Evolution and rationality

I have a question for those who believe that the world was created uncaused, and that all life, and specifically, the human mind, was created solely by the forces of evolution.

What is rationality/logic?

Do you take rationality/logic as thought processes which were selected for their survival value?

If so, is it rational/logical because it increases survival, or does it increase survival because it's rational/logical?

Yeah the dividing line here is not between a person who believes in evolution and one who allows for the supernatural. The dividing line is between a person who only believes in the material or natural world and one who allows for a supernatural world as well. A person who believes there is a supernatural element can still believe that evolution is true in part or as a whole theory. Strictly speaking these kinds of arguments are useful for an atheistic vs. supernatural debate. An atheist by definition can't believe in the supernatural and that is where you can bring in all kinds of evidence for the supernatural including man's reason and the existence of logic.

I think looking to evolution for the existence of things like reason or morality or logic is a dead end.  They beg for a supernatural explanation just like mathematics does.  

"the only time people have a problem with evolution or science is when it conflicts with some doctrine or teaching of their denomination or religion."

I strongly disagree with that.

There are plenty of other reasons besides religiosity to have issues with certain aspects of evolution or some scientific conclusions or processes. I think an atheist can have as many issues with science as a theist.

ttt for later.

Prof.

PS. have you been reading Plantinga, you sneaky boy?

there is no logic or proof-just hope i guess

prof, are you talking about Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism as presented in Warrant and Proper Function? I've read it, and perhaps it was at the back of my mind when writting this but I wasn't really thinking about it.

To everyone else, yes, you can be a theist and believe in evolution, but I was actually just trying to get a sense of what atheist/naturalist-evolutionists take rationality/logic to be.

---"prof, are you talking about Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism as presented in Warrant and Proper Function?

Yes.

I'll try and get back later.

Prof.

are you talking about macro or micro evolution. Not like man evolving from apes. but adapting to say a changing enviroment

Chris,

"macro" and "micro" evolution are effectively the same thing. In fact those terms are very rarely encountered in the study of evolution. Rather, creationists use those terms as a wedge strategy for pretending there is a difference between the two.
"Macro evolution" is simply "micro-evolution" over a longer period of time.

Imagine a set of 25 stairs. At the bottom is a population of organisms (a certain species) in one form. At the top - each step representing another generation of change - is the population of organisms having reached a major change in form (into a new species).

In this analogy what the creationists tend to say is:
"Yes, I can accept that taking two steps up will move you a little ways up the stairs - two stairs up. But
continuing to step up the stairs will not get you to the top."

For anyone who knows how evolution works, that is exactly what the creationists are saying. "We can accept that populations do some evolving in short periods of time. But we won't accept they do a lot of evolving over long periods of time."

What no creationist has ever uncovered is a mechanism that would make any sense of their argument.
That is a mechanism that would stop the process of gradual change over time becoming large orders of change over large orders of time.

And BTW, man evolving from an ancient primate (not an ape!) WAS an instance of adaptation to a changing environment.

Prof.

well I cant wait for my hand to evolve into a remote control-I can hardly find the dern thing!

Its not that creationist say it couldnt happen over long periods of time-we are just saying it didnt. No mutation has ever developed the way evolution calls for. Furthermore, Darwin himself said that as research continued if something could be proven to be irreducably complex that his theory would fall on its face. Well, now we know many things are that way such as the human eye. 25% of an eye is just as useless as 55%. Also-Darwins black box the cell is certainly problematiic for evolutionist. Darwin also said he thought the fossil record in the future would solidify his claims but that hasnt happened.

---"Its not that creationist say it couldnt happen over long periods of time-we are just saying it didnt.

For no reason other than your commitment to a belief in a theistic creation account. And that's it. The objection to evolutionary science is not scientificallymotivated; it is motivated by your religious beliefs. It is hardly coincidence that it is virtually only creationists who are attempting to knock down the theory. Just what proportion of scientist familiar with the biological data reject evolution? It's almost nil. And isn't it a coincidence that those familiar with the data who do reject evolution are...what a surprise...pre-committed to a creationist account?

---"No mutation has ever developed the way evolution calls for.

Of course. How is it you can see this so clearly, but all those trained scientists who are actually in the field, who collect the data, and who understand the science behind the theory, actually think the opposite? "Hey, you guys...some guy on the internet says science has it all wrong. Let's drop our work now."
Perhaps you can inform the scientists working on treatments for things like AIDS that mutations don't happen as evolutionary theory predicts. It would save them a lot of trouble if you could educate them by introducing a new biological paradigm that would make better predictions.

---" Furthermore, Darwin himself said that as research continued if something could be proven to be irreducibly complex that his theory would fall on its face. Well, now we know many things are that way such as the human eye. 25% of an eye is just as useless as 55%.

Completely untrue and only someone steeped in creationist dis-information would repeat that nonsense. There are examples of eyes in sorts of stages, from primitive single celled light sensors to slightly more complex eyes on up to human eyes to eyes with even better "design" than human eyes (e.g. Squid eyes do hot have some of the defects of human eyes). Here is a link to some discussions of eye evolution:

http://www.origins.tv/darwin/eyes.htm#Overview

---"Also-Darwins black box the cell is certainly problematiic for evolutionist.

No it's not. No one in evolutionary biology takes it seriously because the overwhelming evidence is against Behe's idea. Here, for instance, is one deconstruction of Behe's idea that the flagellum is irreducibly complex:

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html

---"Darwin also said he thought the fossil record in the future would solidify his claims but that hasnt happened.

I don't know where you get that idea. Every fossil found has only solidified the theory of evolution. Not one, ever, has ever contradicted evolution. And there are in fact many ways fossils could contradict evolution. But of course it has never happened (except in the fantasies of creationists).

Prof.

Come now, don't hijack my thread.

This thread is about the role of rationality in evolution, not the scientific datum.

Sorry. Back to your thread topic WOH. I got distracted there.

Prof.

No prob.

Anyone care to share what they think rationality/logic is?

evolutionist also come from a faith perspective. Thats why its a thoery and not fact.

Dude, you're going to get raped for that. I feel sorry for you...

---"What is rationality/logic?

Logic is many things because there are many forms of logic. But in general, logic is essentially formal methods of reasoning by which we try to remove contradictions from our thinking.

Rationality is much harder to pin down because it tends to connote not only that which is logical, but that which is "sound" or which corresponds to a supposed "reality."

That, of course, gets you into lots of sticky areas ("truth," "reality," Knowledge" etc.) In a nutshell I would generally align "rationality" with the widely understood criteria for "knowledge:" A belief is rational when it is a "Justified, true belief." (Gettier problems notwithstanding...and I don't want to get too far into this because I'll spill too many pixels). However, I think it's important to point out that rationality need not necessarily need the "truth" quotient. In fact, it often doesn't. Mankind has often come to logical, reasonable conclusions about the world that have turned out to be wrong. But new information changed the equation and gave new insight into our error. So you can be rational but wrong (your conclusion does not correspond with reality). And, a very, very important point is that absolute certainty is not required for rationality - you can be rational while being uncertain. That may seem to contradict the idea that rationality aligns with "justified true belief." But I add in true because

it is often assumed as a component for rational action. We may be wrong in our reasoning, but when we reason on what action to take we typically do so in the hopes our ideas are corresponding with "reality."

That is really compressed and I haven't connected all the dots (like I have at length with people on other forums)...but I'll have to leave it at that for now, as a snapshot of my thoughts on the subject. (I shouldn't say "my" thoughts really, as it's all been thought before).

---" Do you take rationality/logic as thought processes which were selected for their survival value?

Yes and no. Yes reason in general arose for it's survival value. And we were thinking "logically" (at least in the classical logic sense) before logic systems were formalized. But also, thinking along these lines, our mental modelling of the world would not only be "about" the world but it would be "of" the world. In other words the world has certain deterministic laws which provides for the operation for it's inhabitants, while also placing constraints on those inhabitants. If there is a certain "reason" to the laws of nature then we must to some degree mirror those laws in our actions and to a degree our thinking. (The qualifications I'm making are important, but those might come out later). Otherwise we simply wouldn't/couldn't be here. So a certain measure of rationality/logic is necessary for the fact of our existence, not merely our "survival." (You might say, for instance, that our skin cells are explicable in terms of some logical rules that they are "following.")

---"If so, is it rational/logical because it increases survival, or does it increase survival because it's rational/logical?

Can be part of both, depending on what angle you examine. If we are correct in that our logic somehow mirrors the way the world "works" (at least at the macro level we live in) then one simply couldn't be here and not to some degree be "logical." One may take an epistemological stance, as I have before, that the fundamental (but not only) purpose of knowledge is it's survival value. In other words: To live we must act. To act we must know how to act. To know how to act we must understand the nature of ourselves and the world. So from that perspective something is rational/reasonable if it confers an understanding of the nature of the world, which in turn enhances our ability to survive.

Prof.

Thanks, prof.

I am trying to formulate an arguement but I have no idea if it's sound or not because I do not have a clear sense of how rationality/logic is viewed by the "naturalist community." Basically what I take rationality/logic to be if that position were true is how I think it would be, but I do not know if that is representative of that community.

My reasoning for asking the question, "... is it rational/logical because it increases survival, or does it increase survival because it's rational/logical?" was because I was thinking that perhaps some naturalists reduce rationality/logic to just being those thought processes which have increased our surivial (thus it's not actually a feature of the world), hence, anything that increases our survival becomes rational.

You seem to take the other horn of the delemma, in that logic is an actual feature of the real world, and because of this we have survived because we think logically.

Another question, prof, are the laws of logic immaterial or material?

I'm going to end this post, and write another that will present my argument.

'Course I can't resist this :-)

---"evolutionist also come from a faith perspective. Thats why its a thoery and not fact.

You are using the word "theory" in the colloquial sense, as if it were just a hunch: "It's just a theory." However, that is not how the term is used scientifically.
A theory is an explanation for the relationship of a set of observations (facts). A scientific theory makes testable predictions, and is tested over and over for weak spots and corrections. The facts upon which the theory are based are all observable to independent observers. The theory is also testable by independent observers - it is a hallmark of a scientific theory that it MUST survive independent checks for reliability. That evolution does and has taken place is a "fact" as firmly established as any other scientifically established theory. It shares the same scientific standing as, for instance, the "Theory" Of Relativity - you know, that "just a theory" from which we derive the power of nuclear bombs? The same goes for the Theory Of Electromagnetism, and the Theory Of Gravity etc. In scientific terms a "theory" is a different and much more confident term than how you envision it.

To think that the Theory Of Evolution is an expression of "faith" commensurate with religious faith is to misunderstand science and faith. It's also to mix up knowledge with faith. If you have knowledge of something then "faith" is unnecessary and irrelevant. If my wife is beside me I have knowledge that she is not at that moment cheating on me. If she is away at the office I don't have knowledge that she is not cheating at that moment. In the absence of evidence that she's not cheating it may be said I have "faith" in her character and thus I believe she is not cheating. But, again, if you actually have knowledge of something then "faith" is unnecessary. Faith therefore is relevant only when evidence, knowledge or proof are not available. Which is why one refers to his religious "faith" and not to his "car faith" or "faith in dogs" or "faith in gravity" or "faith in combustion engines" or "faith in making a sandwich" etc.

This principle of religious faith is demonstrated in something like the recent tsunami disaster in South Asia. Many believers think God is "good" and benevolent and that he loves mankind. And also that He is the creator of our world and is sovereign over it. The recent drowning of over 150,000 people is certainly not evidence FOR a benevolent God; if anything it is evidence AGAINST the proposition of a good, "just" benevolent God. However, the believer will employ "faith" that, despite this apparent evidence to the contrary, God is still a good and just ruler, and his plan for us, while inscrutable, must be good."

That, then, is the very opposite of a scientific theory. A scientific theory is an assessment of the facts. "Faith," especially religious faith, is a belief held despite or in lieu of proof or facts.

Prof.