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God and Evolution September 16, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, creationism, evolution, Kent Hovind, religion, science, skepticism, theism.
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Many people on both sides of the evolution/creation struggle in the United States want people to believe that their is a conflict between a belief in god and an acceptance of the biological theory of evolution. Let me assure you they are wrong. They want to construct a false dichotomy because it is easier to prop up your side when all you have to do is tear down the other.

If there are more than two options than tearing down the other is not sufficient. One needs to have positive evidence that supports any theory of the origins of species. I will stick with science and the massive evidence across multiple disciplines which converge on a common answer; evolution by natural selection. Whether you be god believer or not I would advise you do the same. If you are skeptical I suggest you approach the evidence with an open mind and realize (as Pope John Paul II did) that “Truth cannot contradict truth.”

As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by the Superintendent Kathy Cox’s attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia’s students. The existing and long-standing use of the word ‘evolution’ in our state’s textbooks has not adversly affected Georgians’ belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the universe. There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.

-Former President Jimmy Carter on the inclusion of an ‘evolution warning’ in Georgia’s textbooks.

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Comments»

1. Jim - September 17, 2007

Is evolution so weak that it cannot defend itself against the Intelligent Design people. It must be so, because those who believe in evolution are running scared of the possibility that someone might have the info that would take some of the oomph out of evolutions dominance.

In fact is is a matter of freedom of speech, to deny those with a challenge to evolution the right to inform the listeners.

Un-American, that’s what it is, plain and simple.

2. Joe - September 17, 2007

What leads you to believe that those who believe in evolution are running scared?

“In fact is is a matter of freedom of speech, to deny those with a challenge to evolution the right to inform the listeners.”
What is this in reference to? Where are the evolution challengers being silenced?

3. dangoldfinch - September 17, 2007

Joe,

Are ID people permitted to teach ID in schools? That’s where evolution challengers are being silenced. If evolutionists were not running scared, they would permit and welcome all who challenge their theory. But in public schools, this simply does not happen. And everytime a challenge is mounted the ACLU steps in and gets involved. You know it.

Oh, The Pope was Catholic (which tells us all we need to know about his theology). His opinion is meaningless to roughly 2/3 of the world who are either Protestant or not-Christian at all. John Paul was wrong on so much it wasn’t even funny, why should we expect him to uphold biblical Christianity or a doctrine of creation?

And are you really citing Jimmy Carter as an authority on anything? His Christianity resembles nothing of biblical Christianity–not least in his advocacy of abortion and his typical, letft wing liberalism. In point of fact, Biblical Christianity is not at all compatible with Darwinian evolution. I don’t care who says it is: They are categorically wrong.

His opinion among conservative Christians carries about as much weight as that of the Catholic Pope among Muslims: None. Most conservative Christians see Jimmy as a charlatan and washed up political hack. Good baptist he may be on Sundays, but his actions and words do not back up that claim Monday through Saturday. He’s a liberal and always will be.

Hope you don’t mind that I stopped by.

jerry

4. Joe - September 17, 2007

“Are ID people permitted to teach ID in schools?”
The classroom is not a place to teach religion. ID is motivated by individuals who want to get religion in classrooms inch by inch. This is a violation of the US constitution. There is nothing in the constitution that guarantees your right to push your religion on other people’s children.

“In point of fact, Biblical Christianity is not at all compatible with Darwinian evolution. I don’t care who says it is: They are categorically wrong.”
Many Christians disagree with you on that point. I was just pointing out some examples.

“Most conservative Christians see Jimmy as a charlatan and washed up political hack. Good baptist he may be on Sundays, but his actions and words do not back up that claim Monday through Saturday. He’s a liberal and always will be.”
Nothing wrong with being liberal, and nothing impossible about being a liberal Christian.

“Hope you don’t mind that I stopped by.”
Glad to have you.

5. Ken Perrott - September 17, 2007

Of course, basic to all this, ID is not science so logically it shouldn’t be taught as science – same as astrology, it has its believers, but it shouldn’t be taught as science.
If the proponents of ID have any valid suggestions they should do the work. But that isn’t happening. Even Behe, after suggestion experimental work to test one of his propositions, refused to do the work – claiming it “wouldn’t be fruitful!”
I suggest this indicates that IDers are “running scared” – at least in the science arena. But then again, they are a movement with wider targets than scientific knowledge – The Wedge document shows they target society, including religion. It is only natural that Christian believers should defend themselves against this attack.

6. dangoldfinch - September 17, 2007

Joe,

Where does it say in the Constitution that Intelligent Design cannot be taught in the public school? Even if you characterize it as a ‘religious push’, it is not necessarily Christian or any other. It is sufficiently vague enough that it could fit into any religious scheme. It merely proposes that ‘something’ was behind what we see and that what we see is not at all random or chance and guideless. Furthermore, in teaching it, no one is establishing or advocating any religion at all. There are plenty of people who believe in some nebulous god that are in no way religious.

The Constitution says that the government (congress) shall make no laws establishing religion, especially since it also says that we are free to be religious or not, and I tell you that from all I have read, atheism and the evolution that undergirds are as equally religious as any church or theist. Of course you will deny it, but that doesn’t mean you are right simply because you do. The point I was making above is that ID is at least an alternative to evolution and can be taught without reference to any particular religion or any particular god or God. The point above is valid: Atheists will allow their religion to be taught (godless, guideless, purposeless evolution) but they will not tolerate anyone challenging their monopoly in that arena. So again, I would say this, echoing Jim above: If evolution can stand on it’s own, why are evolutionists so afraid of an alternative? If ID can be taught without respect or reference to religion, which it can, what is the fear that you have? I could complain, equally, that a religion is being established in the teaching of an atheistic evolutionary scheme. (But I’m not, now am I? And why? Because I am not nearly as afraid of evolution as the evolutionist is of Creation.) 🙂

I will disregard your comments about liberalism and Christianity because it shows an unsurprising, yet understandable, misunderstanding of biblical Christianity.

Finally, just for the record, I should say that I am no proponent of ID. I am a biblical Creationist. I don’t want their to be any confusion about where I stand with respect to what I have said above.

Thanks again for allowing me the space.

your friend,
jerry

7. Glossist - September 17, 2007

Not all faiths view these things at odds – the Bahai for example. To them, science and faith are intertwined and that the seeking of knowledge is a spirtual thing that must be done.

For me, as a Christian, I believe this can also be so, as many other Christians do. It is only when you are a fundmentalist (be it of many faiths) whose reading of their spiritual texts they view as literal that you come into strong conflict with science.

As knowledge collected through science accumulates, they will become increasingly marginalized, disolusioned or dangerous. The population in general will become more disenfranchised with the traditional religions. It does not have to be that way, but it will.

You are right – it is a false dichotomy.

8. Joe - September 18, 2007

Jerry: I’ll disregard your comments about evolution, atheism and ID because they “show an unsurprising, yet understandable, misunderstanding” of those issues.

Furthermore this blog is about the fact that evolution odes NOT imply atheism and yet you continue to hammer on that point as if it is not in dispute. There are plenty of theists (many Christians) who do not see any need to deny major scientific theories to bolster their faith.

I believe that what should be taught in science classrooms is science and ID is not science it is a weakening of creationism for the purpose of getting it into the classroom. That is the only reason it exists. An intentional plot to subvert the constitution.

Please can we keep to the issue of god and evolution here.

Thanks.

9. Joe - September 18, 2007

Glossist: Thank you. It is always great to hear from a theist on this issue. So often any thread on evolution is hammered by the creationist side and there is no acknowledgment that evolution and theism are not contradictory.

“As knowledge collected through science accumulates, they will become increasingly marginalized, disolusioned or dangerous. The population in general will become more disenfranchised with the traditional religions. It does not have to be that way, but it will.”
Yes. It is extremely ironic that those that cling most strongly to the extremes of religion are those that drive reasonable people away from religion. Their insistence of denying science in spite of the overwhelming evidence can make religion to some look entirely unreasonable and dogmatic.

Thanks for speaking up and showing this to be as false as the evolution=atheism idea that I posted about.

10. dangoldfinch - September 18, 2007

Right, you go glossist! It is a false dichotomy that is perpetuated by the scientists who continually tell us that they are evolutionists, and that, oh, by the way, there is no god. It is a false dichotomy that is perpetuated by scientists who inform us that one cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian. Christians haven’t made the dichotomy; atheistic scientists have.

My point is simple, and has nothing to do with the pejorative ‘fundamentalist’ label attached by glossist. The Bible begins where it begins for a reason. It was not fluke or accident or chance or evolution that it began ‘In the Beginning God…’ Stripped of that fundamental truth, Christianity is, in my opinion, meaningless.

But Joe, isn’t that quite the point you continually try to make? You wish for me to abandon the atheist conversation, but don’t seem to make the connection that one is a necessary corollary of the other. They are, to use glossists words, intertwined. And for the record. I have never ‘denied science in spite of the overwhelming evidence.’ I have denied Darwinian evolution on the grounds of Scripture and on the grounds of a lack of evidence and on the grounds of its utter illogical nature. I love science. I use it all the time. I’m fascinated with all sorts of animals, rocks, and flowers. I just don’t accept that they came from a guideless, purposeless, godless place. There is a difference between what you accuse me of and what I actually believe.

Glossist, the world grows disenfranchised not because it has any fundamental misunderstanding of evolution and creation and the place of God in either and/or both. The world grows disenfranchised because it rejects Jesus Christ. And yet even the doctrine of our redemption in Christ is built on a fundamental understanding of Creation and God the Creator (see Hebrews 1 and 11, well all of Hebrews for that matter, John 1, Mark 2, Romans 1, 5, 8, Revelation 21-22.) If evolution and atheism are indisoluble, so are Redemption and Creation. If God didn’t create, it is highly unlikely that I need to worry about being accountable to him. And don’t tell me God ‘used evolution’. A good scientist, like Joe, will reject that notion out of hand because the whole premise of evolution is that it is guideless, and godless.

If Joe is driven away from ‘religion’ because of my belief in Creation it is only because he has rejected redemption in Christ. Don’t be fooled. I say that people will continue to be driven away from Christ–to hell with religion!–as long as there are Christians who wish to alter, compromise, and distort the Word of God in favor of being relevant and appealing.

Joe, I appreciate that the space you have afforded me to refute Glossist who apparently knows very little of what is Biblical, evangelical Christianity. Sorry Gloss, but I think you are off the mark here.

jerry

PS-I hope my spelling is OK.

11. Joe - September 19, 2007

“Right, you go glossist!”
That’s the ridicule that is just not necessary.

“It is a false dichotomy that is perpetuated by the scientists who continually tell us that they are evolutionists, and that, oh, by the way, there is no god.”
It is a false dichotomy perpetuated by people on both sides. (yourself included)

“It is a false dichotomy that is perpetuated by scientists who inform us that one cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian.”
What scientists are saying this? I do not believe it, and I don’t think most scientists do. many of them are Christians.

“The Bible begins where it begins for a reason. It was not fluke or accident or chance or evolution that it began ‘In the Beginning God…’ Stripped of that fundamental truth, Christianity is, in my opinion, meaningless.”
Evolution does not deny that god created the “heavens and the earth” anymore than the law of gravity does. Why don’t you complain that universal gravitation is atheistic? It makes no mention of god. It is as atheistic as the theory of evolution.

“But Joe, isn’t that quite the point you continually try to make? You wish for me to abandon the atheist conversation, but don’t seem to make the connection that one is a necessary corollary of the other.”
ISn’t what the point I try to make? I have said mutltiple times and I am saying here. Evolution does NOT imply atheism. They are two completely separate issues.

“I have denied Darwinian evolution on the grounds of Scripture and on the grounds of a lack of evidence and on the grounds of its utter illogical nature.”
These are the same reasons that were given to deny heliocentrism 400 years ago. Do you decry heliocentrism as an atheistic philosohpy the way they did in the 17th century? Or the existence of the vacuum the way they did? The truth is evolution is not illogical and is supported by an overwhelming amount of evidence. You deny for the first reason only. You insist on interpretting certain verses in the book of Genesis literaly.

“I just don’t accept that they came from a guideless, purposeless, godless place.”
No scientific theory makes any claim of purposelessness or godlessness and it merely proclaims guidance unnecessary, not nonexistent.

“The world grows disenfranchised…”
What does that even mean?

“A good scientist, like Joe, will reject that notion out of hand because the whole premise of evolution is that it is guideless, and godless.”
So is GRAVITATION! So are cookie recipies! Neither of which mention god or supernatural guidance but you are not attacking them for their inherent atheism. Scienctific theories cannot deal with the supernatural. It is unresearchable. If the answer to “How did we get here?” is “God.” then there are no other questions. Science must assume natural processes or it is beyond our ability to pursue theories grounded in evidence. it is not because science is atheistic, it is because by definition something that is supernatural is beyond the grasp of science. If god created all the life on earth then he either used the process of evolution or made it look like he did.

“If Joe is driven away from ‘religion’ because of my belief in Creation it is only because he has rejected redemption in Christ.”
Your belief in creation has nothing to do with my atheism.

12. Steve - September 19, 2007

Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen Jimmy Carter held up as an authority for anything.

There is no dichotomy between faith and science. From a faith perspective, all truth is God’s truth, so anything found in the sciences has to validate God’s hand in creation. Many (young-earth) creationists resist the idea, because the physical evidence doesn’t fit nicely with a 6000 year old earth. Oh, well. There are other perspectives on creation that don’t require ‘tampering with the evidence,’ as many young-earthers tend to do.

13. Grundle - September 21, 2007

“I will stick with science and the massive evidence across multiple disciplines which converge on a common answer; evolution by natural selection…If you are skeptical I suggest you approach the evidence with an open mind…”

Joe,

I am waiting for you to present me with the massive evidence accross multiple disciplines. I think it is funny that you ask people to have an open mind about evolution and when you stumble accross my blog, which is asking for an open minded discussion you tell me to go to the library. Thank you for your hypocrisy

14. Joe - September 21, 2007

It is not my job to educate you Grundle. I have never said I would present any evidence. Many people have done it much better than I could already. If you want to find it, it is out there for you.

15. robert - October 22, 2007

There is plenty of evidence showing the evolution of primates and of other species from when they first become recognisable as such but before that is, I think, mainly speculation. I don´t know, however, why believers in ID spend so much time attacking evolution. They would do better to go back to the beginning of the Universe and ask how it could appear from nothing. Or if there was something before Big Bang, how did that appear? Most of the arguments for saying that the Universe had a beginning in time would probably apply to whatever came before. Also, a creator would help to explain all those things in physics/cosmology that seem rationally impossible, generally described as “non-intuitive” in books. There are a lot of good arguments for believing in a creator as the only plausible explanation for the existence of the Universe, with all its peculiarites. As soon as you believe in a creator, there is no problem with evolution – the creator caused that too. What I find incomprehensible is organised religion – how people can think that the creator would be interested in each and everyone of us as individuals and would expect us to go to funny buidings to sing and to chant, led by someone else dressed in a strange costume.

16. Jordan - October 26, 2007

If God made an organized universe, why wouldn’t He make an organized group of followers? I agree that some churches today (mainly in the U.S. and other parts of the Western world) have taken function (God’s unchangable commands) and replaced them with form (how we live out “function”)… which leads to legalism in extreme cases or to believing that we don’t need to follow God’s commands at all.
Two examples of extremes: 1)Groups that say you must do this or that “form” to be in line with “function”… or 2) groups that say we don’t need “function”, only “form” : which as you can see, doesn’t make much sense… but, western civilization and the U.S. in particular do live in a culture becoming more and more dominated by the philosophy of postmodernism.

Sorry, that last bit was a little (not completely) off topic and a tiny rant.

17. Steve - October 26, 2007

If God made an organized universe, why wouldn’t He make an organized group of followers?

He certainly could, but He chose to give us free will, including the ability to choose to ignore Him, to pretend He doesn’t exist, or to just plain be stupid.

18. Jordan - October 28, 2007

Yes, you are right about that.

19. robert - November 1, 2007

Steve:

Free will is a myth. When you have a decision to make, using your supposed “free will”, your brain decides and your brain is a product of what you had at birth plus what´s happened since then. There is nothing “over” your brain to over-ride it, though if there were the same arguments would apply. Anyone who does not accept this, would have to maintain that your decisions – ie your brain´s decisions – are random and that isn´t free will either. Of course, for the purposes of running society we have to pretend that there is such a thing as free will – or even load the dice with punishments and incentives – so that your brain, about which you can do nothing, is more likely to decide in a convenient way.

20. Steve - November 1, 2007

Man, that would be a sad state of afffairs. At that point the human being is reduced to nothing but a carbon-based processor, responding to random inputs. It makes a strong, albeit emotional, case against atheism, because, as a Christian believer, I know I am more than the random sum of parts; I am a created being fashioned by a God who knew what he was about.

21. Robert - November 2, 2007

No-one in their right mind would be an atheist from choice, as obviously your beliefs would be much more agreeable to have. However … I do not find it possible to believe in religion simply because it would be so nice if it were true.

Presumably you also believe that there is a purpose in life, but it is pretty hard to see what that can be. Suppose you are right after all and after death some of us go to Heaven and the purpose of life is to prepare ourselves for this. What then is the purpose of Heaven?
I am also intrigued as to what we will do there. I suppose there are no newspapers, no TV, no books, no sex, no ravioli. What, in fact, is there and might it not get a bit boring after the first couple of billion years?

22. Steve - November 2, 2007

People have debated the ‘why are we here’ and the ‘what’s heaven like’ issues as long as there have been people. You raise interesting points, but the nihilist view that there is no purpose or meaning in life is really too depressing to contemplate. If true, why not just jump off a bridge and be done with it?

To split hairs, why don’t you believe in religion? They are plenty of Christians, Muslims, buddhists, etc. out there who practice a religion. Are you saying they don’t exist? I say that to make to make a distinction between ‘religion’ and Christianity. Religion is about man’s attempts to get in touch with the divine. Christianity is about having a relationship with the Creator. It’s the only faith that says it’s possible to have such a relationship. Even Judaism doesn’t preach the personal relationship aspect. To get back to your point, heaven will be spent exploring and deepening that relationship.

23. Jordan - November 2, 2007

Are you saying that becuase we have all these “things” on earth, in this life, that (of course from your standpoint Heaven is hypothetical) Heaven is lacking? Do you think that the short list you gave is full of great things? Or even has anything so great in it?

I can’t write a book or paint a picture of what Heaven will look like, If I could then I would doubt that it exists becuase as it is shown in the Bible– that is, it is shown in a general sense not with many specifics– it is “other worldly”, not equatable with the world (in a specific sense at least). You seem to be presuming that Heaven is explained as being like what we know…in some senses it will be, but for the most part it will not. A big difference is that there will be no sorrow, anger, jealousy…tears…etc…

Sorry I didn’t delve into your question on the purpose of Heaven, I thought I’d let Steve give an answer before I do…partly becuase I don’t know anything about him and would like to see his answer. But, I will give a short answer: To praise (worship) God and fellowship (commune, be with…etc) with God (enjoy his prescence) as He has (not sure how to use the tense in this case, sorry) had fellowhip within Himself for eternity (sorry I used past tense with eternity…poor grammar on my part)… That is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you want more explanation on this last part, look up the early church fathers and early creeds.

24. Jordan - November 2, 2007

Sorry, I must have posted my last post at the same time as Steve.
I agree with Steve. I’d have to check on the Judaism part…but I’d definitely agree if that is in the context of Judaism after the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.

25. Robert - November 3, 2007

I think there are some pretty good arguments for belief in a Creator or creative force of some kind – but there is absolutely no reason to believe in the dogmas and rituals of organised religion or to believe that, if there is a Creator, He/She/It would be in the least interested in us as individuals. There is even less reason to suppose that there is such a thing as Heaven, agreeable though it would be if it were to exist. I am afraid the truth is bleak. Individually, we have about the same purpose as a weed growing by the roadside or moss on the bark of a tree. Collectively, we are part of the planet´s ecological system, though we seem to be doing a good job in destroying it. (The Gaia theory is interesting and convincing in this context.)

We die and all the generations after us will also die. Eventually, the Earth will be a sphere of compacted ash, probably following pretty much its previous route. Later, the last star will burn out and all life will be gone from the Universe. Later still, much later, the atoms will decompose into elementary particles and maybe they will survive indefinitely, though it seems that even they might not be absolutely stable. (This is what I remember from “The Final Three Minutes” by Paul Davies, whose opinions should certainly be taken seriously by anyone.) Where is the “purpose” in our individual lives in all this?

My query as to what we do in a hypothetical Heaven is really quite serious. Eternity is a long time and presumably we would have some sort of activity there to occupy this time. Are we in a state of suspended animation, like a perpetual hybernation? There are so many absurdities in organised religion. Will we meet again our loved ones there? Do we all go or only those of us who have behaved in a certain way while alive? Were I to believe in God, I would have to believe in the Devil, too, to account for all the unpleasant things that happen on Earth. By the way, why did God create us? Certainly if He is all-powerful and all-knowing, you would think that He would have avoided all the catastrophes in life. (Only vaguely connected, but have you heard the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? An optimist believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds. And a pessimist fears that he´s right.)

26. Jordan - November 20, 2007

Sorry I haven’t been able to respond lately and I still don’t have the time to give much of a response. Here’s a link to a guy’s blog who gives his opinion on Christianity being an organized religion.
Just thought I’d share.

http://www.godwardthoughts.blogspot.com/

Jordan

27. Steve - November 20, 2007

Individually, we have about the same purpose as a weed growing by the roadside or moss on the bark of a tree. Collectively, we are part of the planet´s ecological system, though we seem to be doing a good job in destroying it. (The Gaia theory is interesting and convincing in this context.)

First off, we are not weeds. I guess Robert’s quote says it all, from an atheist/non-theist viewpoint. What a barren, hopeless outlook. It’s no wonder those who reject God place so much energy in saving the planet – it’s all they have, and mankind is just an irritating mold on its surface, no different in form or importance from anything else.

With regard to his specific question, I don’t have a quick and easy answer as to what heaven will be like. Will we meet others we know? Yes? Will there be pets? Maybe. Will there be Playstation to keep you occupied? No, we’ll be too busy for that.

I can say that it will be better than anything our limited minds can come up with, because we will be in the presence of He Who Created Us and Loved Us Too Much to Leave Us Alone.

28. Robert - November 21, 2007

Steve:

I thought I was giving a pretty joyful uplifting assessment of man/people-kind´s place in the cosmos. Of course it´s bleak – there cannot be any purpose to life. Even if we believed the unbelievable – that we go to Heaven afterwards – what would be the purpose of that? Also, I suspect that you believe in that other chimera, free will, as you must because without it the whole basis of right and wrong would collapse. I think it is as logical to blame an evil person for being so as it is to blame your new car when it breaks down. Or should you blame the designer or the manufacturer or the guy thinking about something else when he did your wheel nuts up?
But you do seem to think that belief in a deity is a matter of choice, when, of course, it isn´t.

I´m interested to hear you “say” that we will be very busy in Heaven, though I suppose you might have some difficulty in explaining how you know this and what we are going to be busy on. Whatever, I think it might get a bit tedious after the first 5.000 billion years. The question might even creep in: “Yes, ok, but what´s it all for?”

29. Robert - November 21, 2007

Jordan:

Yes, it´s me again – what a sad life I must lead!

I looked at your link and found bits of it interesting but I think the following one is more interesting: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c039.html

I argue against organised religion, with all its illogicalities and arcane rituals, but I am much more open on the possibility that the universe was somehow created.

30. Idetrorce - December 15, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
Idetrorce


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