Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism

I'm writing this post as a response to an article on Internet Infidels that addressed philosopher Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (Which Plantinga explains here).

Since survival and reproduction depend on our interaction with matter and energy that exists beyond our neurology, it is safe to conclude that our neurology has evolved in such a way that it provides an accurate representation of this exterior reality.

No, its safe to conclude that our neurology has evolved in such a way as to cause beliefs in response to environmental stimuli that prolong survival. It says nothing about whether those caused beliefs mirror the stimuli that caused them.

[W]hat other process of development would produce a more reliable method of picturing true reality than an evolutionary process that directly interacts with this external reality (think photons on retinal G-protein coupled receptors, or olfactory sensory neurons)?

Good question. And I would have to say that the best, perhaps only, belief system that could evolve would a true (or mostly true) one. Still, that doesn't preclude the possibility that some elaborate false belief system evolved which causes survival-promoting behavior but does not correspond with objective reality.

Therefore, even if belief propositions had an a priori truth probability of 1:1, empirical evidence could still allow us to rationally hold belief sets by refining a posteriori truth probabilities.

That presupposes that our observations correspond with reality.

And by the way, Stephen Law wrote a pretty convincing paper on the EEAN which can be accessed here.

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