Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What do the new atheists think?

I started the whole argument about "evolution does not contradict religion" on the premise that the so-called "new atheists" disagree with me. But do they actually disagree?

Let's look to PZ Myers of Pharyngula. If you haven't heard of PZ Myers, the rule of thumb is that he agrees with Richard Dawkins on everything, and is one of the biggest representatives of "new atheism". Here's a quote (from this post):
So could everyone please stop pretending that the atheists in the scientific community are all making some fatuous "Evolution, therefore god is dead" argument?
Uh oh, PZ already burned down my premise two years ago.

At this point, I'm not sure what to say. Frankly, I'm not convinced by this single quote. PZ and Dawkins sure act like evolution disproves God. Dawkins once said to beliefnet:
My personal feeling is that understanding evolution led me to atheism.
It's even worse if you look to the rest of the online atheist community.

If PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins truly think that evolution does not lead to atheism, they should bring out this message, and be a little more consistent about it! (...as if I had the slightest bit of influence on them.)

Does this mean that I now agree with the "framers"? Nah, I still think that term is too unintelligible.

6 comments:

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

I'm confused about what you're saying:
"If PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins truly think that evolution does not lead to atheism, they should [...] emphasize it much more than they do."
If there is more acceptance of evolution, then there will be more atheism. If this did not happen, then they would emphasize evolution less (contrary to your sentence).

A similar thing happened to me as Richard Dawkins. Once I studied and accepted evolution, I struggled to find a compromise between the theory and Biblical authority. The dominoes started falling until they hit the Gospels, and I wasn't a Christian anymore.

Evolution doesn't disprove God, but it makes his existence that much more unlikely. It also casts doubt on the authority of sacred texts.

DeralterChemiker said...

It seems to me that evolution conflicts with Christianity only if a person believes that the Old Testament is binding on Christians. Since some Christian churches do NOT believe that the Old Testament is binding, it is easy for them to accept evolution. They can merely say to themselves, "If God created life through the process of evolution, who am I to say that he did it all wrong?" I know, because that is how I felt at the age of 17.

miller said...

Sorry about the ambiguous wording. It has been clarified.

I don't really think evolution is a particularly potent argument against religion. You can see my previous post for my thoughts on the details and exceptions.

Based on that single quote (and its context), PZ also seems to think "Evolution, therefore God is dead" is a "fatuous" argument. And yet he appears to be advancing exactly such an argument. I am criticizing an apparent inconsistency.

Frank said...

it may surprise some to learn that there were lots of athiests before Darwin, before we learned belief is mainly a brain function, feeling the presence of god etc is a subjective thing. Belief in a god requires a huge leap in simple logic most folks have no problem with. Evolution may help some escape the tyranny of belief but its hardly necessary.

Overnaut said...

Belief in evolution in no way negates a belief/faith in god, though it may blow holes in Christian dogma(but does not need to based upon loose interpretation).
There is no correlation or conflict between belief in god (not "God") and belief in evolution.
The conflict exists between belief in specific faiths/dogmas that attempt to explain creation, and the theory of evolution which explains creation in another way.
Further, many dogmas were created to answer questions for ancient peoples that lacked the technology to do so without employing imagination. In the cold light of science it makes sense that these imaginative and purely speculative beliefs should melt away.