Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Evolution and atheism

On an episode of Another Goddamned Podcast last year, The Chaplain (from An Apostate's Chapel) informed us all that she was highly motivated to become an atheist due to evolution. At that time, I admitted that my own reading of evolutionary materials back in the early 70's was a contributing factor in my atheism.

In recent years there has been a rush to assure the religious - "no, no, evolution has nothing to do with belief or disbelief. You can accept evolution and still believe in god."

Well, yeah... you can, but it certainly puts nails in the coffin for those who were chest deep in religious literalism. And once you let go and start getting all metaphoric with your god, you end up asking, "what's the point of this"?

Lately, some atheists are attacking the old paradigm and it's pissing off scientific atheists who want to "get along" with the theists. Here is something from Jerry Coyne's latest post on his blog:

And although evolution doesn’t lead straight to atheism for everybody, we ALL know that many people have lost their faith after studying evolutionary biology. And there are good reasons for this. It is simply disingenuous, in my opinion, to pretend that this isn’t true. I get emails from people every day telling me how they lost their faith after studying evolution (and it doesn’t bother them). What a breath of fresh air it would be to have somebody admit this hidden truth!


READ the whole post for inside info on "the war".

23 comments:

PhillyChief said...

Well it really wouldn't matter what evolution was all about if the person looking into it didn't value HOW the idea of evolution was arrived at and how it continually reaffirmed by new discoveries and how using it allows accurate predictions to be made. Long before someone looked at evolution, they'd have to value all that or else the study wouldn't matter and they'd still believe in the Garden of Eden or some comparable myth.

Look, most people do value critical thinking and demonstrable evidence. There are lightning rods on steeples, most religious people go to doctors when they're ill, and the Pope rides around in a bullet proof Pope-mobile. Where's the faith? Sure, rationalize why those things are ok and many, many more things throughout one's day, but evolution is just REALLY hard to rationalize away or around.

Sabio Lantz said...

Absolutely right -- well said !!
But we all have little illogical areas in our lives -- ALL of us, atheists included!

And not all of religion is is about theology or logic. So if you let theists slowly give up the literalist interpretations part of their religion, it helps them clean house and become more intellectually free. We all clean house at our own pace.

While on the other hand, the house of emotions and motivations may need less cleaning for them, while the atheist may need more cleaning in that realm.

Again, superbly written -- thank you.

the chaplain said...

PZ Myers wrote pretty good post about this issue.

the chaplain said...

Here's a link to the AGP podcast you mentioned.

Rose said...

"And once you let go and start getting all metaphoric with your god, you end up asking, "what's the point of this"?"

Reminds me of Richard Dawkin's quote "Pantheism is sexed up Atheism".

When I have god discussions with pantheists, deists, or those who incorrectly go by the title "agnostic" while intending one of the formers terms, I will agree with them on everything. That is, except for the actual definition of god.

It comes to the point where I start thinking what you said "what's the point of this"? What is the point of "believing" in a higher power that's really nature when one's not having any "faith" at all? They're just fancying up atheism to make it seem "spiritual".... or simply more acceptable.

John Evo said...

Chappy - thanks for both links!

Rose - I'd just say that at least those people are not frightening to me. I would HOPE the ask themselves, "what's the point"? But if they don't and just want to believe there is some vague greater power in the universe, that's a great step up from dogmatic belief!

Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

Gideon - On morals

Gideon said...
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PhillyChief said...

"Morality is always thought of from a religious standpoint."LOL!

Gideon said...
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PhillyChief said...

"Evolutionists insisting on incorporating morality into their religion of God-denial..."There's so much stupid in that mere part of a sentence. I'm in awe of you, sir.

Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

Gideon,

OF COURSE, we get all our morals from god. But let's have fun for a moment. here's what I'm saying -

IMAGINE there's no god. Crazy, I know. But indulge me.

In that situation, what you would find in the human population would be "morals". They wouldn't have to be "given" any more than wolf packs don't need god to keep one pack from not tearing itself apart even when hungry. Female wolves take care of their young and, guess what? So do other members of the same pack when the mother is away from the pups. They don't murder each other when other wolves aren't looking.

I'm assuming you don't think god gave animals morals. If you do, maybe you should consider the importance of animals if they are that important to god.

These types of "morals" are an emergent property of social animals. The more socialized, the more rules. Wolves have more than piranha. Chimps have many more social rules (morals) than wolves.

Societies can not form unless morality exists. If if no magical mystery man gives the rules.

PhillyChief said...

Nice quote mining. I think you could get a job at Fox News.

Gideon said...
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PhillyChief said...

I really think they shouldn't let the mental patients have internet access. I really don't see how this is therapeutic for Gideon.

Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

Gideon -

The "original self-replicating" organism could not have contained or communicated the necessary genetic 'experience' for cooperative co-existence, to pass down to it's progeny.

Really? You are an evolutionary biologist now? And you disagree with ALL of your contemporaries?

Now, if you are talking about THE first replicator - it would not have, nor needed to, cooperate (despite the alarming landscape you lay out). It would have been THE ONLY replicator, and without competition, cooperation would be an irrelevancy.

It was a couple of billion years before a simple replicator worked up to a fairly simple multicellular organism. That time provided many opportunities for false starts and tiny successes of cooperation.

Hey, enjoy the time out of the institution. I know I always do!

John Evo said...

By the way, did you finish with your explanation about our cousin animals? You told me what I already knew about god's plan for them before and after "THE FALL". But I'm not sure what that has to do with the fact that social animals behave with what we could describe as a rude moral code. Especially interesting when you see other animals which, in every other way, are equal but don't live in social groups and DO NOT share the rules I refer to! Fascinating.

It happened in the ways that evolution would predict. Now you can say God Did It, but he need not have, eh?

Gideon said...
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Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

One thing I've recognized about you Gideon... you ARE an intelligent guy. You've just made a conscious (or maybe subconscious) choice to parrot the haggard and disproved talking points of apologists who battle against evolution, bio-genesis and universal origins (as if biology, bio-genesis and cosmology were the same). And your final rebuke is always the same, when you simply replace the "unknown" with "god" (as if that were an answer). As Sagan said, if we want to do that (in order to be honest) we have to ask about the origins of god.