Friday, 8 January 2010

Why Darwinism is Atheism

I just came across this great quote from David Berlinksi (who isn't a believer in any particular religion). It explains very concisely why Darwinism is inherently incompatible with any form of Christian theism. I'm not sure what the word "human" is doing in the first clause.
A mechanism that requires a discerning human agent cannot be Darwinian. The Darwinian mechanism neither anticipates nor remembers. It gives no directions and makes no choices. What is unacceptable in evolutionary theory, what is strictly forbidden, is the appearance of a force with the power to survey time, a force that conserves a point or a property because it will be useful. Such a force is no longer Darwinian. How would a blind force know such a thing? David Berlinski, “Deniable Darwin” Commentary 101 (June 1, 1996).

I was careful there to say incompatible with "Christian theism" not with "theism". The above argument does not work against deism. Deism is the idea that God merely set the laws of the universe, wound the machine up, and then let it work itself out. Deism can be reconciled with Darwinism - no surprise, but Darwin was a deist in his own belief (which gives the lie to the idea that Darwin was just doing science). A deist can easily believe that God invented the algorithm and then left it to run - and perhaps also rigged the "initial conditions" that the machine operated under to make give the outcome a high, perhaps infallible, degree of certainty. But that's not Christian theism, where God creates ex nihilo by a divine intervention such that the creation itself is an exemplification of his infinite wisdom and intelligence.


gingoro said...

Your fellow poster O'Leary at UCD refers to people who post at BioLogos or who hold to an EC/TE position as Darwinists or Darwinoids. If one asks O'Leary a direct question, is person X who is a TE a Christian or not, she waffles but her writings seems to suggest that Christianity and an EC/TE position is totally incompatible ie EC/TE is strong heresy. I assume that is not your position but would like clarification.

What is your definition of Darwinism?

Dave W

David Anderson said...

Hello Dave,

I think that if the logical consequences of Darwinism are worked out, then they end up denying some vital Christian doctrines and critically undermining others. I also believe that it is more than possible for a genuine Christian to be confused about these matters and not understand the consequences of what they affirm - becoming a Christian is not incompatible with making large mistakes.

I understand (neo-)Darwinism to be the teaching that the whole tree of life comes from a single common ancestor as a result of natural processes which are at work today, in particular natural selection acting upon genetic variation from one generation to the next.