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Evolutionary argument against naturalism

vardas0antras
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4/22/2011 3:13:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
"When he awoke in a tomb three days later he would actually have believed that he rose from the dead" FREEDO about the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Meatros
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4/22/2011 3:25:47 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I don't have time to watch the video. I'm familiar with the argument - I think it's interesting. Have you read Sobel's refutation?

I think that the probability for what Plantinga is arguing "could" be the case is extremely strained. It puts all beliefs on equal footing - when our belief forming centers (brains) formed long after our instincts and sensory apparatus.
vardas0antras
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4/22/2011 3:28:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/22/2011 3:25:47 PM, Meatros wrote:
I don't have time to watch the video. I'm familiar with the argument - I think it's interesting. Have you read Sobel's refutation?

I think that the probability for what Plantinga is arguing "could" be the case is extremely strained. It puts all beliefs on equal footing - when our belief forming centers (brains) formed long after our instincts and sensory apparatus.

I discovered it today and so no, I am not familiar. Sure, I'll try and check Sobels refutation.
"When he awoke in a tomb three days later he would actually have believed that he rose from the dead" FREEDO about the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Meatros
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4/22/2011 3:43:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/22/2011 3:28:55 PM, vardas0antras wrote:

I discovered it today and so no, I am not familiar. Sure, I'll try and check Sobels refutation.

it's definitely an interesting argument. I wish I had more time to watch the vid.

A LOT of people misunderstand it (PZ Meyers, for instance).
popculturepooka
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4/22/2011 8:19:15 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I think it's a good argument, or, I should say, something like it is. Note: this type of argument against the possibility of moral knowledge (for the moral realists here) is a v hot topic in ethics right now and I'm inclined to think it's a good one, too.
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popculturepooka
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4/22/2011 8:27:24 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I've heard people say with a straight face that it's an "anti-evolution" argument. And we all know how quickly a person who is deemed "anti-evolution" is dismissed in academic circles.
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tvellalott
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4/22/2011 8:35:27 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/22/2011 8:27:24 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I've heard people say with a straight face that it's an "anti-evolution" argument. And we all know how quickly a person who is deemed "anti-evolution" is dismissed in academic circles.

IMMEDIATELY, AS THEY BLOODY WELL DARN SHOULD BE!!!!
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CosmicAlfonzo
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4/22/2011 9:06:56 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Not only is the video not convincing in the slightest, but it seems like a a big appeal to solipsism.

His argument is utterly retarded, and in no way justifies the belief system he embraces, which could easily be refuted if he held it to the same type of scrutiny.

The intellectual dishonesty and mental gymnastics that the "educated" put themselves through in order to resolve cognitive dissonance is pathetic.

I pity them, they must be miserable people on the inside.
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Gileandos
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4/22/2011 9:41:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
This is a beautiful argument in that a naturalist, even though scientifically it is EXTREMELY improbable that the cognitive faculties are reliable, must presume that they are indeed reliable to assert the Natural view.

It shows that it is a presupposition held by the Naturalists that despite clear rational evidence to the contrary they presuppose that their cognitive faculties are functioning properly despite evolution claiming and "proving" cognitive faculties are not reliable.

It is fantastic.
CosmicAlfonzo
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4/22/2011 9:57:00 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Even naturalists are aware that the world is not as it seems, and that humans are limited by our perceptual capability.

This is not a valid argument against anything. The only thing it does is point out epistemological limitations that we already know exist.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
unitedandy
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4/23/2011 6:48:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I've got to say I think it's probably one of the most creative arguments in the philosophy of religion, and using it against particularly Dawkinsian evolution, with memes and so on, I think it would be very difficult to refute. Ulimately however I just think it most plausible that well-functioning cognitive faculties would always be favoured by natural selection, all else being equal, and that one has to contrive a great conspiracy of circumstance to get around this. Also, doesn't things like evil spirits and so on offer a reason to doubt cognitve faculties given by God? What about those without properly functioning cognitive faculties? I still think even before we go in depth with the argument, as Sober does, there are still problems wiith it on the face of it.
Meatros
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4/23/2011 7:15:32 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 6:48:45 AM, unitedandy wrote:
Ultimately however I just think it most plausible that well-functioning cognitive faculties would always be favoured by natural selection, all else being equal, and that one has to contrive a great conspiracy of circumstance to get around this.

This is essentially the problem with the argument. Plantinga is arguing for beliefs in a vacuum. He is not considering the other beliefs effected by this one. In other words, it's not a 50-50 shot that just an belief would evolve.

The fact is, some of our belief forming faculties do mislead us (we see faces in the sky, for instance). This helps us in other ways - seeing patterns - since I enables us to trck animals by recognizing their footprint pattern.

With Plantinga's isolated belief, it's hard to see how it would not effect other beliefs and how it would be more beneficial then a true belief.

Our faulty cognitive structures (as they are) seem to undermine his argument and throw the question back at Theist.
Meatros
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4/23/2011 7:16:56 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/22/2011 8:19:15 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I think it's a good argument, or, I should say, something like it is. Note: this type of argument against the possibility of moral knowledge (for the moral realists here) is a v hot topic in ethics right now and I'm inclined to think it's a good one, too.

I haven't watched the vid, nor have I had my coffee, but can you explain what you mean here, WRT moral knowledge? I'm not seeing the connection to morality.
Gileandos
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4/23/2011 8:28:14 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 6:48:45 AM, unitedandy wrote:
I've got to say I think it's probably one of the most creative arguments in the philosophy of religion, and using it against particularly Dawkinsian evolution, with memes and so on, I think it would be very difficult to refute. Ulimately however I just think it most plausible that well-functioning cognitive faculties would always be favoured by natural selection, all else being equal, and that one has to contrive a great conspiracy of circumstance to get around this. Also, doesn't things like evil spirits and so on offer a reason to doubt cognitve faculties given by God? What about those without properly functioning cognitive faculties? I still think even before we go in depth with the argument, as Sober does, there are still problems wiith it on the face of it.

Very good points!
I will say as earlier it is still a presupposition after you study all of the scenarios you must look at the fact that functioning cognative abilities are highly improbable.

For example:
Though I agree that under a natural selective process a vegetarian would not exist in a hunter/gatherer society, the fact that vegetarians are wide spread in our society shows that cognitive abilities would indeed develop based purely under circumstance. Who's cognitive ablities are poorly functioning? Vegetarians or Meat eaters? PETA or Pweta?
Our very cognative abilities can change purely based on outside factors.
We have two 15 year old children being charged with a Felony for beheading 2 chickens. Who is right?

As to a similiar problem with religions such as Christianity. We agree with you. Without protection from God, God's enemies do indeed "change" your cognitive abilities. It is how we explain PETA for example. People have become very misguided but God offers the protection.

Conclusion: Plantinga's explanation is clear and stands.
Cliff.Stamp
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4/23/2011 8:37:27 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 7:16:56 AM, Meatros wrote:

I haven't watched the vid, nor have I had my coffee, but can you explain what you mean here, WRT moral knowledge? I'm not seeing the connection to morality.

Moral Realism holds that morality is based on objective truths of nature, if we assert that our perception of nature is arbitrary then this can not hold. Even more so, the actual line between natural and supernatural is itself arbitrary.
Cliff.Stamp
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4/23/2011 9:00:30 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 6:48:45 AM, unitedandy wrote:

Ulimately however I just think it most plausible that well-functioning cognitive faculties would always be favoured by natural selection, all else being equal, and that one has to contrive a great conspiracy of circumstance to get around this.

I think your argument is actually contradictory. Just consider you oppose Religion as knowledge and will support many arguments against it, all of which you claim are rational (i.e. you are not insane and have proper cognitive function). Yet what you are actually saying is that the vast majority of the population has impaired cognitive function, so much so that it influences how they perceive the world and it influences every aspect of their lives. This is in fact the exact opposite conclusion of your premise. Your actual premise is that correct cognitive function (which you and other atheists have) is very rare - but it is the true representation of the universe through sense+rationality.
Meatros
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4/23/2011 9:40:15 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 8:37:27 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:

Moral Realism holds that morality is based on objective truths of nature, if we assert that our perception of nature is arbitrary then this can not hold. Even more so, the actual line between natural and supernatural is itself arbitrary.

Interesting, I can see the connection.
unitedandy
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4/23/2011 1:08:19 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 9:00:30 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
At 4/23/2011 6:48:45 AM, unitedandy wrote:

Ulimately however I just think it most plausible that well-functioning cognitive faculties would always be favoured by natural selection, all else being equal, and that one has to contrive a great conspiracy of circumstance to get around this.

I think your argument is actually contradictory. Just consider you oppose Religion as knowledge and will support many arguments against it, all of which you claim are rational (i.e. you are not insane and have proper cognitive function). Yet what you are actually saying is that the vast majority of the population has impaired cognitive function, so much so that it influences how they perceive the world and it influences every aspect of their lives. This is in fact the exact opposite conclusion of your premise. Your actual premise is that correct cognitive function (which you and other atheists have) is very rare - but it is the true representation of the universe through sense+rationality.

Well, nowhere did I say either that I am certainly right on the existence of God, nor that religious people have a cognitive impairment, indicative of their poor worldview. In fact, in many ways, the conclusion that I or any religious person here reaches is not nearly as important as the process they use to reach it. Rationality, it seems to me, is not merely about the truth value of a claim, but the justification one has to support it. Thus, I would hold that someone like Plantinga is far more rational in his Christian beliefs than atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, because he approaches the issue in the best way. That being said, I think very few religious people and atheists hold their position even predominantly because of rational means. All we can do is minimise error by using frameworks which seem to produce the best results.

That having been said, I don't think any of us would doubt that our cognitive faculties are fallible, and this is seen with optical illusions, card tricks, false memories and so on. This doesn't commit anyone to Plantinga's argument, and one of the reasons is because this is true whether God exists or not.
mattrodstrom
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4/23/2011 2:42:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
We accept a Naturalistic Viewpoint b/c that is what's most apparent... the idea of Physical substance is very consistent... and offers consistent appearances in which Many various things all fit together.. and seem to fit within one another.. explaining each other rooted in the idea of Physical things.

Now, I agree that these Recurring, consistent ideas are not Absolute, and are rooted in my nature.. but they are Very much seemingly Reliable.
I wouldn't claim they give me "True Beliefs" but provide a consistent framework for understanding things... One which comes easily, Spontaneously, naturally.

Also.. he says John Dewey was a Naturalist.. but suggests that Naturalists claim to True Beliefs.. and/or Don't admit that the World may not be as it seems. I agree that John Dewey's a Naturalist but he's mis-characterizing Naturalists.. Most naturalists (as with John Dewey) Affirm the Processes of Physical Nature NOT as some Metaphysical Absolute Truth but rather as being the best framework for explaining things as we see them.. Given How We See Them.

That Eminent "naturalist" John Dewey throws the search for "Absolute Truth" by the wayside to Work Within the manner by which we understand things.

Naturalism is NOT as this guy paints it.. Rather it, as is All science, is based upon a Pragmatic Assumption/Affirmation of that Recurring, consistent, conceptual framework by which we understand things.

Dewey would NOT claim to know that there is no god, or no Spirit Stuff (as this guy suggests Naturalists necessarily do)
... he would claim that there's no reason to Go Outside of that conceptual framework of Physical Reality to explain things. That that conceptual framework of Physical Reality is naturally/unavoidably taken.. And that there's no reason to construct any other type frame to explain things through, Unless that Framework can Consistently Account for and predict how things will appear, as does our notion of Physical Reality.

Hegel's idea that Physical substance doesn't explain the Totality of existence is NOT in conflict with Dewey at all.. Dewey makes no claims to understanding the Totality of existence... or even to understanding the Absolute nature of Any apparent thing.

Dewey's not claiming to Understand the absolute Nature of Things.

He's affirming that Consistent, explanatory, conceptual framework of The Physical.

and he does so for Pragmatic reasons... That is that that understanding seems Naturally/Unavoidably to appear to us.. and that since it's Consistent, Embracing it/Acting Given upon those "things" which we see, ends up allowing us to make things such that we feel good.
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Cliff.Stamp
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4/23/2011 6:20:11 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 1:08:19 PM, unitedandy wrote:

Well, nowhere did I say either that I am certainly right on the existence of God, nor that religious people have a cognitive impairment, indicative of their poor worldview.

Unitedandy, you have spoke very often, directly, about how several arguments against God are compelling or using other similar adjectives, further to that, unless you are willing to assert that reason can not be used to generate knowledge that conclusion is inescapable.

If you make argument and you hold that it is rational, and you assert that it is true, then if it is opposed then either you or the opposition is ignorant or irrational -or- as noted rationality can not be used to generate knowledge. But even this radical view is not necessary to support the conclusion noted.

If you are an atheist you are making a position which you claim to be true, you are not simply stating it is unknown but taking a definite position. Now as a general position, unless you reject the basic law of non-contradiction, -or- ironically as noted the fundamental position you are asserting, then those who oppose you have impaired cognitive function (or are all ignorant).

What other possibility exists?

That having been said, I don't think any of us would doubt that our cognitive faculties are fallible, and this is seen with optical illusions, card tricks, false memories and so on. This doesn't commit anyone to Plantinga's argument, and one of the reasons is because this is true whether God exists or not.

What he argued was given naturalism (and evolution) the probability of having proper cognition is low. You opposed that, but yet you reached the same conclusion saying that proper cognition leads to atheism which if this is true means exactly what he wrote, that in general one is far less likely to be born with proper cognitive faculties because atheists in general are very uncommon.
unitedandy
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4/23/2011 7:13:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 6:20:11 PM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
At 4/23/2011 1:08:19 PM, unitedandy wrote:

Well, nowhere did I say either that I am certainly right on the existence of God, nor that religious people have a cognitive impairment, indicative of their poor worldview.

Unitedandy, you have spoke very often, directly, about how several arguments against God are compelling or using other similar adjectives, further to that, unless you are willing to assert that reason can not be used to generate knowledge that conclusion is inescapable.

If you make argument and you hold that it is rational, and you assert that it is true, then if it is opposed then either you or the opposition is ignorant or irrational -or- as noted rationality can not be used to generate knowledge. But even this radical view is not necessary to support the conclusion noted.

If you are an atheist you are making a position which you claim to be true, you are not simply stating it is unknown but taking a definite position. Now as a general position, unless you reject the basic law of non-contradiction, -or- ironically as noted the fundamental position you are asserting, then those who oppose you have impaired cognitive function (or are all ignorant).

What other possibility exists?

That having been said, I don't think any of us would doubt that our cognitive faculties are fallible, and this is seen with optical illusions, card tricks, false memories and so on. This doesn't commit anyone to Plantinga's argument, and one of the reasons is because this is true whether God exists or not.

What he argued was given naturalism (and evolution) the probability of having proper cognition is low. You opposed that, but yet you reached the same conclusion saying that proper cognition leads to atheism which if this is true means exactly what he wrote, that in general one is far less likely to be born with proper cognitive faculties because atheists in general are very uncommon.

I totally accept that I do believe atheism to be true, and to be the most rational outlook for me, all things considered. However, I think I have also made it clear numerous times (including my last post) that there are certain Christians who are not only rational in their beliefs, but some who are far better versed in philosophy than me. Some are even on this site. The issue of the existence of God is a pretty contentious one, and given that there are rational people on every side of this issue, I just think it would be pretty silly to think my view the only one which can be rationally justified. In fact, I think the better atheist thinkers tend to agree with me. People like Bill Rowe and Walter Sinnott Armstrong argue their position and forcefully and as rationally as they can, and believe they have reached the right conclusion, but certainly do not think that Christians for example are necessarily dim or irrational, and I agree with them. Like I said before, the question of the truth of atheism is not nearly is important and whether one is justified in their conclusion.

On EAAN, firstly I gave maybe 4 or 5 considerations to it which question its merit, and you seemed to have only picked 1 - and one which I don't really think I made. Again, even if it were true that evolution and naturalism were self-refuting, which I gave reasons to doubt, there are still issues as to how theism solves the problem. How do we explain people with impaired cognitive faculties? How can we trust them with the belief in things like evil spirits and so on? What about all the limitations of even the most complete cognitive faculties? What about those who have cognitive states which prohibit them from experiencing God or those who are seemingly predisposed to reject God? Why do beliefs depend on many non-rational factors, and on and on and on.

Again, though, I just don't think that the argument even gets off the ground, because it seems to me that beliefs about the world reflect behaviours, and these behaviours in turn impact survival. Although Plantinga might think it neat to hypothesise a man running away from a tiger because he thinks the best way to catch it is to run away, it seems to me immeasurably more plausible that when we test these beliefs in the real world, those who have a better grasp of reality will always have a better chance to survival over the long haul:

For example, suppose we teach someone that getting your king into checkmate is the object of chess. Sure, it's logically possible that they might end up winning more games than not, but given the choice between a chess master and our ill-instructed novice over the course of 100 games, the idea that our novice might just win seems absurd. And in the same way, selection it seems would almost always favour those who are smart enough to know danger, and so on.
Cliff.Stamp
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4/24/2011 6:31:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/23/2011 7:13:03 PM, unitedandy wrote:

I just think it would be pretty silly to think my view the only one which can be rationally justified.

Now consider what this means, you are advocating that opposing positions can be rationally justified - what does this imply about rational justification in regards to ability to generate knowledge?

How do we explain people with impaired cognitive faculties? How can we trust them with the belief in things like evil spirits and so on? What about all the limitations of even the most complete cognitive faculties? What about those who have cognitive states which prohibit them from experiencing God or those who are seemingly predisposed to reject God? Why do beliefs depend on many non-rational factors, and on and on and on.

Few theists would argue that their position is one which is irrational, and the concept of free addresses question such as why are there those that do not choose to follow God and as well why some people have severely impaired cognitive functions, either as birth defects or accidents. It also depends of course on the particular Religion as there consideration if those individuals ascend or not. But even with these questions, you do not have answer to the concern posed which is obvious has no rebuttal even for those with a trivial understanding of science.

It is absurd to think that right now we are so evolved to see the universe as it is - existence. Simply consider any point in our past from the proto-cell to now, at any point just think how that creature would have seen the universe, how it would have considered existence. Now think of that and see how even silly it is to state with a definite position - yes, right now we can be justified to think that we can perceive the universe as it exists. With a deeper exploration into fundamental physics it is revealed that what we can "see" makes no sense and we have to invent a bunch of higher dimensions, or undetectable matter in order for the universe as we "see" it to have order. Now what does this say about what we experience as opposed to what exists, it should be obvious that naturalism, being a statement of what is - is deeply flawed.

And in the same way, selection it seems would almost always favour those who are smart enough to know danger, and so on.

It does that by definition, those that do not run are eaten and they do not reproduce. However, it is not so trivial to say natural selection has to produce a brain which produces true beliefs - why, because it has to. Interestingly enough this could be tested through for example creative simulation of neural networks.
unitedandy
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4/24/2011 7:50:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 6:31:18 PM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
At 4/23/2011 7:13:03 PM, unitedandy wrote:

I just think it would be pretty silly to think my view the only one which can be rationally justified.

Now consider what this means, you are advocating that opposing positions can be rationally justified - what does this imply about rational justification in regards to ability to generate knowledge?

How do we explain people with impaired cognitive faculties? How can we trust them with the belief in things like evil spirits and so on? What about all the limitations of even the most complete cognitive faculties? What about those who have cognitive states which prohibit them from experiencing God or those who are seemingly predisposed to reject God? Why do beliefs depend on many non-rational factors, and on and on and on.

Few theists would argue that their position is one which is irrational, and the concept of free addresses question such as why are there those that do not choose to follow God and as well why some people have severely impaired cognitive functions, either as birth defects or accidents. It also depends of course on the particular Religion as there consideration if those individuals ascend or not. But even with these questions, you do not have answer to the concern posed which is obvious has no rebuttal even for those with a trivial understanding of science.

It is absurd to think that right now we are so evolved to see the universe as it is - existence. Simply consider any point in our past from the proto-cell to now, at any point just think how that creature would have seen the universe, how it would have considered existence. Now think of that and see how even silly it is to state with a definite position - yes, right now we can be justified to think that we can perceive the universe as it exists. With a deeper exploration into fundamental physics it is revealed that what we can "see" makes no sense and we have to invent a bunch of higher dimensions, or undetectable matter in order for the universe as we "see" it to have order. Now what does this say about what we experience as opposed to what exists, it should be obvious that naturalism, being a statement of what is - is deeply flawed.

And in the same way, selection it seems would almost always favour those who are smart enough to know danger, and so on.

It does that by definition, those that do not run are eaten and they do not reproduce. However, it is not so trivial to say natural selection has to produce a brain which produces true beliefs - why, because it has to. Interestingly enough this could be tested through for example creative simulation of neural networks.

What I mean by rationally justified is that a person who has considered much of the relevant evidence and made their decision on primarily intellectual grounds, are willing to change their mind, have purposely challenged their beliefs, and so on. Given this, how could we really say anything other than both atheism and theism canbe rationally justified, even if one of them must be wrong. Surely it isn't controversial to think that there are beliefs other than the ones we hold that can be rationally justified. You for example have seen debates on this website I assume where the Christian is far better than the atheist, and vice versa. On a wider point, there are philosophers and scientists and thinkers of all descriptions who believe all different things and do so with rational justification. Even on arguments that I know most about and support wholeheartedly, like the problem of evil, I wouldn't say that the responses are necessarily irrational because I think there are problems with each response I've heard. In fact, doing this would necessarily make me believe that I am the only rational person that I know, because everyone I know has different opinions than I do about some issue, be it philosophy, politics or sport, or anything else that one may have an opinion about.

On cognitive faculties, obviously things like schizophrenia would bring up a sort of PoE type argument, but also things like optical illusions and so on are inherent within our cognitive faculties, as are false memories, and other things besides, so again we would have a degree of imperfection argument here before we even get to the issue at hand. And then there's evil spirits and so on which are going to be difficult to manoeuvre as well.

On naturalism, I don't really subscribe to it because I've not really read enough about it to form anything like a rationally held view (ha), but what strikes me from your response is firstly that you essentially are rigging the game here. Christianity for example often gets a free pass when getting important things wrong (or at least not right), while naturalism has to have a sort of complete theory of everything almost immediately, from what you write. Take this standard to Christianity and the EAAN in particular and we are left mourning the demise of both. Also, however you seem to say natural selection may not account for functioning cognitive faculties. As I showed with reference to the Chess analogy, the prima facie plausibility that this would be the case however prevents the EAAN from getting off the ground before it can deal with this.