Friday, February 14, 2003

Last night I went to a talk by Dr. Alvin Plantinga called "Evolution vs. Atheism." The overall point of it was that if you believe in naturalism and evolutionary theory, then you cannot consider your beliefs reliable (since you can't say that we've necessarily evolved to have true beliefs), therefore this position is irrational. (Side note: I didn't get his distinction between naturalism and atheism. Why is naturalism like "high octance atheism"? Can any of you philosophy types out there explain that for me?) As far as I could tell, theism doesn't have this problem because it includes the assumption that God created us to have correct beliefs (very convenient if you're a theist, less than convincing if you're not). Otherwise he could just as easily have proved the same thing about it. The part of his argument I had the most trouble with, though, was his claim that false beliefs can produce adaptive behavior as well as true beliefs. I can still think of too many reasons against that. So anyway, this didn't produce any earth-shaking changes in my beliefs (not that I expected it to) but it was an interesting thing to think about for a while. Maybe I'll go back and re-read the notes to see if I can figure out what the false belief / adaptive behavior bit was all about.

Other issues that came up for me: How would we ever be able to tell our beliefs are true anyway, since there's no way to get information that doesn't involve belief? What would it really mean for them to be true? How important is it that our beliefs are true as long as they work and are consistent? Is there any point in talking about the truth of our beliefs? It all just seems to get so circular. Aack -- uncomfortable memories of Phil 184 are surfacing. I think I'll just let it all go.

Oh, one other thing: I went to the talk with Tina and a few other Testimony people, and apparently some sort of Testimony-ness is rubbing off on me. Justin introduced me to one of their sopranos I hadn't met before, and the first thing she said to me was "What year where you in it?" Somewhat amusing :-)

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