12/09/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Evolution is a religious belief

By Dave, the WM

Over and over and over, Christians come to this site and express their "informed opinion" that Evolution must be accepted on faith and is therefore equal to a religious belief in Creationism.

Is this true? Is accepting the Theory of Evolution as the best model for understanding the natural progression of life forms akin to religious convictions about Christian Creationism?

Here is a short list of some commonly accepted theories in a variety of disciplines:

Obviously, most of these theories are accepted by the majority of educated individuals without a lot of emotional discussion, but when it comes to the theories that appear to contradict fundamentalist religious teachings, those theories fall under heavy and aggressive criticism by Christians.

Well, theories are not intended to be revelation knowledge from a deity. Theories are crafted by scrutinizing and observing the natural world and then constructing a model to better understand the processes taking place. Using these theories, humans have been able to considerably enhance life on Earth for a huge portion of the population.

Theories observe the natural world, and attempt to understand how nature works. That's all a theory is. That's all a theory does.

Theories can be replaced by better theories, and this happens fairly regularly as experimentation reveals a deeper comprehension of the hitherto elusive secrets of nature.

Rejecting a theory does not consign a person to everlasting torment, and accepting a theory does not promote a person to everlasting bliss. Theories do not address anything "supernatural," because supernatural things do not exist in nature. If something supernatural existed in nature, then it would be natural. In order to exist in nature, it can't be supernatural. Supernatural is outside of nature. Scientific theories cannot prove or disprove supernatural things, because supernatural things cannot be observed in nature. Again, if it is observable in nature, then it is testable, measurable, natural.

So why is there so much discussion by religious people about the Theory of Evolution? The answer is obvious — the theory appears to contradict the religious belief in a magical "poofing into existence" of life and the natural universe by an unexplainable, untestable, unmeasurable, supernatural entity that doesn't exist in nature.

Magic. Creationism is a nothing more than belief in supernatural magic. Creationism denies natural processes and instead embraces supernatural magic — something that can only be imagined.

Creationism does not attempt to explain the processes in the natural world. Creationism ignores nature, strives to shut down all inquiry into nature, and seeks to undermine established scientific thought. No evidence is posited for Creationism, but so-called holes in the scientific models are picked at, and then those holes are trumpeted as incontrovertible evidence that religious views are solidly supported. The problem I see with this kind of thinking is the assumption of an either/or solution to unanswered questions. If evolution can be discounted as a flawed model for understanding nature, then the 2,000-year-old religious teachings are thought by the religous to, by default, become true. There may indeed be many adjustments needed to our scientific theories, I certainly don't have the education or higher thinking to know otherwise. So, I’m even willing to suggest that our present theories on the origins and development of life may one day be thrown on the scrapheap as science advances. Still, even if that happens, religion won't somehow win the argument, because religion has presented no evidence favorable to its position. Consider this for a moment: When a political figure relegates his or her campaign to merely denigrating his or her opponents, is there anything being said in favor of the critical candidate? Why would I vote for a leader that has nothing positive to say about himself or herself, and the only positive thing that can be said in favor of this candidate is negative statements made about the opponent?

Surely negative campaigning is not the way to support a position, is it?

There is not one real Creation scientist. Creationism performs no experiments. Creationism funds no laboratories. Creationism supports no research centers. There is nothing but armchair philosophizing in Creationism, bolstered by religious, intellectual-sounding banter.

When Copernicus presented his theory that planets revolved around the sun, he was condemned by all of Christendom for contradicting the sure teachings of scripture:
"People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon....This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13]that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth." Martin Luther in one of his "Table Talks" in 1539

"People give ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus]who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy." Martin Luther, Works, Volume 22, c. 1543

“The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture.” The Church sentences Galileo (1633)

"The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion -- no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wandering, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? (Job 26:7) By what means could it [the earth] maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it? Accordingly the particle, ape, denoting emphasis, is introduced -- YEA, he hath established it." — John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Psalm 93, verse 1, trans., James Anderson (Eerdman's, 1949), Vol. 4, p. 7

"Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'" — John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), A. 72


The present argument over evolution by Christian fundamentalists is clearly history repeating itself.

If Christianity hopes to survive into the future, then instead of kicking against the goads of scientific inquiry, Christianity needs to cast aside stubborn ignorance and embrace real knowledge.

What do you think?

33 comments:

Harlequin said...

Amen

twincats said...

"If Christianity hopes to survive into the future, then instead of kicking against the goads of scientific inquiry, Christianity needs to cast aside stubborn ignorance and embrace real knowledge."

But, it can't. Or, at least a lot of Christians feel that they can't allow it to. Christians intuit (as do I) that embracing real knowledge it tatamount to admitting yet another small, yet significant defeat to secularism, nudging all the churches further and further to the sidelines of our culture.

The difference between us and the faithful is that we are cheering on real knowledge.

freedy said...

I have to believe that rational realism will prevail in the end.

In the the name of science,..Amen

Glenn said...

Creation theory (insert an egotistic God) only needs six days to complete itself in all it's glory; as opposed to the evolution theory,(no God needed) it takes a huge spans of time (millions of years, maybe billions or more)to evolve to where we are right now.

Which theory above is the most believable or most probable?

Anonymous said...

Astronomy: Big Bang Theory [A True Tought]!
Biology: Cell theory - Evolution [Nothing new is comming into existence blows that thought]!


Chemistry: Atomic theory — Kinetic theory of gases Gases have to come some source what? Where is the source...
Climatology: Theory of Global Climate Change (due to anthropogenic activity)
'[There is no climate outside the atmosphwere of the earh, which makes itr a part of the earth no earth no climate.. that thought goes out the door...

theory are thought's of disengaged brains...If accepted as truth..

Economics: Decision theory "thought"

Engineering: Circuit theory —
"thought" —

Film: Film Theory "thought"


Rational choice theory is circumstantial, and all choice is based on circumstances, And God is the God of Circumstance. and this is the God that rules in the affairs of mankind.

"This is Truth"


Humanities: Critical theory "thought"

Literature: Literary theory
Mathematics: Catastrophe theory — Category theory — Chaos theory — Graph theory — Number theory — Probability theory — Set theory
Music: Music theory
Philosophy: Proof theory — Speculative reason — Theory of truth — Type theory — Value theory — Virtue theory
Physics: Acoustic theory — Antenna theory - General relativity — Special relativity — Theory of relativity — Quantum field theory
Planetary science: Giant impact theory
Sociology: Critical social theory- Social theory
Statistics : Extreme value theory

"All" of the above thougts are good thoughts but they are thoughts sonme true, and some are not, Evolution is an un-prioven thought, and that is all it is, is a thought, and not even an intelligent thought at that..

Anonymous said...

You know Kids,

God said let there bne light, and Bang their was light, and light, and the Uni8verse has been expanding since This is 'The Big Bang" Thought (Theory) science says the Universe is expanding. [The elohin's "meaning the Supreme Family of Deity" Big Bang] The Universe is populated with more intelligence than we have on nthis little planet called earth. (the small dirt ball).

carlk said...

The list of theories cited at the beginning of the article confuses the meaning of theory used in science, and anonymous took advantage of it in his comment to cast doubt on the theory.

A scientific theory is more than a model that explains data. It does that, but is also backed by so much evidence as to become virtually indisputable, and nearly indistinguishable from fact.

*All* the evidence points to evolution as the basis of life today, and given our knowledge of DNA, that anything might overturn the basic elements of that theory is approximately inconceivable.

Anonymous said...

I'll have you know Dave that at our Church we take great offense at number theory. There are no decimals in the Bible. God must not like decimals and I hate the bastards too.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous said "....Evolution is an un-prioven thought, and that is all it is, is a thought, and not even an intelligent thought at that.."

And how did you come to hold that opinion? I'm sure you've studied the theory of evolution yourself, right? Just as a quick check, can you please list for me some of the major lines of evidence that are frequently cited by scientists as supporting the theory of evolution? If you can do that, then perhaps having a further discussion is warranted. If not, then would you mind terribly much if I dismissed your comments as being uninformed? Realistically, there is not much to discuss if you have reached such a conclusion before even knowing what the evidence is, right? Just trying to save a little time here...

Silverseale said...

American Heritage Dictionary cites the word "religious" to mean "Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity."

Evolution isn't a religion. Fundamentalists just try to make it one because that's the only thing they understand. As the old saying goes, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave. On target yet again.

As for 'nony, since you equate 'theory' with 'thought,' I hope you won't mind if I join Jim in dismissing your comment.

Trancelation said...

Annoynomous said:

" . . . Evolution is an un-prioven thought, and that is all it is, is a thought, and not even an intelligent thought at that.."

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Scientific theory is now THOUGHT? This . . . "person," if you can call them that, since they are really nothing more than "thought" . . . is equating something physical with something mental. As if the fact that humans put words to real observations somehow negates the thing they are observing into the realm of non-existence. Incredible. Unbelievable. I should wonder if they woud be so willing to do the same with their religion. Is Christianity just thought, and not a very intelligent one at that (gotta love that pathetic little jibe they attached at the end there, huh? What is this loser, thirteen?), since Christianity is nothing more than an un-proven THOUGHT? Or will this person say that religion is truth, because religion claims truth?

Anonymous said...

An excellent and well thought out article Dave!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the theory of evolution and number theory have to go. There are no apemen or decimals in the Bible. God must not like apemen or decimals. I don't like them either.

Valerie said...

Dogma and growth are incompatible. To the extent that any variant of Christianity centers itself in dogma, it is static. This means it is increasingly archaic in its moral priorities and understanding of human nature and the world around us.

Jim said...

Well done. To Christians who say that, I pose a question. I say, "a few million years ago, the earth was covered with species that do not exist today. All of the species on earth that exist today, did not exist a few million years ago. What happened?"

That has actually worked a few times.

Anonymous said...

Evolution truly is a religious belief. There are numerous holes in the argument for evolution:
-The half life of Carbon 14 is only 5730 years; How can you date back to hundreds of millions of years with this element?
-The salinization level of the oceans; If the earth was billions of years old, at projected rates of salinization, the oceans wouldn't be able to support life.
-Dust on the moon: When the lunar mission was being planned, they were expecting up to 20 feet of dust on the moon due to the current rate of asteroid collisions - but they only found 3 inches, suggesting a young universe
-Evidence of a global flood - supporting Noah and Christianity
-The explosion of fossil data in the same time period - huge changes in the fossil record at the same time - impossible for evolution to explain
-lack of transitional fossils - self explanatory
-Repeated occurences of finding very small fossil fragments and conjuring up incredible pictures to suggest magic transitional fossils, but with no backing
-Earth's magnetic field - it's declining at a rate that would suggest that the field would have been so strong over 100 000 years ago that life would have not been possible on earth

If you would like to know the truth, read "The case for Creation" by Lee Strobel - an ex-athiest. It is by far the best non-partisan study I have seen.

That "Ball" Guy said...

You might find www.talkorigins.org to be enlightening.

The fact that you parrot these tired old arguments shows you've done no research into the subject.

And Lee Strobel "non-partisan"? Thanks, I needed the laugh

.:webmaster:. said...

If you would like to know the truth, read "The case for Creation" by Lee Strobel - an ex-athiest. It is by far the best non-partisan study I have seen.

Non-partisan? Lee is running for office? Do you mean balanced presentation of facts. Because if that's what you mean, that is ridiculous! Strobel is clearly a fundamentalist apologist, and nothing more. He's certainly NOT a scientist.

Please reference a single honest-to-goodness real live Creationist scientist's works. That would be worth reading. A religious apologist has nothing authoritative to offer on this topic.

To everyone: Feel free to make Strobel richer by buying his book, if that's what you want to do, but do yourself a favor and have a balanced perspective on the nonsense he spews. Read this article for free: Another Case Not Made: A Critique of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator (2005)

.:webmaster:. said...

Another point I'd like to reiterate, is that there is a false dichotomy, a false either/or mentality that comes out when a fundamentist argues about evolution.

From page 28 in Strobel's above referenced book: "Put another way, in which direction--toward Darwin or God--is the current arrow of science pointing?"

Science is not pointing toward either evolution or Christianity. Science is trying to discover and understand the processes that led to life and the processes by which life develops and changes over millions of years.

Even if evolution one day proves to be an insufficient theory for explaining our origins and our subsequent appearance on this planet, Christianity will not then be proven to be true. If our scientific theory in this area is found to be flawed, then a newer, better scientific theory will rise up to take its place. Regardless of what scientific theories might be on the books, Creationism will never become true by negating a scientific theory. Creationism must present its own scientific evidence for supernatural magic. And it’s painfully obvious to any thinking person that Creationism is not doing anything of the sort. If a failed journalist is the premier spokesman for the Creationist movement, then Creationism is in big trouble.

Think about it.

.:webmaster:. said...

And if you are really interested in learning something, instead of just parroting Strobel, check out all these articles: Click here.

Dave8 said...

If "all" is religious... the Christian "god" is one of the sorriest options one could find, if they were looking for joy and peace in this life. The Christian God in America is like a stain affixed at birth, that a child has to spend years mentally scrubbing off.

The Christian God is nothing more than a bumper sticker, used to identify those who are part of the deitical rotary club. It's been that way since the inception of Christianity per Constantine I. If it's considered more than that, it should be outlawed.

If the Christian bible ever makes it to the point that it becomes more than a joke, then we can pursue the writing as hate speech and have it removed from the public - good thing for the Christian, those in authority in the U.S. accept the non-divine words in that impotent book as ancient rhetoric - and nothing more.

.:webmaster:. said...

Last comment to the Strobel disciple: The title of the book you're talking about is The Case for a Creator.

If you're going to recommend a book to people, at least go the trouble of getting the correct title.

.:webmaster:. said...

"Creationism has not made a single contribution to agriculture, medicine, conservation, forestry, pathology, or any other applied area of biology. Creationism has yielded no classifications, no biogeographies, no underlying mechanisms, no unifying concepts with which to study organisms or life." -- Botanical Society of America's Statement on Evolution.

Lee Strobel - The Atheist said...

Christian ignorance & prose in the case of Lee Stroble.

Options:
1-Lee Strobel was never a True Atheist.

2-Lee Strobel is just a back-slidden Atheist, he'll come back, he knows the real truth.

3-Lee Strobel is still an Atheist, he just accepts one of thousands of gods, because his catalogue dressed the christian one up, better than the rest.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess you can attack my suggestion of an excellent book to read, but you didn't argue with any of my points.

You seem to have blinders on. It's unfortunate for you that the Devil has hardened your hearts. I hope you can overcome this prejudice and see the evidence for yourself.

It's your soul on the line...

.:webmaster:. said...

Oh Jezeezus H. Crust, I didn't address any of your points? Your points are irrelevant to the discussion! Are you dense? Regardles of the relative merits of scientific theories, magical talking snakes, unicorns, floating axe heads, water that becomes wine, and a flying god-man is myth and fable.

So you don't understand evolution. OK, fine. I promise, you won't go to hell for not understanding it. But insisting that magic is real just because you don't "get it" is woefully ignorant.

Good luck with that fire and brimstone mentality. You can sadistically celebrate while most of your fellow creatures are being tortured eternally in horrific agony. I guess that's all Christians really care about, that they have the correct beliefs, and everyone else can literally go to hell.

Sick.

Alan said...

OK Roger, here you go:

-The half life of Carbon 14 is only 5730 years; How can you date back to hundreds of millions of years with this element?

You don't use carbon-14 to date anything older than about 60,000 years, you use uranium-235, Potassium-40 or rubidium-87.

-The salinization level of the oceans; If the earth was billions of years old, at projected rates of salinization, the oceans wouldn't be able to support life.

Who is projecting the rate of salinization, Austin and Humphreys? Their work has been discredited.

-Dust on the moon

NASA wasn't expecting 20 feet of dust due to observational data, the 20 ft estimate is way out of date, you can't latch onto something that is obsolete and pretend it is still valid.

-Evidence of a global flood

What evidence, do you have a reference for this, besides Lee Strobel?

-The explosion of fossil data in the same time period

If you are referring to the Cambrian explosion it was at least 5 million years in duration, and possibly 10 times that, not exactly an overnight event.

-lack of transitional fossils

sorry, totally and outstandingly incorrect

-Repeated occurences of finding very small fossil fragments and conjuring up incredible pictures to suggest magic transitional fossils, but with no backing

Can you rephrase this to make sense?

-Earth's magnetic field

Earth's magnetic field is currently declining (or becoming more diffuse) because we are heading towards a long overdue reversal in polarity. The field is not a constant, it varies over time.

All this stuff has been debunked, you can see it all at talkorigins. If you don't like talkorigins you can go on to read their references. The question for you Roger, is do you have the honesty and integrity to admit that your arguments are not valid?

Dano said...

Roger Foster wrote: Well, I guess you can attack my suggestion of an excellent book to read, but you didn't argue with any of my points.

You seem to have blinders on. It's unfortunate for you that the Devil has hardened your hearts. I hope you can overcome this prejudice and see the evidence for yourself.

It's your soul on the line... posted: 12/11/2006 1:12 PM EST  

Dano rhetorically: I ask you now. Would anyone take seriously any recommended reading from someone who believes in the devil?

That is on par with "I believe in the tooth fairy," and I recommend "The definitive life and times of real fairies down through history" by Tammy Faye Baker
GROW UP!! ROGER
Dan's Creed (I believe that anyone can escape the Christian cult and have a real productive life)

Anonymous said...

I think that if a person wants to believe something then they will.

I once may have tried to present the evidence to those who deny evolution, but I am beginning to question that strategy. So for all those out there that deny that evolution has occurred let me offer you some things you may want to believe.

Your sacred book (I don't know if you may be Christian, Muslim, or what have you) is the infallible word of God. It is useful for all instruction, even about the workings of the natural world. If any part of it contradicts your experience or reason then you have misinterpreted the book.

You are not an animal.

You will never die.

Good luck and God speed.

Dano said...

Your Deoxyribonucleic acid, and my Deoxyribonucleic acid, and the popes Deoxyribonucleic acid, and Jesus' Deoxyribonucleic acid is hardly distinguishable from Bozo the chimps Deoxyribonucleic acid.
Dano (It's a beautiful life!)

Spirula said...

Well, I guess you can attack my suggestion of an excellent book to read, but you didn't argue with any of my points.

I know he has been answered, but Roger expects us to debunk his "arguments", although he, like so many fundies, has not bothered to do any independent research. And you can tell right off the bat because he didn't even bother to google radioisotope dating or he would have his first question answered. Look Christobot, if you can't bring an A game, don't expect anyone to play.

newcult111 said...

I find in interesting that people seem to believe that God is some human-formed specter who really can create the world in 6 days. My question for Christians is...why six days? Why not 1 day, or 1 hour, or 1 second? Why must you believe so simplemindedly in what one book says? When was the Bible written? Were the people who wrote the Bible experts in the field of Astronomy? If not, then how can you so arrogantly believe that your belief is so true?