Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can a Christian believe in evolution?

Recently I was sent an article from some sort of UK Christian site with the above title. (HERE) The article goes through with its claim and says that you can be a Christian and believe in evolution. Short answer, yes, yes you can. But not without a cost, a Christian who believes in evolution has to ignore large portions of the bible since evolution (or science in general) is in direct conflict with several major tenants of Christian dogma. (Original sin, god creating the earth, the earth being 6,000 years old, Jesus dying to redeem us of our original sin, Naoh’s flood, the garden of Eden existing)

Normally what we see from Christians who believe in science is that they tend to say ok “most” of science is true, but GOD made it that way. Why? It is because a large portion of these people are too afraid to admit that their deity has no place in modern society and they find the need to cling on to their Neolithic faiths for comfort and security from an uncertain afterlife. A type of behavior that I would classify as being weak, too weak to face reality.

I guess to make my point that a Christian can believe in evolution, we could use a couple of analogies. Can a Mormon believe that native Americans are not Jews? Can a Jehovah’s witness approve of blood transfusions? Can a catholic priest believe in and practice pedophilia? Sure, they can believe all of these things and still claim to be a member of whatever religion they are a part of. It just depends on what their interpretation of their holy dogmas is, how much they ignore literal interpretations of the bible and how they define what a Christian is. We can see this in reality considering there are ~38,000 denominations of Christianity with each of them claiming to be the true version of Christianity with each their own special way to be saved and get to heaven.

Now that I have gone through that claim I have a few gripes with the content of the article.

“Perhaps we should start by defining the term ‘evolution’. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 as a theory to explain the origins of biological diversity. And at the time, that’s all it was - a biological theory that Christians were in fact quick to declare as a biblical doctrine of creation.”

The origin of species was a book purporting the theory of evolution to explain the observed bio-diversity and it still is. Biological evolution has not changed, only the methods as to how evolution works has changed since Darwin’s time. And in fact Christians were not quick to declare it as a biblical doctrine of creation, Darwin was mocked, his theory was disregarded by most of the religious scientists at the time (which were 99% of all scientists at the time). The Linnaean society where the original paper by Darwin and Wallace had this to say "The year which has passed has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear". So in fact the views on evolution were very mixed, some Christians accepted it, most didn’t and continue not to (~50% of Americans today and a large portion of the world’s population do not believe in evolution because of conflicting religious interests).

“Unfortunately, as often happens with the big scientific theories, evolution has become encrusted with all kinds of ideological baggage down the years.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was a great populariser of evolution in North America in the latter part of the 19th century, selling 370,000 books, but unfortunately he tried to make evolution into a ‘theory-of-everything’, in which the entire universe was ascending towards ultimate perfection. It was Spencer (not Darwin) who coined the term ‘survival of the fittest’, a notion that was to be misapplied with such terrible consequences by the Kaiser during the First World War and then by Hitler in the Third Reich… But the fact that evolutionary theory has been called upon to justify such a wide range of ideologies as communism, capitalism, racism and militarism, some of them mutually exclusive, should alert us to the dangers of extrapolating scientific theories into arenas in which they actually have little or nothing to say.”

The above statement makes absolutely no sense. Big scientific theories encrusted with ideological baggage? Why even mention Spencer’s Social Darwinism? Social Darwinism has nothing to do with Darwin’s proposed Evolution by Natural Selection. Darwin’s theory of evolution has about as much to do with the first world war, Nazi’s, and communism as gravity has to do with people dying when they jump off of high buildings. Evolution is a fact. Selective breeding works, you can breed for faster horses, bigger cows, all the dogs we see, it works, but, that does not mean that the scientific fact is in anyway responsible for how people behave. Fission and fusion is a property of the universe, it works, setting off nuclear bombs is one use, nuclear power plants another, the sun existing is another.

Mr. Denis R Alexander needs to face reality. If there was no need for a creator of all of life on earth, then what need is their for Christianities creation myths? NONE. Dawkin’s is correct in saying that Darwin’s theory in a way allows atheists to be intellectually fulfilled, I would go one step further and say that every single scientific discovery to date has led to atheists being more intellectually fulfilled. Not one, not even one scientific fact shows any evidence for the supernatural. Why is that? It doesn’t need to be that way. Magic could exist and science would be able to show it, but at this time there is absolutely no evidence for it.

In closing the rest of the article is special pleading. Saying that Christians should believe everything science tells us by claiming that GOD made it that way. With that kind of thinking he has made his position unfalsifiable as anything that science says he can immediately answer with "yes, but GOD did it", and by doing so shows that he is not willing to change his mind (he is close-minded by definition) about the subject, no matter how much evidence is shown to disprove massive portions of the bible he will never stop believing.

“So is it possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution? Certainly, as long as ‘evolution’ refers not to some secular philosophy, but to the biological theory describing how God has created all living things.”

So is it possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution? Certainly, as long as that Christian is willing to ignore the book of genesis and discount all mentions of miracles in the bible.

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