Monday, November 21, 2005

Mayr, Darwinism and anticreationism

In discussing the definition of Darwinism, Mayr (in One Long Argument) cites one defnition of "darwinism as anticreationism." He writes as follows:

“This is the Darwinism which denied the constancy of species and, in particular, special creation, that is, the separate creation of every feature in the inanimate and living world. There were two very different groups of anticreationists. The deists maintained a belief in God but made him a rather remote lawgiver, who did not interfere with any specific happening in this world, having already arranged for everything through his laws. Whatever happened during evolution was the result of these laws. The thought made evolution palatable to a number of Christian scientists such as Charles Lyell and Asa Gray. However, only transformational evolution—the orderly change in lineage over time, directed toward the goal of perfect adaptation—is susceptible to this deistic interpretation. Darwin’s variational evolution, with its random components at the level of both genetic recombination and selection, cannot be instrumented by strict laws. The agnostic anticreationists explained all evolutionary phenomena without invoking any supernatural agents.” (94).

There is a very important point being made here for those who would argue that evolution and religion are perfectly compatible. What religious person, let alone a Christian, would really accept that the human race may never have come into existence? What sense, even metaphorically, can one make of such statements as man was created in the image of god, if one accepts that man was not only not created by god, but that he was not even a necessary product of evolution? One can see the possibility for theoretically reconciling the concept of transformational evolution with religion—the human race is the inevitable product of the working out of god’s laws. But in what way can one reconcile Darwin’s theory of evolution with religious belief?

There is indeed a direct conflict between the teachings of science and evolution and the beliefs of religion, a fact that is indeed obvious but many scientists would still deny. There is a certain intellectual dishonesty involved in attempting to claim that religion and science can peacefully coexist. In fact, any religious concept that is not completely vacuous comes eventually into direct conflict with scientific explanations. One is left simply with the idea that maybe god exists, but “he” has no effect on anything, is unobservable, and therefore has no relevance—that is, he is a vacuous concept, devoid of all content. For once one posits some content, then this content can be explored, and refuted, scientifically. For some reason I imagine that there are very few religious people who would accept this concept of god, and if they do then they have ceased to become religious in anything but the name.


At 11:29 AM, Blogger Fritz said...

You cannot be applauded enough for this post. I fully agree. It always makes me sick to hear people claim that one can be a "christian", implying that one believes in something like a God one can pray to and maybe even a historical miracle-working Jesus and at the same time accept evolution as scientists understand it today (neodarwinism). I would appeal to anybody who should stumble over this blog and reads this, if you accept biology, then please stop talking about God, and if you are a christian, stop talking about evolution. "Theistic evolution" is nothing but deism, by which I understand a God who is negligible since he/she/it is not involved in anything that happes in the universe. BTW, my opinion as a layman is that neodarwinism is true. Biologists believe it and they do have what seems like very good evidence indeed, such as that from molecular biology. That would mean orthodox christianity and similar religions have got to be false.


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