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CS Lewis on coherent cognition

Smithereens
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7/28/2014 7:35:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

~CS Lewis.
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Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/28/2014 8:09:06 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/28/2014 7:35:58 AM, Smithereens wrote:
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

~CS Lewis.

Sounds like a variant of the evolutionary argument against naturalism. To which there are 2 points:

1. Why should the lack of intelligent design have anything to say on one's cognitive faculties
2. Even if the brain was intelligently designed, what justification do you have for reliable cognitive faculties?

Given that we know that brains are clearly fallible, it's obvious that we *can't* trust our cognitive faculties anyway, which is why we test/correct them.

Further, just because a bicycle is intelligently designed, doesn't mean it's any good for riding, and that's assuming it's designed for the purposes of riding in the first place. Appealing to an IDer doesn't solve the problem.

So if the argument is 'Without intelligence, our cognitive faculties are questionable', the immediate counter is 'with intelligence, our cognitive faculties are still questionable'.

Secondly, there is no reason to suppose that without intelligence, our cognitive faculties are unreliable anyway, the origin of something has no impact on how it performs. A man-made diamond is going to behave as much like a diamond as a non-intelligently designed (natural) one.
Smithereens
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7/28/2014 8:31:38 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/28/2014 8:09:06 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 7/28/2014 7:35:58 AM, Smithereens wrote:
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

~CS Lewis.

Sounds like a variant of the evolutionary argument against naturalism. To which there are 2 points:

1. Why should the lack of intelligent design have anything to say on one's cognitive faculties.
Thought cannot be described as being true if all it is is chemical reactions. Since when is a chemical reaction described as being true? It's like saying 1+1 is the colour blue and has a distinct rosemary odour. Cognitive faculties are not something that can be trusted to create logical constructs on its own. By what measure do we confirm our minds to be true? By other chemical reactions happening in other areas of the mind. If the mind is self confirming, then it is guilty of being its own standard. Something which is true via circular reasoning is not really true at all. Thus there exists no reason why one would bother to trust a human thought to be true at all. It is merely a blob of atoms. Nothing more.
2. Even if the brain was intelligently designed, what justification do you have for reliable cognitive faculties?
If the brain was intelligently designed, it follows that cognitive faculties would be reliable. We basically assume that our minds are the produce of intelligent ordering in order to ascertain logical coherency.

Given that we know that brains are clearly fallible, it's obvious that we *can't* trust our cognitive faculties anyway, which is why we test/correct them.
The fact that we can know that our own brains can have disorders and identify them is evidence that our cognitive faculties are of extremely high order. Thus we can trust them. If you are arguing that we cannot trust our own mental faculties, why would I believe a thing you are saying?

Further, just because a bicycle is intelligently designed, doesn't mean it's any good for riding, and that's assuming it's designed for the purposes of riding in the first place. Appealing to an IDer doesn't solve the problem.
The analogy does not represent this situation. You can trust a bike to ride it. You can trust a brain to think rationally.

So if the argument is 'Without intelligence, our cognitive faculties are questionable', the immediate counter is 'with intelligence, our cognitive faculties are still questionable'.
Without intelligence, cognitive faculties are not something that can be described as having logical coherence. It is described as being true by itself. Thus the mind is unreliable and cannot be trusted to draw conclusions. With intelligence, mental disorders arising from physiological defects are the only cause of doubt for coherence in mental processes. These however are identifiable due to the rational nature of the human mind.

Secondly, there is no reason to suppose that without intelligence, our cognitive faculties are unreliable anyway, the origin of something has no impact on how it performs. A man-made diamond is going to behave as much like a diamond as a non-intelligently designed (natural) one.
There is no reason to believe that without intelligence, human thought processes can be trusted, given the fact that they affirm themselves. With intelligence, it can be expected to be thus. If you create a theoretical construct of the mind which does not invoke an intelligent designer, you effectively claim that assembly of atoms in front of you cannot be trusted to declare that there is no intelligent designer in the first place.

Thus the situation logically infers that for coherent thought to be reliable, the expectation from an external cause of its own environment must be used to explain why the thought process itself is reliable.
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Envisage
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7/28/2014 8:58:24 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/28/2014 8:31:38 AM, Smithereens wrote:
At 7/28/2014 8:09:06 AM, Envisage wrote:
1. Why should the lack of intelligent design have anything to say on one's cognitive faculties.
Thought cannot be described as being true if all it is is chemical reactions. Since when is a chemical reaction described as being true? It's like saying 1+1 is the colour blue and has a distinct rosemary odour.

You are conflating the representations of something with their manifestations. The picture of a tree isn"t itself a "tree". Similarly the physical (or chemical) manifestation of something immaterial (such as numbers, concepts) is not the same as the entity itself. The mind build models/concepts of reality, which we probably agree on, I see no reason why we should doubt ti just because it"s made of "stuff". Similarly I don"t doubt my calculator"s results which is manipulating numbers just because it"s computing with electrons.

Something which is true via circular reasoning is not really true at all.

This is just false. Just because an argument is circular doesn"t mean the conclusion is false. That is a "fallacy fallacy" (yes, two fallacies in there).

Thus there exists no reason why one would bother to trust a human thought to be true at all. It is merely a blob of atoms. Nothing more.

Unless you have positive reasons for believing that the brain would be capable of truth. Which I do. To deny that would be a self-defeating argument, irrespective of where the mind came from.

2. Even if the brain was intelligently designed, what justification do you have for reliable cognitive faculties?
If the brain was intelligently designed, it follows that cognitive faculties would be reliable. We basically assume that our minds are the produce of intelligent ordering in order to ascertain logical coherency.

You are just asserting that, my mobile phone broke down last week and my intelligently designed gun makes for a sh*t toilet cleaner. You are committing a fallacy of special pleading, the fact something is intelligently designed has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it works for a purpose you acribe to it.

Given that we know that brains are clearly fallible, it's obvious that we *can't* trust our cognitive faculties anyway, which is why we test/correct them.

The fact that we can know that our own brains can have disorders and identify them is evidence that our cognitive faculties are of extremely high order. Thus we can trust them. If you are arguing that we cannot trust our own mental faculties, why would I believe a thing you are saying?

I am arguing they are fallable, people evidently hold false beliefs (one of us, me and you are clearlyu wrong on the existence of God, for example), even people with the same data come to different conclusions. So IF you are making the argument that an intelligent designer leads to infallible cognitive faculties, then the intelligent designer is clearly falsified.

Further, just because a bicycle is intelligently designed, doesn't mean it's any good for riding, and that's assuming it's designed for the purposes of riding in the first place. Appealing to an IDer doesn't solve the problem.
The analogy does not represent this situation. You can trust a bike to ride it. You can trust a brain to think rationally.

This is not an argument, and at best a bare assertion.

So if the argument is 'Without intelligence, our cognitive faculties are questionable', the immediate counter is 'with intelligence, our cognitive faculties are still questionable'.
Without intelligence, cognitive faculties are not something that can be described as having logical coherence. It is described as being true by itself. Thus the mind is unreliable and cannot be trusted to draw conclusions.

This is a non-sequitir.

With intelligence, mental disorders arising from physiological defects are the only cause of doubt for coherence in mental processes. These however are identifiable due to the rational nature of the human mind.

And this is demonstrably false, as I stated further up.

There is no reason to believe that without intelligence, human thought processes can be trusted, given the fact that they affirm themselves. With intelligence, it can be expected to be thus. If you create a theoretical construct of the mind which does not invoke an intelligent designer, you effectively claim that assembly of atoms in front of you cannot be trusted to declare that there is no intelligent designer in the first place.

Thus the situation logically infers that for coherent thought to be reliable, the expectation from an external cause of its own environment must be used to explain why the thought process itself is reliable.

More of the same. Maybe send me a debate challenge on this?
Such
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7/28/2014 9:18:09 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/28/2014 7:35:58 AM, Smithereens wrote:
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

~CS Lewis.

Interesting.

However.

Intelligent design suggests intelligence.

Intelligence suggests thought.

Thought suggests some sort of mind and consciousness.

That mind and consciousness would require the same limitations that ours does, which would include needing an intelligent design.

So, where does it end? It's like adding an extra step before accepting what is inevitably true. At some level, intelligence simply manifested as a natural property of whatever plane in which it manifested.
s-anthony
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7/28/2014 10:46:26 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/28/2014 7:35:58 AM, Smithereens wrote:
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

~CS Lewis.

That's like saying a mountain isn't a mountain, unless tectonic plates took forethought to create it as such.