Skip to main content

Interesting Discussion of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

at Prosblogion, here. See Michael Almeida's dilemma against EAAN in the comments thread, and the subsequent discussion.

Comments

Rayndeon said…
Philosophical and probabilistic problems aside, I am afraid that I simply cannot take Plantinga seriously on this issue. He mistakes the biology and genetics so thoroughly that I am frankly surprised that no one has ever bothered to point out, at least in the philosophical literature, that *beliefs are not heritable*. Generalized belief-forming *systems* are. Your belief, for instance, that 0.9 repeating equals 1 or that there is a computer in front of you is not inherited. Instead, the faculties that allow these sorts of beliefs to develop are inherited. This makes the idea that viable nonreliable cognitive faculties being not merely likely, but *much more likely* than reliable cognitive faculties positively implausible. Mutations to a population will *globally* affect the cognitive faculties in question. So, for example, it would be like causing a random change in the entire circuitboard of a calculator, rather than some particular circuit path. Clearly, the probability of a viable, unreliable cognitive faculties forming in this manner are vanishingly low. Consider the sorts of things rational entities must do: They judge distance. They have a sense of time. They feel. They weigh possible outcomes before deciding on a choice. In any choice whatsoever is a medley of enormously complex neural patterns and processes. If none of them reflected reality, there is an extremely good chance that the population in question would die out, and die out fast. Because the genes in question are *general*, this does not allow for the heritability of *specific* genes that result in false but adaptive *beliefs*. Generalized belief systems, if they are to promote the fitness of a species, must be reliable, or the population will quickly die out. If a species had a faulty general sense of smells (assuming they do not have other compensating sensory methods), they would not be able to detect predators and such a trait would likely not be fixed in the species.

So, before we even need to criticize Plantinga's math and his philosophy, we need to reprimand his extraordinary misunderstanding of genetics and biology.

This is why I cannot take Plantinga's EAAN too seriously.

There have been some excellent discussion at Internet Infidels belaboring some of these, and other, points. Here is one excellent post on this issue.
exapologist said…
Thanks for that link, Rayndeon! Btw, I look forward to reading more of your excellent posts on your blog. Would you like me to add a link to your site?
Rayndeon said…
Hi Exapologist,

I would be honored if you would add me to your blogroll.

With respect to my post though, I am currently working on my article for the modal cosmological arguments, specifically the ones advocated by Alexander Pruss, and perhaps, I may even tackle Robert Koons' modal mereological version, in my spare time. I hope to complete it soon, although that will be dictated by my busy school, work, and personal life.

With warm regards,

A.Y.
exapologist said…
Hi Rayndeon (A.Y.),

That's great! I've read those arguments, but not Pruss's book-length defense of PSR -- I still need to order a copy of Pruss's book. I look forward to your trademark rigorous treatment of those arguments!

Best,

EA

Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…

Notes on Swinburne, "On Why God Allows Evil"

Notes on Swinburne’s “Why God Allows Evil”

1. The kinds of goods a theistic god would provide: deeper goods than just “thrills of pleasure and times of contentment” (p. 90). For example:
1.1 Significant freedom and responsibility
1.1.1 for ourselves
1.1.2 for others
1.1.3 for the world in which they live
1.2 Valuable lives
1.2.1 being of significant use to ourselves
1.2.2 being of significant use to each other

2. Kinds of evil
2.1 Moral evil: all the evil caused or permitted by human beings, whether intentionally or through negligence (e.g., murder, theft, etc.)
2.2 Natural evil: all the rest: evil not caused or permitted by human beings (e.g., suffering caused by hurricanes, forest fires, diseases, animal suffering, etc.)

3. The gist of Swinburne’s answer to the problem of evil: God cannot – logically cannot -- give us the goods of significant freedom, responsibility and usefulness without thereby allowing for the possibility of lots of moral and natural evil. This is why he has al…