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Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...

Posted by tuk22 
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 14, 2014 04:44PM
"That's an example of grossly misunderstanding the process of natural selection--- The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for. Beliefs that do not conform to reality, under changing environmental pressures, will likely, at some point, come in conflict with reality---and the resulting behavior can be disastrous for that creature and it will be eliminated." -isle

As evidenced by the modern Republican party. In the long run, evolutionarily, their beliefs, many religiously based, will contribute greatly to the downfall of this culture and quite likely the entire human species.

.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 17, 2014 07:33PM
There is another kind of knowing which is quite different. For instance, I instinctively know how to breath, or I know how to keep my balance, the knowing how to do something does not involve a true belief about the world.

In retrospect, it does... And that is IMO beliefs that are consistent given both M&E...

That's a premise that I do not accept, since the existence or non-existence of God is underdetermined.

Then by definition it's irrational. There is no grey area here... No subjectivity. Atheism is irrational because the belief we live in a world absent of God is without logical proof or material evidence... Even if in the future we could prove God exists (somehow) current theistic beliefs are still irrational beliefs...

There seems to be a contradiction in what he claims, because he asserted that the content of a belief, whether (per his example) the belief that there is a beer in the refrigerator or there is no beer in the refrigerator doesn't matter, in his words, "This means that the content of the belief isn’t a cause of the behavior."

In order for belief: NP + content, it's just that AP argues that the truth of the content doesn't matter...

The content of a belief is the belief, in other words one can't hold a belief with no content. I think Plantinga is intentionally or unwittingly using the term 'materialism' and subtly giving its meaning a fluidity of convenience in order to form his argument.

He focuses his attack on semantic epiphenomenalism... Of course, as we discussed, there are other forms of materialism that do not have this conflict...

That's an example of grossly misunderstanding the process of natural selection--- The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for...

Theism conforms to reality. It's a model of the world (world view). Atheism conforms to reality, it's another model of the world... All philosophical beliefs are models of reality, and your suggestion is natural selection will one day allows us to have true philosophical beliefs? I seriously doubt that...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 19, 2014 03:55PM
"God is not a part of the EAAN. But yeah, he will argue something like God desires us to have reliably true beliefs (or something like that) but I'll let him defend it…"---tuk

But he's not here so he can't defend his position. You and I, however, are here and we're debating Plantinga's position, and the above was a vital part of his position, that is, without supernatural processes or beings, it is unlikely that our cognitive faculties can produce beliefs that are true. In fact you began this thread by arguing for his position, are you now abandoning altogether his position that atheism is irrational and theism solves Plantinga's, IMO, imaginary problem? Or are you arguing instead, not that atheism is irrational given evolution and naturalism, but rather that some particular type of extreme materialism along with evolution, would rule out our ability to form true beliefs?

"The content of a belief is the belief, in other words one can't hold a belief with no content. I think Plantinga is intentionally or unwittingly using the term 'materialism' and subtly giving its meaning a fluidity of convenience in order to form his argument."---isle

"He focuses his attack on semantic epiphenomenalism... Of course, as we discussed, there are other forms of materialism that do not have this conflict…"---tuk

Plantinga's theory of epiphenominalism does not address the point that, (according to materialists) the content of the a belief would be a natural part of a long term neural process and natural selection would, even under these circumstances, select for the trait, or ability, to form beliefs that effect our behavior and confom to realty. The extreme materialist believes that beliefs or 'content' would be 'matter'.


"That's a premise that I do not accept, since the existence or non-existence of God is underdetermined." ---isle

"Then by definition it's irrational. There is no grey area here... No subjectivity. Atheism is irrational because the belief we live in a world absent of God is without logical proof or material evidence... Even if in the future we could prove God exists (somehow) current theistic beliefs are still irrational beliefs…---tuk

There is nothing irrational about believing something that is underdetermined. Like I said, it would probably be irrational to say that you 'know' something that is underdetermined. Believing something to be true is not necessarily claiming to know it's true. Underdetermined doesn't mean that something is illogical or without material evidence, only that the evidence we have is insufficient to be able to say whether one "should believe X" or that one "shouldn't believe X". What could be considered irrational, would be holding a belief to be true, despite overwhelming objective evidence that it's false or holding a belief that is illogical…" Irrational beliefs are attitudes, beliefs values etc that a person strongly holds despite objective evidence, generally available and understood, to the contrary."---[psychology.wikia.com]

"That's an example of grossly misunderstanding the process of natural selection--- The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for…"---isle

"Theism conforms to reality. It's a model of the world (world view). Atheism conforms to reality, it's another model of the world... All philosophical beliefs are models of reality,"---tuk

You're argument appears flawed to me. That a hypothetical model of the world is logically consistent within the hypothetical model, does not mean that the model conforms to reality (the real world). That two contradictory hypothetical models can be constructed in which one shows that atheism conforms to reality, and the other that theism conforms to reality doesn't demonstrate that both conform to objective reality. It would defy the laws of logic to conclude as you have, that, in reality, God exists, and at the same time, doesn't exist. Remember, we are arguing whether such models, theories, hypotheticals, etc, conform to objective reality[\i], not whether they are consistent within themselves.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 19, 2014 07:21PM
But he's not here so he can't defend his position. You and I, however, are here and we're debating Plantinga's position, and the above was a vital part of his position, that is, without supernatural processes or beings, it is unlikely that our cognitive faculties can produce beliefs that are true.

Islander, from the start I told you that I don't agree with that. Why would I defend it? Methodological materialism isn't a grand metaphysical claim and doesn't have any tension. I'm interested in the consistency of philosophical materialism. i.e. If we assume materialism is true, what implications might there be?

Plantinga's theory of epiphenominalism does not address the point that, (according to materialists) the content of the a belief would be a natural part of a long term neural process and natural selection would, even under these circumstances, select for the trait, or ability, to form beliefs that effect our behavior and confom to realty. The extreme materialist believes that beliefs or 'content' would be 'matter'.

Or beliefs do not exist. This is what interests me. Content. Both of us believe that we are corresponding on the internet. We share the exact same content, but do we share the same neurophysiological structure?

I think AP is correct in saying evolution selects for neurophysiological states regardless if the belief behind them is true. (you say 'conforms to reality'.) This is probably the reason why so many people hold irrational beliefs. It seems to me evolution actually explains this...

There is nothing irrational about believing something that is underdetermined. Like I said, it would probably be irrational to say that you 'know' something that is underdetermined. Believing something to be true is not necessarily claiming to know it's true.

Again, that is the very definition of irrationality. People believe something is true because the evidence presents itself to us as being true. Believing in something you don't think or know is true is called: hope.

Irrational beliefs are believing in the truth of a proposition without logical proof or material evidence. It's not hard to discern the rational from the irrational.

You're argument appears flawed to me.

I'm not saying both can be true at the same time.

Quote

The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for...

Not necessarily. Given both M&E, natural selection, will allow us to hold beliefs that are adaptive and aid in survival. Evolution will select for belief-producing processes that produce beliefs with adaptive neurophysiological properties, but not for belief-producing processes that produce true beliefs. This is proven by the atheist contention that God does not exist. Yet, at the same time, most atheists will agree that belief in God has or had evolutionary advantages. Does the truth of God's existence matter?
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 19, 2014 09:16PM
"Islander, from the start I told you that I don't agree with that. Why would I defend it? Methodological materialism isn't a grand metaphysical claim and doesn't have any tension. I'm interested in the consistency of philosophical materialism. i.e. If we assume materialism is true, what implications might there be? "

Ok, I just wanted to be clear about that, neither of us, then, agrees with Plantinga's position that atheism is irrational, or at least we don't agree with his reasons for supporting his argument that evolution combined with materialism make it unlikely that we could form true beliefs which would, therefore, make atheism irrational.

"Or beliefs do not exist. This is what interests me. Content. Both of us believe that we are corresponding on the internet. We share the exact same content, but do we share the same neurophysiological structure? "

The belief that beliefs don't exist is something I can't take seriously, the reason for that, I believe to be obvious winking smiley I would imagine, if materialism/naturalism is true, both of our neurophysiological structures would be be in approximately the same state when producing the same belief.. I can see no reason why they wouldn't considering that human brains and neurological structures are all so similar.

Quote

Irrational beliefs are attitudes, beliefs values etc that a person strongly holds despite objective evidence, generally available and understood, to the contrary."---[psychology.wikia.com]

"Again, that is the very definition of irrationality. People believe something is true because the evidence presents itself to us as being true. Believing in something you don't think or know is true is called: hope.

Believing something you don't think is true would be irrational. According to the actual definition of irrational, believing an underdetermined proposition is not irrational.

"Irrational beliefs are believing in the truth of a proposition without logical proof or material evidence. It's not hard to discern the rational from the irrational."

Nah! That's not the standard commonly accepted definition of an irrational belief. You've fallen for that definition because some of the atheists on board try to use it. winking smiley We all get to believe or disbelieve an underdetermined proposition (and we all do) without being irrational. Like the real definition says, an irrational belief is one that a person holds, not because it is underdetermined, but because the overwhelming objective evidence demonstrates it "not to be true", and that's not the same as insufficient evidence to determine whether we should or shouldn't believe X.

"I'm not saying both can be true at the same time."

Here's what you said, " Theism conforms to reality. It's a model of the world (world view). Atheism conforms to reality, it's another model of the world... " They both can't conform to reality, only one of those models can actually conform to objective reality and I explained why.

Quote

The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for...

Not necessarily. Given both M&E, natural selection, will allow us to hold beliefs that are adaptive and aid in survival.Evolution will select for belief-producing processes that produce beliefs with adaptive neurophysiological properties, but not for belief-producing processes that produce true beliefs. This is proven by the atheist contention that God does not exist. Yet, at the same time, most atheists will agree that belief in God has or had evolutionary advantages. Does the truth of God's existence matter?

I already explained the error in that---
Quote

That's an example of grossly misunderstanding the process of natural selection--- The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for. Beliefs that do not conform to reality, under changing environmental pressures, will likely, at some point, come in conflict with reality---and the resulting behavior can be disastrous for that creature and it will be eliminated. The way natural selection works does not mean that no false beliefs can exist, or that a false belief in certain environments and/or under certain conditions, can't possibly be helpful. I'm not arguing against that, nor do I think any reasonable person whether atheist, materialist, or theist, can or is arguing that accepting the reality of natural selection means that all of our beliefs must, if natural selection is true, under all conditions also be true
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 20, 2014 06:15PM
I'll be back next week... March madness begins today and for the next 4 days, from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm I'll be drinking beer watching college BBall... smileys with beer

But one thing before I go...

Nah! That's not the standard commonly accepted definition of an irrational belief. You've fallen for that definition because some of the atheists on board try to use it.

Nonsense. That is the definition I've been using since coming here... And I'll be back to defend it...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 20, 2014 11:54PM
What is it, exactly, that makes holding a particular belief "irrational"? I think that'd make for a great debate! thumbs up

At any rate, I've got the bottom left drawer in the fridge stocked with 'cold ones' for this long weekend.

Enjoy your weekend of March madness! smileys with beer

I'll keep an eye out for your post next week!
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 24, 2014 06:47PM
Ok, I just wanted to be clear about that, neither of us, then, agrees with Plantinga's position that atheism is irrational, or at least we don't agree with his reasons for supporting his argument that evolution combined with materialism make it unlikely that we could form true beliefs which would, therefore, make atheism irrational.

I, like AP it seems, believes atheism i.e. the view that we live in a world absent of God, a grand metaphysical claim about the world, isn't properly justified. What I disagree with AP about is that the EAAN successfully argues for God. I'm still unclear if given both metaphysical naturalism/materialism and evolution that our beliefs would ultimately be inscrutable... Really, it's just another skeptical argument IMO...

The belief that beliefs don't exist is something I can't take seriously, the reason for that, I believe to be obvious winking smiley I would imagine, if materialism/naturalism is true, both of our neurophysiological structures would be be in approximately the same state when producing the same belief.. I can see no reason why they wouldn't considering that human brains and neurological structures are all so similar. ...

What if we reached the same conclusion, but reasoned different? Same NP?

We all get to believe or disbelieve an underdetermined proposition (and we all do) without being irrational.

We all do, but it's because we all have faith... some more than others, and by definition faith is the absence of logical proof or material evidence. OTOH necessary assumptions are different, and it's possible to have a consistent worldview with just necessary assumptions.

Like the real definition says, an irrational belief is one that a person holds, not because it is underdetermined, but because the overwhelming objective evidence demonstrates it "not to be true", and that's not the same as insufficient evidence to determine whether we should or shouldn't believe X.

That is cognitive dissonance. An irrational belief is something we believe to be true without logical proof or material evidence... Justification is required for rationality... If you, Islander, truly believe that God exists or God does not exist are underdetermined propositions, you might be OK with someone having a belief in God, but it sure makes sense to withhold belief until the proposition is no longer underdetermined... that is, if it is your goal to reduce unnecessary assumptions...

I already explained the error in that

You did... I just don't agree. I'll be back...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 25, 2014 08:14PM
I'm a believer in objective truth. I have IMO successfully argued for the existence of the necessary laws of thought/logic and have showed they are universal laws. It's much harder to prove an objectivist (realist) position. We don't know philosophical realism is true, but it sure as hell makes a lot of sense to me to assume it is... So having said that, I have always been a promoter of materialism as a practical view of the world. Also, I have always excepted evolution as the best explanation for how living things change and have not ruled out some kind of teleological explanation that would be go along with it...

I think that is what you are doing, Islander.

Quote

That's an example of grossly misunderstanding the process of natural selection--- The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, beliefs that affect behavior and conform to reality, will, in the long run be selected for. Beliefs that do not conform to reality, under changing environmental pressures, will likely, at some point, come in conflict with reality---and the resulting behavior can be disastrous for that creature and it will be eliminated.

I think if you replaced 'conform to reality' with ' are adaptive and aid in survival' then that would be a more accurate view of natural selection. Why? Because it is obvious we all have evolved false beliefs about the world that both affect behavior and aid in survival...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 26, 2014 05:01PM
This popped up on Facebook...



This seems to me to be the same twisted, flawed, unbalanced logic that's the basis of the subject of this thread. Yes, in order to say that the building is not empty, all you have to do is know if there is anything in just one room. But as far as the existence of God goes, you DON'T know that. Finding out if there is a God may not require absolute knowledge? What kind of knowledge then does let you know there is a God? And how does that differ from the knowledge required to know that there isn't a God?

.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 28, 2014 02:49AM
This seems to me to be the same twisted, flawed, unbalanced logic that's the basis of the subject of this thread.

Your FB post has absolutely nothing to do with this thread... Thanks for the derail!
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 07, 2014 08:58PM
The subject of the thread...

Is Atheism Irrational?...

Pondy's post seems tailor-made for the thread.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 13, 2014 05:18PM
Quote

The belief that beliefs don't exist is something I can't take seriously, the reason for that, I believe to be obvious winking smiley I would imagine, if materialism/naturalism is true, both of our neurophysiological structures would be be in approximately the same state when producing the same belief.. I can see no reason why they wouldn't considering that human brains and neurological structures are all so similar. ...

What if we reached the same conclusion, but reasoned different? Same NP?

Wouldn't make any difference. Evolution would select for a brain that that is capable of, and that forms beliefs that conform to reality. There might be many different pathways NP could follow and reach the true belief.

Quote

We all get to believe or disbelieve an underdetermined proposition (and we all do) without being irrational.

We all do, but it's because we all have faith... some more than others, and by definition faith is the absence of logical proof or material evidence. OTOH necessary assumptions are different, and it's possible to have a consistent worldview with just necessary assumptions.

Sure. It's possible for someone to try and hold that world view (only believing necessary assumptions). I wouldn't think there'd be a logical contradiction in accepting that.

Quote

Like the real definition says, an irrational belief is one that a person holds, not because it is underdetermined, but because the overwhelming objective evidence demonstrates it "not to be true", and that's not the same as insufficient evidence to determine whether we should or shouldn't believe X.

That is cognitive dissonance. An irrational belief is something we believe to be true without logical proof or material evidence... Justification is required for rationality... If you, Islander, truly believe that God exists or God does not exist are underdetermined propositions, you might be OK with someone having a belief in God, but it sure makes sense to withhold belief until the proposition is no longer underdetermined... that is, if it is your goal to reduce unnecessary assumptions...

No cognitive dissonance there. Remember, we're talking about belief in an underdetermined proposition. Since we're talking about the belief that God exists or doesn't exist, which is underdetermined, why do you think it would be 'irrational' for someone whose sense of well being is enhanced (assuming this is what the person is striving for) to believe that which enhances his or her's sense of well being? I would say it would more likely be irrational for someone to believe something that thwarts one's objective rather than helps one achieve it. Again, keep in mind that we're talking about underdetermined propositions...not propositions for which the objective evidence weighs in favor of either the truth or falsity of the proposition. So whose beliefs about the existence of God are irrational? The one whose objective is an enhanced sense of well being, or the one whose objective is to only believe necessary assumptions? The whole "rationality argument" can be rather silly when you think about it, especially if you recognize that we are not quite the rational animals we like to think we are---rather---we are definitely the animals that rationalize!winking smiley

For the next few weeks at least, the time I can spend here will be spotty (as has been the case recently), but even if there are a number of days or a week or two between posts, I really find this discussion quite interesting. thumbs up

PS:

I think Pondy's question is a good one, "Finding out if there is a God may not require absolute knowledge? What kind of knowledge then does let you know there is a God? And how does that differ from the knowledge required to know that there isn't a God?"
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 16, 2014 04:38PM
smileys with beer, isle. I thought it was a good question too. Maybe someone will answer it someday.......................

.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 16, 2014 10:54PM
Evolution would select for a brain that that is capable of, and that forms beliefs that conform to reality.

[www.darwinawards.com]

But seriously, that doesn't make sense at all. Evolution also selects for a brain that is entirely capable of forming false beliefs about the world that can and do aid in survival. It's not goal oriented like people are. There is no known teleological explanation of evolution.

"Finding out if there is a God may not require absolute knowledge? What kind of knowledge then does let you know there is a God? And how does that differ from the knowledge required to know that there isn't a God?"

It's not relevant or interesting since we all know (including you Pondy) that you cannot know God through observation, experimentation, or logical deduction. There is no known a prior proof of God. All that a religious person means by 'knowing God' is that one can know God through religious/spiritual experiences. And the skeptical argument always wins... How do you know it's God, not some other powerful being? Maybe it's a demon? Maybe you are delusional? Maybe your endorphins are getting the better of you?

And if a person still thinks they know God they have a different epistemological system that not Islander, you, or I believe in...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 22, 2014 04:43PM
And so... atheism is irrational...?

.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 23, 2014 01:42AM
Yes. Any metaphysical belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence is an irrational belief.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 23, 2014 06:19AM
So then, atheism is just as irrational as theism is.

So is agnosticism the only rational position to take then? Or is it just as irrational too?

.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 23, 2014 04:47PM
Quote

Evolution would select for a brain that that is capable of, and that forms beliefs that conform to reality.---isle

But seriously, that doesn't make sense at all. Evolution also selects for a brain that is entirely capable of forming false beliefs about the world that can and do aid in survival. It's not goal oriented like people are. There is no known teleological explanation of evolution.

The algorithm of natural selection is such that over time, with changing environmental pressures, an organism with a brain capable of forming beliefs that effect behavior 'and' conform to reality, will, in the long run, be selected for. Beliefs that do not conform to reality, will likely at some point come into conflict with reality---and the resulting behavior can be disastrous for that creature and it will be eliminated from the gene pool. That's how natural selection works. It doesn't mean that 'every' belief we form will be true or that false benign beliefs will not or cannot exist at the same time. However, for beliefs that effect our behavior (our response to the environment), a brain that can produce beliefs that conform to the reality of that environment, that is, beliefs that are true, will have, overall, an advantage over a brain that cannot produce beliefs that conform to reality.

Quote

Any metaphysical belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence is an irrational belief

If you're going to get into metaphysics, the meaning you gave for 'irrational belief' is a man made meaning of convention and it can and does vary. The meaning you gave is not a metaphysical truth. There are other meanings describing what an irrational belief is and the arbitrary one you are chose as your premise, is not a premise that I accept.

Here are some alternative descriptions for the meaning of irrational belief: [en.wikipedia.org]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2014 09:50PM by islander.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 23, 2014 10:58PM
Right, Irrationality, as it's normally used in philosophy, refers to thinking that accepts conclusions that are less likely to be true than are conclusions reached by more rational methods of thought.

We have methods of thought that, while not guaranteed to reach true conclusions, do have a higher probability of reaching true conclusions than other competing methods of thought. The trick to being rational is to come to terms with these conclusions (to accept them as probably true) even when one doesn't like what the conclusions say.

Some folks can't do this. Instead, when confronted with a rationally determined but despised conclusion, they'll ignore it and go with their "intuition" (i.e., their prejudices and predetermined answers). Most people accept this kind of thinking only when they engage in it but not when others do the same thing.
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