Monday, June 20, 2011

Mark Shea and various drivel.

So in some distant corner of the internet I am discussion religion with religious people and was offered in part an article by Mark Shea that was dreadful, I did my due dilligence and tore it up but I figured since it hit upon some of the very general important bits of Plantinga's argument against naturalism I should repost it here.
Mark Shea's article is rather terrible. It first parrots the claim that if God doesn't exist that atheists should care less. This is both dismissive and wrong. I care deeply when my fellow human beings fritter their lives away on harmful dangerous nonsense.

And then it notes Haldane's objection which is parroted by C.S. Lewis and rehashed more modernly by the likes of Plantinga with his argument against naturalism. Largely that if minds are naturally evolved that they cannot be dependable. Therefore that belief is (minds are naturally evolved) is undependable. The mistake here is more subtle because it is discounting all of epistemology and science. It's entirely true that our minds are made of atoms and that our minds are evolved and that our minds suffer from massive cognitive biases and mistakes, hallucinations, sensory errors, perception mistakes, etc. The question then becomes how do we get around these problems? How can we, considering the limited nature of our brains, manage to come about to find beliefs which are likely true. Not just give us a feeling of certainty but which are something we should really accept. And the answer is largely by delegating our beliefs the best we can to reality. Testing those beliefs and coming up with the best conclusion we can and be ready to abandon that conclusion the instant it stops being the best. Generally, we need to build a functional epistemology from the ground up.

The conclusion that others offer is that we should just dive into our biases assume that our minds are designed by God and can do no wrong. And that believing otherwise forces one to do the really hard job of living a examined rather than unexamined life. But, that our brains are evolved and cognitive biases exist are manifestly true. The conclusions of Lewis and Plantinga is basically to claim that "maybe your brain is faulty, but my brain is perfect" which is the clearest hobgoblin of a faulty mind one could make manifest.

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