Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A reply to another naturalist

LT says “GEM’s argument in Item C seems to amount to COMPLEXITY, therefore NO EVOLUTION. It appears to be an argument from personal incredulity based on the idea of teleology. That is, the result of the process is really unlikely and the chances of getting to that specific result are almost infinitesimal. Yet, this is post hoc thinking, if I’ve represented GEM correctly.” (my comments to this paragraph follow)

I don’t believe you have. In fact, you couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The argument is not “I can’t imagine how something this complex could arise by chance and time so it must not have.” The argument is “we ALWAYS find mind behind information in every aspect of life so it bears thinking about that biological information may also be caused by mind.” What, pray tell, is so difficult to comprehend about that?

A couple of problems for you are: you can not come up with one example of (human) information that does not involve language (symbols and rules), free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Not one. Second, there is not one example of information in the animal world that does not involve the use of symbols and rules.

If you are an intellectually “serious” (that is you strictly obey the laws of rational thought)naturalist/materialist/physicalist (in my experience there is no such animal) then you must deny the existence of free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Indeed, you have no explanation for language, either. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain how symbols are arranged so as to mean something. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain free will. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain intentionality. In other words, the intellectually serious naturalist can’t explain Jack S. about anything that matters to human beings. Your fakery (that you can) is breathtaking.

You, who reject the very existence of everything that makes information possible, by means of information presume to inform rational, serious people that time and chance and the laws of physics can account for everything. Why can’t you see the insanity of this? You can apparently deny everything that makes information possible, while using information in order to make that denial, without your head exploding. I can’t connect to that but perhaps that’s just me.

p.s. The argument from “personal incredulity” can be perfectly valid. I’m sure you use it all the time. Let’s say I offer you a foolproof way to beat the lottery. All you have to do is give me 50% of your “certain” winnings up front. Gonna jump on that deal? Didn’t think so.

I have personally seen hundreds of thousands of books, millions, even, and probably read close to five thousand. I’ve never seen one yet that did not have an author. Therefore, I think I am perfectly justified to be incredulous when any intellectual poseur comes along and trots out the nonsense that biological information, which is orders of magnitude more complex than human generated information, can be explained by “natural” causes. What a joke. I am entitled to my incredulity. Indeed, I am forced by an overwhelming mass of evidence and the relentless authority of reason to be incredulous. When you come across one book, just one book, without an author, let me know and I’ll start paying serious attention to what you have to say. Until then, not.

6 comments:

Ilíon said...

Yeppers. As you indirectly point out, the "argument from personal incredulity" taunt is logically equivalent to asserting that one ought to be credulous ... which is to say, non-critical in one's thinking.

Larry Tanner said...

the "argument from personal incredulity" taunt is logically equivalent to asserting that one ought to be credulous ... which is to say, non-critical in one's thinking.

Balderdash. Teh argument from personal incredulity is this: "I can't believe X could do Y, therefore X can't have done Y."

GEM's whole schtick is that there's a magical threshold of complexity (ahem, specified complexity) that is beyond what natural processes over millions and millions of generations can produce. He's both right and wrong about this, but that's not my point.

My point is that one's personal disbelief in the cumulative power of evolutionary processes (in all their diversity) has no bearing on whether they did or did not result in organic entities that we call complex.

When I criticize someone for relying on an argument from personal incredulity, I am poiting out that the person has ceased to use critical thinking. Instead of pursuing an understanding of evolutionary processes, in all their diversity, one has chosen to give up and say dismissively, "I don't believe it."

Tom said...

Larry, I am not sure I understand your point here. I don't recall saying what you apparently quoted me as saying concerning the argument from incredulity or credulity for that matter. They are both fallacies.

It is not a fallacy, however, to say, based on a sound deductive argument, that something is impossible. I have made, if I do say so myself, an iron clad case that naturalism is false and that the neo-darwinian account of life is utter nonsense.

If you want to engage on this I would be happy to. I don't seem to have as much time lately as I would like to devote to discussions like this but for you I'll make an exception. :-)

I think you misunderstand GEMs point. But whatever, my point is that it is conceptually impossible for the laws of physics to create information. Let's argue that if you like.

Ilíon said...

Mr Tanner,
You appear to be unable (or unwilling) to comprehend what you read ... and I don't allow my time to be wasted by such persons.

Larry Tanner said...

"my point is that it is conceptually impossible for the laws of physics to create information."

Some say that the laws of physics are laws of information. Some also wonder if the universe operates according to a "law of the conservation of information." I don't think we are disagreeing on this, really.

My point, which seems to put Ilíon in a tither, is that GEM actually makes an argument from personal incredulity. And I explain where my opinion comes from. I'm not saying GEM should be credulous but rather that he ought to stop blathering on tangents and study what evolution actually is and has been observed to do.

Ilíon said...

"My point, which seems to put Ilíon in a tither, is that GEM actually makes an argument from personal incredulity."

Once again, I do not allow those who will not read, nor fools, to waste my time ... but I do occasionally mock them.

As I said in my very first post on the subject: "As you indirectly point out, the "argument from personal incredulity" taunt is logically equivalent to asserting that one ought to be credulous ... which is to say, non-critical in one's thinking."

Apparently, Mr Tanner gets his panties into a twist at the idea of critical thinking applied to the very silly things he wants to believe.