Okay so here’s the thing. I posted a content-free (as opposed to free content) entry because I hadn’t posted anything in a while and didn’t see myself having anything to say for the forseeable future. Five minutes later I have something to day. From the first comment on David Galbraith’s How to debate Creationists without being boring:
- If (naturalistic) evolution is true, then our cognitive faculties will have resulted from blind mechanisms like natural selection, working on sources of genetic variation such as random genetic mutation.
- Assuming the truth of #1, we find that the ultimate purpose or function of our cognitive faculties, if they even have a purpose or function, will be survival – of individual, species, gene, or genotype.
- If #1 and #2 are true then it is unlikely that our cognitive faculties have the production of true beliefs as a function.
- If production of true beliefs is not a function of our cognitive faculties, we have no reason to trust that we can form true beliefs.
- Therefore, we cannot claim that any belief, including a belief in the theory of macroevolution, is true.
Now go read #3 again. Read it as many times as you wish. Once more. Have you read it several times now? It’s still nonsense isn’t it, no matter how many times you read it? To paraphrase Charles Babbage, I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such an argument. It seems obvious to all but the most ignorant and unimaginative that any adaptation that caused us to more accurately describe and predict the nature of our surroundings (actually the surroundings of our ancestors) would be incalculably valuable and would be selected for in an evolutionary heartbeat.
Of course this isn’t even the key to unravelling this preposterous argument since scientific knowledge doesn’t depend on our ability to formulate accurate hypotheses from the air. Nor does my riposte consider that the original argument works equally well against any other explanation of creation. In fact the ultimate conclusion, despite the logical leaps taken to get there, is inarguable: we cannot know anything but our own perception. We don’t need Descartes to tell us that.
What’s the point, you ask. I’ve taken an argument riddled with errors and picked one from the whole to frown on in public, despite agreeing with the stated conclusion though despising the implicit conclusion. To be honest it just struck me as a good example of why these sorts of arguments are pointless, agravating and not worth prolonging or spreading (sorry). The most depressing thing is that most of the people on my side are wrong too. I should be spending my time correcting and debating with them, but that won’t happen until the Fundies shut the hell up.