Note: the heading of a key comment is emboldened and underlined.
Discussion Topic- If Evolution is indeed true, does religion become completely useless, even detrimental, to society?
Does evolution refer to both biological evolution and that of the universe?
On this site, the term "Evolution" is usually used as a general term for the worldview that the universe was created by the "Big Bang" billions of years ago, that life spontaneously generated from non-living things, and, over millions of years, progressed through Macroevolution to the point that it is at today... All without any supernatural forces at work.
So...yes. Thank you for your insight!
I would submit that religion never becomes completely useless, even if evolution is true. Religion, especially Christianity, has formed the moral base for most of the civilized nations of the world. If the evolutionary worldview is true, there is really no reason behind laws against stealing and murder, since there is no higher moral code which prohibits these actions. If that is the case, man himself is also the ultimate judge of right and wrong, and combined with the post-modernist philosophy of no absolute truth, each person will lose any morals or respect of right and wrong since only the fear of the law prevents him from doing as he pleases.
Ironically, the statement "There is no such thing as absolute truth" IS a statement of absolute truth.
If the Atheist/Evolutionary worldview is indeed true, that the universe, and ultimately life, were created by natural processes, and that there is no God, or afterlife, then any religion which claims to have a truth other than that is false. Religions would become completely useless to society, and many would become nothing more than a detriment to it. If there is no God, then what is morality? If there is no God, what is truth? If there is no God, then there is no reason that human society should be motivated by anything but hedonism, and any person should be allowed to do what is right in his own eyes.
Yes, however, if everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and the sole motivation of human society was hedonism, then there would be those people whose "right" was "wrong" to another person. Therefore, unless a common "right" and a common"wrong" were decided on, society would descend into a pot of lawlessness and crime. Religion, however, even if it is wrong, supplies a common morality which allows for the establishment of a common right and wrong, which further allows for the establishment of law, which prevents society from becoming a lawless body of criminals, each doing whatever he sees as right.
According to some, Jacob, that very point that you make is why religions were "invented" in the first place. If an entire society has the same set of "rights" and "wrongs," then, theoretically, everyone should be happy. In today's highly pluralistic society, we run into serious problems when one worldview/religion says that something is right, and another says it is wrong. Since both claim to be correct, and have the truth, we wonder who is ABSOLUTELY correct! Since today's culture is adamantly against offending people (and the chances of offending someone by challenging his or her beliefs is very high), it is viewed as better to unconditionally accept every belief system (regardless of it's validity) and "tolerate" the views of everyone equally instead of trying to seek and find the ABSOLUTE TRUTH. To keep everyone happy, it is getting to the point where our formerly accepted system of "rights" and "wrongs" is not satisfying everyone, and the solution to that is to let everyone have their "own truth" and not to try to turn them to your way of thinking. The only time the objective "law" is activated in these circumstances is when somebody does something that is considered "not cool" by the majority, or, by those in power.
Indeed, but a similar argument regarding the "invention" of religion can be made regarding Evolution, which was invented to explain how the earth came into existence without allowing for the existence of a god. This puts man as the ultimate judge of right and wrong while simultaneously lowering the value of human life since humans are simply highly evolved forms of life. I would submit that neither of these is healthy for a society.
Mankind becomes "the measure of all things." You are certainly correct. If mankind has no purpose other than the perpetuation of mankind, then a human life becomes worth no more than that of a monkey. Humans become no different from any animal, and when humans view themselves, and/or others, as animals, the results are ultimately horrific.
I would caution you to be very careful in stating "Atheist/Evolutionary." Not all evolutionists are atheists. As Michael has commented above, there are many well meaning Christians who also believe in evolution. Many of these Christians also have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are misguided in several things, however that does not necessarily negate their belief in their sinfulness and their need for a savior. If you lump all evolutionists into the same atheist basket, you are losing out on an important debate that is going on within Christendom today.
A person could conceivably be a Christian and an Evolutionist, Katie, but only to a point. Creation AND Evolution cannot both be true, as I explained in my reply to Michael's comment. A person could believe in Evolution, and still be a Christian, but when the conclusion that I made in Michael's comment is reached, he or she must make a choice: The choice to follow the infallible word of God, taking it as truth from the very first verse, or to fuse God's word with the fallible science and philosophy of men, which seems true today, but the next is disproved by new discoveries.
The Creation v. Evolution Debate is indeed alive and well in Christendom, as you said. The Church must either choose to stand on the solid foundation of God's word, or compromise it's beliefs. Sadly, some churches have already succumbed to the great pressures to compromise. I still completely agree with you that a person can be an Evolutionist, and still be a Christian, or religious, but the reason that Evolution has survived to this very day, is because it is the only shred of "scientific" evidence that gives credit to the philosophical movement of Atheism. If it were not for the tireless efforts of the Atheists to save it, evolution would have collapsed years ago. That is why I lump Evolution/Atheism together.
"Theistic Evolution" is a very weak position: IF You are a Chreistian, there is no reason to believe that God was lying in Genesis 1-5! If you are an Atheist, there is no reason to believe that God guided the very process that is supposed to remove the very need for His existence! The purpose of "Theistic Evolution" is to allow the great fallacy of Evolution to infiltrate our churches, and seem harmless to our faith. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
One of the purposes of this site is to help people find that Evolution and Christianity are, in fact incompatible, and to help them find the truth through logical thinking rather than blind faith.
In my opinion, Theistic Evolution stems from Christians being bombarded with "Science has proven Evolution" from the culture. Since they don't want to give up their faith, and yet must still keep in line with "Science" as it is proclaimed to them, they are forced to turn to an unsatisfactory compromise between the two: Theistic Evolution. This evolutionary "Science" would have collapsed under the weight of overwhelming contrary evidence if it weren't for the loyal proponents of the Atheist worldview who, as J.E.S mentioned, require Evolution in order to reject a God yet still have a semi-believable theory of how life came to be. If this false science were proclaimed as it is: false science, then the reason for Theistic Evolution, as a way to keep faith and "Science" even if they seem to contradict, would be gone, and it would disappear among true Bible-believing Christians.
Depends on how "evolution" and "religion" are defined. If "evolution" is meant to include the atheist worldview, then the question is akin to asking, "If atheism is true, does religion become completely useless. . .?" The answer to that question depends on how "religion" is defined. If religion is defined to necessarily include belief in a supernatural power, then its relevance probably ranges from "it's a quaint notion that may provide some beneficial structure in society" to "it's a useless delusion that leads people to commit heinous acts"; probably on the whole, society would be better without religion in this hypothetical, notwithstanding Jacob's points about its potential to provide a common basis for societal morality.
There are other ways to define these terms, however. For example, if "evolution" is used to describe the change over time of lifeforms, this notion is not necessarily incompatible with most religions. If everything about biological evolution (the science, not the philosophy) were proved beyond any doubt, it wouldn't mean the end of Christianity, for example, a religion that stakes its validity on the resurrection of Jesus rather than a particular understanding on the development of life (in the scientific sense, not the metaphysical). There is the theistic evolution camp (and different variants of that general point of view). What so often gets conflated is evolution the scientific theory and "evolutionism" the worldview, which I think usually results from a philosophical confusion
rather than a scientific one: science is methodologically materialistic of necessity, but
oftentimes this dribbles over into ontological materialism (scientists sometimes cross the boundary from science into philosophy, often without realizing it)
I see what you mean, in arguing that religion was beneficial in providing a common morality, I spoke in the scope of Christianity, and failed to consider other religions. If evolution as a philosophy were proved true, many of these other religions would prove detrimental to society. I agree once again, however, that Christianity would never prove useless. Even if it did have to harmonize with evolution. Although the compromise that resulted would be quite unsatisfactory, the core doctrine would still be in tact. However, I am by no means condoning Theistic Evolution.
If theistic evolution can be given any credibility, how is it that death entered the world before the Fall in Genesis Chapter 3? If sin is, therefore, not the cause of death (since death precedes the existence of man) what is the cause of death? If sin is not the cause of death, why do we then need a Savior from sin and death? Also, if God says that He created the universe in six days, and evolution says otherwise...someone is lying, since both of these statements cannot be true.
If evolution is true, I would say that it DOES mean the end of Christianity, if taken to it's logical conclusions. If Adam and Eve were not our original parents, or even didn't exist at all, then there would be no Garden of Eden, no Tree of Knowledge, no original sin. And if there was no original sin, meaning that sin/death have always been around, sin and death become natural things instead of curses. If sin is not a problem, then if Jesus died for our sin, his death was a natural event, done for a natural "problem" that was not even a "problem" in the first place. Christ would have died for nothing. Evolution and Christianity are utterly incompatible, even though some may try to combine them. If you say that Evolution is true, you call God a liar.
I feel it should be noted that atheism far predates evolutionism. No one needed evolutionary theory to come around in order to be able to reject God. Similarly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to use science to prove God’s existence. The tools of science are completely inadequate for the task, by design. As I alluded to earlier, science assumes materialism. Why? Because you can’t do a control experiment for God. Besides, if God was interested in being known scientifically, he could have created permanent miracles. To plagiarize someone else’s hypothetical, God could have created a sign half way between Earth and the moon that said, “Dear World, I exist. Signed, God. P. S. Ha, ha, all you atheists.” It seems God prefers to be known by other means. This is not to say that evolutionary theory has not found a prominent place in modern atheistic philosophy, but it’s much more the evolutionary philosophy rather than the science, strictly speaking.I think it’s also good to point out that there is an interpretive tradition of Genesis that is less-than-literal (in the modern sense of “literal”) that also far predates evolutionary theory. It didn’t require Darwin for people to notice that Genesis implies some form of death before the Fall. Since it might be interesting for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll give a brief overview of this line of thought:1. Plant death: God gave the plants to animals and man as food, which implies that those plants died when consumed. In the case of fruit specifically, this would certainly be true both at the cellular level, and at the whole organism level if the seeds were consumed.
2. Human death: Clearly did not occur before the Fall. Why? Were they immortal by nature or immortal by grace? Genesis seems to imply that Man was not immortal by nature but rather was immortal by virtue of his communion with God, hence the Tree of Life, which appears to be the mechanism by which immortality was conferred on mankind (why would there be a tree of life if man was already immortal?). Genesis also clearly teaches a dual nature of Man—he is both dust (matter) and spirit. Thus, human death is radically and qualitatively different than any other type in creation (and still is today), because man is the only creature with both a physical body and an immaterial soul. Death for man involves the unnatural separation of a body and a soul, whereas all other death is purely biological. The death that is a result of sin is then human death, rather than general biological death (I know this view was around explicitly in the 1200’s, and probably earlier). Paul’s focus in Romans also seems to be on human death: “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned. . .Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”3. Animal death: Did animals die before the Fall? Based on the previous two parts, you might ask, are animals more like plants or more like humans? Genesis indicates that only man has a spirit/soul, so in this context you might argue that animals are more like plants in that they are both purely material beings. Alternatively, you might ask if the animals could also eat from the tree of life. I don’t think the text has anything to say about this, but I think a typological argument can be made that they did not.
There is a danger in hyper-literalism. To take an example from the first few chapters of Genesis, we don’t base our understanding of Satan on snake biology, nor do we understand Christ’s work as literally crushing the head of a snake (or that a snake literally bruised his heal, for that matter). Just because we understand God’s words to the serpent “He will crush your head and you will bruise his heal” more figuratively, doesn’t mean God was lying in Genesis, it could just be that a hyper-literal interpretation is flawed. To take another example, one famous theologian said in regard to the Copernican model of the solar system, “I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth.” God is infallible, but our interpretation of what he says in his word is not.I continue to think that if evolution (again, the science not the philosophy) is proven true it does not mean the end of Christianity. Science has nothing to say about Adam and Eve (unless their bodies are found, then there’s something to do science upon), or the Garden of Eden, or the Tree of Knowledge, or original sin, or the afterlife, or God (unless He volunteers for some experiments). When it comes to spiritual matters, all science can really say is, “We have no material evidence for these things at this time,” which doesn’t get us very far since we already thought these things were immaterial. Ultimately, Christianity is based on Christ, and He isn’t undermined by anything science proves or doesn’t prove.
I'm not necessarily sure about Atheism predating Evolution. Evolution/Spontaneous Generation has been around in some form since Aristotle's time at least, far predating Darwin. Therefore, it COULD have been used as a justification for Atheism after that point. Atheism and "rejecting god" are also different, to a point. I would define Atheism as the belief that there is no god. I would define "rejecting god" as knowing that god exists, but resisting him.
And plants WOULD NOT die, above the cellular level. Taking fruit from a tree does not kill the tree. It is more comparable to trimming one's fingernails (which grow back) than to cutting off one's foot (which would not grow back). On another note, almost anyone would, if asked, say that there are very significant differences between plants and animals. Interestingly, they even have DIFFERENT kinds of cells!
Also, as you may figure out when reading Genesis 3, God's promise there is in POETIC/PARABOLIC terms, not the "hyper literal" terms which describe his creation of the World.
If evolution (the science) were proven true, what would that look like? Would it "prove" that God did not create the universe "ex nihlo" in six literal days? I'm just curious. Also, it seems to me that evolutionists with an atheistic worldview insist (almost militantly so) that science "has already proven" their evolutionary philosophy. They don't seem to be interested in hearing (let alone discussing) the "problems" with their "already proven science." Just a thought.
As humans we describe plants as life as they exhibit our defined characteristics of life. In the Bible however, unique Hebrew terms are used to describe the life of humans and animals, but not plants. See https://answersingenesis.org/death-before-sin/did-death-of-any-kind-exist-before-the-fall/, specifically the What is Life? and What is Death? sections.
A brief comment on these comments:
My point was more to emphasize the difference between animals and humans rather than the similarity between animals and plants (which is lack of a soul, or that spiritual component that makes humans human). The whole organism plant death I mentioned is talking about the seeds, which are plant embryos and different organisms from the parent plant. The fruit-bearing tree can certainly produce more fruit, but if the seeds are chewed up, they're not coming back. This line of discussion, however, seems quite beside the point.
I don't think I would draw such a sharp distinction between "atheism" and "rejecting God", as J.E.S. defined the terms, since it relies on defining "knowing god exists", which brings up interesting epistemological questions. If you believe in natural knowledge of God, can anyone be said to not "know God exists"? Coming from the other direction, we walk by faith, not by sight ("knowing"). Can anyone be said to "know God exists"? There are some who believe God exists, and hate him (or hate who they believe him to be). My point in using the phrase earlier was in the sense of "rejecting the idea of a god", as rational support for atheism rather than a comment on resisting God in a more spiritual sense.
I also think formal atheism predates Aristotle, at least within the history of Greek philosophy (Diagoras of Melos). I would speculate that within the ancient world there were certainly people who were skeptical of their regional gods.
Re S.M.S.: It would probably involve further establishment of the age of the universe/Earth (now that it seems the idea of an eternal universe seems to have fallen out of favor with many in the scientific community), and further explanation of the development/evolution of life. There's a phrase from the origin-of-life scientific community that says the origin of life will be invented rather than discovered. I think that's about right, scientifically speaking. No matter how plausible the theory, there is no going back in time to do the control experiment on ancient Earth, so any theory on the ultimate origin of life will never be conclusively proven. So to address your questions, it probably would contradict all life being created in six 24-hour days without utilization of any natural processes (a statement that may not be the most accurate description of Genesis 1, since God said "let the Earth bring forth. . .", which seems to suggest some participation of creation in the further creative acts). I don't think it would directly address an ex nihilo creation, since I think the question of first causes falls in the realm of philosophy rather than science. Hard to say, really, since scientific theories are constantly evolving.
One thing we haven't noted here is that two individuals, based on their presuppositions, can look at the exact same "evidence" and come to two radically different conclusions. Our presuppositions affect both our analysis and our interpretation of the "scientific" data. Presuppositions can be thought of as "what we think before we think further." They are a set of beliefs, assumptions, or proposals that we hold as "true." Our presuppositions form our worldview. The atheistic worldview starts with the presupposition that all things can be explained by naturalistic processes (apart from God). Necessary to this assumption is the belief in millions of years of evolutionary change. The presupposition of this worldview makes the historical facts of Genesis 1 and 2 impossible. On the other hand, the Biblical worldview begins with the presupposition that God exists and that He has revealed His truth to us in His written Word. These two concepts -- beginning with God's Word or beginning with man's word -- can be applied to every aspect of the natural world: the origin of the universe, plants and animals, apes and humans, rock layers and fossils. God's Word is true from the very first verse. The Hebrew language of Genesis 1 and 2 is historical narrative, it is not figurative symbolism. When we use the revelation of God's Word as our starting point, we can look at the world around us and see that it is all consistent with the true history revealed in the Scriptures. This Biblical worldview sets our scientists free to do real science and discover more and more about the wonders of God's amazing creation, instead of trying to hijack science and use it to disprove the existence of God.
So Atheism DOES predate Evolution/Spontaneous generation...but not by much. Thank you for enlightening me! Also, an interesting note about different cells in plants and animals: In Genesis 2, God gives Adam the right to eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16), and in Genesis 9, God gives Noah the right to not just eat green plants, but meat too (Genesis 9:3). Perhaps it was permissible to consume PLANT CELLS, but not animal cells before the fall, and ultimately, the flood...an interesting observation.
Science cannot prove that God exists. Neither can any other human authority for that matter. In this very scientific and "seeing is believing" age, I would find it very likely that there are people that honestly believe that there is no God. They have "natural knowledge of God," but that can be suppressed to the point that they at least THINK that they believe that there is no God. It is not a matter of "not KNOWING God exists," it is a matter of believing that he doesn't. It is impossible to scientifically prove God's existence, or non-existence, but many atheists have VERY strong faith in his non-existence. I see what you mean, Michael, about "rejecting the idea of a god as rational support for Atheism," but in this aforementioned scientific age, Atheism wants and needs some "scientific facts" to prove its self. Evolution fits this gap VERY nicely, that is why many Atheists are willing to defend it so fiercely. Without the "science" of Evolution, Atheism is exposed for what it really is: a religion.
Evolution is religion. People have faith that evolution occurred without it being absolutely proven. If it were known for a fact that evolution were true, then evolution would become not just religion but absolute fact.
If this religious belief then becomes fact, other religions would naturally be put in question. For example, in the case of Christianity:
The Bible clearly contradicts evolution. The Bible is believed to be the inspired Word of God. Therefore, if evolution is true, either the Christian God must not exist or he is imperfect. If God is imperfect Jesus would not have been able to save us from our sin being imperfect himself. (Although who's to say that an imperfect God would be just and require such sacrifice in the first place). If evolution is true, the Christian faith ceases to become valid.
However, this is not to say that religion would become detrimental to society. If Christianity is false, there could be some other religion found compatible with evolution that could be true. As other people have said, in a world without God, man defines moral standards and things can quickly become out of hand.
Indeed. Some religions could, with a little refitting, be made compatible with Evolution.
There needs to be a lot clearer discussion of science vs. theology. This is the debate at hand. There is no debate as to creationism vs. evolution as they come from different disciplines. Creationism, simply put, is not science. It is an attempt, perhaps a bridge, for theology to "catch up" with knowledge. Likely there were similar discussions when the evidence, over centuries, continued to invalidate the Church's insistence that the Earth was the center of at least the known universe of the time and that the sun moved around the Earth. Lives were destroyed and the human quest for knowledge in Europe was stunted by the Church's effort to save face. The concern was about image and not losing parishioners to knowledge. Europe went into the Dark Ages due to the Church's refusal to accept science and adapt accordingly. Incidentally, Islam embraced science and therefore the Muslims were able to come into Europe and ultimately rescue the population from the Dark Ages. Theology is not necessarily inconsistent with science, but they are often incompatible when it comes to facts. Thus, we have situations where pseudoscience attempts appear legitimate, much the great and powerful Oz attempted to appear...well, great and powerful. You know the story. People will believe many things when prevented from having access to knowledge and are taught to be unquestioningly obedient. So with that, lets move on to specific content like the Ica stones. A simple Google search yields virtually no sources which indicate the stones are credible. Presenting this as something to support an argument for Creationism is going to fail miserably, except with the residents of Oz. To strengthen your debate, the presentation of credible evidence is necessary. You only weaken your position by presenting widely and uniformly discredited information, or that which has been proven to be false. I'm looking forward to seeing the development of the debate.
I think the distinction between science and theology would be an excellent topic of discussion, especially since defining the proper boundaries of each would seem to clarify much of the debate on this topic.
There’s a conflation between “knowledge” and “science” that’s incorrect, in my view. The question can be reduced to, “Is all knowledge scientific knowledge?” I think the answer is no (unless you deliberately define “knowledge” as “scientific knowledge"). As I’ve mentioned before, science is methodologically materialistic, that is, it only concerns itself with the material world. Questions like “Does God exist?” or “What is the meaning of life?” or “What is moral?” do not fall within the domain of science. Smaller questions also involve knowledge beyond the realm of science: “Do you love your spouse?” or “Are you happy?”. These types of questions also have answers (one can know that they are happy or that they love someone) that are not scientific. Sometimes science can contribute something of interest to these questions—consider the chemistry and neuroscience that have informed our understanding of emotions, for example—but generally speaking, science is not the source of our knowledge of these matters.
Finally, there’s a common misperception of history from the fall of Rome to the modern era (sometimes referred to as the “Dark Ages”) that I thought I might inform a bit by adding some relevant dates:
476: Conventional date for fall of the Western Roman Empire (note that the Byzantine empire (Eastern Roman Empire) persisted for centuries afterward)
8th Century to 13th century: Golden Age of Islam. Traditionally said to end with the sack of Baghdad in 1258.
1274: Death of Thomas Aquinas, the synthesizer of catholic theology and Aristotlian philosophy, a key part of the development of Scholasticism in the West.
1330s: Concept of “Dark Age” originates with Petrarch. The term was more commonly used by historians in the 1800s, but modern scholarship avoids the term due to a veritable explosion in our understanding of the history and culture of the period. Sometimes it is still used to refer to the Early Middle Ages (approximately the 5th to 10th centuries) only, particularly since there is considerable overlap between the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Many of the 19th century caricatures of the “Dark Ages” are simply not accurate (or only believed by people in Oz?). There’s lots of good information on this topic, but it may be beside the point for the purposes of this discussion.
14th Century to 17th century: Renaissance period in Europe. Thought to have begun in Florence, though the precise cause is the subject of much discussion, probably a combination of factors (e.g., the influx of Greek scholars to Italy after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks).
1517: Protestant reformation begins in Germany
1532: Copernicus’ book on heliocentrism (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium) is essentially complete. The theory is relatively uncontroversial in its time, and Copernicus’ work is used by Pope Gregory XIII to reform the calendar in 1582. Copernicus dies in 1543.
1616: Heliocentrism, now controversial for a variety of reasons (including scientific ones that would take some time to work out), is declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church as part of an ongoing confrontation with Galileo (who was kept under house arrest from 1633 to his death in 1642). The whole affair is a bit more nuanced than is often portrayed, and the entire series of events involves far more than the “Church vs. Science” storyline that is popular in our own time. It’s worth reading about. This time period is also roughly the start of the modern scientific enterprise.
My point in outlining this history is to highlight that the notion that the medieval church suppressed science is not supported my modern scholarship. Science was being done in Europe both before and after the incident with Galileo. There’s an argument that the foundations of modern science were laid in part by the medieval scholastics who believed that the universe was the product of a rational being (God) and could therefore be rationally understood. That second part (the universe can be rationally understood) is at the heart of science today.
You are correct in your statement that Creationism is not real science, it is simply a worldview which affects the scientific studies of those who hold it...but so is Evolution. Evolution is fraught with scientific problems (see Discussion 1 on the "Archived Discussions" page of this site). Many, many people take Evolution as fact because they have been taught to accept it unquestioningly, and the problems are neatly hidden away behind a "curtain" of deception. Even some who know the problems with Evolution still believe it because they cannot accept the alternative (Creation) for philosophical reasons (see the quote in the April newsletter on the "Archived Newsletters" page of this site). Science and Theology are indeed different disciplines. Science is a useful tool that can help us learn more about God's creation, and Theology can help us see things (such as how the world was created) that science can never prove. New theologies and/or philosophies that claim to have the "scientific" answer for things that science can never prove (such as Evolution) should never be taken without several grains of salt.
Now for a few words on the Medieval "Dark Age." Many would define the Medieval "Dark Age" as the few hundred years between the falling of Rome, when Europe was overrun by warring barbarians/Romans, and the Crowning of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, which restored relative peace and stability to large portions of Europe. The Church was CERTAINLY NOT the cause of this dark age, and the Muslims that entered Europe at this time in order to conquer it (they were soundly beaten by Charles Martel at the battle of Tours/Poitiers, and never expanded beyond Spain), certainly not to rescue the Europeans from the "Dark Age!" Some consider the dark ages to expand 1 to 2 centuries beyond the crowning of Charlemagne as well.
As for the Ica Stones and their authenticity, I would recommend that you read my article, or at least more, about them before you write them off as fake. The Ica Stones are a good example of a problem for evolution that is consistently covered up. I would even encourage you to research them further, in order to explain to me why they are not credible evidence. Even the residents of Oz would not write off something as fake for no better reason than a majority of Google Search results saying that it is, or that it does not fit nicely into their worldview! Thank you for commenting!
Your comment highlights where religion seems to have obstructed the progress of humanity. However, it is also important to consider all the lives lost to fight against religion. Also consider where religion could have prevented extreme actions against entire populations. Stalin, Mao Zedong, Hitler in his misguided beliefs are all examples.
Couple of points regarding the responses. First, I would argue that the term materialistic is not the best to describe science because of the more common use of the word. Naturalistic for science as contrasted to 'supernaturalistic' is a more accurate set of terms. Regarding the Ica stones, I did read the article as well as several others from the many, many that demonstrate that the stones were fakes. The vast preponderance of the evidence shows they are fake, the veracity of the stories about them is highly questionable, and there is evidence to support their modern design. Regarding evolution, it is a fact. We have a theory explaining how the fact exists that is scientific in nature. Theory, like science, is the best understanding of the available information. It relies on provable evidence. Creationism, coming from a theological perspective, is by definition based on faith. Contrary to science, it uses confirmatory bias as opposed to a null hypothesis as a foundation for understanding. They are completely different approaches to understanding. Theology is based on the supernatural while science is based on the natural. Creationism attempts to explain what is known from a theological standpoint which by definition requires the acceptance of things that are not provable due to the fact that they aren't based in the natural world. It's not even apples and oranges.
You call evolution a theory, but the National Academy of Science defines a theory as "a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of scientific evidence" and science as "the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena." Therefore, can scientists reproduce the original process which created life? if not then how can evolution be considered a theory, if it cannot be tested by experiments. Furthermore, I have never been giving "a vast body of scientific evidence" to support evolution, which makes it seem that evolution is just a way to avoid believing in God, and requires just as much faith to believe as Christianity.
My second question is this, Bill Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft said that DNA is "like a computer program, but far, far, more advanced than any software ever created." Have scientists, using all the advances of modern science, and all the intelligence of man, ever created DNA or RNA in a laboratory through unguided naturalistic processes? If not, than does the origin of life as explained in evolution remain an unverified assumption?
In closing, I would like to ask one more question, if we are just a very, very, very, lucky chemical accident, than where did all of our moral and natural laws come from? If they are just adopted customs, than why did Hitler do wrong? In my Christian worldview, God gave us his law, both as the ten commandments, and written on our hearts, which gives every human, religious or not, a basic code of right and wrong, whether they ignore it or not. How do you explain this in the context of the Evolutionary worldview?
A couple things... I am still waiting to hear a good, specific example of evidence for the the Ica Stones being fake. It is true that the veracity of some of the stories about them are highly questionable...the stories about them being fake (see the Ica Stones Wikipedia article, note the reasons that the alleged forgers would have to lie, and the times that they recanted and reasserted having forged them).
And now for Evolution. The Theory of Evolution was actually good science in Darwin's day. At that time, the evidence seemed to line up in favor of it. That is why it managed to progress from "Hypothesis" (educated scientific guess) to "Theory" (a well-tested and fairly reliable assertion). However, in the light of today's science, Evolution's authenticity becomes very dubious (see discussion 1 on the "Archived Discussions" page of this site). In light of modern science, Evolution ceases to be the best understanding of the available information.
I hope to hear from you on the Ica Stones!
It appears to me, that the natural world, fossil evidence, and the origins of life, are much easier to explain in the creationist worldview than the evolutionary one. It would therefore seem that evolution is simply an attempt to escape the existence of God written off as science. As J.E.S said, it was decent science in Darwin's day, but if it weren't for the desperate need today for some halfway believable theory of the origins of life, which did not incorporate a god, the advances in science that have taken place since Darwin's day would have laid the "theory" low. Ultimately, since science no longer supports evolution as it should for the former to be called a "theory" than just as much, if not more faith is required to believe evolution than to believe creation. If you disagree with me, I would be happy to debate you.
"Theory, like science, is the best understanding of the available information." Any one theory is not necessarily the best understanding if available information. Some people see the fossil record, geologic formations, the structures of organisms etc. as evidence for evolution. Others view this same evidence as evidence for creationism. Much of how you view evidence is dependent on your initial worldview.
I agree that theology is based on the supernatural and science the natural. However, what we observe in the natural can point to the supernatural! Also, both evolution and creationism are not provable. Evolution is not fact. As you said, it is only a theory. A quick Google search of theory reveals some of its synonyms: hypothesis, conjecture, speculation etc. Just like any of these, a theory needs to be proven in order to become fact. Evolution has and cannot be proven unless it is observed.
Merely insisting that evolution (as we are defining the term in this discussion) is a fact, does not make it fact. There is much compelling scientific evidence that seriously questions the factual veracity of the macro-evolution process. I assume that's the whole point of this lively discussion. I would also point out the growing number of scientists who subscribe to an evolutionary worldview who have publicly expressed their professional embarrassment in promoting and teaching a process that has serious scientific flaws, because, in their minds, they have no alternative. By their own admission, they know that some of this stuff can't be true because the science simply doesn't support it, but they're going to teach it anyway. I find that troubling, and a serious damage to their credibility as scientists.
As a theologian, it seems to me that theology (literally, "the study of God") seeks to better understand God and His work in our time and history -- especially the fact that He actually entered our time and history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, wrapped Himself up in our human flesh and blood, and bled and died to accomplish the salvation of the world He created. Therefore, the Bible is God's written historical account of His work from the beginning of time until the end of all time. This historical account certainly has vital implications for our conversation. Evolutionary philosophy presents its own "history" of the universe which is quite contrary to the history that God has revealed. Therefore, this discussion pertains more to historical accuracy than scientific experimentation. From a theological point of view, science is God's gift to humanity, to study and marvel at the vast intricacies of His creation. God has given human beings the "desire to know" and the curiosity to pursue knowledge and understanding. Science, therefore, should be used to rejoice in and better understand how and why God created things to work the way they do, and to also glean important insights from this research that can be used to be a blessing to others (biological, medical, or agricultural research for example). Science certainly wasn't given to us by God to be used in an effort to DISPROVE His existence, but EXTOL His existence, proclaim His marvelous handiwork, and to be a benefit to all humanity.
Science does support evolution. Faith has no basis of evidence and is therefore not a comparison that provides any alternative to the present theory of evolution, so I'm not sure where the point of debate is on this. Perhaps you can clarify? Creationism is founded on an unprovable premise and therefore all subsequent premises have to accept that premise in order to be valid. If the initial premise is false, the rest of the argument collapses. The theory of evolution is based on the fact that progressive adaptation in species has occurred and seeks to identify the most valid explanation for this. Regardless of the following premises, the initial premise is true. The strength of the following premises is based on the quality of the scientific method used, but even shoddy work does not change the initial concept. So perhaps a good place to start is with the basic question of do you understand and accept that progressive adaptation in species has occurred?
Could you please provide some evidence that progressive adaptation in species has occurred?
I would agree with you that adaption in species has occurred. The many different varieties of dog is just one of the many examples. This is known as Microevolution, and was part of Darwin's theory that nearly EVERYONE agrees with. Microevolution is scientifically sound, for it has been observed on many different occasions. However, what you appear to be talking about when you say "Evolution," the hypothesis that all species today evolved from, ultimately, a common ancestor, is known as Macroevoluion, and is a totally different cup of tea. I would certainly agree with you that Creationism is founded on unprovable premises, but I would submit that the premise of Macroevolution: that "simple" life forms spontaneously generated from non-living material, and PROGRESSING (changing positively) through marked adaptations (that have not been observed) is deeply flawed, and false, for a variety of reasons. I completely, completely, agree with you that if the initial premise is false, the rest of the argument collapses. So, if I am not mistaken in my assumption that Evolution is what you are talking about when you say "progressive adaptation," then my answer to your question is this: I would agree that MICROEVOLUTION, as in the variation of traits within species, has happened, and is happening. However, to my understanding, the premises of MACROEVOLUTION, are very flawed, so I simply CANNOT accept that as fact.
Now for Creation as a viable alternative to Evolution. I would agree that faith has very little, if any, basis of evidence. If it did, it wouldn't be faith anymore. I would, however, say that Creationism DOES provide a viable alternative to Evolution. We have no evidence for Creation (other than the fact that we exist), but we also have NO BONA FIDE EVIDENCE for Evolution. Evolution is accepted by faith, the same way that Creation is. The two are different worldviews, religions, if you will, that each attempt to explain the things that will probably never be able to be explained by science. Since both Creation AND Evolution are faiths, Creation is a viable alternative to Evolution, and vice versa.
I hope to hear from you on the Ica Stones.
I would very much appreciate it if you would tell me some exact evidence why science supports evolution. It has always seemed to me that such evidences are few and far between, and I would really like it if you could give me some specific examples. I would also like to hear your answers to my questions from my last comment. I'm sorry if I came across as harsh, I wrote it late at night. Anyway, I would still like to hear your take on those questions.
I also feel that it is necessary to point out that evolution too is based on presuppositions. Since we cannot go back in time and observe the first origin of life, the evolutionary position on that is still an unverified assumption. That being the case, these presuppositions, as you pointed out in the context of the creationist position, provide the foundation for the evolutionary standpoint, and if they are false, than all details beyond that are false as well. Just a thought, I would be interested to hear your take.
Please reiterate your questions. The format here makes it difficult to easily review the material. As for your "exact evidence" supporting evolution, the data is legion. Simply Google the phrase and you will have hundreds of citations. It appears, however, that you are stuck on the observability of the formation of life as your counterargument. That is a little asinine. You are, of course, aware that this cannot be observed. We are talking about a theory to explain the progressive adaptation. This is quite different from the inability to prove a supernatural phenomenon. By definition, science doesn't apply to that, thus that comparison is impossible, as I've said multiple times. There really is no debate between the two. It is an illusion created by the religious community to transition toward an acceptance of evolution that still provides credibility to religion. Now it becomes something of a discussion because if the push to make creationism mainstream. It is a good subject for a class on religion, but not in a science curriculum because it is not science. This is basic. That doesn't discredit it as a viable topic in the religious community, just as evolution does not discredit evolution. If you have faith, you must find a way to reconcile the discrepancy. The scientific doesn't have that obligation because they deal with natural phenomena and only need to be concerned with evidence to support theory. While it may appear difficult, it really isn't. The difficulty comes from taking theology and attempting to make it fit into a different paradigm. Those who only look at what is tangible, evidentiary, provable, and so on don't have that extra level of complexity to address. I think sometimes that makes the discussion more difficult too.
Current "evidence" for evolution is faulty and unreliable. There has been no proof of evolution. Take for example homologous structures. Evolutionists claim that similarities between kinds of organisms mean that there is a common ancestor. However, this is not necessarily true. Creationists view this as evidence for a common Creator who knew what would work for his animals in the world he created so that they could thrive. Deeper research into homologous structures reveals additional problems. Many homologous structures that evolutionists use as evidence are controlled by completely different genes and develop in different ways.
Any other evidence you would like to specifically mention?
It appears that you are unable, or unwilling, to offer specific evidences for your Evolutionary worldview. All we are requesting is for you to give us two or three examples of SPECIFIC evidence for Evolution. You can even use my comment (which is easily accessed in this format by scrolling down until you see a comment by J.E.S) giving specific evidences for the authenticity of the Ica Stones as a template!
You are still right when you say that the debate is not between Science and Religion. The Creation v. Evolution Debate is between TWO RELIGIONS. Science cannot prove that God created the world out of nothing in 6 literal days, but science is also unable to prove that the universe somehow created its self out of nothing, and that life somehow spontaneously generated and achieved, through progressive adaptation, the point that it is at today. The two are PRESUPPOSITIONS that affect the scientific endeavors of those that hold them.
The answer could be this: Teach Evolution in Science class, and also teach Creation. Then, let the students logically choose a worldview for themselves, based on the evidence, rather than listen to the monolithic voice of a professor or textbook telling them that one or the other is an indisputable fact.
Evolution does not discredit religion....
The presence of evolution would discredit other religions because it would create contradictions. (See previous posts)
Evolution simply exists. Religion discredits itself when it is in violation of nature. It has the responsibility to adapt to the natural world because it has created the discrepancy. Evolution is neither a religion, nor the creator of contradiction. It is merely a theory to explain a broad concept of progressive adaptation.
Your statement "Evolution simply exists" is a statement of faith. Just like almost any other religion, Evolutionism seeks to explain how the world came to be, except that it is unique in that it denies all supernatural influence. Macroevolution is MOST CERTAINLY NOT a Scientific fact, and has been definitively disproved on multiple occasions (I will let YOU research that, but will be happy to give you specific examples if you want). The discrepancy among ALL religions (not just between the religions of Christianity and Evolutionism) is that, in the end, ONLY ONE can be true. Since Macroevolution is certainly not seen in nature, and, if you look at what the evidence seems to tell you, has never occurred in nature, then Christianity is not in violation of nature. Evolution is. The Creation v. Evolution debate is not really new, it is just the next chapter in the debate between the true religion of Christianity, and other false religions.
And humans are not highly evolved monkeys either. They are special, the crown of God's creation. However, our own wrongdoings (sins) separate us from God. God could have utterly destroyed all of humanity for it's rebellion, but God loved, and loves us. God loved YOU, Greg, so much, that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to Earth, where he lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for YOUR sins, taking the punishment that YOU deserved, that if you believe and trust in him, you shall never perish, but have eternal life. That is a God worth believing in. If you trust in God's mercy given to you through Jesus, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you refuse God's pardon, and cling to the idol of Evolutionism, you have everything to lose.
Nate, you are capable of reading. I'm not going to spoon feed you something you are perfectly capable of doing yourself. Because you refuse to look at research is not a problem I'm willing to take from you. You can do this, but I suspect choose not to simply for the sake of being argumentative. In speaking for you though, it appears your answer to the original question is that you do not believe evolution is true. That's fine. You then have no reason to question the utility of religion. I disagree with you, as does the vast majority of the scientific community. That is also fine. I don't think the presence of evolution renders religion useless or detrimental. Religion itself is accountable for those aspects via the humans who adhere to particular faiths. J.E.S, science is not a religion. Creationism should taught in religion classes, but has no place in a science class for two primary reasons: it is not science; and there are prohibitions here regarding the teaching of faith based information in public schools. With your reasoning, for example, we would also teach reincarnation in science class alongside creationism.
I do look at research, but then critically analyze what the research says and find potential flaws before accepting it.
I am certainly not continuing this discussion merely for the sake of being argumentive. I believe that the creation v. evolution debate is very important and is to be taken very seriously.
I agree that the presence of evolution would not render religion useless, but it would mean the end of some religions.
I also agree that science is not religion. Evolution however is not science and is religion because it is not proven and faith based. This directly leads into the matter of our educational system. If there are prohibitions on faith based information, then evolution should not be taught. I agree with J.E.S. that since neither has been proven they should both be taught and then the students should be allowed to decide on which they think makes the most sense.
I will reiterate my questions as you requested, I also have another one which I would like you to answer.
1. Can scientists reproduce the original process which created life? if not then how can evolution be considered a theory, if it cannot be tested by experiments.
2. Bill Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft said that DNA is "like a computer program, but far, far, more advanced than any software ever created." Have scientists, using all the advances of modern science, and all the intelligence of man, ever created DNA or RNA in a laboratory through unguided naturalistic processes? If not, than does the origin of life as explained in evolution remain an unverified assumption? 3. If we are just a very, very, very, lucky chemical accident, than where did all of our moral and natural laws come from? If they are just adopted customs, than why did Hitler do wrong? In my Christian worldview, God gave us his law, both as the ten commandments, and written on our hearts, which gives every human, religious or not, a basic code of right and wrong, whether they ignore it or not. How do you explain this in the context of the Evolutionary worldview?
4. My new question is this, what do you think are the three most compelling scientific evidences for evolution, just in your opinion.I would also like it if you would give me one example of a missing link. There are a lot of proposed examples, and I wondered which you consider the best one. I have looked it up on the internet, and most of the images that came up were artist depictions. I would like to see the original fossils, since an artist can make up a lot of what he draws.
Regarding the my arguments about the evolutionary explanation for the origins of life. Just like attacking the core presuppositions of creationism attacks the entire thing, so with this debate. I am simply questioning the core presuppositions of evolution, and since you have not given me a compelling answer to my questions, I see no logical reason to cut of the debate just yet. If you answer my questions logically, I would be happy to continue to a debate on a topic of your choosing.
Okay. Stating that evolution is religion borders on delusional. There will be nothing productive coming from a discussion at that level of conversation. One might as well be speaking a completely different language. Whether this be by choice or limited education is immaterial at this point. Your arguments lack a rudimentary understanding of science and the scientific method. I will remove myself from this dialogue as there is nothing to gain for either one of us here.
The scientific method - "a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."
Neither creation nor evolution can be "proved" (As Michael is correct in saying that nothing is ever proved in science) using the scientific method. The origin of the universe cannot be systematically observed as it is in the past. There have yet to be successful measurements or experiments in support of evolution and the same is true for creation because it is said to have happened exclusively in the past. Hypotheses, theories etc. can be formulated and modified for evolution and creation, but they cannot be tested. In conclusion, the scientific method cannot directly support evolution or creation. Scientists instead must use what can be observed, measured, tested etc. according to the scientific method as evidence for either creation or evolution.
Well, I think a few things are worth stating or restating.
1. Science presupposes a natural (or material, but I take Greg's earlier point about the potential confusion of using "materialistic" in this context) explanation to everything. Evolution isn't unique in that it assumes no supernatural involvement in the theory, all scientific theories assume no supernatural involvement. For example, there's no problem when Newtonian physics (and more recent developments) explains the motion of the planets without referring to God. Similarly, evolution shouldn't be suspect when it follows this scientific norm. The presupposition of of naturalistic explanations is both the strength and limitation of science, and I think most scientists are aware of this.
2. Evolutionary theory does not formally include abiogenesis (re: Jacob's first few questions). In evolution, a pre-existing, self-replicating life form is presupposed. Abiogenesis is a separate hypothesis, which I don't think should be lumped in together with evolution here. To use my previous example, Newton's theory of universal gravitation presupposes gravity, and doesn't try to explain the origin of gravity itself. And that's okay. Every scientific theory has its explanatory domain, and the origin of life is a separate question from biological evolution, which is essentially limited to biological descent with modification. The origin of life is an open research question in the scientific community.
3. The evolutionary origin of morality (re: Jacob's third question) lies in the societal stability brought about by laws like "Don't kill each other". There's actually a lot of interesting work on this question, and I'm not familiar with all of the facets of it, but it seems that much of it boils down to the fact that a moral society is more likely to thrive than an immoral one, thus providing evolutionary pressure to include a sense of instinctual right and wrong in our genes. Alternatively, it may not be strictly or purely genetic, but include psychological or sociological components.
4. I'm also going to defend the "evolution exists" statement, though I think we're using different definitions, which is causing some difficulty on this thread (understatement?). The evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria would be an obvious example from modern history. Using the alternative definition from the "other side" I imagine this example would be called "microevolution" (as opposed to "macroevolution") or variation within a species, but at this point we're agreed on a process that occurs and we're arguing scope. Where is the line between micro- and macro-evolution? I feel like the onus of defining that line is on the creation side of the debate.
5. I agree that this entire conversation would be helped by some specific evidence to discuss, but I also sympathize with Greg for referring people to Google. Unfortunately, there's really no "smoking gun" proving evolution. (Important tangent: Technically speaking, nothing is ever "proved" in science, it is only "not disproved". As increasing amounts of observations are found to be consistent with a hypothesis, that hypothesis may be upgraded to a "theory". To take an example from cosmology, the Steady State Theory used to be widely accepted, until the discovery of the cosmic background radiation tipped the balance toward the Big Bang Theory, which itself isn't "proven", it's just the current theory most consistent with the data. There's an interesting book called "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" that may be of interest to those who want to think more on what precipitates a revolution in science.) Instead, there's a body of observations that all seem to agree with evolutionary theory. Laying them all out, however, sounds like an exceedingly unpleasant and arduous task. So instead, I just went over to a pro-evolution blog and found their evidence page:
Pick a topic, find the corresponding link, and perhaps bring it over here to start a discussion. The list seems relatively thorough, so hopefully there's something for everyone. Among the articles, I thought this one might be worth discussing since it focuses on relatively modern research (this century), is from the very prestigious pages of Nature, and is short enough to read quickly:
6. I hope Greg keeps commenting.
For clarity of what the term "evolution" refers to: As stated in a reply to the very first comment in this discussion topic, "evolution" is defined by this site as "a general term for the worldview that the universe was created by the 'Big Bang' billions of years ago, that life spontaneously generated from non-living things, and, over millions of years, progressed through Macroevolution to the point that it is at today... All without any supernatural forces at work."
As for the antibiotic resistant bacteria, there is no evolution occurring. Rather they are the result either
1. Mutation or
2. Swapping DNA through horizontal gene transfers with other bacteria.
As for the mutations, they mean loss of function and overall harm the organism. To give an analogy this would be the equivalent of if someone had a disease in their foot and decided to amputate their foot and remove the DNA involving the foot. The disease will no longer affect that person, but the loss of their foot will certainly not help them.
As for the swapping of DNA, it is not evolution because there is no new DNA being produced but rather is transferred around. No new DNA is being produced.