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Naturalistic evolutionism cannot be rationally affirmed

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Started: 5/30/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,936 times Debate No: 55748
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Hey everyone
1st round is for acceptance.
"naturalistic evolutionism" is the view that evolution is the process by which all life, including homo sapiens, arose, via natural processes and without the intervention of the divine, supernatural, or guiding intelligence.
The Burden of proof is shared; I have to show that naturalistic evolution cannot be rationally affirmed, and Con has to show that naturalistic evolution can be rationally affirmed.
Good luck and God Bless


Go for it, I am game.

Note that the resolution sets the BoP on Pro.
Debate Round No. 1


Hey Con, thanks for accepting this debate.
I will give two evidences against Naturalistic evolution; as a result, its assertion should be rendered implausible and irrational to hold to be true.

#1: Naturalistic Evolution is self-defeating
The central contention that I will propose is that the concept of naturalistic evolution is inherently self-contradictory and is a defeater for itself.
First, let's outline a basic belief of the naturalistic evolutionist - that all life on earth developed characteristics via natural processes over a period of time. If this is true, then all aspects of life on earth are adaptive - limbs, senses, organs etc. all came about through natural sub-processes,"arising because they were beneficial to the greater causes of survival and reproduction. The same must also therefore be true of the behaviour and neurology of such life. If all aspects of life are concerned with adaptive processes for survival purposes, then the behaviour and neurology must also be concerned with adaptive behaviour for survival.
The next step is noticing that the underlying neurology is in direct causal relation to all beliefs that arise from life that come from such processes. As a result, beliefs too are for both adaptive and survival purposes. However, notice that truth is not a part of such beliefs. Truth is not a binding force for survival; there is no objective standard for truth - provided survival is guaranteed, the objective truth of a notion is an irrelevance. To give an analogy: It could be that there exists a belief that grizzly bears are friendly, and the way to hug them is to run away from them. In such a case, the belief is apparently false, but it causes fitness and survival - but truth is not essential. There is no guarentee of the truth value of any particular belief. This notion is therefore true for all of the beliefs and viewpoints that arise from adaptive life.
What does this mean? Well, it means that if naturalistic evolution is correct, then all beliefs that human beings possess are merely for survival and reproductive purposes and not for truth or reason. But here's the thing - the view that naturalistic evolution is true is in itself a belief and as a result, if the worldview is correct, then the belief in naturalistic evolution cannot itself be trusted. As such, upon it's own assertion, it undermines itself. The very cognitive faculties that are said to come about by the evolutionary process cannot be trusted - they are not based on truth, nor reason, but for survival and reproduction. As a result, any belief or viewpoint arising from such neurology cannot be trusted. It is a defeater for itself.

#2: Evidence to the contrary
Here, I'll present an argument that refutes the naturalistic aspect of naturalistic evolutionism.
It goes as follows:

P1) If there are unintelligent beings that possess telos, then they must be guided by intelligence
P2) There exists unintelligent beings that possess telos
P3) Therefore there exists a guiding intelligence

With 'telos' being the end or goal by which a being operates, and an 'unintelligent being' defined as an entity which lacks knowledge and consciousness.

Defence of P1
This can be stated as such:

"every unconscious teleology, every case of something being for something without awareness of what it"s for, is dependent on some conscious teleology, on some mind which is aware what that thing is for" [2]

The reasoning behind this claim is that to act towards an end - to possess telos - requires both knowledge concerning the end, and also intention to move towards the end. This is because to act for a purpose requires knowledge of that purpose. An entity cannot act towards a purpose if it does not know about the purpose itself, as it cannot act in the certain way required in order to achieve it. However, an unintelligent entity has neither knowledge nor intention, and as such cannot, by itself, act towards an end through its own means. Consequently, if it does act towards such an end, then it must be guided towards it by an entity that possesses knowledge about about the purpose - there is no other way in which it can occur. This must, by definition, be an intelligent being, considering that there is knowledge involved."

Defence of P2
It is fairly obvious that some things in this world display telos. As a matter of fact, a great deal - a substantive majority, in fact, of earthly entities possess such features. Merely in terms of the human body, there are numerous examples. From the heart pumping blood in order to provide oxygen to the body, to the brain making thoughts in order to give human rationality, there is an obvious, discernible final cause present in nature."Indeed, medicine as a science relies on teleology in our bodies; to cure a diseased liver, for instance, rests on the assumption that the diseased organ is not fulfilling its purpose; it implies that the liver has a purpose that it is not fulfilling, that needs to in turn be fulfilled. We humans have a properly basic belief that there exists telos in nature, and by simple evidentialism, we can isolate phenomena that exhibit telos in their activities. These entities that possess telos, like the human heart, are not intelligent or conscious in any way, yet show movement towards an end.
We also need not use organic examples - for example, inorganic processes such as the rock cycle exhibit very similar teleology in their operation. [3]

Defence of P3
If the first two premises are correct, then the conclusion necessarily follows. What we are left with is a demiurge type being, which is the intelligent guider of natural processes that by definition refutes the naturalistic claim that no such being exists, and especially concerning the view that evolution was guided by natural processes; if the argument is correct, then evolution - an inorganic process - was guided by intelligence.

So, I have provided two pieces of evidence that Naturalistic Evolution is an irrational belieff to affirm - one concerning it's self defeating nature, and one concerning contrary evidence.
Thanks Con, I hand the debate over to you.



I. Preface:

I am grateful for Pro for instigating this debate. In all honesty I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I accepted this debate, as I thought it would be a debate on evolutionary theory or naturalism... I never realised this was an actual argument which is quite widely discussed in philosophical circles. The so-named 'Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism', and all of it's incarnations.

II. Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is squarely on Pro for the course of this debate, as such much of my effort is going to concentrate on refuting my opponent's arguments. However I do intend to throw a few words in the positive direction of evolutionary naturalism.

III. Rebuttals to the "Evolutionary argument against naturalism"

First, I need to summarise what my opponent is attempting to argue here and to see how it logically demonstrates that naturalistic evolutionism is self-refuting. So we have the conclusion, "belief in naturalistic evolution is self-refuting". Moreover we have the evidential inputs which are as listed:

1. Beliefs are selected for if they are exhibited in instinctual behaviors
2. Natural selection (evolution) only selects for advantageous instinctual behaviors, and not necessarily for true behaviours

From this we can conclude that natural selection only selects advantageous instinctual beliefs, which I find quite agreeable. Notice I have inserted the word 'instinctual' here, which will become very important shortly:

C1. Natural Selection only selects for advantageous beliefs, and not necessarily true beliefs

So essentially Pro is demonstrating that our instinctual beliefs are divorced from the truth of those beliefs, now whether or not this is synonymous with the further conclusion that "Our instinctual beliefs are likely wrong assuming naturalistic evolution is false" is not something I will address yet, but let us assume this is true for the sake of argument. We need to tie this second conclusion with the conclusion that Pro is arguing for, which is "belief in naturalistic evolution is true is self-refuting". [1,2]

So we have:
P1) Our instinctual beliefs are likely wrong assuming naturalistic evolution is true
P2) ???
Conclusion: Belief that naturalistic evolution is true is likely false (self-refuting)

Here we have a hidden assumption that Pro needs to make, and clearly hasn't, since it's an easily refutable one:

P1) Our instinctual beliefs are likely false assuming naturalistic evolution is true
P2) Instinctual beliefs are the only source of belief assuming naturalistic evolution is true
Conclusion: Belief that naturalistic evolution is true is likely false (self-refuting)

This premise of course is one that biologists and neurologists will scream objection at.[2] While it is plausible that our instinctual 'beliefs' may not correlate to truth, it does not logically follow that any belief we would have is indeed an instinctual one. First and fore more, we have complex brains, which are capable of developing beliefs which are not part of the natural selection process. Indeed, if increasingly sophisticated brains means we are more likely to hold true non-instinctual) beliefs than false beliefs, then it reasonably follows that increase sophistication is a trait that will be positively selected for given all other factors are equal.

It of course is more complicated than this when you consider trade-offs, but right here we can see that Pro's argument falls on a fallacy of equivocation, equivocating instinctual beliefs, selected for by natural selection, to any and all beliefs of which I have listed one of huge major ones.

To cement this issue let's take the following thought experiment

Take the following equation: 2x2 = 4

What does the 'x' in this equation mean? To someone who is not already trained? Well it could mean anything, but two examples of what it could mean is that the x is an addition function, or a multiplication function. Either 'belief' inwould net the same response, or result. And both given all other things are equal would be equally selected for via. natural selection.

The person however, holding the wrong belief, who attempts to apply this to other situations such as: 3x5 will run into problems. The person holding the belief that x is an addition function and hence 3x5=8 will be holding a false belief, and will be selected out of the population by natural selection. The person holding the belief that x is a multiplication function will pass the selection process.

By this demonstration, we can see that because individual beliefs do not exist in a vacuum, they will tend to correlate with truth as we increase the number of situations these and conflicting beliefs are exposed to. Our sophisticated brains do a similar thing, and the above process will sound very familiar to my fellow scientists, as it closely mirrors the scientific method!

So far I have demonstrated that Pro's argument is either logically invalid or unsound, and have given good reasons to believe that naturalistic evolutionism is rationally affirmable.

IV. Attack on 'Supernaturalism':

I have accepted that we evidently do hold some false beliefs, and I am certain most people will also accept this, people do hold false beliefs. This is true regardless of whether or not naturalism or supernaturalist is true. Hence, evidently, even assuming supernaturalist to be true, our beliefs do not directly correlate with truth either, and therefore belief in supernaturalist is also self-defeating according to the logic presented by Pro so far. This is quite simply a 'tu torque' logical fallacy.

V. Telos Argument:

I have reposted Pro's teleology here:

P1) If there are unintelligent beings that possess telos, then they must be guided by intelligence
P2) There exists unintelligent beings that possess telos
C) Therefore there exists a guiding intelligence

This argument is logically valid, so I will not be attacking the structure of the argument, but I will be disputing the premises.

Where I dispute the premises is somewhat fuzzy, as it depends on the definition of 'telos' that we accept. Telos as far as I can see if "an ultimate objective, or aim", or 'end' as Pro asserts.

However this definition essentially presupposes the the objective/aim/end is a specified one, and therefore specified by a guiding intelligence. So, what I was most interested in is exactly how Pro justified that these 'ends' are 1. Recognised and 2. Only guided by intelligence (assuming that telos doesn't presuppose a guiding intelligence).

Pro's justification for the former is that objects with telos needs both knowledge and intention to achieve it's end. But by what reasoning should we accept this to be a fact? Evolution is well-known for reusing existing parts for different 'ends' or purposes. One could take a whale's fin 'arms', and see that these are reused 'arms' of it's proposed mammalian ancestor.[3]

To extend this to an analogy, I could walk into a garden, which I have for my entire like been gardening and shovelling with only my bare hands. One day I suddenly come across a piece of flat wood, it is nothing special, but I find that by using this piece of wood I am capable of accomplishing my gardening task with greater ease. My descendants would use similar pieces of wood, each generation using increasingly better adapted pieces of wood which resembles spaces and forks, as the shape has morphed it's shape over time (via natural selection).

If one looks at the end result, they will see that my descendants are using highly sophisticated pieces of machinery that seem to be fulfilling an end/purpose, and would only be accessible if such a thing was 'planned', or knowledge of the shape of this tool was known before the first piece of wood was found. However I have just shown here that this is simply not the case, especially when we have a process such as evolution via. natural selection directing the process.

With 'telos' being the end or goal by which a being operates, and an 'unintelligent being' defined as an entity which lacks knowledge and consciousness.

This argument runs into both Premise 1 and Premise 2 of my opponent's argument. In that if an object allegedly possesses telos, then it doesn't necessarily need to be accomplished by guiding intelligence. And if we accept that telos contains the presupposition that it is guided by intelligence, then premise 2 is unsound, as there Pro has not provided an objective way to tell between two objects, one of which appears to have telos, and one which does not.

Please note the subjective tone in which Pro justifies that we have inanimate objects that display telos.

"It is fairly obvious that some things in this world display telos."

I ask Pro to provide an objective standard by which we can determine anything at all has telos, if it contains this intelligence presupposition. Since we can apply this to virtually anything in the universe. The supernova that caused the Crab Nebula fulfilled it's 'purpose/end' by providing a spectacular light show/entertainment for humans 1,000 years ago. Jupiter is fulfilling it's 'end' by mopping up many of the deadly asteroids that would otherwise impact earth. The local river is fulfilling it's end by effectively transporting water from higher grounds into the ocean.

Were all these guided by intelligence? It seems rather absurd. Until we can objectively identify which has/has not telos, then this argument is one big appeal to intuition/perception.

VI. Conclusion:

The resolution is negated, and I have given a number of reasons for thinking the resolution is in fact, false.

VII. References:
Debate Round No. 2


Hey Con

To my understanding, Con makes the following points:
- Instinctual beliefs do not equal all beliefs
- True beliefs are more likely to be naturally selected
-Supernaturalism falls under the same trap
And so I'll respond to these claims next.

Only instinctual beliefs?
Con's central claim is that instinctual beliefs are the only content beliefs that are affected. However, I see this to be patently false. An integral part of my argument is the notion that our neurology as a whole, under naturalistic evolution, cannot be trusted in itself nor in any of its operations. This is because it too is adaptive: the whole system of our neurology - not simply its content, but the way it observes, senses and understands the world is adaptive for survival and reproduction: if this is the case, it will see the whole external environment to be simply whatever is necessary or required for survival. To give a subjunctive example, it may be that observing the world as millions of little squares as opposed to concrete entities is more advantageous for survival. However, in such a case, It is true that all our beliefs stem from our perception of our environment - perception originating from neurology that sees such an environment to be whatever is best for survival.
It is vital to note that our neurology isn't simply a blank canvas by which beliefs are produced in their own adaptive means - under naturalistic evolution, all aspects of human life is adaptive to the most basic structures, meaning that all traits being produced by such morphologies - id est, beliefs from neurology - are products of adaptive, and therefore untrustworthy, structures.

Naturalistic Evolution as an instinctual belief
Regardless of Con's objection, I still maintain that it achieves no ground in discrediting my argument. This is because naturalistic evolution in itself can be argued to be an instinctual belief.
Naturalistic Evolution fundamentally is opposed to religion and religious belief. Indeed, it explicitly rejects the involvement of the supernatural or divine in evolutionary development, ergo rejecting the integral premise of theism. This can tell us two things:
1} Naturalistic Evolution is an instinctual response response to prima facie religious oppression and restriction of personal freedom
2) Naturalistic Evolution is an instinctual response for the furthering of rational and intellectual thought that thereby gives a survival benefit for a species
Both aspects should produce a survival benefit to a species. Escaping an oppressive force encourages the flourishing of a species; and the advancement of rational and scientific thought is equally as beneficial to survival. Indeed, studies have even been shown that naturalism will be beneficial to survival [2], supporting the claim that such a belief like naturalistic evolution is an instinct belief.
And so it is likely that Naturalistic Evolution, as a belief, is indeed a content belief that is subconsciously rooted in survival and reproduction and not therefore truth. It is no different to any other instinct belief.

An important side-note should be made, and that is that anything that Con asserts is based upon the assumption that his cognitive faculties are reliable. However, this has not been established; the establishment of reliability can only occur once my argument concerning whole neurology is refuted in itself.
So an independent reason needs to be given as to why my argument fails, otherwise any objection that is made, like when Con argues that truth is advantageous to survival, is begging the question of reliable cognitive faculties.

An unsound analogy
Next, Con presents an analogy with a math equation in an attempt to show that truth correlates with survival. However, not only is this presupposing reliable cognitive faculties (see above) in even asserting the analogy; the external environment is not a math equation. It is far more complex with vastly more variables. And so while I agree that humans do not live in a 'vacuum', rather than being detrimental to my argument, it actually supports it, and makes the issue more complex for Con to defend, bringing greater capacity for false beliefs to surface. Moreover, there are equally as vast amount of ways to survive in an ecological environment. To extend the analogy, say that the true belief in accordance to the environment is equivalent to, say, 3+5=8 and whatever arrives at '8' survives. A species could survive with 7+1, 6+2, 4+4 etc. All are false beliefs, yet survive. Indeed, the number of false beliefs greatly outnumber the number of true beliefs. It doesn't seem that Con's analogy succeeds.

Is truth always beneficial to survival?
This is the underlying premise of Con's rebuttal; however, I see this to be mendacious. Firstly, there is no means of proving such a notion - it is innately unprovable
Secondly, the truth value of the assertion at hand depends upon the backdrop of the reliability of our neurology and our sense of our environment and is not an independent objection in itself - as a contention, it simply presupposes reliable neurology.

Aside from a faulty thought experiment, Con offers little in support of the notion. Indeed, there appears to be little to say in support of the notion - any support given will inevitably assume an accurate assessment of the environment and an accurate assessment of logic, which hasn't of yet been established. Any 'evidence' will merely show a correlation between presupposed truth and survival - but not only is this to be expected (any belief 'X' will always be supposed to be true by the instigator of such a belief), correlation never implies causation. Here, the lack of knowledge by the Naturalistic Evolutionist surfaces - they lack the required knowledge to back up their claims.

Supernaturalism and truth
As a sub-point, Con argues that belief in supernaturalism is also self-defeating. However I simply do not see this to be true. If supernaturalism is correct, then truth, knowledge and all understanding is grounded in that supernatural entity. There is nothing about supernaturalism that implies, either explicitly or implicitly, that belief in supernaturalism leads towards a defeater for supernaturalism itself - and if there is, then Con needs to identify such a defeater. If one subscribes to supernaturalism, you do not in turn adhere to any particular process that puts in question the truth value of supernaturalism itself. Rather, you adhere to the opposite - that a supernatural being is the foundation of truth. It is in no sense self-refuting.

Argument #2
So Con makes numerous points in response to my argument, which I understand to be:
-Clarification of terms
-Defense of the first premise
-Evolution as a solution
-Objectiveness of Teleology
And so I'll respond to each.

There appears to be some confusion concerning what Telos is concerned with in the argument. While I think that all definitions given are sound, in a strictly Thomistic sense, 'Telos' is a function which an entity exhibits, with regularity, that achieves a final cause of which, is integral to that entity's ontology. And so if an event performed by an entity falls under these criteria, then whatever event is performed, is the specified end - of which, I argue that a guiding intelligence must guide.

Justification of P1
Con, despite my original justification for P1, appears to be unsatisfied with my argument. Though I have already explained, I'll give further backing for the premise.
If one admits that direction towards a purpose exists, you also admit a form of intentionality. An entity cannot be directed towards a purpose without some form of director of any sort. A useful way of seeing this is through Aristotelian possibility and actuality. An unintelligent entity that has the capacity to exhibit a function 'X' is said to be 'possibly X'. In order to move to possible function X, that same entity must be moved from possibly X to actually X. However, if it is in motion like that, then it must be moved by another, actual entity - an unintelligent and unconscious entity cannot move itself with regularity towards a purpose. As such, a final cause (telos) implies a guider towards the final cause.
It is the specification that implies the intelligence. The mover, in order to constantly and with regularity move from state Y to state X must possess knowledge of X - how else can X be achieved with such regularity? P1 therefore stands.

An unsound analogy
Con gives an analogy to supports his argument. However, I think that it is counter-intuitive. Note that the agents in the analogy are in themselves intelligent and so far from being detrimental to my argument, it actually supports the notion that telos requires intelligence. Secondly, it hints at evolution as an explanation of telos - see below.

There is a brief mention of evolutionary theory in Con's response, with the implication that it can explain teleology. However, it is simply an irrelevance. Firstly, evolutionary processes are in themselves teleological, being inorganic processes with teleological tendencies (e.g. survival of the fittest). Secondly, the truth value of evolution without a guiding intelligence needs to be considered on the backdrop of argument #1 in this debate.

Objective Standard
The question of determining an objective standard of teleology is to be found in the 'Clarification' section of this round. Any entity that exhibits these criteria has objective telos in a Thomistic sense.

In a general sense, the objections presented by Con fail on one count or another. In argument #1, my points concerning the general neurological reliability need to be responded to; in argument #2, Con still needs to form a substantive response to several of my points. The resolution is maintained.




I would like to separate a few definitions of beliefs:

Instinctual Belief - Innate beliefs that are not learned, and not involved by reason
Learned Belief - Learned eliefs that are not necessarily innate, but are accepted by our conscious cognitive faculties

IIA. Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism

From Pro's rebuttal, it is clear he accepts that we are capable of having beliefs (such as learned beliefs) that are largely independent of those brought on by natural selection (NS) (instinctual beliefs). By making this rather large (and easily defended) concession Pro's case loses virtually all of it's punch. Belief in evolution and naturalism is very simply one that is essentially exclusively a 'learned belief', and most definitely not an instinctual one.

Pro might have a case that subset of instinctual belief contents don't necessarily correspond with truth to yield their (naturally selected) effects/behaviours. But a learned belief doesn't suffer from these same problems (which I will argue isn't as clear as Pro makes it out to be anyway), since these learned beliefs are not naturally selected for. An individual with a beneficial belief might have a better chance of surviving, but those beliefs don't intrinsically become passed on to the next generation. Therefore are not subject to the same criticism that virtually all of Pro's argument makes.

So now Pro attacks the trustworthiness of our cognitive faculties to make beliefs that generally correspond with truth, after all I agree that the brain and it's ability to form learned beliefs is one that is driven by NS, and built for survival and reproduction, and not intrinsically for having accurate beliefs. But now this is all besides the original point, since Pro has given no argument why the brain would construct learned beliefs that are likely to have content that is likely not true. None.

IIB. Learned Beliefs & Trustworthiness of the Brain:

So now I will defend the trustworthiness of our learned cognitive faculties, but there are several reasons why we would evolve to develop cognitive faculties that tend to correlate with truth:

1. It offers a much more rapid method of acquiring new, unique beliefs - allowing for rapid adaptability
2. It allows for changes in these beliefs as circumstances change
3. It allows for introspection/problem solving
4. Ability to form/utilise complex language & communication
5. Versatility

All of these factors come into play, and when taking into account the fact that we have interacting belief contents, and the testing of our beliefs in different circumstances, it is quite transparent why it would inevitably converge on truth.

Incorrect 'learned' belief content despite being true in one context, would inevitably be falsified when applied to a new situation. Last round I presented an example with math of 2x2=4. If we look at this example, there are only so many easily accessible belief contents which would satisfy the 'x' sign in this equation, with the 'true' belief content being amongst them. As we apply this 'learned belief' to more and more examples, of which the false belief contents would eventually get weeded out as they would no longer satisfy the equations, we converge on the truth.

I would also like to add we have interacting beliefs, and composite learned beliefs. I.e. Beliefs that depend on a foundation of prior 'learned beliefs'. One example is how to make tea, where you will rely on your prior 'learned beliefs' of where the milk and water is, along with a summating belief of how to combine them into tea. With each step up this pyramid, or 'web' of complex beliefs, it it quickly realised that beliefs with incorrect belief contents would make each 'complex learned belief' increasingly unsound, and therefore more liable to falsification against future experiences.

None of this is at all affected by Pro's original argument that our brain faculties are intrinsically tied to what is driven by evolution. True belief contents are inherently efficient, and yield far fewer false 'learned beliefs' and false 'learned complex beliefs' than false belief contents. And it is very easy to see how species with cognitive faculties that tend to form true 'learned belief contents' will be preferred via. NS over those who are more indifferent. Especially in species where more complex belief contents or more rapid change of these belief contents with such faculties favoured by NS (primates, herds with rapidly changing ).

Another note I would like to expand upon, is the inherent efficiency of holding one true belief contents over multiple false belief contents. For example we can take the following set of equations:

1.) 3 x 3 = 9
2.) 4 x 3 = 12

Holding the bare minimum true belief contents about what multiplication means, and what the numbers represent will solve these perfectly. However to hold a false belief content (such as x 3 from (1)means 'plus six') means that in order to be able to solve other otherwise contradictory examples (such as from (2)) one must make additional 'ad hoc' false beliefs contents to satisfy this truth (such as 4 actually means the number six). This is inefficient in time/memory/resources/*versatility*, and thus it is easy to see that even instinctual, along with learned belief contents will tend towards truth. Note that this very conceivably extrapolate to reality, unlike what Pro asserts.

Pro's objections such as his square/concrete entities are now attacking how we sense the environment. This doesn't particularly matter even if it was an obstacle since beliefs can be defined according to our sense perceptions. A C# note is defined in our beliefs according to how it sounds! although of course we define it in reality to a certain frequency. All that is necessary is that our sense perceptions are *consistent*.

I see absolutely no weight to Pro's argument that Naturalistic Evolution being an instinctual belief, he simply bald asserts it. Prima facie I don't see how such a belief confers even a smidge of reproductive survival advantage.

Also I do not appreciate Pro attacking my own cognitive faculties, and I can just as easily put the same question towards his own position. The position I have represented so far is that naturalistic evolutionism does allow for some false belief contents, but it has mechanisms as described that naturally cause it to converge on truth. All beliefs are provisional in this sense and become increasingly refined with time and experience. This seems to strongly correlate with the facts of the world we live in, as people clearly do hold false belief contents, as many do hold contradictory ones. That being the case there seems to be a much stronger case for naturalistic evolutionism than there is readily explained by any other hypothesis, and in fact makes for a positive case on my part!

IIC. Supernaturalism:

Pro's bald assertion that the fact that truth is grounded in my supernatural entity means he can trust his cognitive faculties. If that is the case we would expect everyone to have fully reliable cognitive faculties. But this is evidently false, as I have already mentioned people do have conflicting beliefs with each other, some of these people therefore must have had a failing in their faculties. Which contradicts Pro's bald assertion that supernaturalist makes it reliable, and therefore is evidence against supernaturalism.

III. Telos Stuff

I don't believe I need to spend much time on this part, as Pro's argument is entirely subjective, and also is a head-on argument against evolution. Either Pro needs to either assert that evolution is false, or that evolution is guided by an intelligence.

Given that evolution is overwhelmingly *objectively* supported and verified by science, it seems Pro needs to assert the latter for his argument to stand a chance.

First let's get to Pro's bald assertions:

"If one admits that direction towards a purpose exists, you also admit a form of intentionality."
"An entity cannot be directed towards a purpose without some form of director of any sort."

Pro gives zero reason for accepting these to be true. Given that telos is a subjectively determined factor, and are labels that we humans assign to processes that appear to fulfil an 'end', it Is a non-sequitur to assert that this process could only have been guided by intelligence. For one this assumes the conclusion, and secondly there is no way to determine if that end was ever pre-planned, or was instead an 'emergent end'. The thought experiment I gave last round was a clear example of an 'emergent end', which just happened to be beneficial for self-propagation, and thus requires no purposeful planning, or any guiding intelligence whatsoever to become such.

And as far as Pro has demonstrated, there is absolutely no way to tell between something with a prescriptive end, or an emergent one. Thus rendering Pro's assertion flatly unsound. I also gave the whale fin example, but there are many other documented examples of body parts which fulfil a new 'end' without the requirement of a guiding intelligence. Their current purposes are entirely emergent. Another favourite example are bird feathers,[1] which originally were just reptile scales, which became frayed, likely because they worked as better heat insulators, and then finally became tuned to flight as they were found to be useful for gliding purposes.

At no point was this ultimate 'end' of achieving flight 'chosen' by NS from scales, but all points in the hump are driven by survival.

Pro attempts to assert that evolutionary processes are also telogocal in themselves. Even if this was the case, he offers zero reasons to believe it required a guiding intelligence.

IV. Conclusion
I have presented a case for why we should trust our cognitive faculties, and why the evidence heavily favours naturalistic evolutionism to be true in this case.

V. References
Debate Round No. 3


Hey Con!
Let's go straight into the rebuttals.

Instinctual vs Learned Beliefs
I think some clarification is needed. I explicitly mentioned in my opening round and indeed the round after that, that because under naturalistic evolution, neurology in itself is adaptive, the products of such neurology cannot be relied upon. Learned or unlearned, all beliefs that arise must be unreliable under such a scenario - learned beliefs are merely learned from neurology - if the neurology is unreliable, so too must be the beliefs that are derived from it.
However, my opponent seems to have ignored my argument and instead has become fixated onto differentiating between instinctual and learned beliefs. Indeed, while this may be a relevant objection sans unreliable cognitive faculties, that is not what I am arguing for. I do not argue against the beliefs in themselves - rather, I argue against the neurology from which the beliefs arise from There is a distinct difference between the two. Unfortunately, my opponent spends much of his energies defending the former rather than the latter. As a result, this objection is largely irrelevant to my argument and is futile his cause.

Cognitive faculties and truth under naturalistic evolution
i) Evolution and reliability
Con proceeds to state that natural selection will favor reliable cognitive faculties, listing five points. However, all five of these characteristics can apply equally to unreliable cognitive faculties as much as they can do to reliable cognitive faculties. I see no reason as to why they should be exclusive, and why unreliable neurology cannot produce all the aspects listed.
Furthermore, I think that I should clarify here. 'Unreliable' does not mean 'faulty'. Rather, in this context, it means fully functioning, but not in accordance to an accurate sense or assessment of external existence. In such a context, it is clear that this contention has no force - each of the five points are in relation to functioning neurology. However, I never deny that under evolution, neurology is 'functioning'. I argue that it is 'functioning' in accordance to an unreliable sense of the external environment.
ii) Learned and Composite learned beliefs
Con asserts that as the number of learned beliefs increases, the number of false beliefs decreases. However, there is a missing part to this - as I have already explained, until neurological reliability is established, these learned and composite learned beliefs will remain to be figurative platonic shadows of the figurative unreliable platonic forms of our cognitive faculties. I have no doubt that they will be true in accordance to the subjective sense of the environment, but they will not in turn be objectively true in accordance to objective reality. It appears therefore that Con falls into the same trap.

Con's response to the unreliability of underlying neurology
My opponent's objection to this area of my argument states that 'beliefs are defined according to our sense perceptions' and that 'All that is necessary is that our sense perceptions are consistent'. However, I see this to be wrong. This is because there is a divide between the subjective experience of the external environment and an objective perception of the external environment. Unreliable cognitive faculties will produce the former and not the latter. Indeed, my entire argument asserts this!
The vital point to make is that when establishing what objectively occurred in the past, it is entirely dependent on the objective perception and not the subjective perception; in which case, even if the beliefs are 'consistent', they still produce inaccurate results in an objective sense, which is all that matters.

Is it self-defeating to contest that naturalistic evolution correlates with truth?
As a side-point, I think that it is relevant to mention that when Con asserts that both
i) Instinctual beliefs
ii) Learned beliefs
correlate with truth under Naturalistic Evolution, then it seems that he has glossed over perhaps one of the most central instinctual/learned beliefs during human history - that being religion and religious belief. [1][2]
The human condition is and always has been to believe in the supernatural and religious belief. Thusly, through subscribing to truth and natural selection, you are consequently admitting that religious belief and the supernatural are in themselves likely to be true, in accordance to the truth of composite learned beliefs or instinctual beliefs (both of which Con claims to be reliable). This discredits the naturalistic evolutionist's claims. If this is denied, then one must also deny that cognitive faculties are reliable and consequently admit that you cannot make a reliable decision concerning naturalistic evolution itself.

Supernaturalism and Truth
Con states that supernaturalism is self-defeating through the same logic, and that the differing opinions among humans show 'a failing in their faculties'. However, this misrepresents what I stated. I don't claim that under supernaturalism, everyone should be right about everything. It doesn't follow. However what I do claim is that unlike naturalistic evolution, when one subscribes to supernaturalism, you do not in turn subscribe to any particular process that puts into question the whole notion of supernaturalism. It cannot possibly be self-defeating.

Argument #2
Con's response here appears to be rather lacking. He dismisses much of my argument as 'bald assertion', despite previous justification in prior rounds.

Is Telos Subjective?
Con's main contention is that teleology in a basic sense is subjective. However, I simply do not see this to be true. As I already stated, objective telos is determined through the meeting of certain criteria - namely, exhibiting a function with regularity as to achieve a final cause. This can take many forms. However, it by no means follows that teleology is subjective. Just as the water cycle may take different forms, it is still too objectively determined through the meeting of certain criteria - namely the changing forms of water. The same is with teleology. Though the individual instances may differ, it is objectively determined through the meeting of criteria.

Justification for P1
Con dismisses much of what I stated because it is apparently 'bald assertion'. However, this seems to ignore all of the justification I gave in the previous round. For Con's convenience, let me quote my argument:
"A useful way of seeing this is through Aristotelian possibility and actuality. An unintelligent entity that has the capacity to exhibit a function 'X' is said to be 'possibly X'. In order to move to possible function X, that same entity must be moved from possibly X to actually X. However, if it is in motion like that, then it must be moved by another, actual entity - an unintelligent and unconscious entity cannot move itself with regularity towards a purpose. As such, a final cause (telos) implies a guider towards the final cause.
It is the specification that implies the intelligence. The mover, in order to constantly and with regularity move from state Y to state X must possess knowledge of X - how else can X be achieved with such regularity? P1 therefore stands."
Con simply ignores this justification and so the the claim that my argument is 'bald assertion' is simply wrong. I give justification.

What determines a prescriptive or emergent end?
I would say that there are 3 criteria to determine a prescriptive end:
1) The entity achieves the end with regularity
2) Sans external forces, the entity has no capacity to enforce the end by itself
3) Without the end, the entity exhibits no obvious function or purpose
So a being which exhibits a final cause regularly, without the capacity to achieve it solely by itself, is prescriptive.
I argue that there cannot exist an 'emergent' end, and that all final causes imply a guider, so the question of how an emergent end is determined is null. I argue that anything which shows telos (an end) in any sense, must have a guider.

In this debate, I have given two arguments against the affirmation of naturalistic evolution, the first stating that the notion is self-defeating, and the second giving contrary evidence. However, Con's reponses to these arguments have been unsatisfactory. My opponent seems to side-step the central points in my arguments, and gives accusations that I gave 'bald assertions', despite clear justification of the issues. Consequently, my burden of proof is fulfilled and the resolution is maintained.
Finally, I would like to thank Envisage for a really great, interesting, and challenging debate. It has been thoroughly enjoyable for me and I hope it has been for you too. Thank you also to the readers, commenters and future voters.
God Bless



Just got back home. I have literally 2 mins to type something of an argument

Ok here goes

I have shown how the beliefs our cognitive be faculties will tend to truth. They are efficient, and I never accepted that our faculties would be represents ice OF objective truth. We know this trivially due to optical illusions, and the fact that atoms are mostly empty space.

It is when we have several sources of information to weed out the unreliable information. Contradicting beliefs

As for telos, there is no way to objectively determine what has telos, and whether or not the end is prescribe or emergent

Ok go thanks Pro for a great debate!!

Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Siladheil 7 years ago
I'm posting my debate on this page too because there are a lot less comments on it lol Please tell me what you think.
Posted by Envisage 7 years ago
Posted by Loveshismom 7 years ago
I forgot to post it in airmax's debate forum
Posted by Envisage 7 years ago
Yeah, me too....

It was a better debate than most, even with the sketchy last round.
Posted by Toviyah 7 years ago
Surprised no-one voted on this one...
Posted by Toviyah 7 years ago
@Loveshismom sure!
Posted by Loveshismom 7 years ago
Can I post this debate in "post on voted debates here"?
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
See if you hadn't been offering me sexual recompense for my vote you might have had time to put in an argument! ;-)
Posted by Toviyah 7 years ago
Haha, at least you got an argument in :s
Posted by Envisage 7 years ago
I am really sorry I couldn't type anything... I thought I had already forfeited it and I walked through the door and checked and saw 2 min 21 seconds on the clock and though, 'blah'.

Thanks for a great debate though, hah.
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