Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I think evolution theory is trouble for religion.

Throughout history there have been many scientific discoveries that have cast a long shadow on religious belief. From discovering the water cycle to heliocentricity. Of course, some people do still pray for rain. Undoubtedly these people would sneer at a tribal rain dance but think their own version is a serious and worthwhile undertaking. Some people just refuse to learn!

The one theory in modern science that really seems to make the religious uncomfortable is evolution. Evolution is an almost universally accepted theory amongst people who know anything about it. There are of course some dissenting voices in the scientific community but almost every theory has a few detractors. It is a reasonable statement to make that evolution is a proven theory is so far as any theory can be proven. There are libraries of evidence to support the idea. Infact, there is so much evidence that a lot of religious groups and organisations have been forced to accept it. They usually do so with some made up new idea that God started it off or something to that effect. In the modern world, educated people laugh at creationists. We laugh because they continue to believe something that has been shown to be false. They are sticking to their guns (and/or bibles as the case may be). The more reasonable theists out there are not quite so stubborn as to simply deny evolution. They know it happened so they instead try to go around it and pretend it doesn’t really matter to their faith. They decide that their reading of the bible as metaphor is more sophisticated that those silly creationists. This strikes me as one of the most intellectually dishonest things any large movement has ever done. They are claiming that the countless generations of people who came before them who were almost all creationist were wrong to read the bible literally. Silly creationists. The reasonable and honest conclusion would be that the bible is wrong and has been clearly shown to be. They can’t do that though. To acknowledge such massive errors in the bible would reduce its value to roughly what most atheists take it be already; for all but historical/mythological purposes: worthless. It would become much the same as a statue of Zeus. It may have some value as a cultural artefact but it has nothing to say about our reality. The standard tactic employed is to simply overlook the old testament. That is the part of the bible with all the really nasty bits where God acts like a complete asshole. If we can just overlook that half of the bible we can still hold on to the good stuff. Well, we will still pretend that the old testament stuff is still valuable but that it is written in a metaphorical way and you have to be really clever to understand it properly Lets pretend that instead of some ignorant babble written by a couple of ancient goat herders, it is actually really amazing and important insights into human behaviour! Cool.

So what about the New testament? That is surely immune to evolutionary attack. After all, it was only about 2000 years ago and evolution doesn’t have much to say about a time span that short. Right?…..well no, not quite.
We are apparently made in God’s image. People once thought that meant he looked human but the more modern evolution-friendly interpretation is that we are made in his image spiritually. Ah, right. We have souls you see, they are what make us like god and what elevate us above animals in the grand scheme of things. Uh-oh. Doesn’t evolution posit that we were once animals. Even worse, it suggests that we are still because evolution is a continuous process. We are still evolving. Maybe we are animal-like now in comparison to what we will become? If were animals in the past, did we still have souls back then? Could we commit crimes like murder? When a lion kills another males cubs in order to mate with the female, is he committing infanticide. Will God be angry with them? Was there some point in our evolution when God popped in and decided it was time for us to start having souls? That would have been an uncomfortable generation.
“Hey God, will I see my mommy in heaven when I die?”
“Nope sorry, your mother is an animal”

Evolutionary theory should and to the critical and unclogged mind does remove the notion of a soul and with it washes away most if not all religious belief.
Clinging to a concept long after it has been rendered obsolete is not the act of a rational mind. Neither for that matter is the belief in invisible people. We once believed in all manner fantastical creatures and happenings and powers, but all of these, every last one that has met the scrutiny of scientific investigation has fallen away. Most of the core doctrines of modern religions have also been shown to be false; the religious just refuse to notice. One day, Jesus Christ as the son of God will take his place along with Yahweh amongst the dead Gods who all lament those two powers they could not overcome. Reason and Science.

It is sad but I think almost inevitable that new religions will rise to replace those who that have fallen, making grand claims about the universe and all powerful entities who created and command it until the next wave of scientific progress washes away those fantasies with a torrent of fact and evidence. What form will these gods take? What will their miracles be in a technological society? Would you doubt for a second that the adherents of those religions will look back on the followers and Yahweh and Allah and shake their heads, wondering why people believed they were communicating with God? They might even ask their God about it.

6 comments:

bobxxxx said...

There are of course some dissenting voices in the scientific community but almost every theory has a few detractors.

Well, yeah, if you want to include the handful of scientists who are incompetent idiots.

The standard tactic employed is to simply overlook the old testament. That is the part of the bible with all the really nasty bits where God acts like a complete asshole.

Your comments about the asshole old testament God were both funny and accurate. Only a Christian retard could worship this out-of-control idiot God.

It is a reasonable statement to make that evolution is a proven theory is so far as any theory can be proven. There are libraries of evidence to support the idea. Infact, there is so much evidence that a lot of religious groups and organisations have been forced to accept it. They usually do so with some made up new idea that God started it off or something to that effect.

Invoking a god fairy to invent, guide, or use evolution is just as insane as the creationist belief in a god fairy who used a magic wand to create people and other creatures.

They is really no such thing as a "moderate" Christian. They're all idiots. They're all cowards who refuse to grow up and face facts. They all deserve to be ridiculed and laughed at. Jebus was god? What childish bullshit!

Lucian said...

The one theory in modern science that really seems to make the religious uncomfortable is evolution.

Well, ... You weren't raised in a country whose state-religion was atheism and who gave people up to extremely painful, unimaginably and unconceivably torturous torments in the most dreadful prisons possible ... and who also equated atheism with evolution. -- But I was. So I grew up shuddering at the thought or idea of evolution. The communists also published (for instance) history books which presented a very deformed (distorted) at least, and at many times an outright false (wrong) narration of history. I assumed evolution was the same, but in the discipline of biology, not history (and rightly so, since they've themselves made no secret of their agenda). Telling me that evolution is NOT linked with atheism was just like telling a Jew that Christianity was NOT related to the Holocaust.

I've changed my mind, but this change of mind has nothing to do with evolution-per-se. In any case what I want You to understand is that for the last 50 to 75 yrs a very large part of the world's (Christian) population was under communist oppression ... and when they did what they did (all those horrific and utterly inhuman mass-murders ... I mean: they didn't just shoot you and get over with it: no, sir! by the time they were over with you [and they were NEVER over with you], you wished you were already dead ... but unfortunately you weren't) ... well, anyway, as I've said, evolution is a "loaded word" for us ... it's not just "literal vs. allegorical", or whatever ... the communists really managed to demonize that word to the greatest extreme possibly imaginable.

The standard tactic employed is to simply overlook the old testament.

I never understood this fixation with the Old Testament that the West has. Until I found out that the Pilgrims understood themselves as the Chosen Nation (there's nothing bad about that) and the Indian tribes as the peoples that the Israelites destroyed. And that the K.K.K. is "based" on the curse of Ham. Etc. Then it dawned on me: with "friends" like these, who needs enemies, right?

They decide that their reading of the bible as metaphor is more sophisticated that those silly creationists ... They are claiming that the countless generations of people who came before them who were almost all creationist were wrong to read the bible literally. Silly creationists

Yeah, regarding that:

"And he was carried in his own hands" [1 Samuel 21:13]. Now, brothers, who can understand how this can happen to a man? Who can be carried in his own hands? A man is able to be carried in the hands of others, but no one is carried in his own hands. How this is to be understood in a literal way of David himself we cannot discover; however, we can discover how this happened in the case of Christ. For Christ was carried in his own hands when, entrusting to us his own Body, he said: “This is my Body.” Indeed he was carrying that Body in his own hands.

(St. Augustine on Psalm 33/34).

Of course, there was just "no way" that the phrase "carried himself in his own hands" could be literally understood,...right? ;-)

See picture.

And here's more.

The more reasonable theists out there are not quite so stubborn as to simply deny evolution. They know it happened so they instead try to go around it and pretend it doesn’t really matter to their faith.

I don't "know" if it happened (that again, I'm neither a doctor in biology, nor a "theist"). As said, my reasons for stopping to think that evolution is intrinsically evil have nothing to do with evolution itself. Nor are my reasons for starting to think that it might actually be true (though obviously not *fully* fleshed out or explained) linked in any way directly to the theory itself.

Lucian said...

Oh, yeah,... and there was another thing I wanted to say from the get-go, ... but I forgot: even in the secularized, laicized West, the ratio between believing and non-believing scientists is fifty-fifty... I'm sorry if this doesn't fit Your little theory.

The Celtic Chimp said...

Lucian,

It is generally accepted at this point that disbelief is higher amongst scientists than the general populations, usually by a massive margin. There have been many polls conducted to support the claim.

Here are some links here

This one is from a pro-god site, even they admit the correlation. They just make up an hilarious reason for it :) and here

On assholish states. A state need neither be religious nor atheistic to be a complete authoritarian shithole. Neither does it need to be capitalist or communist of fascist. It can be any kind of state and still be an oppressive regime. Even if the worst, most repressive and downright evil regime in history were based on the false notion that evolution and atheism permit any kind of immoral action - completely untrue by the way - it would still say absolutely nothing about the truth of evolution. It is an uncontroversial fact amongst most scientists that evolution occurred. There is no debate in the scientific community.

As to metaphor in the bible. Of course there are metaphors but much of what was once considered non metaphorical has been reconsidered in light of scientific discovery. The creation account in the bible is a good example. Of all the Christians in the world, a smaller number now believe it is literal than believe it is metaphorical. Once it would have been almost exclusively taken as literal. While this might be seen as progress by atheists such as myself, it is a small gain. There are still many silly things the theist can latch on to which is beyond the scope of scientific enquiry. Life after death for example. There is absolutely no evidence for it and never has been. If the isn't life after death, that fact can never be proven by scientific investigation.

Lucian said...

The obsession with science as the only means possible to convey the truth is a Western European notion not older than 500 yrs. [But the Bible was written 3,500 to 2,000 yrs ago by Eastern Semites]. And the obsession with Biblical literalism is a Protestant one, meant to safe-guard their religion against the appearance of various schisms and sects (at which it seemingly failed), Protestantism itself being no more than 500 yrs old also.

The "obsessions" that the ancient Christians had when reading the Bible were primarily spiritual and typological. Spiritual, in the sense that we gain spiritual, philosophical, moral insights from it (Philo the Jew & the Christian Alexandrian school); typological or Christological in the sense that we read Christ into it (we read it through a Christian lense)

The typological or Christological reading may be applied to other religions as well (see the early Apologists), and even to science: we do not condemn pious speculations; but we *DO* oppose turning them into dogma (see the theological trouble which the Catholics got themselves into, with the Inquisition vs. Galilei & others).

And no, I've never believed that atheism were intrinsically evil (sorry if I perhaps gave You that impression); but what I *did* believe, however, was that darwinism was intrinsically atheistic (which I no longer hold to be true for reasons completely unrelated to anything scientific).

The Celtic Chimp said...

Lucian,

I'd agree that Darwinian evolution is not inherently atheistic but it does raise some very difficult questions for the beleivers in most theologies.