Alvin Plantinga and Stephen Law on the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism

Stephen Law has a post up linking to the audio of a discussion he participated in with Alvin Plantinga regarding the latter’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.

The gist of the argument (and I may well botch this) is that if naturalism and evolution are true, then the odds are against the formation of reliable cognitive faculties. That is, there is no reason to suppose that evolution would produce brains that form beliefs which are true, but rather we should expect it to produce brains which form beliefs which are advantageous irrespective of whether or not they are true.

It occurs to me that 1) the majority of people in this world are theists. 2) There are many mutually exclusive gods which these theists believe exist. 3) No single set of believers in a given deity holds a majority. From these, it is clear that a majority of people believe in a deity that does not exist (if only one of the many mutually exclusive deities really does exist, then the remaining majority of humans who believe in other non-existent deities are incorrect.)

In the above pie chart, each slice, if the people it represents are correct, means that everyone else is incorrect. Even if we assume the biggest slice is correct, the remaining incorrect people form a majority. Any way you slice the pie, most people are incorrect.

So, what shall we conclude: That people’s cognitive faculties are unreliable? Duh.

Science is our way of trying to double check our fallible cognitive faculties, and correct for the errors we might make.

Note, that given that most people are, as I think I’ve shown, incorrect about their beliefs in a particular deity (even if we allow for the maximum possible amount of people who believe in a single deity to be correct) we can conclude that people have demonstrably fallible cognitive faculties even if naturalism is false.

So, the EAAN does not go any distance to showing that theism is true, as any particular sort of theism dies by the same sword that Plantinga would have naturalism die.

Suppose for example, however far fetched this might seem, that perhaps members of each of the above pie slices were not willing to associate much with members of other slices of the pie. People who were members of large pie slices might have a much wider and richer selection of potential mates, while people of narrower, smaller slices of the pie would have fewer choices. Surely it is an evolutionary advantage to be a member of one of the larger slices. So, here, we’d have an example of natural selection favoring a belief not because it was true, but because it was popular. Here we have theism impaled by the very same sword, so far as I can tell, with which Plantinga would pierce naturalism.

Also, I would add, Plantinga’s grasp of evolution, based on what I’ve heard, seems to be rather abstract and shallow at best.

Edit: Towards the end, Plantinga falls back to the idea that any wonderings of why the Christian god might do this or that can be excused when one contemplates the notion that the first being of the universe should sacrifice the second being of the universe (presumably Jesus) to humiliation and suffering on the cross, and that such a love…blah blah blah. MORON. Total fucking moron. I’m sorry, the Christian story of “God” sacrificing himself to himself to save us from himself is completely idiotic, and the idea that this is some kind of “love” is an insult to anyone who has even a crippled half-brained idea of what “love” should be. All respect I might have had for Plantinga (very little, actually) Plantinga himself just transformed to rotted shit. The man is a blithering idiot.

Edit again: Nice, at the very end they played a very very tiny snippet of the song Unbelievable by EMF. Heh. The things… you say… you’re UNBELIEVABLE.

Edit again: Here are metafilter’s comments on this discussion

~ by scaryreasoner on November 20, 2010.

One Response to “Alvin Plantinga and Stephen Law on the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism”

  1. I have an argument against Plantinga’s argument on my YouTube channel:

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