The debate about whether or not evolution is ‘real’ or not is one with which atheists and theists alike will be familiar. I recently received a very well written and nicely produced pamphlet attacking ‘scientific myths’, including evolution: pointing out that there is no complete consensus on how evolution works, and that there are gaps in the evidence. Within discussions of the validity of religion, such debates are, however, something of a red herring – evolution has no relevance to considerations of the veracity of religion.
Yet by engaging atheists in debates about evolution, and evidence and arguments for and against, theists are distracting from this simple fact. More seriously, there is a danger that this debate sets up an implication of an ‘either/or’ situation, which is clearly not the case. Humans always want certainties – that is why they invent religions and argue strenuously about evolution – but the argument over the certainty of where life comes from should not distract from the certainty that really matters: there is no god.
I give credence to the theory of evolution, because it is afforded widespread scientific/academic credence, there appears to be plenty of evidence and it seems to me to make sense. However, that position could arguably also have applied to various (‘scientific’) beliefs in, say, early Christian times that are no longer taken seriously, therefore:
Can I personally say with absolute certainty (that certainty with which I can say that there is no god) that evolution, as we currently understand it, is a fact of nature? No. Does that have any bearing on the simple fact that there is no god (or does it indeed have any relevance to discussions of this matter)? No.
Perhaps we will eventually be able to produce an account of evolution in all its features and workings that is completely accurate and incontrovertible. Perhaps we will have to alter or expand our current understanding substantially to achieve this. Perhaps a more differentiated alternative will be developed. Perhaps we will never know entirely and exactly how we arrived at our present state as a species. Do these possibilities have any bearing on religion? No.
There will almost certainly always be things that we can’t explain, and humans evidently feel the need to formulate answers to questions that preoccupy them, to the best of their (often feeble) abilities.
I’m not arguing against scientific endeavour (on the contrary - I’m an academic), just keep in mind that you don’t have to ‘prove’ evolution to disprove god. Put simply: there is no need for a definite alternative to disprove god – it’s not an either/or situation: however the universe began, and however life developed, god does not exist.

Tags: atheism, evolution, science

Views: 130

Replies to This Discussion

I thought it was impossible to prove a negative. So how can you say with certainty that there is no god? I can say that I doubt there is a god, or that I don't believe there is a god that meddles in human life, or that I have seen no evidence of a god, but I cannot say with certainty that there is no god because of aforementioned impossibility of proving a negative.
I have addressed this point elsewhere.
its not impossible.  Its difficult, and not good practice, but it can be done.
oh ya? Prove it...

haha I didn't get to this response before I tried not to respond to your other~

A negative can be proven through the noted absense of reasonable interaction, Ie If someone asserts that, in my bedroom, there is an invisible whale that eats cookies, it can be disproven by the lack of reasonable evidence that would be necessitated by the existence of such a thing, such as

Whales need water, so one might expect there to be water in the room

Whales are typically of a large size~ if the room will not fit a whale, that would be considered evidence against such a claim

If this invisible whale eats cookies, it would be, without further clarification, expected that cookies should be available within the vicinity of the room on which the whale would feed.  Observing that not only is there no cookie crumbs (a likely result of such a thing) nor have I, or anybody else for that matter, ever brought cookies to the room, would also be evidence against it.

The existence of a large, physical being should also be able to be detected~it was not stated that it didn't interact with reality~ if no such thing, after investigation, can be detected, that is evidence against.

Regardless, what would happen, once it is pointed out that none of the expected physical reactions between this whale (we'll call him Fred) are apparent, is that the person making such a claim would expand (or dilute) the qualities of Fred.  He is in another dimension, he's really small, and so on and so on~ until the definition of the being becomes so etherial that its supposed existence is indistinguishable from its non existence.

All of this negative evidence would also support a negative claim, such as: "Fred, as described and defined, does not exist~ He cannot be detected as he should be, his environment is unsupportive of a creature of his type, there is no evidence of any activity, which would be definitionally required by a being of his type~ all evidence, or lack thereof, concludes that the Fred Hypothesis is invalid.

I am afraid that all of this still does not prove anything, it merely shows extreme improbability. How probable is it that the universe is mostly made up of something completely undetectable directly, it cant be seen, felt, smelled, tasted, heard or measured by any method yet conceived yet it remains a fact based upon it's influence gravitationally. Maybe that is like the imperceptible swoosh of a whales tail as it hovers near by eating 5th denominational cookies.

This is wrong.  I shouldn't have to explain this on a site dominated by people who are interested in these things.  Quickly:

Proof is mathematical.  If you are asking me to dis-proof a theory of god, there is no need, for there is no mathematica proof for god.  

Secondly, Science does not deal in proving things under the above-mentioned definition.  If we are using common parlance, then to prove something is to demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt.  I just did that, it can be done.  Saying a negative can't be proven in terms of proof is a misnomer.

 

Regardless, your rather silly objection would lead to the logical conclusion that nothing can "be proven," only probabilities can be ascertained.  While this is technically true, it doesn't help you make any point above a childish, solipsistic "nah nah, I told you that you couldn't do it."  Since science does not prove things, but confirm hypothesis' in relation to the extreme probabilities that our physical reality entails (Law of gravity?! what if gravity isn't there tomorrow, huh?) the God hypothesis can, and has been, disconfirmed, allowing us to say "there is no god."

 

In regards to the latter portion of your post, its exactly what I reference when dealing with the dilution of definition. Your reference to 'Dark Matter' is completely null and void, because its discovery and existence is based on mathematical proofs, not a scientific hypothesis.

 

Where's my Nobel Prize?

 

[edited for grammar]

Dimensional that is. I must also disagree with you and Richard Dawkins if memory serves, (a rare thing indeed), extreme improbability does not correlate with non-existence, it only exhibits very unlikely prospects.

Maybe this will help you

http://www.examiner.com/freethought-in-philadelphia/yes-i-can-say-t...

 

It's not a matter of "proving a negative" as it is being sure there is NO god, superman, batman, pokemon, etc. in existence. Proof is not needed to be sure of some things.

 

 

I got a strange feeling reading that as well, as though my literary spidey senses were tingling due to some kind of trap (or dissonance)
As I replied above, I have dealt with this elsewhere, see link above.

Also, I feel that accepting the fact that God doesn't exist as a complete certainty is an important step for any atheist.

I depend on fact based on less rigorous logic and evaluation of evidence all the time without a qualm. I will change this 'fact' (as I change existing 'facts' all the time, as I learn new ones - Adlerian psychology calls this a 'guiding principle', an excellent concept) when I receive new insights which can change my mind, e.g. god introduces himself personally.

'God does not exist' is as reasonable a basic assumption as any other, hence I will treat it as a simple fact of life.

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