim about Plantinga, and he needed to show that he knew what he was talking about.

    I then noted that Ken left the discussion, said that Glenn wasn’t mature and that was the end of it.

    And that’s how it played out. I’m amazed you were as patient as this Glenn. You were indeed being trolled.

  141. Sandra, perhaps you should reveal your interests? It would be the honest thing to do.

    Simply, Glenn was asked the same question I have asked the rest. What is the empirical basis for Plantinga’s premises? Forget the logic he uses – if his starting point is wrong his conclusions will be too. He makes very strong conclusions – but why?

    Glenn was unable to provide his empirical bases. For example – on what basis does Plantinga rest his claim that evolution, the variation, mutations, and selection is guided? A fundamental basis to his argument which is not supported by evidence and disagrees with the science.

    I finally told Glenn if he refused I would draw my own conclusions. I have and there is no further discussion to be had with him.

    Sandra, perhaps you can answer my question? Or perhaps you will refuse to as well?

    Consider it a test.

  142. “Glenn was asked the same question I have asked the rest”

    The beginning of my deliberate interaction with you on this was when I brought up the way you characterised Plantinga’s approach and then asked you for evidence. I asked you to show that you understood Plantinga’s argument, and that he makes the mistake that you allege. It did not begin with you asking me about Plantinga. You asked me a question after I had already done this (remember, I told you to wait until you answered me, and you called me “childish” for saying this). Remember? So you were the one asked to provide the goods in support of your specific claim, and you never did.

    You made the very strong claim that Plantinga really makes mere logical possibility adequate to make a belief justified. I asked you a couple of times to back this up. In the meantime you tried to fend the question off by asking me your question. I asked you to wait until you had answered me before asking questions of me, and you never did. This is because I wanted to first see that you understood the argument before I bothered to engage your questions about how good it is. Then you declared the conversation over. What Sandra has observed and described is precisely what took place.

    Never mind peering into people’s motives (as you did with Sandra), this was a clear display of you running away when asked to defend your claim about Plantinga. Anyone can see what was said.

  143. Ken says “I pointed out you use planes and boats and computers. I didn’t say “look”. Think about Marx’s Feurbach theses – something along the lines that up till now philosophers have only attempted to describe the world, but the point is to change it. (Don’t rely on my quote – look it up, maybe google it. It’s a very powerful statement and if you don’t understand it’s meaning you can’t understand a scientific philosophy). To know reality you must interact with reality – not just look at it or abstractly think about it. Therein lies the significance of Marx’s thesis. This is what science does and you admit it is extremely successful. The proof of the pudding is in the eating – another important philosophical principle.”

    I find it very ironic that a freshman philosophical question is giving you such a tough time, but then again you’ve been wrong about virtually everything, so let me deal with this utter sophistry.

    First off you beg the question that reality is not just an illusion and that the Marx’s thesis truly exists independently of your perception. Again you PRESUPPOSE the external world to be real with nothing but an assertion based on FAITH. You also PRESUPPOSE the reliability of the senses, and the fact that OTHER MINDS exist besides your own. So you are arguing in a circle, you are using the physical world whilst trying to prove the physical world exists. In undergraduate courses they go over this factor by citing “Plato’s Cave’ I guess you must have missed out on that.

    “Glenn was unable to provide his empirical bases. For example – on what basis does Plantinga rest his claim that evolution, the variation, mutations, and selection is guided? A fundamental basis to his argument which is not supported by evidence and disagrees with the science.”

    Where is the empirical or scientific evidence that states ‘evidence’ can only be empirical or scientific?

    Are you a logical positivist/verificationist? If so LOL for thinking you could actually make a serious objection to anything Plantinga says, in fact he is waaaay out of your league regarding epistemology as well as anything that deals with philosophy. I’m afraid that in the end you ultimately look like a naive first year philosophy student trying to take on the professor who has written over a hundred peer-reviewed articles in academia. It’s too bad Plantinga > you in just about everything.

    Sophistry doesn’t work very well in academia, and thank God for that.

  144. ’emotional tangent’

    Disagreement does not entail ’emotional tangent’, It’s ok though as you are forgiven since you are not a logician.

    In fact now I’m starting to think if this is a case of the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ here as I now wonder if Ken has a bit of a guilty conscience.

    hmmm

  145. Cornell, I take it you either won’t, or can’t, answer my question? It’s surely very clear and simple. It was put to Glenn, who reneged – so he’s out. It was put to you Sandra and Zia – several times. I am waiting for a sensible reply. Final opportunity.

    I repeat it:
    “What is the empirical basis for Plantinga’s premises? Forget the logic he uses – if his starting point is wrong his conclusions will be too. He makes very strong conclusions – but why?”

    This is the final chance for you three.

    I will interpret refusal to answer, or attempt to answer, as confirmation of my own conclusions) which seems reasonable enough). Plantinga does not start with credible empirical science, and whatever attempts he makes to find a basis (as in mentioning Behe’s claims) are ruled out by his own deniability clauses. His conclusion are clearly wrong.

    I won’t bother with that question again (but may come up with a new one).

    And I won’t be diverted by silly first year philosophy student trick questions or emotional personal attack. Long past that one. Such behaviour is a sign of inability.

  146. Ok so I take it that you concede to everything I said, that’s usually the case when I see responses like this

    “I will interpret refusal to answer, or attempt to answer, as confirmation of my own conclusions) which seems reasonable enough). Plantinga does not start with credible empirical science, and whatever attempts he makes to find a basis (as in mentioning Behe’s claims) are ruled out by his own deniability clauses. His conclusion are clearly wrong.

    I won’t bother with that question again (but may come up with a new one).

    And I won’t be diverted by silly first year philosophy student trick questions or emotional personal attack. Long past that one. Such behaviour is a sign of inability.”

    Now anyways, was your statement up above validated by credible empirical science? It seems like just a bunch of words put together, so I was just wondering if you have used the verification principle on that reply up above? If not, can I dismiss it as meaningless?

  147. Keep in mind Ken, anything that you type to me from this point on HAS to be validated by empirical science in order for me to take it as relevant, if not then then BY YOUR LOGIC, I will not take it seriously.

  148. OK Cornell, looks like you are also out. You can’t find any credible basis for the premises Plantinga uses. In effect you are accepting my conclusions, or at least not opposing them.

    Two down, two to go.

  149. “What is the empirical basis for Plantinga’s premises?”

    Begs the question that premises can only be true if they are empirical. So are you against anything a priori?

    “Forget the logic he uses”

    Begs the question that your logic is correct, I also heard that Plantinga holds to the law of non-contradiction, so if you want me to dismiss the law of non-contradiction then I will have to read this statement as ‘forget the logic he uses, and Don’t forget the logic that he uses’. This is clearly absurd.

    “his starting point is wrong his conclusions will be too.”

    Are you saying that all premises have to be true in order for an argument to be valid?

  150. “OK Cornell, looks like you are also out.”

    I don’t see any scientific empirical testing being used on this statement, so I will take it as irrelevant.

    “You can’t find any credible basis for the premises Plantinga uses. In effect you are accepting my conclusions, or at least not opposing them.”

    well if I throw out Plantinga’s logic,

    cf: You said ““Forget the logic he uses”

    I must also throw away the law of non-contradiction (LNC), so once I do that it appears that you are telling me that I am not accepting your conclusions, but I am accepting your conclusions at the same time; and that I couldn’t find a credible basis for the premises Plantinga uses, but yet at the same time I did find a credible basis for the premises Plantinga uses.

    So this seems absurd, I think I’ll stick with Plantinga’s logic over yours.
    ty

  151. Cornell, I am not expecting you to give up your philosophical and ideological associations. Far from it. Just noting that you can’t or won’t provide any evidence or bsais for Plantinga’s premises. I draw my on conclusions and your inability gives me more confidence in those.

    So move on – my next question is do you accept Plantinga’s strong conclusion that there is a conflict between naturalism and science (because, he claims evolutionary science asserts evolution is guided) and, for the same reason, no conflict between theism and science?

    Simple enough – not asking for justifications. Won’t respond to diversions.

  152. “Cornell, I am not expecting you to give up your philosophical and ideological associations. Far from it. Just noting that you can’t or won’t provide any evidence or bsais for Plantinga’s premises. I draw my on conclusions and your inability gives me more confidence in those.”

    Well I don’t know about you, but I consider logic and reason to be a very important tool regarding knowledge. So I don’t have to accept your method on epistemology whilst we are on the topic of epistemology.

    Now what do you consider as ‘evidence’? If you are a positivist and/or verificationist, why the heck should I take any of your objections to Plantinga’s EAAN seriously?

    So I think it’s time you started answering some critical questions, do you think ‘evidence’ of X can only be obtained through scientific empirical methods, yes or no?

  153. In avoidance again Cornell? Come on – I have excused you of all previous questions you had difficulty with. Just one simple clear one. A Yes or No suffices.

    Actually, open this up to Glenn, Sandra and Zia as well:

    Do you think Plantinga’s strong conclusions are correct? Do you think naturalism (or atheism, or lack of inclusion of your god in scientific theories) is incompatible with evolutionary science? In conflict with sience itself?

    I don’t expect a justification – just do you accept Plantinga’s conclusions or not?

    Yes or No is OK.

  154. “This is the final chance for you three.”

    Ken – chances? Come on, if we were counting, you ran out long ago with your refusal to answer a simple question about the basis of your claim about Plantinga and logical possibility. I asked you this question before you asked me this question. I told you then, as I remind you again now, that before I am interested in looking at your question, you can do the courtesy of answering the prior question that was put to you. You already know that your doing so and showing good faith in this way is the prerequisite for me entertaining your further questions.

    If we’re talking about chances, I’ll give you one last chance (to borrow your turn of phrase). Then I will be interested in the later question you asked me. So here it is:

    You endorsed the claim that Plantinga’s approach “lowers the bar” for rational belief to mere logical possibility. You haven’t yet outlined his argument and shown where or how he does this. SInce you made this claim, I am again asking you to substantiate your claim by doing this.

    Show that you understand the argument you want to criticise. I am aware that since asking you this you have asked me a question and you are insisting that I pursue that. As I said before, I won’t do that until you answer this question – which I asked earlier. This matters because your claim (which you have not defended) makes it sound to me like you are misrepresenting someone who you have likely never read and don’t understand. If this proves to be the case then I won’t answer your later question. But if you do back your claim up as I have asked you to many times now, then I will consider that maybe you might be able to discuss Plantinga’s work in good faith.

    Most people would have given up waiting by now – but there it is.

    “this is the last chance for you”

  155. So you refuse to answer Glenn?

    Strange.

    Problem is I suspect the other three are too timid to break ranks and also will refuse to answer.

    Doesn’t look good. Four local apologists won’t say if they agree with Plantinga’s conclusion or not! Perhaps they don’t support it? Perhaps they don’t understand it?

    By the way, the old question is now off the table as far as I am concerned. Everyone appears to be incapable of discovering a good basis for Plantiga’s premises. Which just really confirms my conclusion. I guess I can now have more confidence in that. Certainly not worth me wasting any more time on it.

  156. Well, I tried. Ken, you’re refusing to answer and then saying that it’s the other guy refusing to answer.

    That does look like a concession – your accusation about Plantinga had no basis, and not the least bit honest. You’ve refused to offer any reasons for believing it.

    Now that you’ve shown that you won’t answer questions put to you, I guess you’re also saying that you don’t want me to listen to your questions. So I won’t. Entirely your choice, Ken. But as you say, “strange.”

  157. “So you refuse to answer Glenn?”

    Ken, you’re a disgrace. How old are you? This is not the way an honest, intelligent adult carries on. You know full well that you have been asked a question, and you know full well that you chose not to answer, instead returning with your own question. You were told that you needed to answer the question before you get to ask yours.

    And like a spoiled child, you stomp your feet, refuse to answer, and demand that everyone else play your game. And when they don’t, you play the game of accusing them of what you yourself have done – refusing to answer!

    What an anti-intellectual sham your rhetoric is.

  158. I want to engage but why bother? Ken’s trolling, and you all keep feeding him. He’s not genuinely interested in discussion, otherwise he would have backed up his claims long ago, the same ones asked for countless times.

    Instead he continues to insist on others providing the positive arguments for EAAN, so that he can attempt to refute those. That saves him the effort of actually reading Plantinga, which clearly he hasn’t.

    Ken is trolling and is acting disingenuously. But note: I don’t actually have to say why he is trolling. It’s actually up to Ken to say why he isn’t. 😉

  159. “Which just really confirms my conclusion”

    Ken, this appears to be because you started with your conclusion. Nothing could ever disconfirm your conclusion. You’ve shown yourself to be deaf to challenges. You simply ignore them, and as a result, everything confirms your conclusion. No matter what. You have no interest in revising or updating your opinion. You’re already comfortable.

  160. As I suspected. You guys are too timid – waiting for a lead from Glenn.

    What a pack of wimps.

    OK Sandra – how about you putting in your own words the question(s) Glenn keeps referring to. If you can I might’ve em be able to answer you. But I think you will have problems as Glenn’s questions keep changing. It’s a tactic he often seems to deploy when he is not confident or realises he can’t answer a question already on the table.

    So, there you go Sandra. A little job, test, for you. No cheating. Formulate the question yourself seeing you have obviously been conscientiously following my contribution to the discussion as your emotion shows.

    Come on now – should be simple. Don’t hold back. Show some initiative.

  161. “OK Sandra – how about you putting in your own words the question(s) Glenn keeps referring to.”

    Ken, you’ve refused to answer that question when I ask it, but for some reason you want others to believe that you’ll suddenly change your mind and answer it when a different person asks it?

    As you said earlier, “Strange.” But hey, maybe it’s personal and you just don’t want to and questions when I ask them. 🙂 Maybe you’ll answer for someone else! Let’s find out (assuming Sandra is interested in playing this game with you).

  162. Nathan, you want to engage. Good – as you can see the others have refused to.

    How about starting with either of the two questions I have asked:

    What is the basis for Plantinga’s premises in his argument. These are important as rubbish in rubbish out. You must know all about it because you use abbreviations.

    Or my last question – do you accept Plantinga’s strong conclusions:
    Do you think Plantinga’s strong conclusions are correct? Do you think naturalism (or atheism, or lack of inclusion of your god in scientific theories) is incompatible with evolutionary science? In conflict with science itself?

    Nathan, I have read Plantinga and listened to the original debate. I think the criticisms from Dennett and Boudry are valid. And I haven’t seen anything here yet to change my mind despite posing those important questions.

    Finally, you have referred to something happening “countless times.” You don’t say what this is and I suspect you don’t understand Glenn either. But if you do perhaps you can formulate a specific question and I will answer it.

    But formulate it yourself, no consultations. Otherwise, like Glenn, you won’t be credible.

  163. “OK Sandra – how about you putting in your own words the question(s) Glenn keeps referring to.”

    I don’t get it. You won’t answer the very same question when Glenn asks – you dodge, accuse, delay and avoid. But now you want me to ask? What strange game is this?

    OK Ken, here are my rules:

    1) I will ask this question only once.
    2) I will not accept any reversing of the burden of proof. If I ask for evidence for why you believe something, you must be the person to provide all the evidence for it.
    3) I will not accept the fact that you don’t understand something as evidence. It’s not.
    4) If, in your initial reply to the question, you don’t make a clear attempt to offer clear evidence for the specific claim that I am asking about, I will stop asking, and I will conclude that you can’t answer or don’t want to answer.

    Here is a statement: Ken, earlier in this thread it came to light that you endorse the view that Alvin Plantinga lowers the bar for rational belief to mere logical possibility. In other words, in order for a belief to be rationally held, it only needs to be logically possible. This is the claim you made. Even if you don’t say that Plantinga states this directly, you do say that his view really boils down to this (whether he knows it or not).

    Now, here is my question: Ken, can you please provide positive evidence that Plantinga’s arguments really do invoilve the above way of thinking? Very specifically, please show what Plantinga’s argument is (namely, state the premises and the conclusion), and show which part(s) involve the above assumptions about logical possibility and rationally held beliefs.

    I am only offering one chance. If you don’t answer, I won’t keep trying. Thanks Ken. Your offer to me suggests that you’re willing to answer. Let’s see.

  164. Kenneth, yes I did start here with a provisional conclusion based on my reading of Plantinga and listening to the debate with Dennett. Part of my assessment was that Plantinga had no basis for his premises. For example he quoted Behe – an unreliable source on the subject. And then he acknowledged that perhaps he wasn’t reliable (his deniability). So I don’t think he had any basis for his assumption that evolutionary processes, variation and selection, are guided by his god. And I firmly believe he is absolutely wrong to claim guided evolution is consistent with the current understanding of evolutionary science.

    Now I posed the question here because when I pointed out Plantinga was relying on bad logic, poor premises, and logical possibility I was opposed. So naturally I asked what his arguments were based on then. I am happy to discuss the issue and perhaps learn something. Glenn doesn’t seem to know so has consistently avoided the issue for several days now. And everyone else seems too timid, or too ignorant, to give their view.

    I assure you that if Plantinga was correct and that evolutionary science does accept guided evolution, variation and selection, I am happy to go with the science. But my reading doesn’t support that, and no one here seems to believe that either. Otherwise, why the silence, timidity and diversion.?

  165. “Now I posed the question here”

    Ken, you forgot to mention that your asked me that question only after I had asked you a question. Again, you chose to ask me this question instead of answering, continually avoiding my earlier question. You know this Ken. You’re just repeating your version of reality, that you are the one who didn’t get an answer and you’re the up-front honest one…. That’s gotten old, and I think everyone sees it.

    So it seems Sandra is willing to try to get an answer out of you. Let’s see if she has any better luck.

  166. “and I think everyone sees it.”

    And that’s the thing, Glenn. Everyone does see it. Ken is the only one trying to paint his version of history, but what is going on here is transparently obvious to any reader. Ken can’t bac himself up, so he deflected your question by asking you a question in reply, and by repeating himself over and over he is trying to make this about why YOU didn’t answer HIM. But the reason is simple. It’s because you’re still waiting on his answer!

    Ken, you have no shame.

  167. Sandra, you have listened to Glenn’s misrepresentation, not my arguments. Let me put you straight. The paragraph I endorsed were from Maarten Boudry (because it resonated with my original feelings while reading Plantinga’s argumens) which is:

    “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    Dennett also pointed this out during the original debate with his “Superman” story. So I am in good company.

    Now notice Boudry’s use of the word “if” – you know, the one Glenn neglected in his bolding. Omit that and you change the meaning. What is being said is that without evidence, a good premise, nothing more than an argument that something is possible, then mere logical possibility opens up that can of worms. It is not saying Plantinga argued for basing strong conclusions on logical possibility alone – not at all.

    In something I wrote previously (I don’t think here) I said:

    “As for the logic – I think we all agree that using logical possibility as a premise does not produce a reliable conclusion. Plantinga says so himself in the book and as a qualified philosopher he surely would not argue against that. The question is, though, would he actually commit that fallacy? Would he come to a strong conclusion relying only on logical possibility?”

    Therein lies Glenn’s little game. He has accused me of saying that Plantinga argued that logical possibility was sufficient for him to come to strong conclusions. One never knows with Glenn, he keeps changing the story when in the avoidance mode, but clearly I wasn’t saying that. I was not saying Plantinga was justifying reliance on logical possibility – just that without any other evidence, good premises, etc., he was in fact making that mistake. Hence the importance of justifying the premises.

    I went on:

    “… that is what he has done. Hence the criticism from other philosophers. It’s also what Sober did. Sure Sober was clear about the logical possibility and also clear that one couldn’t make firm conclusions. He maintained deniability to the end with his conclusion that evolutionary science was not incompatible with theism. Plenty of deniability there.

    I thought it was a waste of time, just philosophical masturbation which should have been kept out of the public eye. Because no scientist was seriously saying the two were incompatible. (An evolutionary scientist arguing against theism or for atheism, or finding evolutionary science compatible with her atheism is of course not an example of the theoretical assertion Sober argued against).

    But Plantiga has gone a lot further than Sober to conclude, strongly, that evolutionary science is incompatible with “naturalism” – which in this case could mean just atheist belief or lack of inclusion of his god in the science of evolution. It appears to be the latter because he claims that evolution is guided and…

  168. Continuing . . .

    I went on:

    “… that is what he has done. Hence the criticism from other philosophers. It’s also what Sober did. Sure Sober was clear about the logical possibility and also clear that one couldn’t make firm conclusions. He maintained deniability to the end with his conclusion that evolutionary science was not incompatible with theism. Plenty of deniability there.

    I thought it was a waste of time, just philosophical masturbation which should have been kept out of the public eye. Because no scientist was seriously saying the two were incompatible. (An evolutionary scientist arguing against theism or for atheism, or finding evolutionary science compatible with her atheism is of course not an example of the theoretical assertion Sober argued against).

    But Plantiga has gone a lot further than Sober to conclude, strongly, that evolutionary science is incompatible with “naturalism” – which in this case could mean just atheist belief or lack of inclusion of his god in the science of evolution. It appears to be the latter because he claims that evolution is guided and (wrongly) that is the scientific consensus”

    Now clearly, if Plantinga did use good premises, especially ones he didn’t provide with deniability like his reference to Behe, then he would not be relying on logical possibility and his conclusions could have been credible. I have made it clear that the key question is what is the premise based on. No one seems to have been able to answer that question, or they refuse to. Perhaps you guys don’t understand or don’t worry about such poor premises. But if you had been able to show he had reliable premises my view of his book would have changed. You couldn’t.

    Instead, the avoidance and attempted confusion just confirms me in my original assessment.

    OK Sandra, I think I have explained clearly where you are mistaken. You should have no excuse to continue with the distortions Glenn has promoted and I will not participate in a childish “you said – he said stoush”. That is why I refuse to discuss it any further with Glenn.

    However I am happy to further explain any scientific point you do not understand or accept. And I am prepared to consider your evidence if you support Plantinga’s claim that evolutionary processes are guided (but as that is so out of touch with the scientific understanding that will be hard).

    Sorry for the length – I am sure you understand the necessity considering Glenn’s promotion of confusion.

  169. OK Ken, this will be my last comment to you on the matter. Summary of facts: You said you agree with the review of Plantinga, which uses the reducto ad absurdum. This says that an argument must be wrong, because if it’s right, then absurd consequences follow. Maarten uses this approach, saying “if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.” This is meant to show that Plantinga’s argument is flawed. This is a criticism only because Plantinga’s argument is deemed to to employ the assumption described, lowering the bar for rational belief to mere logical possibility.

    Glenn asked you for a quote from Plantinga where he says that the bar is this low. You replied that you don’t attribute this overt claim to Plantinga. Instead, you said: “Marteen was pointing out the consequences of relying on logical possibility alone – which I think Plantinga does.” So you do claim that Plantinga is guilty of the problematic method in question: Relying on logical possibility alone. Sure, the quote says “if” Plantinga does this, but you then confirmed it clearly: According to you, he does. Sure, he might not be aware of it and he may deny it, you say, but really this is what is going on in his arguments, according to you.

    Glenn understood you and represented you fairly, saying: “You do indeed say that Plantinga relies on logical possibility alone in order for a belief to be rational. And don’t play games – it’s not up to me to reproduce all of Plantinga’s work to prove that he never says or does this. You need to show that he does.”

    All clear. You stated that you attribute this method to Plantinga. Glenn said that you haven’t shown that he does this, and has been asking you to do so. Now, let’s turn to my question: “Ken, earlier in this thread it came to light that you endorse the view that Alvin Plantinga lowers the bar for rational belief to mere logical possibility. In other words, in order for a belief to be rationally held, it only needs to be logically possible. This is the claim you made. Even if you don’t say that Plantinga states this directly, you do say that his view really boils down to this (whether he knows it or not). Now, here is my question: Ken, can you please provide positive evidence that Plantinga’s arguments really do invoilve the above way of thinking? Very specifically, please show what Plantinga’s argument is (namely, state the premises and the conclusion), and show which part(s) involve the above assumptions about logical possibility and rationally held beliefs.”

    All clear so far. Then your latest reply: “Therein lies Glenn’s little game. He has accused me of saying that Plantinga argued that logical possibility was sufficient for him to come to strong conclusions.”

    Liar. Glenn represented you fairly.

    Glenn accepted that you were allowing that Plantinga may not overtly state this: “And now you back away – saying well OK he never says that… But I think he presupposes it (or that appears to be the new version of your claim). OK then Ken, the burden is still yours. Show how his claims logical imply that logical possibility is all that’s required for a belief to be rational.” Again, Glenn is right. You said that Plantinga’s method presupposes that logical possibility is enough. You defended saying this when challenged about it.

  170. One more thing: “It is not saying Plantinga argued for basing strong conclusions on logical possibility alone – not at all.” So what? As you know, I never attributed that claim to you. I never said that you have accused Plantinga of arguing that logical possibility alone is enough. What I attributed to you in my comment when i asked the question is: “In other words, in order for a belief to be rationally held, it only needs to be logically possible. This is the claim you made. Even if you don’t say that Plantinga states this directly, you do say that his view really boils down to this (whether he knows it or not).” There was no excuse for you to misrepresent my description of what you’ve said, and you certainly haven’t offered the evidence I requested.

    There’s no you said / he said stoush. You said it, you didn’t back it up. You have now lied about what you said, you’ve also lied about what Glenn said and what I said, and you’ve chosen again not to back up your claim when asked by a second person.

    This conversation is now concluded.

  171. Sandra, why do I feel the whole tone and style of your comments has changed and now strongly resembles Glenn? Even the slips with the pronouns. And the timing -strange. Don’t say I have wasted time on a sock puppet!

    Anyway, for whatever reason you also demonstrate that discussion with you is pointless.

    The facts remain that Plantingi has no credible basis, premises for his strong conclusions. At least no one here has found any. And the ones that I criticise (his use of Behe and incorrect claim that science accepts a guided evolution) none of you are prepared to discuss, let alone defend. Hardly surprising as defence is really impossible in these cases.

    So – given the lack of credible premises for Plantinga’s strong conclusions I believe and conclude he relies simply on logical possibility – something he acknowledges is not justifiable yet he still appears to resort to. With a good dose of deniability carefully recorded. The inability of this little group of disciples to find credible premises understandably confirms my suspicions. And shows the dangers of the theological deniability tactic.

    So I agree with the respectable and intelligent philosophers Dennett and Boudry on this.

    It is incredible to me that a group of self-professed intellectuals should be so timid, so unwilling to answer simple questions, to take a stand even in declaring acceptance of your heroe’s conclusions. What a pack of whimps!

    I must confess satisfaction that no-one could find a credible challenge to the conclusions I have made, or those of Dennett and Boudry. And the childish personal attacks really just reinforce that satisfaction because they demonstrate inability to mount a challenge. It has also been an interesting exercise psychologically, a strange one but it has confirmed some of what I have been reading about human nature.

    And what about Cornell and Zia – you guys seem to have whimped out big time. Why are you so timid?

  172. Glenn, if you think things are clear now (and I do as my position is recorded) what about your side of the bargain. There are two outstanding questions.

    1: What are the credible premises, the evidence, Plantinga relies on for his strong conclusions (that evolutionary science and probably science in general is incompatible with, in conflict w ith naturalism? And what support is there for his claim (which becomes a premise) that evolutionary science understands the evolutionary processes to be guided?

    2: Do you accept his strong conclusions?

    The other disciples have Leo bern asked but somehow I don’t expect an answer from them, at least until you have pronounced. Whimps!

  173. “Glenn, if you think things are clear now (and I do as my position is recorded) what about your side of the bargain. ”

    Ken, bargain? The deal was: You act in good faith and respond to my request for evidence in regard to your claim about Plantinga’s approach, and then I will see that it’s worth engaging your later question. I wanted to first see that you understood Plantinga’s argument, then I would be willing to discuss your stance on how good it is.

    But you never answered my straightforward question. So according to the “bargain,” exactly what do I owe you? Nothing, it seems. You decided not to engage and answer me. In a bargain, it’s supposed to be an exchange. But there wasn’t one.

    But as I said to everyone – I have already expounded Plantinga’s argument and offer my assessment of it elsewhere, and I have given you a link if you’d like to know more about it.

    The over-arching problem here, Ken – and the reason you weren’t able/willing to provide the evidence that I asked for, is that it appears that you don’t really understand the way Plantinga’s argument works. Logical possibility simply doesn’t play the role that you claim, and your questions about what Plantinga’s premises are is a bit strange if you already know what his argument looks like. The premises of the evolutionary argument against naturalism are not secret. You reject that argument, so presumably you know what the premises are, right? So here’s the situation we’re in now: I said that you should answer me before I answered your later question to me. You didn’t so it doesn’t seem like I should now be chasing your questions to answer them. However, I also realise that explaining the argument for you might – if you approach this in good faith, willing to listen – actually help your understanding of Plantinga and prevent or reduce future misrepresentation of his position. So even though you broke our “bargain” as you call it, here’s what I’m prepared to do:

    You want answers to your questions. The first one is about Plantinga’s premises. I’ll tell you what. Let’s cut the bravado, and I’d like you to be open to learning about Plantinga’s argument. You seem to think that Plantinga’s premises don’t support his conclusion. Alright Ken – If you’re prepared to outline in broad terms the premises of his evolutionary argument against naturalism – his main argument that you reject – please lay them out for me.

    If you do not know the premises of the argument – the one you reject – I’d like you to say so in your next comment. You might feel that these are “strong arm” tactics on my part, but I actually think this matters. I genuinely do want people to understand this better, and I think in your case this is probably the best way. I want to put you in the position of having to admit that you aren’t able to reproduce the premises of his argument. That way we can start out from a really honest position: You don’t know what his argument is, and any claim on your part that his premises are no good has been unjustified. Once this is confirmed (or if you do actually manage to lay the premises out), I promise to spell out the premises of the argument myself and state how strong I think they are and why. Given that you previously haven’t responded well to my request for evidence, I think this is more than fair on my part. Are you willing?

    As for the whole “Sandra has transformed into Glenn” thing… Do you think I’ve faked all of Sandra’s comments at this blog over the years? Many people in this thread have made more or less the same observations about your tactic. Or maybe everyone who commented this evening is really Glenn! I mean, just look at the timing, all within a couple of hours (they couldn’t possibly have replied then because they are subscribed to the thread and saw that further comments had been added)! Although temptation lurks, I resist calling you a liar (as Sandra did). I struggle at times to understand how you reach your conclusions about what is happening in these discussions, but often such things are the product of mindset. You see theology types in a certain light, and act accordingly, whether intentionally or not.

  174. Bloody predictable, Glenn. Just the reaction I expected from you. This childish behaviour s just so typical.

    Your inability to answer simple questions shows your lack of confidence in Plantinga’s position. Even to the cowardice of being unable to endorse his conclusions.

    So, this does confirm me in my belief. You guys can’t produce any credible premise that Plantinga uses. Because there aren’t any. You refuse to even get into the ones I mention. Again part of the kickback from the theological deniability clauses. May work with the faithful but doesn’t fool the person familiar with the issues.

    Your inability to critique Dennett’s part of the debate or Boudry’s review is just another element confirming my conclusions.

    So, as I see it Plantinga dies not have any credible premises, he actually makes a completely dishonest claim when he asserts evolutionary science currently accepts guided processes, he does in fact have nothing except logical possibility to fall back on and the understandable deniability clause creates problems for his followers when his conclusions and arguments are challenged.

    Satisfies me.

    [edited for profanity – Glenn]

  175. Ken, in my last comment, I said that even though you were previously unwilling to answer me, and hence I said that I wasn’t going to chase your questions because I thought you were acting in bad faith – I would be prepared to take this further with you because I actually think your understanding of Plantinga would benefit. I genuinely tried to reach a position where this could be fruitful, in spite of what has happened so far in this thread (and as you know, I do believe that the problems between us in this thread have been because you were unwilling to show that you understand Plantinga’s argument, whether you accept that or not).

    You are asking about how I assess Plantinga’s argument, but I don’t think you understand the argument, so I simply asked you to either spell out the premises, or else admit that you don’t know what they are. That way everything would be out in the open – I would know how much you already knew, and then I could go through the premises with you and explain what they are and how strong I think they are, which is what you seem to want. But I need to know your starting point. I need to know whether you even know what Plantinga’s argument is first. This seemed like a reasonable request.

    I am sorry that you have responded in such a hostile manner, as I was genuinely saying look – I am prepared to do this but you’ve really got to be as up-front as possible because I don’t want to waste my words in answering you. I need to know in advance that this isn’t going to be just me sinking time into something that cannot end well. You have turned around and snarled at me for it. You don’t even appreciate that I was genuinely offering to help – even after all this! If you change your mind, you know where to find me. But I won’t simply answer those questions with no idea whether or not you even know what Plantinga’s argument is.

  176. Glenn, there is no hostility on my part – just satisfaction. I gave you the only premises I could see and they were pathetic – to the extent he even deployed the old theological deniability trick – chopping himself off at the knees.

    But I know from experience the futility of attempting discussion with you and some other, not all, commenters here. The value is there – but only in the sense of confirming my suspicions. So at least I have that to thank you for. My understanding of Plantinga has increased. Not that this is important. He has no significance in the areas of science or philosophy of science which interest me.

    This discussion is completed – at least here.

    I am actually posting an article in the next few days related to Zia’s claim – important because he is so badly informed and because of the opportunist uses io the deception. I won’t mention Plantinga much but will actually argue for the truth of his superficial claim that science and naturalism are not consistent.

    You are of course welcome to make comments – you might even learn something from interaction in a more open environment.

    As they say – silver linings.

    By the way Zia, Sandra and Cornell – the “profanity” Glenn removed was a reference to my disappointment in the fear you guys have of actually expressing an opinion or answering a question without prior approval from Glenn. He is not as scary as you think – after all he can’t and won’t do the same – and censoring commenters seems to be the height of insecurity. People like this are usually shown eventually to have feet of clay.

    And, if you can find your spines you too are of course welcome to discuss this issue of “naturalism” and science at Open Parachute.

    Have a good life – remember to question everything you hear.

  177. Ken, I hate to break this to you, but you are just a clown who promotes abject sophistry

    You can’t even put together a formal syllogism on what Plantinga is arguing for, because you haven’t read his book, don’t know his argument, you don’t know logic, you don’t know philosophy, you don’t know epistemology and you are a positivist/verificationist.

    You also use Dennett’s pathetic ‘superman’ analogy as if it does ANYTHING to the EAAN.

    Lastly you say I’m afraid ROFL, well my 9 year old cousin told me I was a afraid to debate him on which Marvel Avenger was the strongest. He said the Hulk and then told me I was afraid to argue for anyone better. I guess this discussion of yours is on the same page. The point is I don’t take an abject closed-minded layman’s claims seriously whilst discussing EPISTEMOLOGY, and that’s what this discussion is all about EPISTEMOLOGY.

    Anyways I look forward to refuting your nonsense and weak objections that will appear on your open parachute blog where village atheists think their opinions count.

    For me, this will be like shooting fish in a barrel, I’ll see you around (when I have time).

  178. ” I gave you the only premises I could see”

    Ken, that’s what I wanted to know. For the first time, you’ve actually stated how much of the argument you are familiar with. You actually did not produce a single premise of the evolutionary argument against naturalism, and they are not really that hard to see if you’ve read the argument. According to you, it seems, you just haven’t seen any of the premises of that argument. This is why the conversation has been so difficult here. You’ve been asking other people to give you your total understanding of an argument that you have never seen before, and yet you’ve been somewhat angrily going on about how bad that argument is and how it lacks support. See the problem?

    OK, so it looks like we’re starting at the ground floor. Here are the basic premises of the EAAN:

    1) Naturalism is the view that the physical universe is all there is; So it entails that there’s no God, and hence nobody had any intentions about why we’re here or what we’re here for.
    2) Evolution works when natural selection picks out mutations for survival (a very short crude summary, but one everyone should accept). Natural selection is the fundamental mechanism of evolution.
    3) On evolution, all parts of us, including our belief forming faculties, are a product of the above mechanism.
    4) Natural selection is not “concerned” (so to speak) about our beliefs, desires, preferences etc in any sense other than whether or not those things confer an adaptive (i.e. survival-based) advantage. So natural selection does not (for example) favour a particular belief forming mechanism or tendency in principle because it forms true beliefs, but rather because it forms (or tends to form) beliefs that confer an adaptive advantage (i.e. those beliefs tend to have survival value). We are assuming here that beliefs give rise to behaviour.
    5) But in fact there are more false beliefs than true beliefs that, in any given scenario, would confer an adaptive advantage.
    6) Prima facie, if there are many beliefs (actually a huge number) in a given scenario that would be good for survival, only one of which is true, then the chances that a survival-prone belief will be true is very low.
    7) On naturalism, recall, there is no God who created the world intending that we should engage in reason in the pursuit of truth.
    8) Hence on the combination of naturalism and evolution (as those two things are describe above, let’s call this combination NE), there is no reason to think that the probability of human belief forming structures being reliable in terms of having a tendency to form true beliefs is anything other than very low.
    9) But if 8) is the case, then belief in NE would give us a defeater for all of our beliefs.
    10) Obviously, belief in NE is a belief.
    11) Hence, if NE is true, then we have a defeater for our belief in NE.

    So you see, this is certainly not an argument against evolutionary science. It is an argument that if you’re a naturalist and an evolutionist, then that would give you a defeater for your belief in naturalism and evolution. Plantinga himself is an evolutionist, but not an evolutionist.

    So there you are, Ken. For the first time, you have seen the premises of Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism (or at least, my off the cuff rendition of them). Are there any premises here that you do not understand, before I go on to explain how I assess them? Please be up front about it – if you don’t understand some of these premises, now is the time to say so before I explain how strong I think they are.

    PS, your previous comment certainly was hostile, with its accusation of being “bloody predictable” as well as the cussing that fell outside of the blog policy and had to be edited. I want things to remain at the tone of the comment you are now reading.

  179. Look forward to your challenge Cornell. Enjoy an open discussion and I don’t censor comments on my blog.

    I will post a link here when it is up – probably tomorrow as traffic doesn’t really pick up untill Sunday PM.

  180. Ken, that’s your call. However I would just point out that you held out for a very long time with me. You made me wait a long time for a simple answer – and never gave it. That is how all the time between us was consumed, with me waiting. That is the sole reason open discussion here was so difficult. Now when – after all that – I decide to let that go, give up on getting an answer from you, and you admit that you don’t know all the premises of the argument so I spell them out for you, you say “too late”?

    OK, again it’s your call, but it’s only so “late” because you made me wait so long. That’s the only reason for delays. For what it is worth, however, I encourage you to read through the premises that I provided you with, so that in future you will actually know what Plantinga’s argument is before you attempt future criticisms of it. That way when someone else asks you whether you know how the argument works, you will be able to answer them (unlike here, where you couldn’t answer me, because as you finally admitted after much ado, you only knew one premise – and it wasn’t even a premise of his argument).

    PS “I will post a link here when it is up.” No, don’t do that. I have a clear policy on using my blog to generate traffic for yourself. This will be removed, as was your profanity. And if removing profanity counts as censorship, then yes, I censored your comment.

  181. OK – will deal with some of those “premises” you raise in separate blog posts (some are definitions rather that premises so are irrelevant). Only because they have more general interest in misinterpretation of the nature of science and of evolutionary science specifically. I dealt with #4 when Cornell raised it – it is very naive. But maybe worth a specific post on my blog. You are welcome to contribute to any resulting discussion.

  182. OK Ken, so now that you actually found out what the argument is – after already presuming to know that it was weak, and after making me wait for you to show that you understand it, you’re heading off. Suit yourself. This could have been much shorter if you had simply replied to my very first question about this, days ago, by saying “Sorry Glenn, I can’t answer that. Truth is, I don’t even know what Plantinga’s argument is.” How much frustration that would have avoided. This is how discussions get ruined.

  183. Come on Glenn – buck up. Look on this as simply transferring the discussion to a new place. A chance for new people to participate (a chance to get through to new people?). A place where everyone can particpate.

    It’s not “heading off” – it’s opening up. The glass is half full, not half empty.

  184. Having looked at your list Glenn I have come to the conclusion you missed half of Plantinga’s argument – that science and religion have no conflict – that they are consistent. His attempt to make evolutionary selection guided was part of that. He also had an intricate argument which says – “random things are basically guided.” (I think Boudry described his argument here as being like doing brain surgery with an axe).

    My post tomorrow (“Naturalism and science are incompatible”) will deal with “naturalism” and why Zia’s claim that methodolical materialism is assumed by science is wrong. I think this is an important issue because there is a lot of misrepresentation on that issue by both theists and non-theists which needs countering.

    I think I will also do a post in the near future on the fallacy of your point #4. I did discuss this with Cornell a little. Its a very naive misinterpretation of evolutionary selection but worth countering because no doubt theology schools are teaching it like mad at the moment.

    I may also deal with the so-called “belief forming mechanism” – a hell of a lot is understood about cognitive psychology nowdays which Plantinga just seems completely anaware of.

    But I don’t see anything more in your list. Really the assumption of evolution by natural selection and #4 are the only premises. The rest in your list may be part of his arguments but, as I pointed out, his mistaken presumptions and introduction of logical possibility (even though deniable) leads to faulty conclusions. They are really not worth dealing with.

    So expect 2 or 3 posts in the near future.

  185. “Having looked at your list Glenn I have come to the conclusion you missed half of Plantinga’s argument – that science and religion have no conflict – that they are consistent.”

    Plantinga has multiple arguments. The argument that I spelled out is the evolutionary argument against naturalism that Cornell was talking about earlier. This argument concludes that belief in evolution combined with naturalism provides a defeater for all beliefs, including belief in naturalism and evolution. I didn’t leave out half the argument at all. What you are now referring to (the claim that “science and religion have no conflict,” as you put it) is the wider claim of his book, Where does the conflict lie? It’s not part of the EAAN (except insofar as the EAAN does offer support for the claim that naturalism and science are not really compatible).

  186. Yes, sure, Glenn . My question have always been clear as referring to the whole book and specifically to guided evolution claims. And I have always clearly asked for premises, not definitions or examples of other steps in the arguments. The need for clear premises arose because if the assertion he was not relying just on logical possibilities.

    Anyway, it’s far too late to complain now.

  187. Ken, as I’ve already explained – you have been continually implying that Plantinga’s premises don’t support his conclusions. I kept asking you to show that you know what his premises were. You never did that, because as you now reveal, you were only aware of one claim that you took to be a premise.

    I’ve never offered an assessment of the book as a whole, because like you, I haven’t read the whole thing. But he does use the EAAN in this book, as he does elsewhere. I have only ever asked you to show that you understood the argument you were criticising, and you couldn’t. The argument that I have outlined for you is the argument that Cornell raised, the evolutionary argument against naturalism. And I did not leave half of that out.

    Now, if you think there’s another argument in that book in which the premises don’t support the conclusions… here we go again: Please set out the argument in question and identify its premises, and explain how they are supposed to support the conclusion, but fail to do so. It’s no good offering vague claims that an argument somewhere doesn’t work. What is the argument? Spell it out and show what’s wrong with it. If all you are saying is that you’ve heard what Plantinga’s conclusion in the book is, and you don’t agree with it, then fine. But that is not a criticism.

    See, this is always what I will do. If you say that an argument has a problem, I will ask you to show that you understand the argument in question, and then to show specifically what that problem is. Letting me know that you don’t know how Plantinga’s conclusions are supported fails to do this. The remedy to this is simple: Read the book and find out (others have no requirement to do this for you). Then if you have problems with the way he defends his conclusions, say why. But continuing to make vague comments about the failures of an argument that you can’t identify really doesn’t take us far.

  188. Glenn, I thought this whole stoush started because of my reference to Boudry’s review of the book. You think it was over something else – EAAN – which it never was for me. Cornell used that term, abbreviations, in answer to my request for premises (which I thought was weird at the time – how could a collection of meaningless letters be regarded as a premise?) I realise that was only part of the book but I was unaware you had not read the whole book or followed the whole debate.

    And I did continually make clear that his claim of guided evolution (and acceptance of that by science) was central. It is a premise he has no evidence for. You wouldn’t be saying “here we go again” if you had paid attention.

    Anyway, I am not sure it’s at all worth dealing with his claims for guided evolution, except to mention that his claim that it is accepted by science is away with the birds. And I am not sure that anyone is really interested in the mental gymnastics behind his conversion of “random” to “guided.” So I wasn’t planning to discuss that in my articles at this stage. We will see how it develops.

    Yes, you have outlined an “argument” instead of the stating the premises I asked for (necessary to show he doesn’t rely completely on logical possibility). But the whole argument was irrelevant as we all agreed that his use of logical possibility could not make his conclusions as strong as he did. The key thing was the evidence he started with. That can be identified and validated or found faulty.

  189. “I am not sure it’s at all worth dealing with his claims for guided evolution” Right, right, never actually read that argument. Just assume that it’s bad because you don’t know how it works. I’ve understood the method, I think. I’ve set out one of the arguments in this book. You say that there’s another argument that has a problem. But you haven’t read it. But it’s got a problem.

    “Yes, you have outlined an “argument” instead of the stating the premises I asked for (necessary to show he doesn’t rely completely on logical possibility).”

    Actually, the argument that I set out clearly does not rely on logical possibility alone. Are you sure you understood it? For example, part of the argument depends on the fact that natural selection works the way evolutionary biology says it does. Are you really willing to say that the premises of the argument I outlined rely on nothing more than logical possibility? Come now…. Surely acceptance of the mechanism of natural selection relies on more than that. Another part of the argument explains why there are more false beliefs that would be adaptive in given situations than true beliefs. Again, this doesn’t rely on logical possibility alone. And as for the other premises – it’s up to you to make the case that they depend on logical possibility alone. If you’re going to claim that, nobody else has the job of disproving it until you make your argument clear.

    You know, I think maybe it’s best we leave it there – write your blog entry and discuss it with those who are interested over there.

  190. Re guided evolution, Glenn, I am just saying the argument doesn’t resonate with most people. Maybe some theistic evolutionists, but not others. So I am not sure it’s worth spending my time on it. Unless there is some mechanism for guidance being proposed which I understand he isn’t beyond logical possibility. And, as I say, his arguments converting “random” to “guided” probably resonate with very few people. So possibly not important. We will see.

    Please, enough of your converting things like my estimation of likely importance to mean I haven’t read it. My evaluation is based on what I have read. And I certainly don’t think anyone here can duplicate Plantinga’s specific arguments on this so will probably ignore it. I just don’t think (at this stage) Plantinga’s arguments will be picked up.

    I know you don’t like my claim Plantinga relies on logical possibility. But if he relies on empirical facts or evidence it should be simple to identify it. Yes he has started with a reasonable depiction of natural selection but I can’t see anything to support his claim that science accepts guided mutation, variation and selection. I am sure it doesn’t. He has done some logical manipulation to arrive at that idea. And no one here has been able to identify any credible premise for this assertion of his. So I conclude my original perception is correct.

    The question of selection and reliable belief I discussed with Cornell – you obviously weren’t paying attention. Plantinga’s description of adaption for survival and what that means for intelligence or belief is just incredibly naive. But I think it fools some people and its worth outlining his mistakes. I will do do in a blog article. It doesn’t matter how much he avoids logical possibility or how good his logic is after that he arrives at the wrong conclusion because his premise is radically wrong. It really has all the appearances of deliberately inventing the premise so he would get the conclusion he desired.

    When you talk about belief being adaptive you illustrate you just don’t understand cognitive psychology. Perhaps I will have to deal with that.

    Nowhere am I saying that any of the premises rely on logical possibility. That would mean they weren’t premises. Logical possibility is what is being used when he doesn’t have evidence, reliable premises. Without this you always open up the argument to include the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Joe Blogs down the road.

    Can I repeat – you presented a list of steps in his argument – only two of these were premises. Premises don’t depend on logical possibility.

    You sound like you won’t join the discussion. Cornell has already said he will and it is open. It would be childish to ignore it.

  191. “Nowhere am I saying that any of the premises rely on logical possibility. That would mean they weren’t premises. Logical possibility is what is being used when he doesn’t have evidence, reliable premises. Without this you always open up the argument to include the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Joe Blogs down the road.”

    One can easily argue that the Flying Speghetti Monster (FSM) is logically incoherent

    Please list the properties of the FSM

    ty

  192. Remember analogies to God need to be analogous, I notice alot of village atheists have a tough time grasping this, so I’ll be awaiting the properties or attributes of the FSM.

  193. Cornell, one can always argue anything with logic and postulating logical incoherence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster is one reason for all the schisms, dogmatic debate and birth of so many sects or denominations in that religion – as in all religions.

    You just point to an extra weakness with reliance on logical possibility. Not only are there an infinite number of possibilities which, to be honest, have to be included and considered. But part of the consideration is having to deal with the infinite possibilities within each logical possibility – whether we call it a god, goblin, demon, alien, human or Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    You have just compounded an already infinite to em with reliance on logical possibility.

    Much better to base one arguments on reliable validated premises.

  194. You can’t argue anything for logic, if it has a logical incoherences (ie: square circles) then the claim should be rejected.

    David Hume warned everyone about making arguments from analogies, as they MUST be analogous in order to be considered potent.

    Now, what are the properties of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

  195. One person’s logical incoherence is another persons article of faith. You identify a huge problem in these “other ways of knowing.” Ignoring reality, not starting with good premises, is like constructing a building with no foundations. And philosophers of religion tend to be pretty blind to mistakes in thire construction methods thereafter.

    If you want to know anything about the Flying Spaghetti Monster ask your questions of one of her adherents – not me I don’t accept any gods or religions or their analogies.

    Given up on Plantinga, have we?

  196. Faith has nothing to do with whether or not square circles are logically incoherent. It is a metaphysical absurdity to hold to this position.

    “Ignoring reality, not starting with good premises, is like constructing a building with no foundations. And philosophers of religion tend to be pretty blind to mistakes in thire construction methods thereafter.”

    Seems to sound verificationist/positivist epistemology, as they rely on axioms that do not validate themselves.

    Philosophers of religion, (or at least the one’s I read) whether atheist or theist do indeed follow logic. Whether it be deductive or inductive, if their argument is invalid they will change it. If the argument isn’t sound they will either attempt to bolster the premises, or ditch the argument all together.

    I would really, really love to see you put Plantinga’s argument in THE FORMAL syllogism that it is meant to be in. It’s real easy to do this, even IF you have been bluffing this whole time you could easily find it online.

    So please list the premises of the argument and show me which premise you disagree with.

  197. Here, I’ll make it easy, my friend Wade has done some great work on this:

    Let:
    N stands for Naturalism,
    E for Evolution
    R stands for “our cognitive faculties are Reliable,”

    Pr(R|N&E) refers to the “Probability of R given N and E,” i.e. the “Probability that (our cognitive faculties are Reliable given Naturalism and Evolution),” part of the argument is this.

    1.If Pr(R|N&E) is low or inscrutable, then N&E serves as a defeater for R.
    2.Pr(R|N&E) is low or inscrutable.
    3.Therefore, N&E serves as a defeater for R.

    If N&E serves as a defeater for “our cognitive faculties are reliable,” it also produces a defeater for any belief produced by our cognitive faculties, including the conjunction of naturalism and evolution, and since all of one’s beliefs is subject to defeat here, one can’t use any of one’s beliefs to defeat the defeater. We would therefore have an undefeated defeater for R.

    Which Premise do you deny?

  198. Now we have a debate!!

    And this statement by Ken ‘Given up on Plantinga, have we?’

    is false, as I would never give up on Plantinga considering he is one of the top epistemologists of our time. I also find his argument to be compelling, and I think it’s funny how it all started with this:

    “Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? ” – Charles Darwin

    Darwin to William Graham July 3rd 1881

    ——–

    Anyways I’m glad we can get the ball rolling now, this is what I’ve been asking for awhile now. (Hence the ‘list which premise you disagree with’ that I’ve been constantly stating).

  199. “Re guided evolution, Glenn, I am just saying the argument doesn’t resonate with most people.”

    Ken, if what you have said so far is correct, you have not read the book, and you do not actually know what the argument you refer to here is. There’s a remedy for this: Read the book and read that argument. It’s not unfair of me to assume that you have not read it when from memory you admit to never having read the book.

    Happy to let you have the last say between us on Plantinga’s arguments. As I said, have fun blogging on it and generating discussion.

  200. Cornell, what a waste of space. It’s not hard to see that our cognitive facilities are often unreliable. One doesn’t have to get into probability arguments (with all the necesity to assume true randomness) there is not shortage of evidence. For example optical illusions. Or look at relgions – how many thousands are there? No more than one can be right and logically we would expect none to be.

    On the other hand look at our scientific knowledge. The knowledge acquisition process there uses our cognitive processes but because of the interaction with reality, use of evidence, testing and validation against reality we don’t have thousands of theories about atoms, for example. We generally have strong consenus in most fields – and the changes in knowledge represent improvements as we discover more.

    So in some situations our cognitive processess are abysmally bad (religions) and others extremely good (science). So good you have no problem climbing on a plane, using a computer, communicating on the internet, etc.

    Oh, I forgot – you aren’t even sure you, or reality, exists- are you?

    Perhaps you should try modifying yourt “probability” equations to be more realistic.

  201. My article on science and naturalism (Naturalism and science are incompatible – Naturalism and science are incompatible) is now on line. While I am not dealing with Plantinga’s arguments here I am take issue with use of the term “naturalism” – which is central to his argument. A term I don’t like and wish people would avoid.
    Naturalism and science are incompatible

  202. Looks like Glenn doesn’t want any commenters looking at this article so is preventing the link from working.

    Never mind Just click my name – it will take you to my blog (Open Parachute) – the article is the top post.

  203. “It’s not hard to see that our cognitive facilities are often unreliable. One doesn’t have to get into probability arguments (with all the necesity to assume true randomness) there is not shortage of evidence. For example optical illusions. Or look at relgions – how many thousands are there? No more than one can be right and logically we would expect none to be.”

    Well conceding to the premise will not help your case here LOL.

    So what your saying is religions entail false beliefs, and since religion has been around for a very long time. Evolution given naturalism ISN’T concerned about TRUTH, as when we look in the past we see that humanity has lived through many, many false beliefs. So you just gave support to one premise.

    Let’s go into Semantic Epiphenomenalism

    Take Wade’s summary here:

    “Why think Pr(R|N&E) is low or inscrutable? Ordinarily one might think that true beliefs help us survive. That certainly is the case if beliefs are causally relevant to behavior (e.g. I believe this plant is poisonous so I won’t eat it). But if the truth of our beliefs has no such causal relevance, then such a factor will be invisible to natural selection. The content of our beliefs could be anything, true or not, and it wouldn’t affect our behavior. Whether the belief’s content is 2 + 2 = 4, 2 + 2 = 67, or 2 + 2 = 4096 would make no difference to how we behave. If that is true, then Pr(R|N&E) is low.”

    Ken you just admitted to the fact that true beliefs aren’t necessary for survival. You just admitted to all the religions that would entail having false beliefs. You bring up scientific advancements, ( I’m guessing ‘intution’ is your source here?) but this just begs the question that YOU KNOW what an advancement looks like. We can apply this to technology, which is not really geared towards truth, but rather towards that which provides an advantage in some way. Perhaps our cognition only leads us to believe it is so? Tool usage would provide an advantage to be passed on, true, but this does not entail that we would have proper perception in other areas.

    Now let’s take Wade’s Probability Thesis and put it into deductive format:

    We can summarize the argument for the Probability Thesis as follows:

    1.Naturalism entails that either SE or SPE is true, i.e. Pr(SE or SPE|N) = 1.
    2.Pr(RA|N&E&SE) is low or at best inscrutable
    3.Pr(RA|N&E&SPE) is low or at best inscrutable
    4.If (1), (2), and (3), then Pr(RA|N&E) is low/inscrutable.
    5.If Pr(RA|N&E) is low/inscrutable, then Pr(R|N&E) is low/inscrutable.
    6.Therefore, Pr(RA|N&E) is low/inscrutable (follows from 1-4).

    7.Therefore, Pr(R|N&E) is low/inscrutable (follows from 5 and 6).
    The argument is deductively valid; the conclusion follows logically and necessarily from the premises. The premises are plausibly true, and so we have reason to accept the Probability Thesis.

    So right now you are in a worse place than before and I haven’t even gotten into N&E and Semantic Pseudo-Epiphenomenalism or the defeater thesis. So it’s not looking good for you so far Ken.

  204. It’s not hard to see that our cognitive facilities are often unreliable.

    You’re underestimating the kind of “unreliability” of cognitive faculties the evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) talks about. This is the kind of unreliability where one really can’t rely on it, e.g. pretty much any belief that came from an unreliable mind it should not be believed without independent reason to believe it, akin to a random belief generator. That is, if you knew your cognitive faculties had this kind of unreliability, you’d have to abandon knowledge on the shape of the earth, your own age, what your college textbook said, what happened yesterday, etc. because you couldn’t rely on your cognitive faculties to deliver true beliefs on such topics.

  205. Ken, no need for the paranoia. Links work perfectly normally here. I didn’t do anything to it.

    Here is an example of a link when correctly entered, and it works the same for everyone.

    But as you already know, I have previously said this:

    PS “I will post a link here when it is up.” No, don’t do that. I have a clear policy on using my blog to generate traffic for yourself. This will be removed, as was your profanity. And if removing profanity counts as censorship, then yes, I censored your comment.

    Whatever went wrong with the first link was some error on your part. But as I have already asked you, don’t do it again. You have agreed to abide by this, and you have agreed (see the blog policy that you accepted) that your link may be removed.

    I do note this: “While I am not dealing with Plantinga’s arguments here”

    This is to be expected, because you don’t know what his argument is. That notwithstanding, I hope your discussion is profitable and that you are willing over there to hear what your interlocutors have to say.

  206. I agree Wade, I think Ken just conceded to the EAAN argument as being successful as he doesn’t the power of the defeater thesis. I also agree with Glenn on the fact that Ken doesn’t understand Plantinga’s argument and I just hope Ken would take some time and read the book.

    This is possibly one of the worst statements for Ken to say in this situation:

    “It’s not hard to see that our cognitive facilities are often unreliable.”

    This is no different than throwing up the white flag.

  207. Wade and Cornell – you show a real naivity about cognitive processes and a clear misunderstanding of the way our knowledge systems really work – particularly in science. I will deal with this particular cock-up in Plantinga’s book in a future article on my blog.

    But the fact that both of you are communicating through the internet and on computers (even if you are communicating rubbish) shows pretty convincingly that humans have been able to use a cogntive system (so unreliable as to produce thousands of relgions) in a way to produce very reliable knowledge – through interaction with reality, use of evidence, testing and validation against reality.

    We don’t live in a vacuum – although Cornell is not sure that we live – or if a vacuum exists, anyway.

  208. I agree Wade, I think Ken just conceded to the EAAN argument as being successful as he doesn’t the power of the defeater thesis.

    I think Ken just does not quite understand the argument, hence my saying, “That is, if you knew your cognitive faculties had this kind of unreliability, you’d have to abandon knowledge on the shape of the earth, your own age, what your college textbook said, what happened yesterday, etc. because you couldn’t rely on your cognitive faculties to deliver true beliefs on such topics.” Ken seems to think science can help us triumph over our cognitive imperfections, but if you can’t even rely on your cognitive faculties to know the outcome of a scientific experiment, the existence of science can’t save you. This is about cognitive faculties that you really can’t rely on.

  209. You don’t believe that Wade – the very fact you are communicating with me shows that you have confidence in the science that has produced your computer and the internet. Clearly human cognitive faculties are capable of producing a very good concept of reality when used the right way.
    Mid you it doesnt stop the interent being used to distribute rubbish.

    And, what about coming to the conclusion that you cognitive faculties have failed you when you read Plantinga’s book? Do you have any confidence that you really know what is in the book if your cognitive processes are so hopeless.

    The very fact that you participate in this discussion shows that you do actually believe that, at least in this siutation, you cognitive processes are giving you reliable information (even if not completely accurately).

  210. Commenting more directly on the article:

    John Weeks at the New Zealand Herald should be deeply ashamed of himself for this. He’s not, rest assured of that. But he should be. Creationism isn’t true. But this response to it is worse than simply untrue. It’s dishonest in the utmost.

    I’m actually not sure it was dishonest. Don’t get me wrong; I believe the man presented highly inaccurate information (the letter clearly wasn’t racist) but it’s been my experience that human irrationality can be so great as to just not clearly see what is going on; I’ve seen this happening over and over again interacting with people on the Internet. I’m convinced that most straw men I’ve encountered are unintentional and are the result of irrationality, not malevolence.

    We live in a world where there are moral nihilists (moral nihilism says nothing is morally wrong) and atheists who would sooner believe there is nothing morally wrong with torturing infants just for fun than accept theism. I’m not kidding; even famed atheist Sam Harris recognizes this. On page 198 of “The Moral Landscape” Harris says, “I must say that it has been quite disconcerting to see the caricature of the overeducated, atheistic moral nihilist regularly appearing in my inbox and on the blogs.” On highly emotional issues like atheism versus theism and creationism versus evolution, human irrationality can be great indeed.

  211. If that truly was the case, Wade (and it’s never easy to tell), then Mr Weeks should be deeply embarrassed by his unspeakably poor skills at interpreting the world, his crippling partisanship, his hugely bungled misrepresentation of others and the shameful appearance of dishonesty that he has created. Especially in his profession.

  212. Quoting Ken:

    You don’t believe that Wade – the very fact you are communicating with me shows that you have confidence in the science that has produced your computer and the internet.

    I don’t believe what? That our cognitive faculties are not reliable? Of course I don’t believe that! However, I do believe that on N&E (naturalism + evolution), the probability of R (our cognitive faculties being reliable) is low. If you want to know why one might believe that, see here, but here’s one reason mentioned in the link: Plantinga convincingly argues that naturalism implies semantic epiphenomenalism, where the semantic content of our belief (the belief that p for some proposition p, e.g. the belief that snow is white) is not causally relevant to our behavior; that semantic content is instead a useless byproduct, like smoke is to fire. If that’s true, our beliefs could be unrelated to the external world, as in dreams, and it wouldn’t matter as far as our behavior is concerned. If that’s true, then Pr(R|N&E) is low indeed.

  213. Wade, so now you don’t believe Plantinga? You now think your cognitive processes are always reliable? That’s pretty arrogant isn’t it? Sure you don’t check now and then? I would if I were you. Helps lengthen you life.

    Looks like Plantinga creates problems for you guys with his concept of “naturalism.” Why not just accept the scientific understanding of evolution and leave his ideologues out of it. The rest of us do. “Naturalsm” is a red herring.

    As for Plantinga being “convincing” – I suspect that belief arises from well known problems with your cognitive processes.

    There is none so easy to convince as those who wish to be convinced.

    (Careful with including links – haven’t you made yourself familiar with the censorship policy around here? Or is that just for me?)

  214. If that truly was the case, Wade (and it’s never easy to tell), then Mr Weeks should be deeply embarrassed by his unspeakably poor skills at interpreting the world, his crippling partisanship, his hugely bungled misrepresentation of others and the shameful appearance of dishonesty that he has created. Especially in his profession.

    Agreed, with the caveat that one can be highly rational in some areas (e.g. basic arithmetic) but be highly irrational in others (e.g. the highly emotionally charged topic of creation versus evolution). I’ve seen atheist philosopher Barbara Forrest present some pretty bad inaccuracies when she talks about the creation/evolution controversy, but I’m convinced that these too are the product of irrationality rather than malevolence.

    Sometimes the situation is almost comical. I remember reading Del Ratzsch’s book The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate where the author (not a creationist) noted “A very typical misconstrual comes from John W. Patterson, who overlooks Morris’s key distinction, consequently mistakes Morris’s position, then uses that mistaken position as grounds for making some rather nasty accusations about the character of creationists.” I actually laughed when I read that, because it was so true, and finally a non-creationist was realizing the insanity of it all. Such irrationality is ridiculously common among people who are supposed to represent the sober scientific mainstream. If you want another example of anti-creationist irrationality, Del Ratzsch wrote an excellent book review titled, How Not to Critique Intelligent DesignTheory. The fact that the book Ratzsch reviewed was published by Oxford University Press further illustrates how dreadful the situation is.

  215. “Wade, so now you don’t believe Plantinga? You now think your cognitive processes are always reliable? That’s pretty arrogant isn’t it? Sure you don’t check now and then? I would if I were you. Helps lengthen you life.”

    Plantinga’s argument is a Reductio ad absurdum…………….

  216. Wade, so now you don’t believe Plantinga? You now think your cognitive processes are always reliable? That’s pretty arrogant isn’t it?

    It would be, if I adhered to that position (I don’t). Remember how I described “not reliable” in the context of the evolutionary argument against naturalism?

    Looks like Plantinga creates problems for you guys with his concept of “naturalism.” Why not just accept the scientific understanding of evolution and leave his ideologues out of it.

    I believe in evolution, as I think Plantinga does to. But both Plantinga and I see evolution as a serious threat to the rationality of naturalism. If you disagree, feel free to address the actual argument somewhere.

    (Careful with including links – haven’t you made yourself familiar with the censorship policy around here? Or is that just for me?)

    I wasn’t promoting my own blog here; maybe that helped.

  217. “I wasn’t promoting my own blog here; maybe that helped.” Quite right. I generally don’t discuss the rules, because I know that everyone who comments here has indicated that they have read and accept the blog policy. Concerns about how comments have been moderated can be sent privately.

    But the above distinction is the right one to make. A link that adds information or necessary background reading to a discussion that’s going on here is fine, even if it’s a link to the writer’s own website/blog. No problem with that, as long as it’s not excessive (a judgement I will make at my discretion). A link that is added only to get people to visit your own blog and participate there, and not to contribute anything to the discussion here is against the rules, as Ken knows already (I’ve explained this to him before). By stating that his comment conforms to the blog policy and then doing this, Ken is knowingly making a false statement. The rule doesn’t exist just for Ken, and I have certainly enforced it when others have broken it.

    If anyone has any follow-up questions on this, send them to me privately.

  218. Sorry, Wade, you think continuation of a discussion amounts to “promotion” of a blog. Bit screwed up I would say.

    Anyway, if you click on my name you can read my article on naturalism and why it is not consistent with science. The claims that science assumes “naturalism” are just not true in practice. Read my article if you don’t understand as I am not going to repeat it here.

    You “believe” in evolution? OK – that’s up to you. As a scientist I don’t “believe” in evolution any more than I “believe” in the 2nd law of thermodynamics. I accept evolutionary science in the same way as I accept climate science. In other words, “belief” is a strange word to use about such a well established set of facts and theories. It’s like saying I “believe” in my foot rather than knowing I have a foot.

    Why not be up front and just say that evolutionary science currently doesn’t include your god (nor does any other science at the moment). That’s not an imposed requirement – it is an honest assessment of factual information -no evidence is seen for gods or goblins, and theories just don’t require them to be successful. Of course that situation could change in future if evidence for a god or goblin was found – but science would not be science if it included such agents without evidence.

    That being the case – if you “believe” in or accept evolutionary science as currently understood you “believe” or accept a well supported area of knowledge which does not include gods. I think Glenn defined that as “naturalism.” Do you “believe” in “naturalism” – if not how do you accommodate that “disbelief” with a scientific knowledge which does not include gods? I can see this happening only be compartmentalisation – acceptance of what is currently a godless scientific understanding while at the same tin believing in the existence if a god. Simple enough – lots of people do it without any problems.

    Or do you think, as Plantinga seems to, that evolutionary science actually includes gods? If so, why? That’s just so far out of touch with the actual science.

  219. That being the case – if you “believe” in or accept evolutionary science as currently understood you “believe” or accept a well supported area of knowledge which does not include gods.

    You bet; I also believe in calculus, which also does not include gods. Of course, neither evolution nor calculus has any say over whether deities exist.

    Or do you think, as Plantinga seems to, that evolutionary science actually includes gods?

    Where on earth are you getting the idea that Plantinga thinks evolutionary science includes gods? The claim hear is that evolutionary science makes belief in naturalism irrational (if you’re unclear as to how that’s supposed to work, see here), not that evolutionary science includes gods.

  220. But Wade, evolutionary science, all other science and calculus must be “naturalist” according to Glenn’s definition. While science doesn’t include gods or goblins or similar it is “naturalist.”

    That being the case how can you say acceptance of evolutionary science and calculus makes “belief” in naturalism (ie “belief” there are no gods) irrational? Where is the specific conflict? Surely until science does find evidence and include gods everything is hunky dory.

    (I have an equal opportunity approach to this blog – I won’t follow links while Glenn censors my links. You will have to explain yourself just as I do).

    Simple question. Surely a simple answer is possible rather than diversions through probability issues (especially on non-era com issues).

  221. “all other science and calculus must be “naturalist” according to Glenn’s definition”

    Correction: Naturalism, as that term is being used here (and in philosophy generally), affirms that there is no God and that the physical universe is all that exists. Calculus does not include those claims. Nor does any other science that I am aware of.

    For a brief (wiki) background on what naturalism is, here’s the Wikipedia article on it. Of course Wikipedia is never going to be comprehensive, but the article looks OK. It describes what people here have been referring to when we refer to naturalism.

  222. Good, Glenn. No science includes such a postulate, although that postulate is perfectly consistent with current science, last time I checked.

    Similarly no science includes a postulate that there is a god (last time I checked). So it seems to me that both “naturalism” (why not go the whole hog and call it atheism?) and theism are in exactly the same boat. Both “naturalism” and “theism” are inconsistent with science because they both make assertions that science does not presume. (As discussed in my article which must remain unmentionable).

    Yet Plantinga maintains that only “naturalism” is inconsistent (or in conflict) with science but “theism” is consistent (not in conflict) with science. Why the different conclusions?

    I think you can only resolve that by acknowledging that Plantinga maintains that evolutionary science includes his god (whose job is guidance). He has sneaked her in.

    How else can he claim consistency for theism but not “naturalism?” Surely they are on exactly the same footing – making claims that are not included in science, but on the other not excluded (at this stage)?

  223. That being the case how can you say acceptance of evolutionary science and calculus makes “belief” in naturalism (ie “belief” there are no gods) irrational?

    The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN). You can see here for the details, but here it is in a nutshell, where R is “our cognitive faculties are reliable,” N is naturalism, and E is evolution, and Pr(R|N&E) becomes a mathematical shorthand for “The probability of R given N&E.”

    1) If Pr(R|N&E) is low or inscrutable, then N&E serves as a defeater for R.
    2) Pr(R|N&E) is low or inscrutable.
    3) Therefore, N&E serves as a defeater for R.

    If N&E serves as a defeater for “our cognitive faculties are reliable,” it also produces a defeater for any belief produced by our cognitive faculties, including the conjunction of naturalism and evolution, and since all of one’s beliefs is subject to defeat here, one can’t use any of one’s beliefs to defeat the defeater. Thus, the naturalist becomes epistemically screwed thanks to the theory of evolution.

  224. Wade – substitute T for N and you get exactly the same result but it applies to theism instead of “naturalism”. There is no clear reason there why that should be prevented. In other words you have to give empirical reasons not naive probability relationships applied to non random situations. Reasons why T should be treated different,y to N. There are all sorts of buried assumptions there which should be honestly expressed. And that is why I am pushing you.

    Surely if you are claiming “our cognitive faculties are unreliable” (several assumptions are included here which I assert are false) they are that way whatever ones belief. After all if evolution does not require goblins or gods, then it doesn’t matter what individuals call themselves. That’s like saying that believers and non-believers have different cognitive process quite independent of the facts of evolution.

    And why use the term “naturalism” instead of atheism? I assume the important thing is non-belief or belief in gods. If it is something else please state that.

    Pointless including links – I have stated my equal opportunity policy. What I want is clear explanation and justification.

  225. “Pointless including links – I have stated my equal opportunity policy.”

    Ken, you know that is childish. The moment someone posts a link to their new blog post, not because it provides background reading to the discussion, but just because they are inviting people to carry on the discussion at their own blog – and I do nothing about it, you are welcome to think that things are unfair. But acting persecuted and complaining about it here is not going to help. You have a history at this blog of getting annoyed at being challenged, so starting your own thread over at your blog, posting a link to it here, then storming off in a huff, asking people to abandon the discussion here and follow you back to your blog. I have a policy that states that I will remove such comments. When you commented here, you ticked a box stating that you accept this policy.

    Please control yourself. No more such comments will appear in this thread (or if they do, they will be gone before long). You have been a serial offender in this regard in the past, and I am not so dim as to not recognise when you are up to your old tricks. Although it sucks to be told what to do and I can tell it rubs you the wrong way, you’ll just have to get over it. There are rules in the real world. You don’t have to be here. Any concerns about the blog policy or its application can be sent to me privately. It’s not cute to deliberately ignore what I have told you so that I will respond to it as I have said I would, just so that you can then cry about me persecuting you. Nobody else is having trouble understanding this.

    I don’t particularly feel like having this place stunk out by your perpetual whining about what a martyr I am making you, so you’ll be temporarily banned if you keep it up.

    Final warning.

  226. Cornell, Wade, and anyone else who might have wanted to continue with Ken discussing the issue of the connect (or disconnect) between science, theism and naturalism, unfortunately Ken chose to reject my comments above and complain about me complaining (employing the rather worn out tactic of calling it an emotional diversion). I will add that at no point did Ken contact me to raise any genuine concern about the blog policy or its application. I do require a decent standard of conduct, and as I made clear to him, I felt that he was intentionally slipping below the mark even after the blog policy was brought to his attention, and I told him that he would no longer be able to participate here (temporarily) if he continued.

    As a result of Ken’s choice to react as he did in his last comment (now removed), he is currently unable to comment here. If you do want to pursue it with him, by clicking on his name you can visit his blog.

    I am genuinely sorry it turned out that way. I hope readers can see from the conversation that I did genuinely try to discuss this with Ken and even to help him understand that arguments that were being challenged. This unfortunate conclusion was his choice.

  227. Ken, any reader of Plantinga’s book knows that argument you quote about logical possibility above occurs in part I of his book where he rebuts various arguments that Theism is incompatible with science, one objection he rebuts is that theism and evolution are logically incompatible. Like I said to show that two things are not incompatible one only needs to show they are compatible. If two things are logically compatible they are not logically incompatible.

    A reader of his book will also know the “strong assertions” you cite occur at the end of the book it summarises the conclusion. Between section I and the end are sections II, III, IV. His claim there is deep concord between science and theism is argued in part III chapter 9. Here he gives 7 separate positive reasons for this. He does not anywhere argue there is deep concord because theism and evolution are logically compatible, the only reason you can get this is because you snip an argument from the first section which was being used merely demonstrate compatibility and then snipped the conclusion which occurred at the end, and told Glenn’s readers that this conclusion was based on the argument in part I. It wasn’t anyone who reads the book can see this is false.

    Like I said above when you complained about people misrepresenting scientists work I asked you if you were being ironic perhaps you can see now why this was a relevant question.

    Perhaps you can show me where Plantinga claims that God guided evolution because its logically possible he did. In fact in the Plantinga Dennett book you do cite and claim to have read he actually said the following on pa 40.

    “1 God guided and orchestrated the course of evolution to produce the kind of creatures he wanted.

    I was arguing God and evolution are possible, by pointing to another proposition that clearly possible and entails both the truth of evolution and the existence of God. That other proposition was 1. I wasn’t arguing that 1. was true, but only using it to show the existence of God is compatible with the current scientific theory of evolution”

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