The Instigator
DiverseSynergy
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
squonk
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Is it rational to suggest that the human brain is a random by-product of an uncreated universe?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/17/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 610 times Debate No: 93834
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (26)
Votes (1)

 

DiverseSynergy

Con

I would like to debate somebody who believes that this universe was not created, and that humanity is just a random by-product of the matter and energy of this existence.

As a theist myself, I struggle with the logic of the non-theist who suggests that the human brain is just a random by-product and does not have an intelligent designer. Essentially it boils down to two choices behind human intelligence:

1) This universe was created by an intelligent designer. In which case the intelligence of the human brain would have some basis to be rational, as it has been designed by an intelligent rational being - therefore by extension humanity are themselves intelligent rational beings.

2) This universe was not created by an intelligent designer. In which case the "intelligence" of the human brain is merely a random by-product of the "stuff" of this universe.

But here is the logical problem (as I see it) if you believe premise 2: on what basis do you trust the conclusion your own brain has made in arriving at your belief in premise 2? Because your proposition is that your own brain is ultimately a random by-product, so it could just be that your brain reaches entirely random and irrational conclusions... :o)

I would therefore argue that by its own definition premise 2 is an irrational conclusion to hold, because there is no basis to trust that the human brain is rational at all if it is just a random by-product of blind processes within this universe.
squonk

Pro

The human brain is not rational. It is not designed to discover truth. So, we should be wary of any individual's ability to reason. And, we should be wary of our senses.

Science is designed to discover truth. I don't trust that everything I think about reality is true; I trust what science has discovered to be true.
Debate Round No. 1
DiverseSynergy

Con

Pro makes some interesting assertions which I would like to expand upon.

a) “The human brain is not rational.”

This is a very bold statement. I would like to hear Pro’s evidence behind reaching this conclusion.

It is also self-refuting. If you hold that the human brain is not rational, then anything you conclude cannot be considered to be rational either. Therefore, how can you ever conclude anything at all? This is the main argument I put forward in Round 1.

b) “It [the human brain] is not designed to discover truth.”

Another very bold statement. Again I would like to hear the evidence.

Also, I think your logic doesn’t work. If you say that the human brain is not designed to discover truth, but that the scientific method (which was derived by humanity and our collective human brains) is designed to discover truth – then you are faced with a glaring dichotomy. I don’t think you can declare science to be rational unless the human brain (which is the tool we use to make conclusions on the evidence discovered from applying the scientific method) is also rational.

c) “So, we should be wary of any individual's ability to reason. And, we should be wary of our senses.”

I agree with Pro. We should be wary of any conclusion which has been arrived at using solely human evidence and reasoning. How could we begin to make conclusions on the potential existence of higher beings and higher dimensions above and outside of our own universe – based solely on the minuscule understanding of our own tiny section that we can currently access within our own universe?

d) “Science is designed to discover truth.”

Personally I reject this statement for several reasons:

i) Science is very limited.

Human science is limited to what we can measure and detect within this tiny section of our own universe in our current timeframe. For all we know there could be something temporarily enveloping the Solar System which our current level of science cannot detect, which makes all our laws of physics operate the way they currently do – and may even allow for life on Earth. In which case we could do all the empirical testing we liked, and always get the same results – but it wouldn’t make any of our conclusions objectively “true” at all. Because we will always be missing key pieces of information which still remains hidden to human science at any point in time.

This is where I would agree with “missmedic” from the comments section, in that there might very well be a hidden premise 3 which is currently (or might always be) outside of human understanding. I don’t think such a third premise is actually mutually exclusive with premise 1 however, and it only serves to strengthen my rejection of premise 2 – because not only does the bedrock of premise 2 base itself in randomness and potential irrationality, but it further assumes that our current level of solely human understanding is sufficient to draw any conclusions at all. Which leads me neatly onto:

ii) Science is very arrogant

Indeed, I would go further to declare it EXCEPTIONALLY arrogant for human beings to think we have any understanding of this universe whatsoever. If people disagree with this statement, then I would ask them to do a rough estimate of what % of everything there is to “know” about the universe do they think humanity has currently attained with our present level of scientific discovery? None of us have any idea I suppose, but I personally wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the % were so infinitesimally tiny as to be effectively zero.

iii) Science has very little (and possibly nothing) to do with truth.

Science merely attempts to understand the universe around us from our human perspective. It makes no truth claims (or at least it really oughtn’t be making truth claims), and it is arguable if anything has actually been “proven”. Science can only point to trends, and suggest correlations based on repeated results of a similar trend. Eg you drop a stone from your hand, and it falls to the ground. You repeat this experiment millions of times around the world, and even on the moon – the stone always falls to the ground. Have you proved that the stone will *always* fall to the ground? Not at all, but you have noted a significant trend – in this section of the universe, and during this current time frame – and can make a case that this can be extrapolated to other locations and timeframes. But as for making truth claims, or stating you have proven this experiment beyond all doubt, I would strongly argue that you never can.

iv) Science is not as objective as many people assume it to be

Science is heavily influenced by the current social biases of the day, and the biases of the particular country the scientist happens to be from, and the upbringing that particular scientist happens to have experienced. Eg if you were a non-theistic scientist 300 years ago you would have been ridiculed (and probably a great deal worse) by the scientific community of that day, and if you are a theistic scientist alive today you tend to be taken a whole lot less seriously by the modern scientific community. Very few scientists actually have the intellectual integrity to genuinely keep all options open even when they go against the social bias of their timeframe, and they tend to assume their own conclusions and assumptions are mostly reliable and bias free – which is frankly totally absurd.

I consider myself as a scientist by the way, and I do not pretend that I am free from such handicapping bias either. Far from it.

v) Science is self-limiting

Most modern scientists agree that anything that cannot be empirically tested falls outside of mainstream science – and is generally considered “pseudo-science”. But such a stance is so drastically limiting. It means that you can never bring to the table anything outside of human detection. Except of course they still do - all the time - as long as it doesn’t involve this pesky “God” character (and here we see that current social bias creeping in again).

For instance, to propose a higher being which created this universe is totally unacceptable to mainstream modern science, the argument being it cannot be empirically tested therefore Science isn’t interested. Yet the Multiverse theory, are we able to verify this empirically? I highly doubt it. Yet modern scientists continue to propose this theory all the same – because there is no annoying “God” entity to have to deal with!

Indeed, it seems you can propose almost any stretch of the imagination with wacky theories inside of theoretical physics, as long as you don’t dare suggest there could be a higher being outside of our universe. Because that would just be ridiculous!

e) “I don't trust that everything I think about reality is true;”

I heartily agree – this is my fundamental argument against premise 2. I consider that it is only with the acceptance of a higher creator being are we freed from such shackles.

f) “I trust what science has discovered to be true.”

Just out of interest, what level of acceptance do you have to believe something as true? If another scientist does an experiment and writes a report, which gets peer reviewed – is that sufficient? Or would you have to repeat the test yourself to accept it? Or have thousands of people including yourself repeat the test?

If you’ve never been to Antarctica yourself, can you trust it really exists and isn’t just some big conspiracy? Even if you charter a flight there, do you trust that your pilot has really taken you to Antarctica?

And what do you do with the problem of solipsism? ie that you necessarily rely on your own brain to verify what you experience within this universe. For instance, you believe your dining table exists because you can see it, walk up to it, knock on the top of the table, eat your breakfast off it. Does that mean it is really there? What if your brain is being manipulated to make you think you can see and touch the table, but you’re not even here on Earth in the first place? You could never hope to prove it!

squonk

Pro

I'll defend my assertion that the human brain is not rational.

If you study critical thinking, you'll learn that the human brain is prone to all sorts of bias and fallacious reasoning. It's ubiquitious.

Now the question is, how can science (the product of irrational human brains) discover truth?

Well, perhaps it can't. Science does not allow us to be "absolutely sure" that we know the "absolute truth" about "absolute reality." This is disapointing to religious believers, who love absolutes: absolute good, absolute evil, absolute reality, etc.

To me, truth is "that which corresponds to reality as humans perceive it." We discover what corresponds to reality through science: studying the world empirically, doing experiments, making rational inferences. It's important that we do this collectively, because individuals are prone to bias. Science is designed to filter out this bias.

Here's an analogy: an individual can't build a skyscraper. No individual has the strength, tools (etc.) to build a skyscraper by himself. But a construction company can build a skyscraper...because a consruction company involves a bunch of people working together with different skills, equipment, etc. That's how it is with science. Science accomplishes what individuals cannot.

So, yes: science "merely" attempts to understand the universe around us from our human perspective. All we have is the human perspective. Science is the best we can do.

What's the alternative?

Well, my opponent suggests that we have faith that "this universe created by an intelligent designer. In which case the intelligence of the human brain would have some basis to be rational, as it has been designed by an intelligent rational being - therefore by extension humanity are themselves intelligent rational beings."

There are problems with this worldview:

1) How can we be sure that the "intelligent designer" actually exists?
2) How can we be certain that there is not some "higher plane of reality" that the Intelligent Designer himself is oblivious to?

Debate Round No. 2
DiverseSynergy

Con


I actually agree with most of Pro’s argument here, because it largely demonstrates my point. If Pro concedes that the human brain is irrational, then one can never be certain that any conclusion any individual has reached with their irrational brain is actually rational. Indeed, if anything then surely you would have to infer the opposite. And no matter how many human beings you get to reach consensus on any conclusion (using Pro’s analogy drawing the parallel of Science as a Construction Company) you are only multiplying the problem – because they all are operating with irrational brains. It is akin to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. You could have a portfolio of thousands of toxic unrepayable mortgages on your books – and you might think the volume spreads the risk, but at the end of the day you still have a toxic debt-ridden portfolio.


Ergo, I suggest that Pro has failed to prove their position by definition – which is to argue that it is rational to hold the opinion in the debate title. In fact Pro has gone above and beyond, and made it exceptionally difficult on themselves to argue that it rational to hold ANY opinion!


The few bits I actively disagree with Pro on:


“This is disapointing [sic] to religious believers, who love absolutes: absolute good, absolute evil, absolute reality, etc.”


Demonstrably false. I am a religious believer; I do not find it disappointing in the slightest. I love Science and I want to understand as much as possible about the universe during my short tenure on this planet. But I can still do so whilst still recognising the severe limitations of Science, disappointment free! (…and that’s as a scientist myself, PepePopo! As a theologian I couldn’t give much of a damn either way.)


“Well, my opponent suggests that we have faith that…”


Erm, no I didn’t. That’s just your snap assumption about me, probably based on your own biased pre-conception about people of religion. I never said that, and I don’t think it. People are free to believe what they want, and I encourage them to study the available worldviews and accept the one that is most coherent.


What I actually said is that it boils down to effectively two choices about the origins of our brain. Either it was created by an intelligent designer or it wasn’t. I didn’t call for anyone to have faith and choose option 1 at any point. I just said it is either option 1, in which case there might be some basis to assume it is rational (although I happen to agree with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is rational) – or it is option 2, in which case I don’t think you even have any basis to assume it is rational.


You are quite correct, there are those two issues you pointed out with the worldview of Option 1. That is not the topic of this debate. In fact, you are actually blowing your own argument apart into little pieces, because Option 1 was your one of your few remaining options to demonstrate that the brain might have some basis to be rational! I’m happy to accept your point (for the purposes of this debate) in that maybe you are 100% correct. Let’s say Option 1 doesn’t imply rationality in the slightest. In which case under either option it is irrational to hold the premise in the debate topic!


You do understand you are trying to argue the position of Pro here, right? I think you are so determined to disagree with me, that you are forgetting your own position. Which is interesting, because I have no interest in finding disagreements here. I was just interested to hear another worldview’s POV on this subject matter, and maybe learn something in the process.


It is interesting both yourself and PepePopo have been highly presumptuous about me. Heck I could be your best buddy if you guys wanted, it seems we all have Science and debating in common! Why so prejudiced towards me, just because I happen to believe in higher powers? That’s not very scientific. It certainly isn’t very tolerant. Maybe you might learn something from me, if it is a worldview you haven’t come across much yourselves (ie that of a religious Scientist)? I thought it was us “religious lot” that were supposed to be the intolerant ones?! Kinda blows a hole in another hotly debated theory that if you rid the world of religion then you rid the world of intolerance, don’t it..?


Going off topic a bit, for which I apologise, but in the comments section I’d love to hear from Pro and PepePopo in particular (although anyone else is welcome to put forward their ideas on this too) – I have always wondered why so many in mainstream Science are so insistent in God NOT existing, and want to table theories that make sure God can’t exist. Why is that? I’ve never got it. Why would you deliberately handicap yourself from the outset rather than keeping all options open?


squonk

Pro

"...no matter how many human beings you get to reach consensus on any conclusion (using Pro’s analogy drawing the parallel of Science as a Construction Company) you are only multiplying the problem – because they all are operating with irrational brains."

If everyone was completely irrational, or if everyone was irrational in precisely the same way, you'd have a case here. In reality, everyone has different biases. In science, we work together. Christians and atheists and Muslims study the same evidence, and (sometimes) they come to the same conclusions about reality. Religious and non-religious biologists agree that life evolved. This proves that the belief that "life evolved" is not due to some religious or atheistic bias.

My "construction company" illustrates this perfectly. According to your argument, you would say, "If an individual doesn't have what it takes to build a skyscraper, a collective cannot build a skyscraper -- because the collective is just a bunch of individuals, none of whom can build a skyscraper." But we know this isn't true. The individuals strengthen each others' weaknesses. Together, they can accomplish what the individual cannot.

"..it boils down to effectively two choices about the origins of our brain. Either it was created by an intelligent designer or it wasn’t. I didn’t call for anyone to have faith and choose option 1 at any point. I just said it is either option 1, in which case there might be some basis to assume it is rational (although I happen to agree with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is rational) – or it is option 2, in which case I don’t think you even have any basis to assume it is rational."

There is no reason to accept Optional 1. Furthermore, even if there was fantastic reason to accept Option 1, you still couldn't be absolutely sure that what you think & perceive is "absolute reality."

So here's are my options:

Option 1) Have faith in God, and pretend to be "absolutely certain" that our minds are rational and that we have a handle on "absolute reality." Of course, we're shitting ourselves. We can't be certain that God exists, and even if He does, that doesn't imply that we know "absolute reality." God Himself may be out-of-touch with "absolute reality." How do we know?

Option 2) Accept the fact that we can never be "absolutely certain" that we know "absolute reality" and live with it.

Which makes more sense to you?
Debate Round No. 3
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: DeuceKaboose// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Squonk covered the actual arguement and made very flat-out good explanations of his side of the argument, whereas DiverseSynergy seemed all over the place and brought the argument completely off-topic, whist using rambly explanations for why he believes what he believes, without using anything to back it up.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter is required to assess specific arguments made by both debaters and not merely insinuate that one side had had "good explanations" whereas the other was simply "off-topic". It should be clear why the voter views both of those as true.
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Posted by PepePopo2012 1 year ago
PepePopo2012
If you actually have such a big interest in human brain and its "creation" you should study it, and I'm convinced you'll find a much more interesting answer than "it was designed by an intelligent superior life-like form from another dimensional plane". Of course that answer sounds cool and it seems hard to match, but science usually takes you to the most unexpected places in the least expected moment.
So far I know no biological process which breaks any modern law of physics, who knows, maybe you could find such biological process and start a revolution on science. Something I always found quite curious is the fact that in no other law of physics (except the 2nd law of thermodynamics) the "direction of time" is important because of the symmetry of those laws. Yet you put a bunch of stuff together and consider it as a whole, the concept of entropy arises telling you that you must go in one "time direction" only. Maybe you could find something like that in life, a law which is only visible in system of higher complexity as humans. But so far, we can explain humans without that "missing law".
I'll add a little foot note, you mentioned we just know law of physics are constant in our little temporal presence on this Universe, which I agree with you. I knew there were some people actually wondering if constants like the speed of light could change over time, but I heard no more news about those research groups for a long time. This take me to believe they couldn't find so far any interesting conclusion, but this is just to show you that indeed people on science consider those things as a serious matter, but just words and imagination make no reliable theory. You must at least make predictions and see "how the world would be if my theory was actually right?". If you believe what you think is right, and you're in the science environment, you know you should do yourself that question and see to which conclusion you arrive, don't you?
Posted by PepePopo2012 1 year ago
PepePopo2012
If you believe that a rational brain isn't product of randomness you should check the work of Jeremy England on the origin of life. He has just started with it, but he's up to prove how under the initial conditions given in this planet, entropy favors life. For many years people believe life couldn't be a product of the second law of thermodynamics, since they related entropy with disorder, however that's a huge misconception and as you know entropy has nothing to do with disorder since that's a subjective thing. Entropy instead has to do with energy distribution on a system and it can be computed. England has achieve "apparent order" by introducing a periodic perturbation on a system so far. Of course Earth wasn't a system perturbed in a periodic way, but as I stated before, he has just started with this work.
You also stated science has severe limitations, which I believe is true, however you failed to state its limitations. Everything human its limited, even science but as far as we know science is the less limited thing humans have to understand the world. Because unlike human thinking science is not limited by subjective opinions, many times in science we've found ourselves struggling to understand a lot of things. For example how could a photon interfere with itself, that wasn't something expected or imagined by anyone, however it was proved to be an undeniable truth. Or how could two particles be entangled in a way that if you take them far away from each other and measure one particle spin, the other particle spin will be determined almost instantly? That seemed to violate the principle of causality, however since no information is being transported because of the randomness this "spooky action at a distance" (as Einstein called it) it is possible.
Tell me, without science who would imagine this things could be true? The great flaw I find on theist people is to say "God did it", you kinda miss the more interesting facts with that simple answer.
Posted by PepePopo2012 1 year ago
PepePopo2012
Oh, if your level is actually the one that is studied at University I can use scientific terminology, that's great!!
So your theory is that there's something surrounding the solar system, so how would this thing affect information coming from the outside of this "bubble" and make it look like the rules we know on our solar system work the way they work? I find it hard to believe such thing, for example a star that's far far away produces something (not light) that when it reaches our particular solar system, somehow that information is transformed in light.
What about the Voyager? Are you suggesting that the information we receive from it actually works in a different way outside our solar system? Even when it was built here with "our rules of the Universe"? I found that way harder to believe that the fact the rules of the Universe are the same at least in the observable universe. We've sent things outside the solar system, and they have sent us back information from out there which seems to work just like the things that are inside the solar system.
I presume that by "multiverse theory" you mean String theory, which is the current leading theory to be "the Theory of Everything", which is a purely mathematical construct.
Also you never commented on any of my examples about how based on experiment, there were theories developed which actually predict reality in ways we could never had imagine. For example time dilation and lorentz contraction, which were never imagined but they turned out to be true. You said science was far away from the truth, though theoretical development was the one that "discovered" this facts. Which are also responsible for effects as gravitational lensing and gravitational waves which occur far far away from our solar system.
Your "solar system bubble theory" doesn't propose how this bubble works and doesn't explain how can we receive information from outside the solar system (which works just like here on Earth).
Posted by squonk 1 year ago
squonk
"I have always wondered why so many in mainstream Science are so insistent in God NOT existing, and want to table theories that make sure God can"t exist. Why is that? I"ve never got it. Why would you deliberately handicap yourself from the outset rather than keeping all options open?"

A significant minority of scientists do believe in God.

Bringing God INTO science has never resulted in anything worthwhile...it just leaves us with silly "God-of-the-gaps" explanations.

For example, the one you brought up just now: how do we know we can trust our brains / senses? "Because GOD" is your answer. That's not a worthwhile answer, as I have pointed out. Just because God created our brains doesn't imply that we have a handle on "absolute reality."
Posted by squonk 1 year ago
squonk
I read a little bit about the multiverse theory in "God and the Multiverse" by Victor Stenger, but not enough to get a good idea of what evidence supports the theory and to what degree it's accepted in the scientific community.

If a science were to speculate that some kind of being / reality may exist outside of our own, then there would be nothing unscientific about that. Just like there's nothing unscientific about scientists speculating that there may be other universes.

Scientists DO NOT ASSERT THAT OTHER UNIVERSES EXIST. They speculate that they MAY exist.

Theists, on the other hand, ASSERT THAT GOD EXISTS. They ASSERT THAT AN AFTERLIFE EXISTS. This is the difference, and this is unscientific.
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
DiverseSynergy
The point is that you can still be a Scientist and propose theories of realms outside of the measurable Universe. You said: " There is nothing scientific about making assertions about "the existence of realms and dimensions" that you know nothing about."

I don't think your statement is true, and I gave a valid counter-example of the Multiverse Theory. The scientific thing to have done would have been to say something like "you make a fair point, I hadn't considered that". The belligerant, fingers-in-your-ears, irrational tribalistic thing to do would be to respond exactly as you did. You seem to have no interest in seeking any common ground here whatsoever, how can you ever hope to learn anything with an "I'm right, you're wrong" type of attitude?

As for your point about faith, I entirely agree with you. If a Scientist came up with a theory about another universe, with utterly no evidence, and just had faith in its existence - that would be irrational, and frankly more than a little unstable of them. Is that truly the level of evidence you believe people of religion operate on?
Posted by squonk 1 year ago
squonk
As far as I know, the "multiverse theory" is conjecture. MAYBE there are universes other than our own. It's a possibility. That's all we're saying here. If any scientist has "faith" in the existence of other universes, that would be unscientific and irrational.
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
DiverseSynergy
So it is scientific to propose a theory of realms outside of this universe then...? Also, I don't know a single theist who claims to be "absolutely certain" God exists. That is why it is called "faith". You seem to state many things as facts, which are overtly not so.
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
DiverseSynergy
So it is scientific to propose a theory of realms outside of this universe then...?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by CanWeKnow 1 year ago
CanWeKnow
DiverseSynergysquonkTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This should be a tie. The original question really states "Can ideas/concepts/thoughts be rational?" Mid-way through the debate both Pro and Con seem to concede that neither of Pro's two choices actually result in a reality that is more or less capable of producing rational thought. By the end of the debate we basically have both sides saying they don't know anything. Personally, I think Pro could have won if He/She argued that rationality is subjective. Solution 1 logically makes sense for Person A but not for Person B. Solution 2 logically makes sense for Person B but not for Person A. Person A thinks that Solution 2 is irrational. Person B thinks that Solution 1 is irrational. Flawed logic is still a kind of logic. If that logic is flawed in a consistent way then it is still sound. Therefore, it is rational to have an idea/concept/thought. Ultimately though, this doesn't convince me that rationality has any objective meaning, which would put me more