Saturday, March 10, 2007

Is TRUTH an accident

“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents - the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts - i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy - are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

–C. S. Lewis

If the concept of truth is only that which has been created by accidental natural laws and natural selection why does it matter for any purpose other than reproductive success and survival? Surely the concept of truth can't be TRUE, since it itself is an accidental shape of "spilled milk" (in keeping with the analogy). Our ability to think and reason, in order to grasp truth, is thus an accidental by-product of a supposedly accidental process which only preserves that which accidentally gains survival advantage. Therefore, our reasoning can only logically be trusted to provide survival advantage and nothing more. However, this previous logical statement is the result of reasonable thought and thus we begin to attempt to prove the validity of logic and that which it may affect by using logic -- an amazingly circular argument.

The reason I don't see the concept of Truth as the result of natural laws is because that would seem to be self-defeating. The concept of that which is True as played out by elecro-chemical interactions within our brains would then be subjective to whichever natural laws (random mutations and natural selection for the "purpose" of survival and reproductive success) created it, and would thus loose its definition as being the mark of objective reality. Truth, as an accidental survival bestowing concept which is observed by logical beings, would then only be able to guide us toward that which helps us to survive. Truth thus looses its mark as THE objective reality to which we seek. TRUTH becomes unknowable.

The relavance of this to ID? ID theory presumes that purpose can indeed exist and that truth may not be merely subject to random occurences and selection by survival advantage. ID theory's aim is to scientifically filter the accidental from the purposeful (ie: programmed on purpose). This would then help us to discover if the concept of truth is truly an accidental by-product of accidental occurences, or if there is at least something within our universe that is the result of purpose.

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