The debate about whether or not evolution is ‘real’ or not is one with which atheists and theists alike will be familiar. I recently received a very well written and nicely produced pamphlet attacking ‘scientific myths’, including evolution: pointing out that there is no complete consensus on how evolution works, and that there are gaps in the evidence. Within discussions of the validity of religion, such debates are, however, something of a red herring – evolution has no relevance to considerations of the veracity of religion.
Yet by engaging atheists in debates about evolution, and evidence and arguments for and against, theists are distracting from this simple fact. More seriously, there is a danger that this debate sets up an implication of an ‘either/or’ situation, which is clearly not the case. Humans always want certainties – that is why they invent religions and argue strenuously about evolution – but the argument over the certainty of where life comes from should not distract from the certainty that really matters: there is no god.
I give credence to the theory of evolution, because it is afforded widespread scientific/academic credence, there appears to be plenty of evidence and it seems to me to make sense. However, that position could arguably also have applied to various (‘scientific’) beliefs in, say, early Christian times that are no longer taken seriously, therefore:
Can I personally say with absolute certainty (that certainty with which I can say that there is no god) that evolution, as we currently understand it, is a fact of nature? No. Does that have any bearing on the simple fact that there is no god (or does it indeed have any relevance to discussions of this matter)? No.
Perhaps we will eventually be able to produce an account of evolution in all its features and workings that is completely accurate and incontrovertible. Perhaps we will have to alter or expand our current understanding substantially to achieve this. Perhaps a more differentiated alternative will be developed. Perhaps we will never know entirely and exactly how we arrived at our present state as a species. Do these possibilities have any bearing on religion? No.
There will almost certainly always be things that we can’t explain, and humans evidently feel the need to formulate answers to questions that preoccupy them, to the best of their (often feeble) abilities.
I’m not arguing against scientific endeavour (on the contrary - I’m an academic), just keep in mind that you don’t have to ‘prove’ evolution to disprove god. Put simply: there is no need for a definite alternative to disprove god – it’s not an either/or situation: however the universe began, and however life developed, god does not exist.

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Replies to This Discussion

John, I'm not suggesting otherwise, I'm simply pointing out that it has no bearing on religious belief. A theist who deconverts because he is convinced by evolution is not preferable to a theist who deconverts because he recognises that god doesn't exist regardless of whether evolution is accurately understood, whether Jesus actually existed, or whether evil could exist in a world governed by a omnibenevolent god (my three favourite stupid reasons to become an atheist, as none have any relevance to atheism whatsoever - they become redundant once the stanpoint has been arrived at that god doesn't exist, no matter what else may or may not be logically sound or supported by evidence)
Fair enough, that wasn't your initial point though. Saying that 'evolution is a fundamentally important concept for improving understanding of ourselves and the universe' is completely different to saying that 'one must understand and accept evolution in order to recognise that god doesn't exist'.
So, in other words, you realized that he meant what he wrote as opposed to assuming he meant something else.
You're making the same mistake young earth creationists make.  It is evolution vs. religion.  The only theists don't accept the theory of evolution are young earth creationists.

No Susan, I'm afraid you're making the simple mistake that I'm trying to highlight here. It's not beyond the bounds of the imagination that we don't understand evolution accurately, and there are certainly aspects of evolution that we can't fully explain with obvious, incontrovertible evidence. I'm not suggesting that the theory of evolution is unsupportable, on the contrary, for what it's worth, I think evolution is a highly plausible and indeed elegant theory. My point is that I'm not really qualified to be able to express that opinion with absolute certainty (and the same is certainly the case for most people I know, and probably most people that I don't know). If science developed a more useful theory, I would, in turn, be happy to accept that. Either way, God doesn't exist. Current scientific ideas and standards have no bearing on that fact. If there was no theory of evolution, god still wouldn't be real.

Hence, it's 'god does exist' vs. 'god doesn't exist'. Fundamentally, evolution has nothing to do with either standpoint.

Science will "NOT" develop a more useful theory to explain the vast diversity of life on this planet, then evolution by natural selection, it will only be ever more clarified. Like Newtonian physics was advanced and expanded upon by relativity, so too has our understanding of natural selection been expanded by, Mendelian heredity and Watson, Crick and, giving credit where due, Rosalind Franklin. Not only that but, with few exceptions, natural selection, given the mountains of evidence, can be espoused with what qualifies as certainty. That being said, one thing that can not be said with as much certainty is the non-existence of an ultra advanced being that has the power to create a Universe and all "Life" within it. Read, Brian Greene's, The Hidden Reality; Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, for more. Or you could just understand the law against proving a negative. In any case your argument is flawed in a clearly obvious way. Evolution by natural selection is extraordinarily relevant as it is the "ONLY" viable alternative to the "God Hypothesis", for the existence and diversity of life on Earth and probably anywhere else life may exist in the universe. That is why theists hate it so and keep bringing it up.  

Actually I'm not sure I'd agree that the progression from Newtonian physics to relativity and on to quantum theory is adequately described as mere expansion.

And you're not getting my point. Which is that an alternative should not be necessary in order to dismiss the 'God hypothesis'. Even in the absence of an alternative, it's still nonsense.

Upon the shoulders of giants. The main flaw I see in this argument is this. We rational people did not start this fight, they did and so long as they keep bringing it up it remains relevant. Evolution by natural selection is the only scientific theory that is constantly under attack by theists and there is a reason for that. It does not prove there is no god but it does the next best thing. It makes god irrelevant and that may be a more dangerous thing indeed. Generally people don't kill for things that don't exist and since we can't prove god doesn't exist the best we can do is marginalize it and if history has proven anything to us it is this, people will absolutely kill to remain relevant.
If you can give me an example I would be greatly appreciative. I would also be willing to bet a Nobel prize on it. Lack of proof does not prove lack.
There are no four ton, African Elephants in this room

The elephant is a defined, physical object (i.e. It isn't invisible, or a holograph, or lacking dimensions, etc.). It has mass and volume. Likewise, the room is a physical structure and has a measurable volume. Count the four ton, African elephants in the room. If the count is zero, you just proved the absence of an elephant.


I mean, philosophically you can't really prove anything. Could be the Matrix or a dream or whatever. But, proving an elephant is not in this room meets the same standards for logic and reason as proving the volume of milk in a gallon jug.


In other words, proving that I have zero chicken eggs on my plate is equally as valid as proving I have 2 chicken eggs on my plate. You can talk about microscopic chickens and such, but simply counting the eggs meets scientific standards for proof





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