2012-05-09

Evolution and Christianity are not compatible

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by Neil Godfrey

Darwin fish
Darwin fish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Jerry Coyne’s latest post at Why Evolution Is True many of us have been directed to a Mike Aus article on RichardDawkins.net that confronts what should be obvious to all thinking people: evolution and Christianity and other Abrahamic faiths are not compatible.

Some excerpts:

If there is no original ancestor who transmitted hereditary sin to the whole species, then there is no Fall, no need for redemption, and Jesus’ death as a sacrifice efficacious for the salvation of humanity is pointless. The whole raison d’etre for the Christian plan of salvation disappears. . . . .

Science has now shown us that both selfish behavior and altruistic impulses are at least partially heritable traits. The instinct for self-preservation and a concern for the well-being of other individuals appear to have both played a role in the survival and evolution of our species. If that is the case, then the tension between “sin” and selflessness might actually help define who we are as humans. The project of religion has been sin eradication, and that approach now appears to be a fundamental denial of human nature. . . . .

That last sentence should hit us as profoundly as the notion that the earth is not the immovable centre of the universe did in the days of Galileo. Studies in genetics and human nature leave no room for “sin” or a “sinful nature” in the sense portrayed by religion. How can God judge someone whose behaviour is not governed by competing angels fighting one’s soul but by the way the brain is wired, what nutrients the body receives, the rest it has, and who knows how many other physical real-world things?

God has been used to explain what science could not understand in the past (the cause of thunder, earthquakes, and such) and the soul has been used to explain or conceptualize our natures. But as science progresses it is leaving as little room for souls as it is for gods.

Let’s conclude with the same paragraph Jerry Coyne loved the best, too:

When I was working as a pastor I would often gloss over the clash between the scientific world view and the perspective of religion. I would say that the insights of science were no threat to faith because science and religion are “different ways of knowing” and are not in conflict because they are trying to answer different questions. Science focuses on “how” the world came to be, and religion addresses the question of “why” we are here. I was dead wrong. There are not different ways of knowing. There is knowing and not knowing, and those are the only two options in this world. Religion, even “enlightened” liberal religion, is generally not interested in the facts on the ground. Religion is really not about “knowing” anything; it is about speculation not based on reality.

The article by Aus does not address it, but another point that needs to be kept in mind, too, is that the idea that God somehow guided evolution so it produced a being in his image so he could carry out his Jesus-on-the-cross plan is as sensible as saying that there is a little man inside your computer making all the bits and circuits work properly. (But it’s much worse. Is all the suffering of hosts of sentient creatures part of being “worth it” for the glory that will be revealed in those God saves in the end?) Evolution says that there is no such thing as a “pinnacle” species. Nor is there any discernible difference between species except in hindsight when we look at the gaps in the record.

Evolution cannot co-exist with the Christian gospel of salvation through the atoning death of Jesus.

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Neil Godfrey

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  • Nature Henk
    2012-05-09 19:11:42 GMT+0000 - 19:11 | Permalink

    Now when is the post “name that moral” coming up?

    No matter how many times you pin a position on measurement, derivation or theory, somebody “fundamentally secured” will find a series of logical fallacies to convince themselves they know the “truth” when remonstrating one for their lack of belief.

    Its no different for the religious.

  • mP
    2012-05-09 20:27:41 GMT+0000 - 20:27 | Permalink

    Where in the OT is original sin defined or even discussed ?

    None, amazing how God gives us over a thousand pages of history, prophecy, messages and more but never mentions this or the other big news item that he had a son called Jesus !?

  • 2012-05-09 22:56:57 GMT+0000 - 22:56 | Permalink

    A sect I once belonged to did not embrace the doctrine of original sin nor even the idea of the soul as generally understood. But I can’t imagine an Abrahamic faith accepting evolution correctly understood. They must all, I would think, at least argue that humankind was the goal or pinnacle of evolution — which of course contradicts evolutionary theory. Some Christians really do suggest God may have been directing meteor collisions with the earth to stop or start this or that mutation taking off so humans could turn up one day. Wouldn’t a smart enough man in the sky simply scoop up some dirt and say “let’s make Adam”?

    • mP
      2012-05-10 08:02:19 GMT+0000 - 08:02 | Permalink

      I recently read a book by Ralph Ellis where he discusses the “true” meanings of Genesis. He asserts that the story as found in Genesis 1-3 is not a creation story but simply a story about a king and his queen. He states that various key words in the text which are translated as heaven actually means sky in Egyptian and more. He also says the 7 days are just describing 7 ordinary days in the life of Egypt. I have done a poor a job of giving proof here but the text shows that key words in Hebrew have equivalent ones in ancient Egyptian which give a different perhaps more earthly meaning or view. The bit about the garden of Eden is simply the garden of the King. He says the passage about the four rivers branching out could only be the Nile and its delta. He states the names of the four rivers are perhaps the main principal branches and proceeds to show they have Egyptian meanings which make sense.

      In the end, the book shows that xians take the Bible and with a few variations of exaggerations of certain key words, make a simple earth bound story into something in the heavens.

  • Squirrelloid
    2012-05-10 13:28:46 GMT+0000 - 13:28 | Permalink

    i don’t think this is specific to Evolution. Science is inherently anti-religion. Science rejects anything that cannot be observed, ergo religion has no place in a scientific worldview. Its a fundamental disagreement about epistemology, and its unavoidable.

    • mP
      2012-05-10 14:17:29 GMT+0000 - 14:17 | Permalink

      Just take a look at the way Religion and Science form their proofs, science is about reasoning, observation and reproduction, while religion ignores those types of proofs and is based solely on authority of a holy book or respected person and faith. When one reduces each to these basic facts, it becomes easy to see why its easier to trust what we can see, rather than simply the word of often questionable people. Religion has always been in or close to power, and we all know the maxim about power corrupting is pretty much always true.

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