Creationist claim 1: -
"Evolution is a religion. A religion seeks to answer four questions. Here they are.
- 1) Who are we (and what are we worth)?
- 2) Where did we come from?
- 3) Why are we here?
- 4) Where are we going?
Both Christianity and evolution seek to answer these four questions. "
Wrong. Those are the primary intentions of religion.
RELIGION : - "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."
Let's go through them one by one.
a. BELIEF: - Evolution is NOT a belief. Evolution is a scientific model which describes a biological process where change in the heritable traits of a population over successive generations, is determined by shifts in the allele frequencies of genes. Evolution, as a scientific model, is a continuous process of observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.
Scientific theories, like evolution, relativity and plate tectonics, are based on hypotheses that have survived extensive testing and repeated verification. It is essential that people understand that a scientific theory is not a belief, hunch, or untested hypothesis. Contigent to scientific study is the concept of falsifiabily. The concept of falsifiability is why science is self correcting, and why scientific models, such as the model which supports evolution and natural selection, are not considered absolutes.
b. CAUSE: - Evolution does NOT describe the "cause" of the universe, neither does it claim that the universe is "caused" or "uncaused."
c. NATURE: - Evolution as a scientific model describes biological processes of the natural world.
d. PURPOSE: - Evolution does NOT describe the "purpose" of the universe. It is a scientific model which describes biological processes. Human beings attribute purpose or non-purpose according to either their individual or their collective political, social, cultural or religious contexts.
e. SUPERHUMAN AGENCY : -Evolution does not attempt to describe (a,b,c and d) through belief in a superhuman agency or agencies. Evolution is neutral towards supernatural explanations of the universe because evolution as a scientific model can only describe the natural world. Evolution neither endorses nor disendorses god belief. The existance or non-existance of a god or gods is not in the purview of scientific models.
Evolution as a scientific model provides explanations of the natural world through the continuous processes of observation, measurement, experimentation and testing of the natural world. Whereas theology, (god belief and the study of religions), provide an explanation of the natural world through the various beliefs and religions associated with a supernatural entity and or a supernatural world. Evolution does not attempt to describe (a,b,c,and d) through belief or disbelief in a supernatural agency or agencies and is therefore NOT a religion.
g. Evolution does not not have religious devotional and religious ritual observances.
Devotional: - "Of, relating to, expressive of, or used in devotion, especially of a religious nature."
Evolution neither requires nor demands any religious devotional observance. It is merely a scientific model which explains the natural world. This scientific model is continually assessed and evaluated in the light of new knowledge.
Ritual: - "The prescribed order of a religious ceremony."
Evolution neither requires nor demands any religious ritual obervances. Once again, it is only a scientific model which explains the natural world through the observation of the natural world.
h. MORAL CODE: - Evolution through natural selection does not claim to provide a moral code which governs the conduct of human affairs. Evolution describes what it observes in the natural world. It does not include a moral opinion about that which is observed. Evolution and natural selection as described by Darwin, do not have anything to do with a human sense of morality. They do not have anything to do with morality in the same way that the processes of photosynthesis or gravity have anything to do with morality. They merely examine the processes as they occur in nature. It takes a human agenda to ascribe a morality or immorality to a natural process.
We don't claim that gravity is immoral when a tree falls on a little, fluffy bunny. We don't claim that photosynthesis is immoral because green plants thrive in the presence of sunlight. We don't claim that evolution though natural selection is immoral when certain alleles are not passed on to the next generation. Evolution through natural selection as espoused by Darwin, exists regardless of human intention and deliberation. It is not involved in determining the "worth" or "value" of living organisms according to a preconceived human standard.
Artifical selection, eugenics, social darwinism, and selective breeding attempt to use the information learned through the study of evolution and natural selection in order to intentionally and deliberately bring to fruition a human political, religious, cultural or social goal. That is, they are models of human political, social, economic or cultural intentionality. In this way they are diametrically opposed to evolution through natural selection.
To assume, or to claim that people who accept evolution and natural selection also accept whatever is done in the name of artifical selection, eugenics, social darwinism, or selective breeding is either naively disingenuous or blatantly obfuscatory.
Creationist claim: 2
"Evolution says that we are all animals, just advanced amoebas that got washed up on some beach, and we are worth nothing to any one. Christianity says that we were created by Almighty God, and thus we are worth more than anything else in this universe."
Evolution does claim that from a biological perspective we are animals. Biologically we are members of the Animalia Kingdom.
PRIMARY DEFINITION OF ANIMAL : - "any member of the kingdom Animalia, comprising multicellular organisms that have a well-defined shape and usually limited growth, can move voluntarily, actively acquire food and digest it internally, and have sensory and nervous systems that allow them to respond rapidly to stimuli: some classification schemes also include protozoa and certain other single-celled eukaryotes that have motility and animallike nutritional modes. (This primary definition demonstrates that biologically human beings are animals.)
Biblically, the word "animal" was used in a way that made distinctions between humans and other organisms. These differences are usually concerned with the belief in a human soul which is capable of transcending physical death or a human purpose which is superior to that of other creatures. Therefore the secondary definition of animal is the one which some religious people prefer.
SECONDARY DEFINITION OF ANIMAL: - "any such living thing other than a human being."
Evolution does NOT claim that human animals are without value. It also doesn't claim that we have a soul or that we don't have a soul. Whether or not human beings have a soul is outside the purview of evolution. Evolution also doesn't claim that there is a god or that there isn't a god. Whether or not there is a god/gods is outside the parameters of evolution. It is outside the study of evolution because evolution oberves, describes and examines the natural world, not a supernatural one or a metaphysical one.
Creationist claim 3: -
"Evolution says (if you believe the big bang) that we are the result of a cosmic explosion. I’m not sure what the latest hypothesis is, but I’m sure that it is just as full of holes as all the others were."
Evolution is not the "big bang" the "little bang" or the "medium sized bang." Biological evolution through natural selection is not cosmology. Cosmology involves the study of the origins of the universe. The universe in cosmological terms, is the finite or infinite space-time continuum in which all matter and energy exist. Some scientists hypothesize that the universe may be part of a system of many other universes, known as the multiverse. There are various disciplines associated with cosmology. Some of these include:
- a. Physical cosmology which studies the universe through physics and astrophysics. b. Metaphysical cosmology which studies the universe through philosophy and metaphysics.
- c. Religious cosmology which attempts to explain the universe through scripture, and religious dogma.
- d. Esoteric cosmology which attempts to explain the universe through esoteric and occult teachings.
Creationist Claim 4: -
"Evolution says that we have no purpose, and we might as well have fun and do whatever we want. “If it feels good, do it.” And why not, if there are no absolutes, than morality is relative."
Once again, evolution through natural selection does not define a human purpose in the same way that gravity does not define a human purpose, or the second law of thermo-dynamics does not define a human purpose. Natural selection occurs despite human intention or a human attributed purpose. Evolution through natural selection does not prescribe fun, boredom, morality, immorality, Nindendo games or clubbing until 3am in the morning. Natural selection occurs despite our opinion of it.
Creationist claim 5: -
"Evolution says that when we die, we will be buried and get recycled into an earthworm or a plant."
Once again, evolution does not describe, or observe what may or may not happen after death from a religious point of view. Science cannot observe the departure of souls from the physical body. If anything happens outside of the natural realm of death, neither evolution, nor science (as far as I am aware), have any valid, verifiable or consistent method for testing these religious claims.
Evolution and god belief are not mutually exclusive. Many people accept evolution and believe in a god or gods at the same time. Many people who believe in a god or gods consider evolution to be one of god's mechanisms. I don't have any massive objections to them doing this except that they are committing a logical fallacy in doing so.
It is an example of a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy and goes something like this.
1. My god/gods created everything.
2. Evolution through natural selection exists.
3. Therefore my god/gods created natural selection.
This fallacy, which is just shoehorning scientific knowledge or information into an already held religious belief, is a popular fallacy with some religious people. It is a way to rationalize new information so that it doesn't conflict with already held religious beliefs.
Some religions, however, are not compatible with evolution. These religions include the more fundamental versions of christianity and islam. New earth creationists and bible and quran literalists also find it difficult to reconcile scientific knowledge with their inflexible religious dogma.
New York Dolls - "Dance Like A Monkey"