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Religion > Is Evolution necessary for Atheism? Why or why not?

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message 1: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
In other words: Is atheism possible without evolution?
I have found that in debating (Atheism v. Religion for example) that I have a problem with confusing Atheism with Evolution. This debate is to decide: Is atheism possible without evolution and vice versa... As a Christian I have always thought that to be an Atheist one must be either an evolutionist or a fool. As far as I can see there is no adequate explaination otherwise (Although I don't think evolution is either).

To start off I will give the New Oxford Dictionary Definition for both:

atheism |ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm|
noun
the theory or belief that God does not exist.

evolution |ˌɛvəˈluʃən|
noun
1 the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.
The idea of organic evolution was proposed by some ancient Greek thinkers but was long rejected in Europe as contrary to the literal interpretation of the Bible. Lamarck proposed a theory that organisms became transformed by their efforts to respond to the demands of their environment, but he was unable to explain a mechanism for this. Lyell demonstrated that geological deposits were the cumulative product of slow processes over vast ages. This helped Darwin toward a theory of gradual evolution over a long period by the natural selection of those varieties of an organism slightly better adapted to the environment and hence more likely to produce descendants. Combined with the later discoveries of the cellular and molecular basis of genetics, Darwin's theory of evolution has, with some modification, become the dominant unifying concept of modern biology.
2 the gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form : the forms of written languages undergo constant evolution.
3 Chemistry the giving off of a gaseous product, or of heat.
4 a pattern of movements or maneuvers : silk ribbons waving in fanciful evolutions.
5 dated Mathematics the extraction of a root from a given quantity.



Also I realized that we should add to this topic the difference between evolution and natural selection. Is there a difference, if so what?

natural selection |ˈnætʃ(ə)rəl səˈlɛkʃən|
noun Biology
the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. The theory of its action was first fully expounded by Charles Darwin and is now believed to be the main process that brings about evolution. Compare with survival of the fittest (see survival ).


message 2: by Adam (new)

Adam Ok... I think I'm seeing where you're getting slightly confused.

As you listed the definitions, they are very clearly different definitions and separate these two things.

Atheism is a statement about the truth value of God.

Evolution has to do with the process of how species are formed on this planet. (And this planet is very specific, because we have never observed it on another, yet).

Natural Selection is one of the mechanisms used in Evolution. This is just a piece of it, and important piece, but just a piece.

I'll try to explain this as best I can... hopefully I won't mess it up. In science you make observations. You can make a great deal of observations about many things, they may actually seem rather unrelated. Then someone comes along and says "no, these two things are just part of the same larger process!" This is what people like Darwin and Einstein did. Darwin came up with the Theory of Evolution, which unified many pieces of Biology and brought things like "Natural Selection" under it's umbrella. There's even modern things like EvoDevo. Likewise when Einstein developed relativity he unified a few areas of Physics that weren't making any sense to people. That's how all of these "Theory of" ideas come about.


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments There are some atheists that don't believe evolution is correct, and some religious people that do.

When one doesn't believe God had a hand in creating the universe, life, whatever, most often one turns to science to find out why, because really, there's not much else to turn to. And the scientific community wholeheartedly supports evolution. Evolution is a way to explain life without the need for a god, the best way, frankly, the only way, and that would naturally appeal to an atheist. There are some that don't fit this pattern, but most do.


message 4: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments Andrew, please stop hiding behind the ethos of Oxford. Using definitions from a credible source to shield yourself isn't a good practice.


message 5: by Adam (new)

Adam Lauren wrote: "There are some atheists that don't believe evolution is correct, and some religious people that do.

When one doesn't believe God had a hand in creating the universe, life, whatever, most often on..."


That and Biology can actually point to physical evidence to support their conclusion! Having physical proof of something is ten times more powerful than someone believing something because it "feels good" to them...


message 6: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments And if you're already an atheist, you understand and appreciate the idea of having proof for your beliefs, and physical evidence of evolution makes it a very satisfying thing to believe.


message 7: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Adam wrote: "Ok... I think I'm seeing where you're getting slightly confused.

As you listed the definitions, they are very clearly different definitions and separate these two things.

Atheism is a statement..."

Yes, I see that, what I'm asking: is can you be an credible athiest WITHOUT being an evolutionist.


message 8: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "Andrew, please stop hiding behind the ethos of Oxford. Using definitions from a credible source to shield yourself isn't a good practice."
I'm NOT an atheist. I'm using a credible definition because we can all agree on it.


message 9: by Adam (new)

Adam Sure, you can not believe in God and also not care about the mechanism that makes life. So it's of no concern to you how life evolved. But you still can maintain there is no God.

I am honestly very confused as to why you think these things are heavily linked in your head?

Sure a majority of atheists support science, but that doesn't mean they're not two completely different ideas and philosophies.


message 10: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Adam wrote: "Sure, you can not believe in God and also not care about the mechanism that makes life. So it's of no concern to you how life evolved. But you still can maintain there is no God.

I am honestly v..."

So basically you can just be an atheist and just say "Well I just BELIEVE that God doesn't exist".

To say that is absurd. THAT takes more faith than Christianity.



message 11: by Adam (new)

Adam Yeah, why couldn't you do that? Why is it absurd? It certainly takes way less faith than Christianity, because you assert no truth claims, which doesn't get you into a nasty cycle of proving existence truth values.

Look... you can't compare these things. It has absolutely nothing to do with "what takes more faith".

You're talking about -isms here, these are just basically philosophies on life. Take Hedonism for example. You are essentially claiming that you cannot be a hedonist without knowing the neuroscience behind it. THAT would be an absurd claim.


message 12: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments "So basically you can just be an atheist and just say "Well I just BELIEVE that God doesn't exist".

To say that is absurd. THAT takes more faith than Christianity. "

There is SO MUCH that shows God doesn't exist, besides evolution. Evolution is not a binary switch to turn someone into an atheist or not.


message 13: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
There is SO MUCH that shows God doesn't exist, besides evolution. Evolution is not a binary switch to turn someone into an atheist or not.

Like what? Everything I see points to the EXISTENCE of a God.


message 14: by Adam (new)

Adam Can you provide a Physics and or Mathematical Proof that such a being exists? Or at the very least tell him to appear in a controlled laboratory setting to exhibit his powers to our scientists through rigorous testing, which will then tell the world all about this incontrovertible proof.

That would certainly convince me...


message 15: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Adam wrote: "Can you provide a Physics and or Mathematical Proof that such a being exists? Or at the very least tell him to appear in a controlled laboratory setting to exhibit his powers to our scientists thr..."
Don't be absurd. God isn't like that. You might as well tell the sun to fit itself in a test tube. God has shown himself in the Bible and in His Creation.


message 16: by Adam (new)

Adam Well... we've technically reproduced the Sun already within the confines of a "test tube", so that's not a very good analogy here.

No, see God hasn't shown himself in his creation. That's what I keep pointing out. If that were true we'd be able to corroborate all the Biblical crazy stories. All the evidence we find points to something else entirely. So, you have two options here and you MUST account for them, either God never existed in the first place, OR God covered up ALL the evidence and changed things in such a way that everything would look completely different when we sat down and studied it. Why would he do such a thing??

Faith obviously can't be that important to him, because he sent his son Jesus here, he spoke directly to Moses, etc. I simply cannot believe based on the actions I've read about that he would stop personally engaging with mankind. If you're response is "he hasn't, you can talk to him and ask for forgiveness whenever you want", then you have sorely missed my point.


message 17: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments "Like what? Everything I see points to the EXISTENCE of a God. "

Then why do you have a tailbone, but no tail? Why are there so many roundabout, extraneous methods both in our bodies and in nature? Symbiotic relationships where only one party benefits. Appendixes. Why do we have blind spots where our optic nerve leaves the eye? In fact, why does the eye see the world upside down and the brain has to make it right side up?


message 18: by James (last edited Jul 11, 2011 01:07PM) (new)

James Tyrrell (jamesrtyrrell) | 19 comments Just to answer the question;
"Is atheism possible without evolution?"

I feel I should point out the huge number of famous atheists who came before Darwin published the origin of species or hundreds of years before Jesus was born, to name a few recent ones; Baron d'Holbach, Auguste Comte, Denis Diderot, David Hume or Percy Bysshe Shelley who wrote The Necessity of Atheism in 1811 meanwhile Darwins theory appeared in 1859.

For older atheists In Ancient Hinduism, there were a couple of schools who used to teach non-existence of God. (Samkhya). Or Nāgārjuna 150 CE who also said there was no God.

So the answer is clearly NO, there is definitely no need for evolution for an atheist mindset.


message 19: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments James, that was very elegant.


message 20: by James (new)

James Tyrrell (jamesrtyrrell) | 19 comments Thank you Lauren, I'm new here but I feel it needed to be said. I would also tactfully suggest that evolution has made it easier for more people to become atheist because prior to Darwin's theory they had no firm rational explanation for how life formed in such variety and abundance. But it's a certainty the two systems are completely independent.

Later I'll explain the difference between evolution and natural selection if you want Andrew.

Best wishes

J


message 21: by Autumn-Rain (new)

Autumn-Rain (arsymphony) | 39 comments Atheism (I am an atheist) is not necessarily dependent on evolutionism, atheism came first; plenty of people who are one are not the other. I will admit, however, that some people simply use evolutionism as a crutch or an excuse for their atheism.


message 22: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (djinni) | 71 comments I don't understand what you mean exactly. Why would someone need an excuse for being an atheist?


message 23: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "I don't understand what you mean exactly. Why would someone need an excuse for being an atheist?"
Atheism in and of itself doesnot give a reasonable explaination of the world around us- it doesn't try to. It needs something else to make it viable-like evolution.


message 24: by Adam (new)

Adam Andrew wrote: "Lauren wrote: "I don't understand what you mean exactly. Why would someone need an excuse for being an atheist?"
Atheism in and of itself doesnot give a reasonable explaination of the world around ..."


I don't understand why you think atheism MUST give an explanation for this stuff. Theism certainly doesn't have to. When you make statements like this, I am still not convinced you know what these words really mean... you keep adding all this extra baggage they don't need.


message 25: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Adam wrote: "Andrew wrote: "Lauren wrote: "I don't understand what you mean exactly. Why would someone need an excuse for being an atheist?"
Atheism in and of itself doesnot give a reasonable explaination of th..."

Theism does have to- and does.


message 26: by Adam (new)

Adam NO it doesn't. Why the hell DOES it? Seriously explain this to me.

Just because it DOES do something doesn't mean it's a requirement. Theism isn't dependent on believing in Jesus, you can be a theist and believe in Apollo.


message 27: by Andrew Eddy (new)

Andrew Eddy | 95 comments Mod
Adam wrote: "NO it doesn't. Why the hell DOES it? Seriously explain this to me.

Just because it DOES do something doesn't mean it's a requirement. Theism isn't dependent on believing in Jesus, you can be a ..."

Well that is true. Let me rephrase that: CHRISTIAN Theism gives a complete rational veiw of origin and developement of everything we see today. This includes both the beauty and the disease.


message 28: by Adam (new)

Adam Prove that it's rational.

Secondly, just because it says something about creation doesn't mean you can't believe in Jesus. If the Bible said NOTHING about creation, would you then say "well clearly this can't be true." I don't think people would say that at all.


message 29: by Girl4beluga (new)

Girl4beluga | 4 comments Atheism is the rejection of all concepts of a God. The creation of the world has nothing to do with it.


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