God and evolution 6: Is Darwinism atheism?

Many Christians and Muslims, and to a lesser extent Jews, think that Darwinian evolution requires or implies atheism, a charge first brought when Darwin was still alive. The Princeton theologian Charles Hodge argued this in his What is Darwinism? (1874). But Darwin himself, and many of his followers such as Kingsley, Asa Gray, and his friend Rev. John Innes, an Anglican local minister, thought not. Darwin, however, did lose his religious beliefs, ending up a self-confessed agnostic.

Partly the problem here lies in the term “Darwinism”. While some, like Alfred Russel Wallace, the “co-discoverer” of natural selection, used the term to refer to the general ideas of Darwin on evolution, others, such as the German naturalist Ernst Haeckel, used it to refer to a melange of philosophical, theological and political views, and it came to be seen as an ideology that was anti-religion. Haeckel himself was very opposed to Catholicism, and his “Monism” was a mixture of Enlightenment ideas, anti-clericalism and evolution. But he had a theology in which God was identical to the universe, and in which consciousness was innate.

Since the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 in Tennessee, it has become common to think that evolutionary biology is atheistic. However, as Dobzhansky and others such as modern biologist Francisco Ayala, demonstrate, many theists accept the reality of evolution. What they object to, if they do, is “Darwinism”. Since this is largely undefined, each author giving their own interpretation based on what they think is implied by evolution (both those who think it is atheism and this is a good thing, and those who think it is atheism and this is a bad thing), we do not need to think the biology requires atheism. The reason for this is that claims about the existence of God or gods are a philosophical problem. Just as the physics of the big bang neither confirm nor deny the existence of deities, neither do any other facts about the world. Any theology that is realistic must deal with the world as it is, not as theology would want it to be.

Some theologies are not realistic. For example, to assert that the world was created around 6000 years ago requires not only the rejection of biology, but geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and in general reason. Likewise any theology that says the world is older than science tells us, for example some Hindu theologies, are equally unrealistic. To assert these doctrines, a theology must deny that science even works. In short, they have to deny that facts are facts. Butler would be appalled. So too would Henry Drummond, who in his reconciliation of theology and science, The Ascent of Man (1894) argued that one ought not find God in the Gaps:

There are reverent minds who ceaselessly scan the fields of Nature and the books of Science in search of gaps – gaps which they will fill up with God. As if God lived in gaps? What view of Nature or of Truth is theirs whose interest in Science is not in what it can explain but in what it cannot, whose quest is ignorance not knowledge, whose daily dread is that the cloud may lift, and who, as darkness melts from this field or from that, begin to tremble for the place of His abode? What needs altering in such finely jealous souls is at once their view of Nature and of God. Nature is God’s writing, and can only tell the truth; God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. [333]

Finding God in the gaps of knowledge means that if those gaps are filled by science the room for God is decreased. If a believer wants a realistic faith, then they must deal with the world as it is. This means that some beliefs – that humanity is only explicable as the direct creation of God at one time, that the sun rises and sets because God makes it do so, or that life originated 6000 years ago – have to go. They are contrary to the facts.

It is a reasonable argument that in fact God of the gaps is itself a form of atheism. It implies that one can only believe in God if one disbelieves in the world, and since most (not all) religions do believe in the world, the only conclusion is that God does not exist. This is a view taken by critics of religion as well as creationists: believe that the world is older than (one interpretation of) the scriptures say, and the sole alternative is atheism. It is a black-and-white fallacy, or a false dichotomy. Disbelieve the world if you like (and be a Gnostic or Manichean), and then the problem does not arise, but if you believe the world exists as we know it, you have to deal with it in your theology. This is the modern problem facing religion, and not just with respect to evolution, but everything.

So Darwinian evolution presents no problem to religion that isn’t presented by all the other sciences. It is not a special problem for faith. Some religious thinkers will attack what they call scientism, the view that all that can be known must be known by science, or the promise of science. Most conciliatory theology, however, assumes that while matters of fact can be known only by science, theological truths are known by revelation or intuition or meditation. This no science can undercut, although a thinker who believes that if there is no evidence for a belief that belief is objectionable will make that inference. The believer, however, will not. I leave it to the reader to decide which way they wish to jump. It is, in the end, a philosophical decision, not a scientific one.

Conclusion

I have tried to work through the threads of the most common problems and issues that religion has historically had with evolution. While my preferred solution is that God is best seen as a primary cause, not a secondary cause, that is only one among many solutions offered by religious thinkers, and anyway I am not a believer, so the problem does not arise for me. However, I think that it is possible to deal with Darwin’s stone house and to believe in a providential God. The rest is up to you. As Darwin wrote shortly after the publication of The Origin to Asa Gray:

I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws. A child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by the action of even more complex laws, and I can see no reason why a man, or other animals, may not have been aboriginally produced by other laws, and that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event and consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become… [May 22, 1860]

Let each person hope and believe what they can.

31 Comments

Filed under Evolution, Living with Evolution, Philosophy, Religion

31 Responses to God and evolution 6: Is Darwinism atheism?

  1. Chris Ho-Stuart

    Shorter paraphrase: “No”. :-)

  2. > Darwin, however, did lose his religious beliefs, ending up a self-confessed agnostic.

    Although I’ve used it myself, I’m always wary of the word ‘lose’ in this context. You can lose a leg, lose your wallet, or lose your memory—all of which seem, in general, regrettable occurrences. Whether changing one’s religious beliefs is regrettable or not depends on your religious perspective. When I realised that I was an atheist (in the middle of ‘Rock’ Hudson’s Latin class, age 12), I didn’t feel to have lost anything. Quite the contrary. Similarly, I’m sure most “born-again” theists don’t think of themselves as having ‘lost’ their atheism/agnosticism.

    (Thanks for the quote-marks around “co-discoverer”, by the way. Wallace and Darwin, excellent chaps, but not a team, cobbled-together joint papers notwithstanding.)

  3. Richard Peachey

    Darwinism (or more correctly these days, “neo-Darwinism”) entails that biological evolution (macroevolution, from particles to people) is supported by good scientific evidence AND/OR that naturalistic mechanisms like mutation and natural selection are adequate to account for all biological evolution. Darwin himself argued for both of those theses, and he hoped he had established the first, if not the second. Either way, “Darwinism = Atheism!”, which is the title of an article I wrote a few years ago on just this question: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100&Itemid=54
    Both macroevolution itself, and the proposed mechanisms to make it work, are antagonistic to the Bible.
    • Macroevolution is contrary to the statement made ten times in Genesis 1 that God created organisms to reproduce “after their kind.” Also, the sequence in which various types of animals appeared during the creation days is irreconcilable with the order evolutionary paleontologists accept.
    • The neo-Darwinian mechanisms of mutation (= degradation of information) and natural selection (= early deaths of lots of organisms, allowing others to predominate) are not benevolent, so could not be God’s method during a time before human sin and the consequent curse on the Earth. (Could the biblical Creator have pronounced “very good” over the first humans who stood atop kilometers of rock filled with remains of dead animals?)
    As an earlier commenter in this thread stated, Darwin lost his own belief in God. He had at one time been more or less orthodox and had studied for the ministry. In his old age Darwin called himself an “Agnostic” but for him the distinction between that word and “Atheist” was mainly one of attitude: Atheism is more aggressive than Agnosticism. Cornell’s Will Provine, an atheist and a leading historian of biology, stated gleefully that “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism.” I think Provine is right.

    • This is not the place to deal with all the misunderstandings you just displayed (information degrades? really?), or to reiterate the arguments I just made (the problem of evil is not limited to evolution – a single evil event sets the problem up; so evolution is consistent with the world in which evil takes place. If that is God’s plan, then evolution is just fine). But I would like to make a comment about “kinds”.

      The recognition there are kinds of living things is something that all cultures make. You can observe this by breeding animals. This doesn’t imply that they will always follow the “type”; it’s just a recognition of heredity. This is not only the view of the Bible, but all cultures. But then the Bible and cultures generally allow that there can be deviations from the type (e.g., Genesis 30:25-43). Simple inference suggests that reproducing after their kind with variation allows new kinds. As I detail in my species book, even one of the translators of the KJV thought new kinds arose.

      If you want evolution to equal atheism, fine. That’s your problem. It need not, any more than any other scientific theory that lacks God’s direct hand, but at least respond to the issues raised in the series rather than repeating the creationist talking points.

      End of discussion, at least here.

      • Richard Peachey

        Well, sorry, John, but I did think my remarks were somewhat more relevant than the ongoing comments about connotations of the word “lost.”
        Perhaps we can at least agree that evolution exhibits quite a bit more compatibility with atheism than it does with a straightforward reading of Genesis. Support for this thought is seen in the variety of conflicting schemes that have arisen (and some fallen) for compatibilizing the Bible with long ages and/or evolution.
        Since you’re looking for interaction regarding the content of your article, I’ll just mention that I question your statement, “So Darwinian evolution presents no problem to religion that isn’t presented by all the other sciences.” Creationists generally have no problem with the data of empirical, experimental, testable, falsifiable, practical “hard science.” Our main issues are with (often speculative) reconstructions of the past based on (sometimes deliberately) anti-biblical presuppositions. It is occasionally claimed that creationists oppose “all of science,” but of course that is palpably false. More on that here: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=148&Itemid=62
        Cheers.

        • I was not doubting your intentions or good faith. However, this series, as I said in post 1, is discussing the issue for those who think that evolution is true and wish to explore the theological ramifications. This necessitates a nonliteral reading of the Bible, as most scientific issues do.

          And plumbing and car maintenance also make no appeal to God (despite the occasional ejaculations by plumbers and mechanics when spanners slip), so they are also compatible with atheism. That doesn’t make them equivalent to atheism.

          As to the opposition of science, that is a complex issue. If, in order to hold a view that is contrary to physics, geology, anthropology, chemistry, astronomy and biology, one has to abandon those elements of those sciences that conflict with your favoured scripture or doctrine, that might not count as an intention to oppose science, but it certainly makes the view antiscientific.

          A final philosophical point: historical reconstructions are not unique to biology. Any science that deals with contingent events like tectonics, the formation of the solar system or galaxy or universe as a whole, and so on, must make defeasible inferences based upon that data. This is well within the scope of good science. You might not like the path we took to get here, but if wishes were horses and all that.

          • Richard Peachey

            “… those who think that evolution is true and wish to explore the theological ramifications. This necessitates a nonliteral reading of the Bible….”
            By saying this, have you not given away the store?
            To believe that evolution is true means that you cannot believe the Bible is true, unless you read it in a nonliteral way. But a “literal” reading of the Bible, in the Reformation sense of that term, just means a proper grammatical/historical/exegetical understanding of Scripture. The Bible must be taken in its plain, straightforward sense (but that does not exclude the appropriate recognition of figures of speech and various genres).
            Quoting from historian Peter Harrison’s “The Bible, Protestantism, and the rise of natural science” (1998, Cambridge University Press, p. 8):
            “The major reformers — Martin Luther, John Calvin, Philipp Melanchthon, and Martin Bucer — shared a clear preference for the literal or natural sense of scripture, combined with a suspicion of allegory. Luther argued that the scriptures should be understood ‘in their simplest meaning as far as possible’. . . . We can thus endorse Hans Frei’s observation that ‘the affirmation that the literal or grammatical sense is the Bible’s true sense became programmatic for the traditions of Lutheran and Calvinistic interpretation’.”
            If accepting evolution as true “necessitates” understanding God’s Word contrary to its plain sense, then I would argue that it’s a pretty good first approximation to declare: “Darwinism = Atheism!”

            • Ergo, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and all non-Christian religions are atheist?

              • Richard Peachey

                Within Catholicism there are some interesting creationist groups, so I don’t want to tar everyone with one broad brush.
                We must also keep in mind that it is possible to be a sincere believer in the true God and be misled on a variety of topics, including evolution. When I became a Christian, I still accepted evolution for a period of time, until I was challenged to consider that it conflicted with the Bible.
                I have not said “All Darwinists are Atheists,” but the more abstract “Darwinism = Atheism!” Charles Hodge made the same distinction.
                But having said all that, believing in evolution has a strong tendency to push God and his Scriptural truth out of our lives. Accepting (macro)evolution leads to cognitive dissonance in which the Bible is, over time, accorded diminished authority. The logic of Darwinism is the logic of atheism. And the fact is that atheists, with few exceptions (such as the “incorrigible” David Berlinski) are automatically evolutionists. They have little choice.
                Was Dawkins wrong to say “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”?
                Was Dennett wrong to say “The creationists who oppose it so bitterly are right about one thing: Darwin’s dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves”?
                Was Provine wrong to say “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism”?
                Was Futuyma wrong to say “Some shrink from the conclusion that the human species was not designed, has no purpose, and is the product of mere material mechanisms—but this seems to be the message of evolution”?
                Evolution attempts to sideline God, contradicts his truth, and undercuts the historical and logical foundation of his gospel.
                It’s not an exact mathematical equivalence, but again, it is a good first approximation: “Darwinism = Atheism!”

  4. According to polls, only 50% of Catholics accept evilution evolution.

    • Richard Peachey

      Very interesting information! Could you provide a reference?
      Regarding your wry slip of the pen (“evil-ution”), many leading evolutionists do in fact recognize that Darwinism involves some very nasty processes.
      Richard Dawkins: “I believe natural selection represents a truly hideous sum total of misery.”
      Thomas Henry Huxley: “As I have already urged, the practice of that which is ethically best—what we call goodness or virtue—involves a course of conduct which, in all respects, is opposed to that which leads to success in the cosmic struggle for existence. In place of ruthless self-assertion it demands self-restraint; in place of thrusting aside, or treading down, all competitors, it requires that the individual shall not merely respect, but shall help his fellows; its influence is directed, not so much to the survival of the fittest, as to the fitting of as many as possible to survive. It repudiates the gladiatorial theory of existence. . . . Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.”
      David Hull: “What kind of God can one infer from the sort of phenomena epitomized by the species of Darwin’s Galápagos Islands? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror.”
      Jacques Monod: “The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethics revolts. . . . I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”
      The harsh processes of evolution do exist now, in this “present evil age” (as the Bible describes it). We are living under the curse that followed Adam and Eve’s sin. But to believe that God actually used evolution as his method of creation, before there was any human sin to punish? And then to suggest that God evaluated a biosphere produced in that way as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)? That is a great difficulty, I would argue, in the way of anyone who wants to propose that evolution might be compatible with faith in the Creator God of the Bible.
      For references re the above quotes, see my article on this topic: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=62

      • Jeb

        “but I did think my remarks were somewhat more relevant than the ongoing comments about connotations of the word “lost.”

        I contributed a comment on the word ‘lost’ largely in part part due to what I was by chance reading at the time. It did not seem relevant to mention it at the time but does so now after reading you’re closing remarks.

        “it is a matter of humiliation and regret, that names and things have fo oft been miftaken for each other; that fo much of the philosopher’s time muft be employed in afcertaining the fignification of words; and of ancient date, when traced to their firfst principles, have been found to terminate in verbal ambiguity.

        James Beattie, An Essay on the Nature a Immutability of Truth in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticisim

  5. Within reason everyone has a problem with Evil and Suffering. To a degree everyone experiences some level of evil and suffering in the world that they live in. The effect of evil that can be observed through pain, cruelty, injustice, violence, sickness, accidents, death, can be either experienced in our own lives, or can be witnessed in the lives of others.

  6. Religious evolution If brain function offers insight into how we experience religion, does it say anything about why we do? There is evidence that people with religious faith have longer, healthier lives. This hints at a survival benefit for religious people. Could we have evolved religious belief? Prof Dawkins (who subscribes to evolution to explain human development) thinks there could be an evolutionary advantage, not to believing in god, but to having a brain with the capacity to believe in god. That such faith exists is a by-product of enhanced intelligence. Prof Ramachandran denies that finding out how the brain reacts to religion negates the value of belief. He feels that brain circuitry like that Persinger and Newberg have identified, could amount to an antenna to make us receptive to god. Bishop Sykes meanwhile, thinks religion has nothing to fear from this neuroscience. Science is about seeking to explain the world around us. For him at least, it can co-exist with faith.

    • There is a thriving industry known as the Cognitive Science of Religion which researches this very topic. There are several hypotheses, which suppose either that religion is a by-product of adaptive traits, or that religion is an adaptation.

  7. mijnheer

    “Just as the physics of the big bang neither confirm nor deny the existence of deities, neither do any other facts about the world.” That’s spot on, as far as I’m concerned. As you point out, some facts about the world are incompatible with some kinds of gods. But facts about the world cannot support a reasonable inference that no god of any kind exists. If atheism means the denial of the existence of a god, one can reasonably be an atheist with respect to many specific gods, but one cannot reasonably subscribe to what I might call “global atheism”.

    • Richard Peachey

      To both Mr. Wilkins and the anonymous commenter “mijnheer”:
      (1) Neither the alleged “Big Bang” nor (neo-)Darwinian evolution are “facts” about the world. They do not conform to following definitions of “fact” that appear if you google “define fact”:
      • “a thing that is indisputably the case”
      • “a truth known by actual experience or observation”
      • “scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.”
      The “Big Bang” is a mathematical model (not a “fact”), and evolution is a complex of theoretical arguments and speculations about history (not a “fact”).
      If you were to claim that the “Big Bang” and (particles to people) evolution are facts in the sense of having really occurred, I would respond that there is a variety of scientific reasons for not accepting such a claim.
      (2) The “fact” of the matter (if I may put it that way) is that the evolutionary worldview (including the “Big Bang,” cosmic evolution, origin of life by random chemical reactions, and biological evolution) is incompatible with the God of Christianity and with a straightforward reading of his truth in the Bible. In North America, when people are pushed away from the true God (never mind all those others), they frequently move in the direction of atheism. So as I have said before, it remains a good first approximation to say “Darwinism = Atheism!”

      • John S. Wilkins

        Richard, this series is predicated upon accepting the truth (or very close to it) of scientific claims such as evolution and cosmology as now understood. I am not going to engage in an argument about whether or not these things are true. That is for another time, place and forum.

        If your religious views lead you to think that the Bible is literally true in every detail, then this entire series is irrelevant for you. Go in peace. Of course for you that means anything that contradicts the Bible is atheism. I won’t argue that.

        But for those who accept the results of scientific learning about the world, some issues are raised that need to be explored. That is what I am doing here. In order to debate this approach of mine, you have to take a hypothetical approach and assume, for the sake of argument, that these things are true. If you cannot do that, then there is no debate. We simply are talking past each other.

        • Richard Peachey

          With respect, you seem to be imposing upon me a caricature of my actual view.
          In my May 30 comment shown above, I stated (in response to an admission you had made):
          “To believe that evolution is true means that you cannot believe the Bible is true, unless you read it in a nonliteral way. But a ‘literal’ reading of the Bible, in the Reformation sense of that term, just means a proper grammatical/historical/exegetical understanding of Scripture. The Bible must be taken in its plain, straightforward sense (but that does not exclude the appropriate recognition of figures of speech and various genres).”
          Now there are certainly sections of the Bible that, to be properly understood, must be taken as figurative — e.g., various psalms.
          But Genesis is presented as historical material, and is so understood by other Old Testament writers, and New Testament writers, and Jesus himself. There is no poetic material in the first two chapters, apart from speeches. There is no clear dividing line separating “non-literal pre-history” from “literal real history” because throughout Genesis the author/editor is presenting what he believes actually happened. There is no internal indication for figurative material at large; there is only perceived pressure today from external sources that disagree with what is written there.
          Even if I would go so far as to assume the truth of everything claimed by modern cosmologists and evolutionists (which would be an incoherent, inconsistent thing to do), there would still be no genuine compatibility with the Biblical material read in a straightforward fashion. Evolutionists who claim otherwise are simply pretending — as demonstrated by the PhD thesis of Will Provine’s disciple Greg Graffin: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=54

          • I studied New and Old Testament at a theological college. I’m familiar with the debates and exegetical issues. I agree that Genesis, read as a straightforward narrative, is inconsistent with modern biology as a whole, including evolutionary biology.

            But the church’s tradition has always included allegorical interpretation even of straightforward narratives (including Luther, Melancthon and Calvin), and the rule has usually been, with few exceptions until recently, if science (that is, knowledge of the natural world) conflicts with an interpretation of the scripture, then the interpretation is wrong and must be revised (this was Bellarmine’s response to Galileo, by the way – it was just that Galileo hadn’t proven his facts yet).

            So, given that the world is as biology, geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, genetics, and geography shows us it is, you have to revise the way you read Genesis (or the Qu’ran, the Bagavadghita, or the Book of Mormon) accordingly. If you do not, we cannot debate the implications of science.

            Now it is not possible to argue, the way you try, that evolution is “just” a theory. There are tens of thousands of papers, observations, experiments and results showing that it is a real phenomenon. To reject this is to reject knowledge of the natural world. You are free to do this, but I think, as I argued above, that this is a God of the gaps style of inference, and you run the risk of your religion being somewhat schizophrenic, seeing a world that is not there because the voices tell you it that way. Feel free to adopt this. Don’t expect others to take you seriously.

            The “evolution is a worldview” approach is simply false. I know conservative and radical people who accept it, religious and nonreligious, Christian and other religions. That some people make a worldview out of some science is hardly surprising. This has always been done. It doesn’t make the science a worldview.

            • Richard Peachey

              Hi again, John. Even if there has always been allegorical interpretation (and sexual abuse) in the church, that doesn’t make those things right. A key aspect of the Reformation was to root out allegorizing hermeneutics, so I’m a little surprised to see you charging Luther with this. I’d certainly like it if you would provide a clear example. Luther was an imperfect and inconsistent man (like most of us) but he opposed allegorizing tendencies very strongly.

              Historian Peter Harrison (U. of Queensland, previously at Oxford) has written: “The major reformers — Martin Luther, John Calvin, Philipp Melanchthon, and Martin Bucer — shared a clear preference for the literal or natural sense of scripture, combined with a suspicion of allegory. Luther argued that the scriptures should be understood ‘in their simplest meaning as far as possible’. The literal sense was ‘the highest, best, strongest, in short the whole substance nature and foundation of the holy scripture’. Origen was singled out for particular censure because ‘ignoring the grammatical sense, he turned trees and everything else . . . into allegories’. Allegorical studies, in Luther’s final judgement, were for ‘weak minds’, and ‘idle men’. . . . Indeed, of the major reformers, only Zwingli exhibited a lingering fondness for non-literal interpretation. We can thus endorse Hans Frei’s observation that ‘the affirmation that the literal or grammatical sense is the Bible’s true sense became programmatic for the traditions of Lutheran and Calvinistic interpretation’.” (The Bible, Protestantism and the rise of natural science, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 108)

              The evolution/creation debate differs significantly from the geocentric/heliocentric controversy, in terms of its effect on Scripture. Geocentricity could be linked to a few isolated texts, within poetic literature (Psalms), and the references to the Sun moving can be understood as a combination of (a) poetic figures, (b) observational/phenomenological language (which we still use today when speaking of sunrise rather than earthspin), and (c) technically (in physics), the Earth as the psalmist’s reference-frame. There are no important within-Scripture theological issues affected by the choice between geocentricity and heliocentricity.

              But evolution (including its required time-frame) contradicts large and important sections of Scripture including foundational chapters in Genesis and the historical basis of one of the Ten Commandments written in stone by God himself. Evolution also undermines the logical and historical foundation of the gospel, as many atheists have noted (and gloated). A God who would create using the cruel processes of evolution (before human sin!) is not the God of the Bible — so very serious theological issues arise as a result of compromising Christians’ attempts to meld evolution with the Bible. All of this is quite different from the situation involving geocentricity. Furthermore, the various attempts to compatibilize evolution with Scripture all conflict with one another, which is not what has happened with the geocentricity challenge. All of this, I suggest, highlights the fact that evolution is a genuine challenge to the Bible, and the two views of history are not truly reconcilable. (Abject subjugation, which you seem to be calling for, is not equivalent to reconciliation!)

              In a previous post, I have already pointed out that creationists do not oppose “all of science,” only the speculative historical reconstructions of the past as guided by philosophical naturalism. We do not oppose “modern biology as a whole.” I took a degree in Biology and Chemistry and had no conflict with the vast majority of what I was taught. http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=148&Itemid=62

              You write that “given that the world is as biology, geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, genetics, and geography shows us it is …” But then you quibble about my calling evolution a “worldview.” Your “given” statement implies a view of the world as held by evolutionary biologists, evolutionary geologists, evolutionary cosmologists, and evolutionary origin-of-life chemists, doesn’t it? I’m wondering if you’ve boxed yourself in a little bit. (Also, I suggest the word “given” is not used appropriately here. A “given” ought to be something that the reader will accept without dispute, not an item of controversy that many readers will think differently on.)

              I would never call evolution “just a theory.” As a science graduate, I’m fully aware that a theory in science is an overarching explanatory system, not just a hunch or a guess (as the word might be used on the street).

              Concerning your claim that “There are tens of thousands of papers, observations, experiments and results showing that [evolution] is a real phenomenon,” I vigorously dispute this. Most “evolutionary biology” research involves studies of populations of a single species undergoing variation (what they call “microevolution”). Relatively few articles even claim to demonstrate macroevolution (which is the only kind of “evolution” that is actually controversial), and those typically claim to have discovered (a degree of) reproductive isolation between very similar species. Mere fluctuations in allele percentages have not been shown to lead to new structures or organs, or to significantly different species (what could be termed “vertical evolution”). Some evolutionists claim that microevolution can legitimately be extrapolated to explain macroevolution (they treat this as a “given”), but many who are evolutionists themselves do not accept this. http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=54

              • Jeb

                “Allegorical studies, in Luther’s final judgement, were for ‘weak minds’, and ‘idle men’.”

                Fitting language for that most male of men, the virile “German Hercules.” Perhaps they were born of a she devils bowels, he was rather fond of presenting his earthly enemies as weak, effeminate and shitty.

                I would say rhetorical flourish rather than a judgement, intended to appeal specifically to a reformation German audience with very specific views about gender (and indeed shit); used by Luther to present himself as a virile man of power.

                It’s not a use of language that works so well in the 21st century when used for the same effect I would suggest. The notion that something is not correct because it is the preserve of an effeminate mind is perhaps not the strongest argument I have encountered, it seems to say much more about the speaker and their cultural outlook than anything else.

                Although I suspect you have just taken him out of historical context and have read too literally here.

  8. Plotinus’ main objection to the gnostics he was familiar with, however, was their rejection of the goodness of the demiurge and the material world. He attacks the gnostics as vilifying Plato’s ontology of the universe as contained in the Timaeus . He accused Gnosticism of vilifying the Demiurge, or craftsman that crafted the material world, and even of thinking that the material world is evil, or a prison. As Plotinus explains, the demiurge is the nous (as the first emanation of the One), the ordering principle or mind, and also reason. Plotinus was also critical of the gnostic origin of the demiurge as the offspring of wisdom, represented as a deity called Sophia . She was anthropomorphically expressed as a feminine spirit deity not unlike the goddess Athena or the Christian Holy Spirit . Plotinus even went so far as to state at one point that if the gnostics did believe this world was a prison then they could at any moment free themselves by committing suicide. To some degree the texts discovered in Nag Hammadi support his allegations, but others such as the Valentinians and the Tripartite Tractate insist on the goodness of the world and the Demiurge.

  9. For example, to assert that the world was created around 6000 years ago requires not only the rejection of biology, but geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and in general reason.

    This is absurd. The natural history of the Universe is constructed on the results of those sciences you mention with additional assumptions specific to its being history. None of the sciences you mention say anything about what happened in the past. Not even 5 minutes ago. What’s inside an organism, inside a rock, that water is H2O, that an atom is made of protons and electrons, that there are stars made mainly of H, do not tell you when they started to exist.

    A whole line of reasoning must be taken in order to speculate on the conditions and moment in time when something happened in the past.

    There is no general reason which enforces a single scenario on the past.

    Again, what you say it’s absurd!

  10. KM

    Read about the latest discovery of the Higgs Boson, the God Particle! Why concern yourself with creatioinism it is surrounded by doubt and overwhelmed by fact! Your life will be richer. Also read, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail.
    We know to much to dabble with creationism. If its acceptance is based on fear of a creator enjoy your ignorant understanding. I teach evolution I cannot find one reference that tells me how things were created. The Bible? The document lacks authenticity for any post O-Level enquiring mind. There are no exams boards that even have an acceptable syllabus for the clumsy subject. Look forward to another unsubtantiated emotional non-scientific reply.

  11. Christopher Stephens

    Cristian Pascu wrote “None of the sciences you mention say anything about what happened in the past. Not even 5 minutes ago.”

    You need to learn more about those sciences you mentioned if you want anyone to take you seriously.

    • Cristian Pascu

      Thanks for taking me half seriously, but please state something concrete that contradicts what I said. I believe I know enough about science to make that statement, so it’s not clear to me what else should I learn to correct my view.

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