Defender's Guide to Science and Creationism

Mark Vuletic

Assertion

Evolution is atheistic because it makes no reference to God.

Analysis

While it is true that evolution makes no reference to any god, this aspect of evolution is neutral, not hostile, to the hypothesis that there is a god. In the same way, just because modern medicine teaches that blood is pumped mechanically by the heart, and makes no reference to any god, does not mean that this theory of blood circulation should be decried as "atheistic." As theologian James F. Haught points out

While it is no doubt true that some scientific defenders of Darwinism do read natural selection through the lens of philosophical materialism, the scientific idea itself cannot be any more inherently atheistic than is the law of gravity or any other law of nature. (Haught 2000:12)

It is, of course, understandable that some people would find even the neutrality of evolution threatening, since the general belief before Darwin was that the history of life provided evidence of the hand of a creator; even though the evolutionary history of life hardly demonstrates that there is no god, it does at least undermine the biological argument from design, and it can be very disconcerting to believers when a favorite theological argument is undone by science. Those who believe in a god, however, should look to the example of the Copernican revolution for instruction on how to deal with scientific developments: although the realization that the Earth orbits the Sun  deeply shook the religious orthodoxy of the time, religion eventually adapted so well to this revolution that the average believer no longer can understand why anyone ever should have found heliocentrism threatening.

References

Haught JF. 2000. Book Review: The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism. Reports of the National Center for Science Education 20(6):11-13.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2016

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