• Olivier5
    729
    1) We can observe how there is near universal agreement between theists and atheists that a God either exists, or not, one or the other.Hippyhead

    If we want to be totally exhaustive, there is also the possibility that there exist several gods.
  • Jjnan1
    6
    Hi TheMadFool. I do not think that your argument really works. I think that you are trying to say something like the following:
    1. Evolution operates under a principle of trial and error, a primitive form of problem-solving.
    2. God is the creator of the universe and fashioned it to his liking.
    3. If God is the creator of the universe and fashioned it to his liking and evolution operates under a principle of trial and error, which is a primitive form of problem-solving, then it follows that God is not intelligent.
    4. Therefore, God is not intelligent.
    Assuming the above is an accurate recreation of your argument, premise three is very contentious. There are two objections that come to my mind. First, one could argue that creation may not necessarily wholly reflect what God is or what God is capable of. Reflecting on metaphysics is illuminating on this point. The ontology of this world is limited and does not contain all possible objects, states of affairs, etc. Even a quick survey of logical space reveals that this universe is lacking in so much or could have been quite different. If one tried to determine God’s capabilities through just this universe, then it would appear that God is limited. However, when one considers all that is possible, then it begins to look as if God’s capabilities are much greater than one would suspect from just looking at the actual world. Second, even if one assumes that this world is the only actual world, it could still reflect a God who is intelligent. See, if God is the creator of the universe, then everything in the universe, whether known or unknown, would have to have its origins in God. The sciences, logic, technological and everything else would be created by God. Given how complex the above items are, I doubt that one would object that such items are demonstrations are mindlessness or simplicity.
  • Emma
    5
    From what I’ve read, you are trying to conclude that God is a simpleton. I think your argument goes like this:
    Trial and error is a technique used by simpletons.
    Trial and error is involved in evolution.
    If God created human beings, then God created evolution.
    If God created human beings, then God used trial and error.
    So, If God created human beings, then God is a simpleton.
    Regarding premises 3 and 4, I don’t see how God could have created evolution, but not the process by which evolution exists. What I mean when I say this is that is it not possible for God to have created trial and error when he created human beings? If that’s the case, then couldn’t God have just created evolutionary human beings just for kicks and giggles? Could He not have just created us as some sort of entertainment to watch how we develop if he gives us the tools to develop on our own like trial and error? I don’t see how the existence of evolution entails that God is a simpleton because there is no evidence provided in this argument that God had no other option or couldn’t create us as fully developed human beings had He wanted to. Furthermore, even if God had to use trial and error through evolution to create us, could that really classify Him as a simpleton? There is an entire universe of unknown things and we have only scratched the surface of one small planet in the universe. It seems that if God were a simpleton, then we would be even lower than simpletons, and if that were the case I don’t think any of us would even be alive at this point. I think the best conclusion you could draw from this sort of reasoning is that God might not be omniscient.
  • Joel Evans
    23
    Dear TheMadFool,

    In your recent post you made the following claim:
    Such a view jibes with the standard notion of god as an omniscient being. The scientific theory of evolution states that the fundamental principle all life obeys is trial and error i.e. genetic mutations are randomly initiated and those that confer a survival advantage are selected for in what is but a dance of chance. Trial and error is a bona fide problem solving technique as attested here but it's a method that according to the article is "Nevertheless, this method is often used by people who have little knowledge in the problem area" i.e. it doesn't display understanding as much as other more advanced problem solving techniques do. So, if god exists and he's the one behind all creation in general, evolution in particular, and if his preferred method is trial and error, it must be that good is not a genius who understands the ins and outs of creation and life but is actually a simpleton as herein defined.
    I think your argument has this form:

    1) If God created the world, then God used trial and error to create all living beings.
    2) If God used trial and error, then he used a simple solution that is often used by people who do not know a lot about what they are doing.
    3) If he used a simple solution that is often used by people who do not know a lot about what they are doing, then God does not know a lot about creation.
    4) If God does not know a lot about creation, then God is a simpleton without the quality of omniscience.
    5) Therefore, if God created the world, then God is a simpleton without the quality of omniscience (from 1, 2, 3, 4 via a hypothetical syllogism)


    If this argument works, it presents a challenge to the omniscience of God, which could cause problems for commonly held theistic beliefs. I have a few objections to this argument: First, most theistic accounts of creation do not depict God as having used trial and error to create the world. Living organisms do evolve according to natural selection, but they were designed to do that. God himself did not utilize trial and error to create livings organisms even if he did program those organisms to do so. This makes premise one questionable. Second, premise three is objectionable too. Even if God used trial and error to create living beings, and even if trial and error is often used by people with little knowledge about something, it does not then follow that God does not know a lot about creation. This would be like saying that if I use spell-check, and there are people that use spell-check that do not know a lot about grammar or writing, then I do not know a lot about grammar or writing. Just because God uses the same method as simpletons would not make him therefore a simpleton. Because premise 1 and 3 are objectionable, the argument does not succeed.

    Sincerely,
    Joel
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k


    A couple of things to consider:

    1. I'm not entirely sure why I did what I did - treat evolution as god's handiwork. The usual thing to do is to treat evolution as a counterpoint against god. I suppose most people are under the impression that if god created the universe, every object, including living organisms, must've come into existence fully formed i.e. there shouldn't be simpler forms preceding the current incarnations of organisms like Darwinian evolutionary stages. In other words the mainstream view seems to be that evolution disproves god and to incorporate evolution as part of god's creative act is a contradictio in terminis.

    However, this - divine evolution (god was behind evolution) - is a contradictio in terminis only if evolution is, in fact, a simple process. I did try and make the case that it is by pointing out that the underlying mechanism in Darwin's theory of life is trial and error, an extremely simple problem solving technique which bespeaks a novice tinkering around in faers garage rather than an expert creating faers magnum opus in a state-of-the-art workshop.

    Is evolution really a simple process based on trial and error? I recall making a point of mentioning that a trial and error technique maybe the best if there's an element of randomness in the environment as is the case to my reckoning. In other words, trial and error may actually be a sign of superior intelligence rather than an inferior one.

    2. In continuation, therefore, the alleged simplicity of Darwnian evolution - it being trial and error - is questionable to say the least. This is probably why I, unwittingly but not erroneously, treated evolution as god's handiwork - there is no contradiction in doing so.

    This, nonetheless, doesn't help me in my attempt to prove god's simplicity. In fact, by proving the complexity in evolution and then ascribing it to god, I've essentially shot myself in the foot [or so it seems].

    It's time to revisit the element of randomness I talked about for it's the only thing that makes trial and error a mark of intelligence rather than idiocy. Why does randomness exist and what is its relationship with god's omniscience? Or, most intriguing of all, is randomness an illusion?

    If randomness is an illusion or is god-created in the sense god has control over it, why have a trial and error method [for life]?

    It seems we're forced to conclude that the randomness in the universe is not under god's control and thus the intelligent solution for life - trial and error.

    But, why is randomness something beyond god's control? I'll leave you with one question: could it be that god is not playing with a full deck?
  • david plumb
    36
    TheMadFool :

    I haven't quite worked out how something the size and weight of the planet earth is able to suspend itself
    in space the way it does. I have tried to suspend a tennis ball in mid air but to no avail. I also cannot create a being with intelligence that has hundreds of miles of blood vessels, nerves etc. So many things that I discovered when I asked God to show me a miracle to prove he exists when I was young and foolish .In the same way I made the mistake of being blind are you not also guilty of the same? Everything that can be known is out there but we are the simpletons, not God, for believing we know anything.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    You're looking at it from a different angle. You speak from a position that acknowledges our ignorance, vast as the empty space populated by galaxies. I speak from the standpoint of what is known to us, from the existing framework of knowledge at our disposal.
  • KerimF
    99
    So, if god exists and he's the one behind all creation in general, evolution in particular, and if his preferred method is trial and error, it must be that good is not a genius who understands the ins and outs of creation and life but is actually a simpleton as herein defined.TheMadFool

    By the way, if the process of 'trial and error' doesn't belong to a very intelligent algorithm(s), I personally wouldn't be one of the fruits (humans), even after zillions of years of evolution on earth (if not the first living cells on earth came from somewhere in outer space).
    Now 'trial and error' is used in what is known as 'Artificial Intelligence'. And I personally use it in some products I design.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    By the way, if the process of 'trial and error' doesn't belong to a very intelligent algorithm(s), I personally wouldn't be one of the fruits (humans), even after zillions of years of evolution on earth (if not the first living cells on earth came from somewhere in outer space).
    Now 'trial and error' is used in what is known as 'Artificial Intelligence'. And I personally use it in some products I design.
    KerimF

    Fantastic!. If you have the time and the computing power, no one will hold it against you that you solved a problem using trial and error. Could god be a some kind of a super computer then? My main worry is that there's randomness in the universe and if one can't control it the best technique is trial and error. It's weird in every sense of the word - the simplest problem solving method is the best approach given extreme complexity as when there's randomness involved. That there's randomness suggests god was/is unable to control all the forces that go into making the universe, implying he isn't as intelligent as we'd like faer to be but then fae solved the problem in the most ingenious way possible, with trial and error.
  • Hippyhead
    474
    In other words the mainstream view seems to be that evolution disproves god and to incorporate evolution as part of god's creative act is a contradictio in terminis.TheMadFool

    Perhaps this is the "mainstream" view primarily among those already inclined not to believe in God, who are in fact, not actually the mainstream?

    I would agree that evolution debunks a childlike Santa's workshop vision of God, which perhaps was prevalent among uneducated peasants of yesteryear. Beyond that, to me evolution seems a point in favor of an intelligent source to reality given that evolution is a self regulating mechanism. Not proof of God, just a point scored for the theist team.

    However, that said, I remain persuaded that the theist vs. atheist paradigm is probably so hopelessly flawed as to be largely useless, and that whatever the reality is it likely bears little resemblance to that debate. Generally speaking, my sense is that that debate persists because it's like a familiar card game where everyone knows the rules and thus can be comfortable and generally lazy in playing their preferred cards.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    Perhaps this is the "mainstream" view primarily among those already inclined not to believe in God, who are in fact, not actually the mainstream?

    I would agree that evolution debunks a childlike Santa's workshop vision of God, which perhaps was prevalent among uneducated peasants of yesteryear. Beyond that, to me evolution seems a point in favor of an intelligent source to reality given that evolution is a self regulating mechanism. Not proof of God, just a point scored for the theist team.

    However, that said, I remain persuaded that the theist vs. atheist paradigm is probably so hopelessly flawed as to be largely useless, and that whatever the reality is it likely bears little resemblance to that debate. Generally speaking, my sense is that that debate persists because it's like a familiar card game where everyone knows the rules and thus can be comfortable and generally lazy in playing their preferred cards
    Hippyhead

    Perhaps we live in a world where originality has taken a long holiday, likely to be extended for some (unknown) reason. I'm trying to work within the system for two reasons: 1. this is where the action takes place and 2. I too am not an original thinker myself.

    Coming to the matter of the best approach to the issue of god-evolution, I suppose the whole issue needs to be given a long overdue overhaul - you know, the back-to-the-drawing-board kind of reevaluation. For certain, I'm not among the ones capable of such a feat but I have developed, for better of worse, over the years, a Morpheus of the Matrix trilogy attitude - I'm biding my time waiting for The One who will, if only by crashing the entire edifice of reality we're so familiar with, bring light, so to speak, into the world. I wait patiently but I don't know how long I can hold out. Perhaps you'll be luckier than me...
  • KerimF
    99
    Fantastic!. If you have the time and the computing power, no one will hold it against you that you solved a problem using trial and error.TheMadFool

    Sorry, I had to be clearer.
    When the inputs to a system couldn't be known for certain, the programmer assumes estimated values and conditions for every possible input which is not included on the list of the known ones.
    Then, he has to find out suitable algorithms that let the system adjust the primitive estimated values and conditions anytime it is hit by what was considered unknown input. This may be seen as 'trial and error' because the optimum adjust may not be achieved at the first time/try.

    My main worry is that there's randomness in the universe and if one can't control it the best technique is trial and error.TheMadFool

    Sorry, what do you mean by randomness? Perhaps a practical example can clarify it. Thank you.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    Sorry, I had to be clearer.
    When the inputs to a system couldn't be known for certain, the programmer assumes estimated values and conditions for every possible input which is not included on the list of the known ones.
    Then, he has to find out suitable algorithms that let the system adjust the primitive estimated values and conditions anytime it is hit by what was considered unknown input. This may be seen as 'trial and error' because the optimum adjust may not be achieved at the first time/try.
    KerimF

    We're more or less on the same page is all I can say.

    Sorry, what do you mean by randomness? Perhaps a practical example can clarify it. Thank you.KerimF

    What you said above.
  • Naomi
    6
    To more clearly address your argument, I will lay out your premises and conclusion according to my understanding of the argument.

    1. Trial and error displays a limited understanding in a problem-solving area.
    2. If God is the one behind all of creation and his preferred method is trial and error, then he is displaying a limited understanding in a problem-solving area.
    3. If God is displaying a limited understanding in a problem-solving area, then He is not omniscient but is a simpleton.
    4. Therefore, if God is the one behind all of creation and his preferred method is trial and error, then God is not omniscient but is a simpleton.

    I strongly disagree with premise 3. If anyone displays a limited understanding in a problem-solving area, then I would grant that they are not omniscient, but it does not seem to entail that they are a simpleton, at least not your definition of a simpleton.

    I'm going to try and prove that god is a simpleton, a simpleton herein meaning a being that far from being a genius is actually possessed of only child-like intelligence, even apish I might add.TheMadFool

    If displaying a limited understanding in a problem-solving area, entails that one possesses only child-like or apish intelligence, then it seems like all humans would only reach child-like or apish intelligence. All adult human beings do at least one of the following examples of trial and error:
    • Dating
    • Working (It seems rare for someone to work one job for one company for the entirety of his adult life)
    • Moving homes
    • Trying different hobbies
    • Trying different foods

    This is only to show that all adult human beings practice trial and error to an extent and to equate that to having child-like or apish intelligence seems wrong. If all adult humans do this, then it does seem to meet the standard of adult human intelligence. This could also be an objection to premise 1 because it seems possible for trial and error to be the best option in some cases. Even with trying new foods, there may be ways to figure out what kinds of foods you will be most likely to like, but it seems to me that you can’t decide whether you like certain foods or not without some trial and error.

    In the case that you were not arguing that God is a simpleton but just that His understanding is limited, I think someone could still object to premise 2. One could say that God is omniscient and the reason He chose to create the world in the way that He did is only perplexing to us because we have limited understanding. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like God would be the one practicing trial and error in this case. It could be the case that God created the world and His creations are making their own free will decisions and sometimes use trial and error to make those decisions.
  • KerimF
    99
    It could be the case that God created the world and His creations are making their own free will decisions and sometimes use trial and error to make those decisions.Naomi

    Actually, God (the supernatural energy/will behind the existence of our universe) programmed all the living things to evolve following certain algorithms (that scientists try to discover) so that their survival has more chance to last in an environment. In other words, evolution could be seen as being based also on 'trial and error'.
    But since all matters and the rules that define their existence in the various environments of the universe are also created (with the preprogramed algorithms), the instantaneous status of the world (at every moment) that results from applying the process of 'trial and error' is already known by God. This explains why many men believe that it may be possible to predict the future, to some extend and about certain situations in the least.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    All adult human beings do at least one of the following examples of trial and error:
    Dating
    Working (It seems rare for someone to work one job for one company for the entirety of his adult life)
    Moving homes
    Trying different hobbies
    Trying different foods
    Naomi

    Trial and error must be random; the list you provided doesn't contain a single item that is.

    One could say that God is omniscient and the reason He chose to create the world in the way that He did is only perplexing to us because we have limited understanding.Naomi

    You're doing exactly what another poster did - you're acknowledging our ignorance and giving it due attention. Hats off to you for doing that.

    As for me, I'm simply relying on and using to full effect the framework of knowledge at our disposal.

    Our two approaches are poles apart. You're pointing at the shadows and raising doubts; I'm pointing at the parts that are illuminated and making what are, all said and done, reasonable inferences.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    What you said, whether intended or not, raises an interesting question. We know that the universe is governed by laws, mathematical ones at that. These laws are fixed in the sense there are no exceptions to them. The bottom line is there's order in the universe anywhere you look, from simple chemical reactions taking place inside of cells to the whirling motions of galaxies.

    However, it seems that all the laws of nature are in effect at all times, everywhere, and on all things, from atoms to galactic superclusters. This can, in my humble opinion, lead to a vast number of events in which one or more laws of nature are in direct conflict with other laws of nature.

    Take the case of the asteroid that caused the Cretaceous-Paleogenic extinction. It was simply obeying the laws of physics from the moment it formed to the instant it slammed into the Earth with such force and energy that the debris from the collision blotted out the sun for years, something that kickstarted a chain reaction of dieoffs beginning with plants and ending with the dinosaurs. In the simplest sense possible, the Crtaecous-Paleogenic extinction was an instance of the laws of physics acting against the laws of chemistry.

    In other words, even in a highly ordered system, the laws can and, as I've demonstrated, do work against each other. Given this is so, the best technique to meet such threats which can be as catastrophic as unpredictable is to base life on a trial and error scheme of genetic mutation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.6k
    We know that the universe is governed by laws, mathematical ones at that.TheMadFool

    This is doubtful. The universe is orderly, and we represent that order with mathematics. But as we know, human representations are fallible, so we cannot say that the thing represented is the same as the representation. To say that what causes order in the universe is mathematics, is simply to assume a Pythagorean or Platonist idealism without understanding the separation between the cause of order and the human representation of order.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    This is doubtful. The universe is orderly, and we represent that order with mathematics. But as we know, human representations are fallible, so we cannot say that the thing represented is the same as the representation. To say that what causes order in the universe is mathematics, is simply to assume a Pythagorean or Platonist idealism without understanding the separation between the cause of order and the human representation of order.Metaphysician Undercover

    Name a law of nature that isn't mathematical and then we can talk. Plus, the fundamental sciences - chemistry and physics - are completely mathematized. If the ingredients are mathematical, then everything that uses these ingredients must, as of necessity, be mathematical, right?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.6k
    Name a law of nature that isn't mathematical and then we can talk. Plus, the fundamental sciences - chemistry and physics - are completely mathematized. If the ingredients are mathematical, then everything that uses these ingredients must, as of necessity, be mathematical, right?TheMadFool

    Human beings represent the laws of nature with mathematics and this means that these representations are mathematical. But this does not mean that the thing represented is mathematical. Do you see the difference between the representation (mathematical), and the thing represented? Some people refer to this as the difference between the map and the territory.

    Here's another example. We represent the world, things in the world, and different aspects of reality with language. This does not mean that the world has the features of language, making the world linguistic. Mathematics is a type of language. Why do you think that the thing represented with this language has the features of that language, making it mathematical?.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    Do you see the difference between the representation (mathematical), and the thing represented? Some people refer to this as the difference between the map and the territory.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm aware that math is considered a language in some circles but the nexus between math and reality goes much deeper than mere linguistics. There are mathematical theories, axiomatic systems as it were, that fit perfectly with some, possibly all, aspects of reality which, in my humble opinion, bespeaks that reality itself is mathematical.

    The difference between ordinary languages like English, Mandarin, Hindi, etc. and math is that in the case of the former you can't construct a theory in them and expect it to match reality in the sense it proves to be a good description but in the case of the latter a mathematician's abstract theory may turn out to be just the thing we need to make sense of reality.

    In short, math is not just a map, it's proven itself, on many occasions, to be the territory itself.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.6k
    There are mathematical theories, axiomatic systems as it were, that fit perfectly with some, possibly all, aspects of reality which, in my humble opinion, bespeaks that reality itself is mathematical.TheMadFool

    Actually, they fit together with the way that reality is perceived by us. And our perceptions of reality are produced by our living systems, just like our mathematical theories are. So I'd say that it's not a coincidence that they fit together, but it's clearly not evidence that reality itself is mathematical. Can we say that living beings live in an environment and they have specific needs? Wouldn't you think that the systems which they produce, such as their capacity to move, their capacity to perceive, and even conscious theories, are designed so as to fulfill some needs, rather than as a representation of reality?

    a mathematician's abstract theory may turn out to be just the thing we need to make sense of reality.TheMadFool

    But when we think that the mathematician's theory is making sense of reality and it actually is not, we are fools. How would we know whether it is or not?

    In short, math is not just a map, it's proven itself, on many occasions, to be the territory itself.TheMadFool

    In an idealist ontology, where our perceptions of reality are reality, mathematics might seem to be the territory itself.
  • TheMadFool
    7.5k
    Actually, they fit together with the way that reality is perceived by us. And our perceptions of reality are produced by our living systems, just like our mathematical theories are. So I'd say that it's not a coincidence that they fit together, but it's clearly not evidence that reality itself is mathematical. Can we say that living beings live in an environment and they have specific needs? Wouldn't you think that the systems which they produce, such as their capacity to move, their capacity to perceive, and even conscious theories, are designed so as to fulfill some needs, rather than as a representation of reality?Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't understand what you mean at all. To run with your analogy, it's one thing to draw a map after surveying the territory but another thing, as in math, to construct a map entirely in our imagination and then to discover it matches the territory, here reality? I agree with you that this is [probably] not a coincidence but because reality has an underlying mathematical structure.
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