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Evolution is a religious belief


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By Dave, the WM

 

Over and over and over, Christians come to this site and express their "informed opinion" that Evolution must be accepted on faith and is therefore equal to a religious belief in Creationism.

 

Is this true? Is accepting the Theory of Evolution as the best model for understanding the natural progression of life forms akin to religious convictions about Christian Creationism?

 

Here is a short list of some commonly accepted theories in a variety of disciplines:

Obviously, most of these theories are accepted by the majority of educated individuals without much discussion, but when it comes to the theories that appear to contradict fundamentalist religious teachings, those theories come under massive criticism.

 

Well, theories are not intended to be revelation knowledge from a deity. Theories are crafted by scrutinizing and observing the natural world and then constructing a model to better understand the processes taking place. Using these theories, humans have been able to considerably enhance life on Earth for a huge portion of the population.

 

Theories observe the natural world, and attempt to understand how nature works. That's all a theory is. That's all a theory does.

 

Theories can be replaced by better theories, and this happens fairly regularly as experimentation reveals a deeper comprehension of the hitherto elusive secrets of nature.

 

Rejecting a theory does not consign a person to everlasting torment, and accepting a theory does not promote a person to everlasting bliss. Theories do not address anything "supernatural," because supernatural things do not exist in nature. If something supernatural existed in nature, then it would be natural. In order to exist in nature, it can't be supernatural. Supernatural is outside of nature. Scientific theories cannot prove or disprove supernatural things, because supernatural things cannot be observed in nature. Again, if it is observable in nature, then it is testable, measurable, natural.

 

So why is there so much discussion by religious people about the Theory of Evolution? The answer is obvious — the theory appears to contradict the religious belief in a magical "poofing into existence" of life and the natural universe by an unexplainable, untestable, unmeasurable, supernatural entity that doesn't exist in nature.

 

Magic. Creationism is a nothing more than belief in supernatural magic. Creationism denies natural processes and instead embraces supernatural magic — something that can only be imagined.

 

Creationism does not attempt to explain the processes in the natural world. Creationism ignores nature, strives to shut down all inquiry into nature, and seeks to undermine established scientific thought. No evidence is posited for Creationism, but so-called holes in the scientific models are picked at, and then those holes are trumpeted as incontrovertible evidence that religious views are solidly supported. The problem I see with this kind of thinking is the assumption of an either/or solution to unanswered questions. If evolution is can be discounted as a flawed model for understanding nature, then the 2,000-year-old religious teachings don't are imagined to, by default, become true. There may indeed be many adjustments needed to our scientific theories, I certainly don't have the education or higher thinking to know otherwise. So, I’m even willing to suggest that our present theories on the origins and development of life may one day be thrown on the scrapheap as science advances. Still, even if that happens, religion won't somehow win the argument, because religion has presented no evidence favorable to its position. Consider this for a moment: When a political figure relegates his or her campaign to merely denigrating his or her opponents, is there anything being said in favor of the critical candidate? Why would I vote for a leader that has nothing positive to say about himself or herself, and the only positive thing that can be said in favor of this candidate is negative statements made about the opponent?

 

Surely negative campaigning is not the way to support a position, is it?

 

There is not one real Creation scientist. Creationism performs no experiments. Creationism funds no laboratories. Creationism supports no research centers. There is nothing but armchair philosophizing in Creationism, bolstered by religious, intellectual sounding banter.

 

When Copernicus presented his theory that planets revolved around the sun, he was condemned by all of Christendom for contradicting the sure teachings of scripture:

"People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon....This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13]that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth."
Martin Luther in one of his "Table Talks" in 1539

 

"People give ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus]who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy."
Martin Luther, Works, Volume 22, c. 1543

 

“The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture.”
The Church sentences Galileo (1633)

 

"The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion -- no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wandering, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? (Job 26:7) By what means could it [the earth] maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it? Accordingly the particle, ape, denoting emphasis, is introduced -- YEA, he hath established it." — John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Psalm 93, verse 1, trans., James Anderson (Eerdman's, 1949), Vol. 4, p. 7

 

"Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'" — John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), A. 72

 

The present argument over evolution by Christian fundamentalists is clearly history repeating itself.

 

If Christianity hopes to survive into the future, then instead of kicking against the goads of scientific inquiry, Christianity needs denigrate stubborn ignorance and embrace real knowledge.

 

What do you think?

 

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2006/12...ous-belief.html

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I've just had a post vanish on me so I'll try again.

 

A number of christians now accept evolution as true and this has meant making concessions in that they no longer have "biblical proof" that god actually made anything, or that Adam and Eve existed.

 

Several centuries ago, Islam was one of the most advanced cultures in the world, thanks to their "scientific knowledge". Then the mullahs decided that all such knowledge should be banned as it had begun to contradict the quran and Allah, so Islam went back to the dark ages and stayed there.

 

If christians really did embrace knowledge, would they stay christians when they can see gaping holes in their religion? What continues to amaze me is scientists who claim to be christians. If they apply the scientific principle to any religion, it must surely show that all religions are wrong?

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....If christians really did embrace knowledge, would they stay christians when they can see gaping holes in their religion? What continues to amaze me is scientists who claim to be christians. If they apply the scientific principle to any religion, it must surely show that all religions are wrong?
That would make sense, but religions are not there to make sense. People will stay religious so that they can stay in the flock. The holes do not matter as long as they can stay in a community of friends and they will believe, or say they believe, anything just to stay with them.
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I think that that is a point that in any such group, a sense of belonging, friendship and such can outweigh obvious deficiencies which many people are willing to overlook. It even works on very violent gangs around the world where people are willing to commit murder to stay "one of the crowd".

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  • 3 weeks later...
Well, theories are not intended to be revelation knowledge from a deity. Theories are crafted by scrutinizing and observing the natural world and then constructing a model to better understand the processes taking place. Using these theories, humans have been able to considerably enhance life on Earth for a huge portion of the population.

 

I think what is quoted needs to be clarified, because the terms "theory" and "model" are used a little differently be scientists, with whom much of these discussions are necessarily done. If we don't use the same terminology, not much will be communicated. To scientists, theories are derived from experimentation, which is actual testing of a hypothesis, always termed as "when A influences B", very simple and direct. When a hypothesis has been tested under enough varying conditions by more than one set of researchers (usually many), a scientific community may derive a theory that supports the replicated results. That is a far more stringent process to develop theory than what was quoted above, which accurately describes how models are constructed.

Lay people commonly make this mistake in discussing theories and models. It's of real importance here, though, because the "theory of creationism" is not in any way as qualified by replicated hypothetical experimentation as the simplest scientific theory. To allow creationists to adopt the term "theory" to describe their thinking is grossly inaccurate, and gives them a degree of credibility that is unearned. They should be reminded of this at every opportunity.

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To allow creationists to adopt the term "theory" to describe their thinking is grossly inaccurate, and gives them a degree of credibility that is unearned. They should be reminded of this at every opportunity.

 

 

Good point.

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My father keeps giving me this "Evolution requires faith" and "Science is a religion" stuff.

 

I've considered arguing it thru with him, but he always accuses me of getting hostile.

 

He's 76. I think it's not worth the effort. From now on I'll just be saying "OK, Dad, whatever you say"

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He's 76. I think it's not worth the effort. From now on I'll just be saying "OK, Dad, whatever you say"

 

My dad is about the same age. I don't bother arguing with him about anything. It's definitely not worth the effort.

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Guest Paul M

The church bitterly opposed Copernican and Newtonian celestial mechanics because it took away from God one of his most important roles.

 

People belived that God himself ordained the paths of celestial bodies. They moved as they did because God (cf: "he says to the ocean halt! Thus far and no further"). If it was all just soulless forces, it removed God from the heavens.

 

The parallels with evolution are very obvious.

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  • 2 weeks later...
My father keeps giving me this "Evolution requires faith" and "Science is a religion" stuff.

 

I've considered arguing it thru with him, but he always accuses me of getting hostile.

 

He's 76. I think it's not worth the effort. From now on I'll just be saying "OK, Dad, whatever you say"

 

It is a play on words.

Faith has more than one meaning. He is assuming that you won't realize or he is ignorant of the fact that evolution does not require religious faith but every ideal, belief, and even what you see requires a type of faith. That does not mean that you believe in it unquestionably. You have to have faith that the air you breath won't kill you, that the driver of your taxi won't get you killed, etc. It has nothing to do with religious faith. Religious faith, such as the faith in a supreme diety, is a type of faith that is unquestioning, infallable to the religious, and in the Christian sense, perfect.

 

Science is not a religion. Science deals with learned knowledge and truth that show a system of operation of general laws through the scientific method. Using observation, hypothesis, experimental study, to develop a theory is how science works. Science using the scientific method is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence, subject to the principles of reasoning.

 

Religion is not a science though it can employ sciences in its study and both science and relgion can look at the same questions; ie. the begining of the universe, the genesis of life, etc. Where religion strays from science is mainly in the use of the scientific method. Religion employs no standard method to prove or disprove anything other than by religious faith alone. Religion sets no goals and observable phenomena are usually in the form of personal experience which one cannot refute or prove since it is personal and cannot be recreated for study or tested by scientific means. If a religion, or divine creator, was proven by scientific method there would no question that people would accept it.

 

So, you can see that you can have faith in evolution without comprimising anything since your faith is in the evidence shown and not in an untestable idea. The idea that "faith" can be used as a tool by Christians to show that you have blind faith in science is absurd and ignorant. They use it to try to plant the idea that since you blindly follow evolution and accept it as fact; so too can you blindly accept God as fact. But, the thing is, you don't blindly follow evolution. You make an informed decision by studying the facts that have been gathered and tested. According to Christian theology, you can't test God and it is even a sin to try. You cannot even question his existence or authority. This is blind, or rather involuntary blindfolded, faith.

 

I would say that the majority of Ex-C's here probably have no problem with the existence of a supernatural, unknowable diety but rather have a problem with the religion behind it. I've often thought about posting something on our website, www.religionisbullshit.net, discussing this very thing. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim that their God is one and the same, the God of Abraham. But, there are major differences of opinion on the nature of this God between the three and even among the several denominations of Christians. The 'evolution through natural selection' of Christian beliefs as to the nature of God and approved methods of worship has shown that opinions varied from shortly after the death of Jesus to this day . Beliefs changed rapidly and often as the years progressed to the point that the Christian religion itself is nothing like it was when it began and was highly influenced by the pagan Constantine I and other later writers including Dante. I would hazard to guess that most Christians have no knowledge of the evolution of their own beliefs and probably don't want to know since it would severly undermine their blind faith, it would no longer be perfect but subject to the whims of those religious bodies in charge at the time. The evolution of the Holy Trinity belief, when discussed by informed persons is often enough to rile any Christian.

 

So next time dear old Dad says that science is a religion and that it requires faith, I hope you will be able to calmly discuss it instead of getting hostile.

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I hadn't realized that Luther and Calvin opposed a heliocentric theory of the solar system until I saw Antlerman's quote from Calvin at the bottom of his postings. Now I've seen several quotations from Protestant reformers anathematizing heliocentrism. Various TAG types enjoy arguing that Calvinism is the only "world view" that supports scientific inquiry. I wonder what dodge they use to explain away Calvin's own anti-scientific bias.

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