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Macroevolution is true

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World Views In Collision

 

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World Views in Collision 5

28. Theistic evolution is a satisfactory view that can harmonize the findings of

science with the Bible and still keep the scriptures as a viable belief system. 

 

Theistic Evolution:  These creationists generally accept nearly all of modern science but posit that God used evolution to create life. Creationist theist scientists at Biologos for example, accept mutation and natural selection as driving evolution.

 

However, I submit that a close examination of theistic evolution demonstrates that it does not maintain credibility when examined fully.

 

1. It doesn't follow the text. Genesis is very specific about how the earth and life came to be on our planet. Adam was made from the dust; Eve from his rib. They did not have parents. Saying now that God reached down and picked out two to found the human race from a population does not rescue the text, and seems strangely timely now that DNA evidence has emerged showing that there could not have been a founding pair for the human race. Where were Evangelical Christians with that idea of textural interpretation before 2005? That's taking the original out of context. Evolution can't really be adequately supported by the scriptures, no matter how creative TE supporters are.

 

2. So much compromise is necessary that the scriptures fade into a fog of literature and analogies.  It joins Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology; great for casual reading but respect is lost for any appeal to reality.

 

3. If God chose to create life this way, He/She/They are cruel. Multiple whole-scale mass extinctions are clearly recorded in earth's distant past (Wikipedia), 99% of all life that has lived has now perished. The brute crucible of natural selection as life fights for a living foothold would hardly be the product of a loving designer.  Cooperation and beauty is present also, but so is incredible waste and suffering. Disease, parasites, congenital birth defects, prey being eaten by predators while still alive, etc. Why would a loving and all powerful God design a process like this, let alone allow it or endorse it as 'good'?

 

4. Humans evolved 200,000 years ago (fossils and DNA agree). Yet God waits 198,000 years and THEN sends Jesus or intervenes in human history, and previously makes a covenant with a small tribe of desert dwellers that have no immediate contact with all the other humans around the world? What about all the humans who are suffering and dying in the centuries before?  What about the Neandertahls and Denisovans or the other Homo species that also must have had a high level of consciousness?  When God reached down to impart a 'soul', what about the individuals in the generation before? If He did this soul impregnation in a population, what about the other contemporaneous individuals who were left on the sidelines and all their children? Does this sound like citical thinking, like rational reasoning?

 

5.Nature is amoral in evolution. "Evil" outside of humans in nature just becomes 'the way it is' and becomes a non-topic. The cruelty and suffering in nature is part of nature's "design", 'God's design'. Humans evolve from this world of struggle, and evil is best explained through evolutionary psychology, not theology.  The theodicy problem in theistic evolution becomes even worse than in traditional Abrahamic belief systems. There was no suffering before the Fall?

 

For these reasons and probably more, although an evaluation of science should lead a theist to theistic evolution, with a closer examination this supposedly adequate solution to the falsification of their scriptures by science soon becomes a stopping way point on the way to being stuck again. There is really only one way out of the predicament theists find themselves in if they are honest about what science reveals about various scriptures.  

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

If theologians are wrong about so many things, how can we trust that they are right about anything, especially anything really important?

 

Abrahamic theology has all it's major foundations demonstrated to be wrong - incorrect ad hoc explanations for the origin of the world and life, for the reasons of evil, and even for the nature of man. Let’s not fault our ancients - they did their best with what they had - their eyes and their imaginations.  But for people to be tortured and killed when they questioned religious dogma, and to now hold to this mythology as true when we know it's not, is a crime against reason.  As any other writings of man, there is history mixed in with mythology and legends and some wisdom from human interactions and our world. But if one is going to base a life on truth and reality - which is a necessary first condition for living one's life with meaning - then all religions fail to stand the tests of validity. It's not just Christianity; other religions fare no better, and in the case of Islam, it's like living the horrors and superstitions of 12th century Europe's theocracy again. Or worse if radical Muslims get the nuclear option and use it. 

 

From Sam Harris:

 

"A belief is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything else in a person's life... Your beliefs define your vision of the world; they dictate your behavior; they determine your emotional responses to other human beings... most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe... has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility... While all faiths have been touched, here and there, by the spirit of ecumenicalism, the central tenet of every religious tradition is that all others are mere repositories of error or, at best, dangerously incomplete."

 

More Harris:

 

"The moment we admit that our beliefs are attempts to represent states of the world, we see that they must stand in the right relation to the world to be valid. It should be clear that if a person believes in God because he has had certain spiritual experiences, or because the Bible makes so much sense, or because he trusts the authority of the church, he is playing the same game of justification that we all play when claiming to know the most ordinary facts. This is probably a conclusion that many religious believers will want to resist; but resistance is not only futile but incoherent. There is simply no other logical space for our beliefs about the world to occupy. As long as religious propositions purport to be about the way the world is -- God can actually hear your prayers, If you take his name in vain bad things will happen to you, etc. -- they must stand in relation to the world, and to our other beliefs about it. And it is only by being so situated that propositions of this sort can influence our subsequent thinking or behavior. As long as a person maintains that his beliefs represent an actual state of the world (visible or invisible; spiritual or mundane), he must maintain that his beliefs are a consequence of the way the world is. This, by definition, leaves him vulnerable to new evidence. Indeed, if there were no conceivable change in the world that could get a person to question his religious beliefs, this would prove that his beliefs were not predicated upon his taking any state of the world into account. He could not claim, therefore, to be representing the world at all." {emphasis in the original}

 

In the end, the various theologies fail to represent reality and therefore we are amiss to base our lives and hopes on them. In addition, in the past, mistaken world views derived from them have resulted in the torture and death of millions needlessly. Even presently under Islam, millions suffer, Christians treat homosexuals horribly, Hindus discriminate against the lower classes based upon their religion and governments make bad decisions based on erroneous religious beliefs. It is well documented that Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot’s evil actions were not due to atheism.  Hitler thought he was doing God’s work. Stalin and Pol Pot murdered in the name of their ideologies. Name one despot who killed in the name of atheism and not communism or for selfish gain. Atheism is most often lived out through secular humanism; no wars have been fought in the name of this positive, compassionate world view. 

 

In contrast, numerous studies and national comparisons show the least religious and those who have moved beyond beliefs in the supernatural prosper the most in multiple categories. So, it seems that it would be in the best interest of the world to become more secular.

 

 

Conclusion

 

For an increasing number of people around the world, when religious beliefs are studied closely, they do not withstand evidence, common sense, or ethical thinking. So why don’t more people give up their superstitious beliefs and delusional** thinking?

 

The reasons are that evidence and rational thinking will often not persuade a theist to consider that their belief system is erroneous. There are many reasons for this.  

 

One, a person tends to invest their identity and value system in their world view and it is naive to think that they will or can just switch over to an alternative world view, especially one to which they've been told is evil and destructive. If they leave their beliefs, they give up a hope for an afterlife, ultimate justice, and often family and other social ties. For many, the price is too high, even for the truth.  Conservatism makes you happy.

 

Two, believers tend to have a different thinking style and just presenting arguments against a religious world view is often ineffective. There is even an interesting example of a math question that is answered differently depending on intuitive thinking styles.

 

Cognitive Style Tends To Predict Religious Conviction.  Also, Link

 

Losing Your Religion: Analytic Thinking Can Undermine Belief

 

Why Won't They Listen? (The Righteous Mind)

 

Third, studies have shown that we as a species tend to dig in and resist evidence the more it is presented against what we already believe.  Keohane's studies received much press in 2010.  How Facts Backfire

 

Fourth, we all suffer from motivated reasoning, and the religious have far more at stake with identity and relationship connections than most. (The Science of Why We Deny Science... and Reality:  Link)  and  (Thinking Scientifically:  Link ); Why We Don't Believe Science Link

 

Fifth, before one can discuss issues from what would hopefully be closer to the truth, misperceptions, incomplete facts, and wrong thinking styles often need to be addressed, acknowledged, and removed or transformed before new concepts and views can be absorbed and synthesized. This takes an incredible amount of time, respect, and commitment on both sides and few people have the interest, time and persistence.  Few people are willing to put their world views to the ultimate tests and have a priori decided that their world view is correct before any contrary evidence could be presented.

 

It’s amazing then that so many lay persons, pastors, priests and clergy do leave their faith after honestly doubting what they have been told to believe. Often at greats costs.

 

~ Biomed

2012

 

** delusion:  an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted by reality or rational argument.

 

(Oxford American Dictionary, minus any reference to a mental health disorder which inappropriately gives religious thinking and belief a pass)