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: 129

Replies to This Discussion

Those aren't really logical arguments; they're emotional ones.  He argues against the morality in the Bible.  He's going for emotional impact, not speaking to their reason.

 

He doesn't really make an argument in the whole discussion about whether it's true or not, just about how horrifying it would be if it was true.  That's an emotional argument.

Joseph - OK I get what you are saying - that arguing about moral values is emotional rather than logical - although like Sam Harris says, science can determine moral values - as it's something we can observe and learn about

http://www.atheistnexus.org/video/david-attenborough-sex-drugs

'Evolution is an historical fact just like any other historical fact'.  -  David Attenborough

The theory of evolution is essential to my understanding of life, the world and natural history.  Therefore it has a direct bearing and is essential in understanding Atheism.

Theological arguments regarding the existence and non-existence of a god are nonsense.

 

I know we aren't going to get away from using the term atheism in atheist nexus - but really - it does bring up the issue of us being against something rather than for it. I wonder if we should all make a concerted effort to find out what we do believe - rather than what we don't believe - as like someone intelligent said - claiming to be an atheist is as good as claiming to be a afairyist. And although it does tell us something - on the other hand it doesn't tell us anything at all about reality.

After looking into Naturalism - I'm going to be claiming to be a Naturalist from now on - and aim to give some clarification from a nature scientists and someone who goes around nude. Both are interesting side topics, so I'm not too concerned... :)
I'm too overweight to be a naturist but naturalism is the way to go, definately. I agree that the word 'Atheism' implies being against something rather than for it. The prefix 'a' means without and the word 'theism' come from a religious ancient Greek culture. So the word 'theism' is the 'chicken' and the word 'Atheism' is the 'egg'. The English language is always expanding with new words so maybe a more agreeable 'for it' word for our philosophy will evolve some day.

... claiming to be an atheist is as good as claiming to be a afairyist. And although it does tell us something - on the other hand it doesn't tell us anything at all about reality.

 

I don't buy that in the slightest.  We don't have many people running around claiming that fairies really exist and have told them how we should live ... and are passing laws based upon what the fairies tell them.  The value of being part of an opposition group increases with the level of influence exerted by the group you're opposing.

 

Now certainly, you should have additional definitions of yourself, besides the negative ... but I consider my atheism to be a far more important definition than my status as a rationalist, skeptic, or secular humanist.  The rationalism and skepticism are just the lens through which I look at the religious questions.

 

Now if you're going to head in the direction of conspiracy theory, we may have to have a word about introducing a little more skepticism into your mental mix.

No I don't have any conspiracy theory - I'm over my paranoid about everything that goes on - a funny story - I met a couple of women at a birthday party the other day - who were totally convinced that Osama Bin Laden hadn't been killed at all - I just don't see the point of all that effort denying it - but what was amusing was that they were looking at me like I was very naive and ignorant in the face of their mental health paranoid delusions based on what?  That the American's didn't want to release the pictures - and if they did then you couldn't make out the face - I mean seriously - this is the level that they are on - but they are totally convinced that they are right and there is a plot to hide the truth - for what ends God knows!  I used to spend most of my time with these sorts of women - I was always sceptical but it's hard to know what's the truth when surrounded by untruths.  It just goes to show that people are keen to believe anything to gain something.  But what are they gaining?  Perhaps they feel as though they are gaining status as wise women?  When they say such things they get community support and feel important and perceptive to the real truth of things.  One of them at least was quite intelligent - but hasn't put her intelligence to good use.  Anyhow, they are acting very similarly to religious people.
One of these days, we'll figure out where Tupac and Biggie are hiding.
Theological arguments have their place, but I do agree; might as well have a discussion about the existence of Santa Claus.  What I mean is you have to keep them from diverting the discussion to narrow aspects of science, and stop them from trying to shift the burden of proof.  It's hard to stop them from considering 'God existing' as the default position.
Yes the burden of proof point is really important - I am currently doing an adult education course about world-views and this is something the lecturer said the other day - that the onus is on them to prove the existence of God - not of us to disprove it.  I think getting these perspectives is really important to maintaining and teaching to children - my children as they get older - otherwise like me, they are going to be vulnerable to stuff out there if they don't have the full picture.

I think the words 'theism' and 'atheism' imply 'god existing' as the default position for reasons discussed with Alice. However it is perfectly reasonable to take the view that 'god not existing' is the default position in argument and reasoning. Dr. Meaden states that he takes this view.

We really need a new positive word for our philosophy. I just can't think of one !!

yes - I'm not after another word - I'm happy with naturalism.... that works for me - I'm cool being an atheist too as part of that world view... :)

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