Evolution( Theory)- a Religion?

…..”Dr Ruse,” Mr. Gish said, “the trouble with you evolutionists is that you just don’t play fair. You want to stop us religious people from teaching our views in schools. But you evolutionists are just as religious in your way. Christianity tells us where we came from, where we’re going, and what we should do on the way. I defy you to show any difference with evolution. It tells you where you came from, where you are going, and what you should do on the way. You evolutionists have your God, and his name is Charles Darwin.”………..

………Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion — a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint — and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it — the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

  • Michael Ruse’s ‘response’ to the-over the years- intensive use of his above statement:
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22 comments

  1. It’s easy enough to demonstrate that evolution is not a religion simply by comparing the typical characteristics of religions and showing that evolution has none of them. Can I ask you to specify exactly (characteristic by comparable religious characteristic) in what way evolution is a religion then I/we can deal with it directly?

    • Thank you James for taking time to comment,I thought the full article was quite clear in what it claims.( similar typical characteristics :where we came from, where we are going, what to do on the way )( click on the text if you wish to read more :O)
      For my part I would say simply that The Evolutionists should stick to trying to understand how things works while acknowledging the limits of their understanding,it now seems to be going beyond factual science & geological-fossilicals evidence and is now flirting with “ideologies/meaning of life”-thats when we step into the Spiritual/Religious !-
      it is not only asserting where we come from ( as if 150% sure abt it-) but also and probably the greatest blunder of the OTT’ones running with it nowadays -would be its claims that we are just ‘matter’, any reasoning person ( with or without a degree) would know that there are more to us than meet the eyes.
      I would add that I’m your common lay person – just an observer of life – of mine first and I know that when I get hit ,its not only my physical heart that hurts.
      So for me the question would be ‘what is???’ beyond what we don’t see but know its there??
      That’s when its time to challenge one’s worldview.
      Choosing one that says that one day we ‘happened to be’ and one day we will’ happened not to be’+ if we are ‘the result of some chance-slum etc…then there shall be no rules whatsoever-For Nobody!
      Such an Ideology is deadly! A life lived this way by the greatest percentage of the earthen will only bring destruction ultimately.
      For those complaining over the ‘bad record of religion’,in the hands of men who killed in the name of their faith, wait til we get people killing in the name of Nothingness- Nothing will be able to stop them!
      Now If I’m wrong and the ToE does stick to dealing with Factual Informations,ONLY,then my apologies but if at any moment it is requiring even 1% of nonfactual evidences/assumptions ie faith,then its 1% into the unseen world…..Spiritual….Religion ?.

      vero

      • You seem to be a confused person.

        Why can’t it be a fact that matter assembled itself into a serious of trillions of neuron connections that produced a computer like effect that gives humans the ability to reason?

        Or do you think you know better than the majority of neuroscientists on this matter?

        You are blindly asserting that ‘A’ is not true, and it appears you are blindly asserting this because oh God forbid, it turns out to be true! People will go rape and murder and torture ad nauseum.

        Guess what sweetie – That shit already happens. Just because you don’t want it to be true doesn’t make it not true. The ‘Lalalalalalalalalalalalala I can’t hear you!!!’ defense is immature and that’s precisely what you are doing here.

      • Hello Vero,

        My thanks also to you for replying … many of your fellows will not deal with us on a fair & level playing field and will often edit, delete or otherwise censure our comments, you did not. I applaud you for that.

        That said, I don’t think you quite got my meaning … the claim (your claim?) is that evolution is a religion so I wanted to establish the characteristics of a religion (of any religion) for example the following (from an article written by Adrian Barnett):

        * Belief in a Non-Demonstrable Deity or Deities
        * The Necessity of Prayer/Worship/Ceremony
        * Places of Worship
        * Holy Books & Scriptures
        * Religious Authorities (Priests, Rabbi etc.)
        * Supernatural Beliefs (e.g. Angels, Demons)
        * Acceptance Of The Miraculous
        * Belief in an Afterlife (e.g. Heaven or Hell)
        * Holy Wars (Crusades, Jihad’s etc.)
        * Post Life Reward & Punishment (Heaven/Hell)
        * Lifestyle restrictions (dress, diet, marriage etc.)
        * Belief Without Evidence (faith as a virtue)
        * Belief In Spite Of The Evidence (anti-science)
        * Supernatural Origins (of life, the universe)
        * Fundamentalism (extremists, murder, dark ages)
        * The Need to Convert (doorstep preachers etc.)
        * Eternal Soul (life/forgiveness after death)
        * View Others as Sinful, Unclean or Heretical
        * (Usual Sole) Claim to being God’s Chosen
        * Comfort Factor (that others go to better place)
        * Morality

        If we can agree such a list of characteristics (and I think the above is a very good starting point) I am sure I will be able to persuade you that evolution is not a religion at all (regardless of whether there are those who treat it and/or science as such).

        You wrote quite a lot of other stuff much of which would take quite some time to answer so I’ll try to keep it brief (and still I apologise for the length it will be).

        I do not believe there is a division between the natural & supernatural, indeed I do not believe in the supernatural at all … I think there is what we “know” (I use quotes because science is subject to constant challenge, probable change and therefore what we “know” is actually “our best current understanding”) and what we “don’t know” and that is all.

        The theory of evolution is not “a blunder”, though you may believe otherwise, and remains the only theory capable of explaining (fully and near completely) the current diversity of life on this planet and IMO the only thing that decrees that we are more than mere matter (more than simply an intelligent version of any other mammal) is human conceit.

        On your view of “what’s beyond” I would have to ask how you know there is something “beyond”, how you distinguish that “beyond” from delusion? To say “I just know” is not enough and that’s the beauty of science (of which the theory of evolution is a fully paid up member) … it requires others to verify any given explanation, to validate it, to falsify it and more besides. The theory of evolution is backed by nothing more than facts, that’s why it is classified a “theory” (scientific as distinct from common usage) … the theory of evolution is so well accepted that no serious scientist doubts it is correct anymore and instead works on the mechanisms by which it proceeds. The theory of evolution is no more considered a blunder, in doubt or in any significant way wrong any more than the theory that an apple falls to the ground due to the effects of gravity … you may not like it but that’s just the way it is. OTOH, your “beyond” can’t be demonstrated to others in any real way and moreover it can’t be falsified.

        I will wait happily for people to start killing in the name of “nothingness” (by which I assume you refer to evolution, science or atheism) because I doubt they will ever truly happen … mankind is petty, is greedy, self-interested and power hungry and there are always other reasons for them to do such things.

        Keke

  2. Dale Headley

    Hogwash! Evolution is a scientific discipline. It is no different from the gravitational theory; the germ theory, the heliocentric theory, the electromagnetic theory; the heliocentric theory; quantum theory, the light propagation theory, etc. The only difference is that the theory of evolution supplies, by many orders of magnitude, more actual, solid, empirical evidence than any of them. Evolution HAPPENED; has ALWAYS happened, IS happening, and WILL always happen. Why? Because life, in all its variety, could not exist without it.
    The Theory of Evolution offers mountains of virtually irrefutable evidence, including, among others, that diseases evolve resistance to antibiotics. Around 1935, evolutionary biologists unanimously predicted that bacteria would evolve resistance. No pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, or holy book predicted it; and it wasn’t foretold in the Bible. That alone leads me to put more trust in science than blind faith in the ignorant ramblings of bronze age sheepherders or modern day charlatans who pass the plate on Sundays.
    Religion? I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch anything that could remotely be called a god. There is ZERO evidence for any kind of god.
    I don’t have faith in Charles Darwin. He was wrong about a lot of things. Faith in God, conversely, is that He is wrong about nothing. He can’t be wrong about anything. That is true faith – blind faith.
    If there is such a thing as “faith” in evolution, it is better termed “trust” – trust that, based on myriad observable phenomena as presented by a variety of sciences, including biology, paleontology, geology, archeology, immunology, bacteriology, and, most recently, genetics, that one’s best odds for making rational, efficacious decisions in life is through a reliance on (a trust in) science. Religion is based on NOTHING BUT FAITH! Faith in what? That you will live forever, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, of course. What does God look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, or feel like? Conceptions of God, although they are multifarious, tend to be highly anthropocentric – the magic man in the sky, who is usually white, male, bearded, white-robed, and avuncular. Hey, show Him to me and I’ll believe.

    • Thank you for stopping by Dale -That was very impassioned! I respect that .
      I am afraid that I can’t show you God, but have you asked Him to show up , that usually work for most people -one thing you gotta really want it tho :O)

      • What if you are blind and a mute – Can’t speak nor read. You also can’t understand the gospel or read it. How then do you ask for God to enter you?

        Other food for though: Did you ever wonder that perhaps many non believers actually DID fall to their knees, cry out for God to enter them in the form of the holy spirit, while they were convulsing on the floor, in a rage of tears – because their life just fell apart – only to be answered with silence and crickets?

        How dare you assume that everyone who is Christian asked for it and all non Christians have not yet asked for it. Bigotry of the highest order and a bit delusional too I must suggest for you to think such things.

      • Hi Again Vero,

        Can I just point out that your solution to us finding your god is to believe in him and then (only then) will he show himself? The point we try to make is that we need evidence BEFORE we believe.

        Do you understand how insane your proposal for finding your god is to the rational mind?

        Keke

  3. Bill Stoner

    I do not see how you can say you are an ardent evolutionist when it is clear you don’t understand evolution at all. Evolution is a change in the gene pool of a population over time. A gene is a hereditary unit that can be passed on unaltered for many generations. The gene pool is the set of all genes in a species or population. Evolution says nothing about the origins of life and it certainly doesn’t say anything about morality! To say evolution is a religion is just….silly. If you don’t want to sound silly go to this website and learn something:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

    • I never say tat I was an ardent Evolutionist! And did you read the full article? Don’t forget that there is a question mark at the end of ” Evolution( Theory)- a Religion?” meaning that it is open for debate- which is what is happening here :)
      Thanks for the link.:)

  4. Ed

    Exactly how does the theory of evolution show us where we are headed and what we should do on the way?

    That’s funny stuff. It’s a scientific theory that has stood critically unchallenged since Darwin offered it for consideration.
    It might be time to reread The Origin of Species. If you have read it at all?

  5. Thanks Ed- for commenting – I like the fact that you said “since Darwin offered it for ‘consideration'”..a very wise way to put it!
    I am about to read it all online on that link ( http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin.html),If any question I shall come and ask you
    looking forward to learn more
    v

  6. Hi Vero, very nice of you to respond. Not that I agree with him on this issue, (it’s basically a semantic conflation of two different meanings of the word “religion”) but did you read too what Micheal Ruse had to say about it when Creationists ran with (a carefully composed selection of) his words?
    See here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ruse/is-darwinism-a-religion_b_904828.html

    • Thank you so much Albert – ( as you can see I have added it to my post already )
      I read through quickly- very good article- a good balance to my post. I need to read it again properly- I am on my way out ( festivities for NYE). :0)
      But in the meantime,spontaneously I was thinking that -Surely Evolution was never intended by Darwin to be what is has become- ideologically anyway -. but to say that its a ‘secular Religion’ will not be a over-statement -after all we are in Postmodernism era where everything is being happily redefined :)
      Would you say that The semantic of ‘Religion’ is evolving as well? Used to be Religion…Now its Spiritually…..then it would be anything that gives a definition or meaning to the Big Question of Life…?
      I find the New Atheists armed with religious zeal , nowdays.;o)

      But Stay tuned, once I read the full article ‘properly’ , I ll will have more questions..
      :O)

    • Hello Albert, I read it ‘through this time around- and I find Ruse’s article and conclusion quite ‘interesting :
      “So the answer to the question “Is Darwinism a religion?” is varied, interesting and insightful. But I bet a million dollars that for the next 10 years it will be the first paragraph and only the first paragraph of this piece that will be quoted and requoted by those who are more interested in using my words for their own ends rather than for understanding what I am really trying to say. ”

      I found him more interested in justifying his soft annoyance towards the popularity of his ‘infamous -so-called-1st paragraph’ being quoted and re-quoted ‘out of context”( that also is not clear), than actually clarifying that ‘ Evolution’ is not a Religion”, he seems to have left it open for Interpretation/debate/denomination(..), maybe ?

      Since the founder-Darwin ,the Theory has become ‘theories’, with people building on it as they wish ,according to their own ‘leanings’.
      Similar to what happens with Religions/Political party over time,often ‘split ends’ occurs ….

      What do you think?
      v

      • In the article in Huffpo he mainly just replies to the misuse of his words as once written in the (Canadian) National Post, 2000. It is maybe not the place to gather why he came to his opinion. I cannot find the original entry. But he later clarified the reasoning behind his ideas, interpreting history to fit with a new global theme of his invention, here for example: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/299/5612/1523.full

        I consider this all fall-out from what later came to be designated the “accomodationists” vs “new-atheists” debate. As one would suspect they differ on strategy, not on goal. Micheal Ruse falls squarely in the former ‘camp.’ This discussion will be smoldering on for a while yet I think. Whatever Creationists think they can rhetorically distill out of the residue, falling into their e-laps (like this particular quotation) it is obviously moot as far as a critique on the theory of evolution through natural selection goes under any possible interpretation. It is perhaps slightly ironic to see that Theists do after all recognize that religions (and presumably revelations) as guiding principles to what is true about the world is a pretty lousy choice. It indeed is.
        Of course on a more sober note the object of Creationists is to reclassify this specific scientific theory as “religion” with the objective in mind of using the juridical instruments provided on the basis of one of, if not the most important founding principle(s) of the US, namely the separation between Church and State as I belief is worded in your First Amendment.

        So to answer your questions, yes Ruse continues to hold his opinion (as far as I know) and indeed it is open for debate, like it should be open to debate. Of course. But as far as I am able to tell his position is a pretty isolated one on this issue. This would explain the sometimes far fetched arguments I think. I also think his ideas about this are at best, that is to say if one is willing to broaden the meaning of the term ‘religion’ so as to almost render it meaningless, more obfuscating than clarifying.

        Further, of course you can build on scientific theories as you wish, but that just guarantees you a well deserved status as a crackpot. This is not the way it works in science, or even with the best of intentions it would be a house of cards. It is not, believe you me everybody wishing to make name is kicking with all their might and then some against the structure. If you want to even make a dent or a scratch it takes hard work, years of it. In legitimate politics it is much easier to deserve such an epithet and still remain respectability. As a matter of fact it isn’t hard to come by examples at all.

    • Thank you Albert – I am not sure why – but i cant find the ‘reply’ link to your last post :(

  7. Vero, what you said above about anyone with or without a degree being able to see that we are more than ‘just matter’ should be addressed. There are many highly intelligent people with degrees that would suggest we are in fact ‘just matter’. You seem to be implying that we have a ‘soul’ or a ‘consciousness’ … please link to scientific and peer reviewed articles of neuroscientists stating our consciousness is immaterial and separate from atoms and matter. Can you find any? Or are you just asserting baseless claims?

    Also, you seem to have a strange understanding of what Science is. You know what gravity is, right? Well…believe it or not, Gravity is not called a ‘fact’ in science. It’s rightly called the ‘theory of gravity’, I am sure you have heard of it. It’s a theory. A theory is something different in science than what most laypeople would use the term as. So to say Evolution is ‘just a theory’ is the same as saying Gravity is ‘just a theory’ and then trying to say that Gravity is’t proven yet and that objects in fact fall upward all the time … and to suggest that those damned scientists are 150% correct about gravity being true.

    Next, evolution doesn’t tell us where we are going or what to do with the time we have. That’s just simply ridiculous and I cannot address it in any other mannerism than just laughing at the claim. It’s absurd. Evolution does not, has not and never will EVER be able to determine those things. Evolution is simply a scientific theory just like gravity that explains how organisms evolve through random mutation and natural selection and other processes.

    Think of it like a mother at home who is stuck in a snow storm and doesn’t have much food. She throws some stuff together and POOF, she creates a deliciously yummy treat that becomes very very popular. This was an accident of course because she was limited on food and just got lucky in creating something that would win over other treats. Then another treat comes along that is better and that becomes more popular.

    This mother wouldn’t be able to tell you you need to eat it, how many to eat or what will happen to you if you do or do not eat it, or be able to pick the winning lottery number. It’s just a random combination of foods she happened to stumble upon that apparently worked out quite well. This is what evolution is.

  8. Hi there again Vero, you are right. The reply option is acting weirdly. Does this template perhaps have a cutoff at a certain number of posts to stop acting thread-wise?

    In any case, this has been going on for 11 years now and it won’t go away any time soon since it is rhetorically much too useful. So this record will be playing over and over again for the coming 10 to 20 years perhaps, only to be occasionally interrupted by a short gaze at what it actually was about.

    But you did this and even though I fear we might as well come from two different planets, I applaud you for doing this and linking in your post to the reaction of Ruse. All the best.

    • No problem Albert , that’s the way it should be , Open-Debate with people sharing their opinions.
      I Have no problem with people disagreeing with me, its challenging, it makes you think or rethink your worldview, its an healthy exchange – and so should be.
      ;o)
      Thanks for stopping by ,always feel free to pop in and correct/ challenge etc…
      Your welcome
      V

  9. Doc Feral

    Vero,
    If i may.I’d like to clarify a couple things here in regards to science. First any science is a collection of knowledge attempting to explain things as simply as possible. Such as.. What are we made of of? Matter.. What is matter made of of..? Atoms.. What are atoms made up? Protons. neutrons and electrons? What are those made up of? Quarks and other particles. Some of which we’re still discovering. How we get to those simple answers isn’t such a simple process.
    “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
    Albert Einstein

    The second thing I’d like to clear up are science related definitions. In particular – hypothesis, theory and law..

    Hypothesis – is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation. … the key words being “educated guess”.

    Theory – A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. Unfortunately, even some scientists often use the term “theory” in a more colloquial sense, when they really mean to say “hypothesis.” That makes its true meaning in science even more confusing to the general public…. the concept here being a theory is something which has yet to be unproven.

    Law – This is a statement of fact meant to describe, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.

    A simple analogy can be made using a slingshot and an automobile.

    A scientific law is like a slingshot. A slingshot has but one moving part–the rubber band. If you put a rock in it and draw it back, the rock will fly out at a predictable speed, depending upon the distance the band is drawn back.

    An automobile has many moving parts, all working in unison to perform the chore of transporting someone from one point to another point. An automobile is a complex piece of machinery. Sometimes, improvements are made to one or more component parts. A new set of spark plugs that are composed of a better alloy that can withstand heat better, for example, might replace the existing set. But the function of the automobile as a whole remains unchanged.

    A theory is like the automobile. Components of it can be changed or improved upon, without changing the overall truth of the theory as a whole.

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