Answering the Challenge that Evolution is an Atheistic Ideology.

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In our western world many are convinced that evolutionary theory is an atheistic naturalistic ideology. In other words, it is believed that evolution supports the atheistic worldview. Brad Kramer explains that to “many people evolution is first and foremost a “secular”, “worldly” belief system” (1). This view is held by both Christians and atheists alike. Many Christians are vehemently opposed to evolutionary theory out of their theological commitments whereas many atheists seem to assume that their belief systems are supported by the theory.

Before we say anything more we need to note the difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. Methodological naturalism is the method of science where scientists look for natural causes to phenomena within the universe. However, that is very different from metaphysical naturalism, the view that most atheists hold to. The point being is that metaphysical naturalism is a philosophy that draws conclusions beyond what science can affirm or deny, whereas methodological naturalism is simply a methodology. Therefore, metaphysical naturalism is no more part of science than Christian theism is. And it is here where the atheist’s error becomes noticeable: he fallaciously hops from science assuming a methodology of naturalism to the question of God. This is fallacious because God’s existence is a question of ontology, not methodology. So when the atheist says that evolution affirms naturalism he actually means that it affirms his philosophical worldview of naturalism. The atheist needs to argue for that position as simply assuming it is unwarranted.

And as I’ve pointed out before there is a big difference between evolution and evolutionism. Evolution is the scientific theory that posits that all biological life evolved from a first single ancestor by natural selection and random mutation. As a theory evolution no more affirms or denies a supernatural reality, God’s existence, or the afterlife than does, for example, the theory of gravity. As a scientific theory it is just not able to provide insight on those things. However, evolutionism is a belief system, mostly espoused by atheists. Here evolution transcends being only that of a scientific theory and becomes a “religion,” so to speak. Evolutionism is, as Biologos explains, an “atheistic worldview that so often accompanies the acceptance of biological evolution in public discussion” (2). This is perhaps were so many become muddled up by assuming evolution supports an atheistic worldview.

Thirdly, whether the Christian believes in evolution or is opposed to it, it is no secret that many Bible believing Christians do accept it as an explanation of the diversity of life on Earth. Christian scientist Howard Van Till explains that “On the advice of numerous Christian biologists I am led to the conclusion that the scientific success of the concept of biological evolution is the product of proper theory evaluation and that the apologetic employment of evolutionary theory in the “folk-science” of evolutionary naturalism is a regrettable and irritating cultural phenomenon that we must deal with on its own terms-not as science, but as the misemployment of science in a religious agenda” (3). Peter Hess agrees, “Theologians, clergy, scientists, and others belonging to many religious traditions have concluded that their religious views are compatible with evolution, and are even enhanced by the knowledge of nature that science provides” (4). Therefore, no-one, independent of their own views, can dispute the fact that there is an ever increasing number of Christians accepting evolutionary theory. This puts into question the notion that it is an atheistic ideology.

Many might also think that scientists specializing in evolutionary theory have some kind of agenda. As if the theory is there only to promote an atheistic naturalistic ideology, as the fundamentalist Kent Hovind once incredibly remarked, “Satan is using evolution theory to make kids go to hell.” This is an incredible line of thinking, and if the Christian thinks that evolution somehow possesses such an agenda she should expel it from her mind. Kramer realizes this and goes on to argue that it just “doesn’t logically follow that evolutionary science must be a massive, worldwide conspiracy wherein all evidence for evolution is nothing but fabrication and blind guesses” used to disprove God. Maybe evolution can be shown to be in conflict with, for example, a specific Christian’s interpretation of the biblical Genesis creation account. But that wouldn’t go as far as to make evolution an “atheistic ideology.” It simply shows that evolution is in conflict with a theological interpretation. But one also shouldn’t deny that there may well be an atheistic, naturalistic bias on the part of many scientists, especially those who confuse methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. Thus to be an apologist for good science one needs “to stand firm against the attempt to reduce all reality to the physical and material – especially when atheism masquerades as good science” (5).

Finally, it is not true that because we have a natural explanation of how creatures evolved that it somehow kicks God out of the picture, at least a transcendent God such as the one of the Christian scriptures. This is because God is fully transcendent over his creation and that anything we discover about how creation works only goes to show how this God operates. Therefore, to rule out God’s existence over a theory about how his creation operates wouldn’t work. As the prominent philosopher of science John Lennox explains that God no more competes with a scientific theory as Henry Ford competes against the laws of internal combustion of the Ford motor vehicle. It’s like an oil painting. We can, by analyzing the painting scientifically, explain the crevices and the manner of the brush strokes of the artist. But we can’t conclude that the artist doesn’t exist, or wasn’t involved.

References.

1. Kramer, B. 2015. 5 Common Objections to Evolutionary Creationism. Available.

2. Biologos. How is BioLogos different from Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism? Available.

3. Van Till, H. When Faith and Reason Cooperate. Available.

4. Hess, P. Science and Religion. Available.

5. Kramer, B. 2015. Ibid.

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One response to “Answering the Challenge that Evolution is an Atheistic Ideology.

  1. Apes act sociably toward one another as well as anti-socially (i.e., befriending as well as feuding with each other, hating as well as forgiving–see primatologist Franz Van der Waal’s studies). And such a mixed bag of behaviors most likely preceded the arrival of species of humans. But if so, how does one interpret “original sin” since the cosmos seems to have been set up with mixed blessings right from the start rather than ever having been nothing but “good.” (Even the human instinct to lash out quickly at things that bother us is a hormonally-based defense mechanism going back in time much further than our species, yet it continues to disrupt plenty of people’s lives.) And God employed a trail of predation and death and loads of extinct species over billions of years before one tiny offshoot of that trail led to humans.

    Also, if God is nothing but goodness, how could even the hypothetical idea of “evil” ever arise inside the creator’s mind, or be let loose in things that arose directly out of His will, His foresight and His power? How can there be room for evil to ever intrude upon a cosmos created and sustained in every minute aspect by a totally good God?

    BELOW ARE EXAMPLES OF THE “MIXED BAG” OF BEHAVIORS OUR SPECIES INHERITED (WAS BORN INTO) VIA COMMON ANCESTRY WITH THE GREAT APES. IN WHAT SENSE DID OUR SPECIES “FALL,” SINCE SUCH A MIXED BAG OF BEHAVIORS LONG PRE-DATES HUMANITY AND CONTINUES RIGHT UP TILL TODAY :

    “Monkeys, apes, and humans all engage in reconciliation behavior (stretching out a hand, smiling, kissing, embracing, and so on), so such behavior is probably over thirty million years old, preceding the evolutionary divergence of these primates… Reconciliation behavior [is thus] a shared heritage of the primate order… When social animals are involved…antagonists do more than estimate their chances of winning before they engage in a fight; they also take into account how much they need their opponent. The contested resource often is simply not worth putting a valuable relationship at risk. And if aggression does occur, both parties may hurry to repair the damage. Victory is rarely absolute among interdependent competitors, whether animal or human.”
    Frans De Waal, Peacemaking Among Primates (see also, Morton Hunt, The Compassionate Beast: What Science is Discovering About the Humane Side of Humankind; and, Alfie Kohn, The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life; and see especially the chapter on “Kindness” in de Waalʼs latest work, Our Inner Ape.)

    “When Washoe [the chimpanzee] was about seven or eight years old, I witnessed an event that told about Washoe as a person, as well as causing me to reflect on human nature. [The account proceeds to describe the chimp island at the Institute for Primate Studies]…One day a young female by the name of Cindy could not resist the temptation of the mainland and jumped over the electric fence in an attempt to leap the moat. She hit the water with a great splash which caught my attention. I started running toward the moat intent on diving in to save her. [Chimps cannot swim.] As I approached I saw Washoe running toward the electric fence. Cindy had come to the surface, thrashing and submerging again. Then I witnessed Washoe jumping the electric fence and landing next to the fence on about a foot of bank. She then held on to the long grass at the waterʼs edge and stepped out onto the slippery mud underneath the waterʼs surface. With the reach of her long arm, she grasped one of Cindyʼs flailing arms as she resurfaced and pulled her to the safety of the bank…Washoeʼs act gave me a new perspective on chimpanzees. I was impressed with her heroism in risking her life on the slippery banks. She cared about someone in trouble; someone she didnʼt even know that well.”
    Roger Fouts, “Friends Of Washoe” Newsletter

    “The happy-go-lucky chimpanzee has turned out to be the most lethal ape – an organized, cooperative warrior.”
    Michael Ghiglieri, “War Among the Chimps,” Discover, Nov. 1987

    “The males from the larger band of chimpanzees began to make trips south to the patch of land occupied by the splinter unit. The marauders’ purpose was simple: to harass and ultimately kill the separatists. They beat their former friends mercilessly, breaking bones, opening massive wounds, and leaving the resultant cripples to die a slow and lingering death. When the raids were over, five males and one elderly female had been murdered. The separatist group had been destroyed; and its sexual active females and part of its territory had been annexed by the males of the band from the home turf.”

    “Mountain gorillas become killers when their social groups come face-to-face…One gorilla group will deliberately seek out another and provoke a conflict…An enormous male left a skirmish with his flesh so badly ripped that the head of an arm bone and numerous ligaments stuck out through the broken skin. Another left the battle scene with eight massive wounds where the enemy had bitten him on the head and arms. The site where the conflict had raged was covered with blood…Fossey actually recovered gorilla skulls with canine cusps from other gorillas still embedded in the skull’s crest.”
    Howard Bloom,The Lucifer Principle

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