Posts tagged ‘evolution’

The Illusion of Moral Absolutes

There are a few moral ideals that are common to all social groups, such as not stealing or committing senseless murder. These have lead to many people, both religious (theist and deist alike) and nonreligious, supposing the existence of moral absolutes.

These generalized moral ideals are picked up on keenly, but little attention is paid to the fact that other than these few things, all other moral ideas are blurred, subjective, and mutually exclusive. For example, some cultures seen cannibalism as a moral duty, and other see it as the worst imaginable crime.

The common morals (not stealing, not fruitlessly murdering) can be traced logically back to evolution via natural selection, and that is the reason that they are the only ones truly common to all social groups. They are the morals that help people live together as a group, which in turn helps them to survive as a species. It boils down to basic common sense: if you want to have a successful group, you can’t have people stealing from one another and you can’t have people killing at random.

All other morals enter the realm of subjectivity. Every culture agrees that a baseless random murder is wrong, but they disagree severely over definition of “baseless,” when it is okay to take a life and when it is not. Just a few hundred years ago it was socially acceptable for a brother to murder a man who had sex with his sister out of wedlock. Many countries today still practice honor killings where it is morally justifiable for a husband to kill is adulterating wife, or a father to kill his disobedient daughter. Among the Asmat in New Guinea, before they were influenced by Western society, it was not only considered correct, but a moral and religious obligation to kill and cannibalize your enemy…

Continue Reading April 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm 60 comments

Thank God for Evolution, by Michael Dowd

I started writing this review for my Shelfari page, but it kept growing and growing until I decided it might make a halfway decent article here. Since my scathing review of Blue Like Jazz , I thought this one was a little more generous. By a little.

Thank God For Evolution! How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our WorldI wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to like this book. Inspired by an article by blogger DagoodS, I picked up the book in Dallas while waiting for a connecting flight. Dowd has lately been making the rounds promoting his book, and appearing on everything from Albert Mohler’s radio show to Point of Inquiry. He lives the life of an itinerant evangelist, who travels about the country writing and lecturing on his successful marriage of Christian faith and the theory of evolution. After hearing Dowd being interrogated and his Faith questioned by Dr. Russell Moore, I admit I developed a soft spot for Dowd. I wanted to like him, and his book. I wanted somebody from inside the Christian faith who could successfully promote and evangelize both Christian belief and modern science. Picking up the book, I was struck by 6 pages of accolades from theologians, physicists, ministers, biologists and Nobel laureates. I was impressed by his opening paragraphs which promise inspiration and insight to such diverse beliefs ranging from the Fundamentalist to the Atheist, and everyone in between…

Continue Reading August 24, 2008 at 12:21 am 50 comments

From Theistic Evolution to Apostasy

For much of my evangelical Christian life, I held a Theistic Evolutionary view of creation. I’ll confess that I didn’t always adhere firmly to this view. Sometimes I wavered and veered into a fairly conservative Creationist point of view. Nevertheless, I could never entirely shake free of the realization that evolution had lots of empirical support. Moreover, I realized this long before I ever read my first book about evolution.

What, you may wonder (or maybe not), does a theistic view of evolution look like? Let me state up front that I can only describe what my view was; I cannot and do not claim to speak in any way for other theistic evolutionists. My view of theistic evolution was pretty simple and consisted of these points:

  • The first section of Genesis (say, the first eleven chapters) should not be read as literal accounts; they were literary constructions intended to recognize and respectfully memorialize through poetic imagery God’s activity in the universe. As for the rest of Genesis, I’ll shamefacedly admit that I took much of it literally.
  • Evolution was the process that God designed to create and sustain life on earth…

Continue Reading August 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm 115 comments

Questions regarding the universe and sacrificial love

Rover recently posted a couple questions for us that I thought I would highlight.

“I have been on this site for several weeks now and the views shared here have challenged me greatly. I was wondering if some of the de-cons might answer a couple questions?

  1. There are Christians like myself who claim that the universe is finely tuned and shows evidence of being created by God. I have read many arguments refuting this claim, but what have you found to be the best one and most irrefutable?
  2. How can atheism truly support the evolution of sacrificial love? Dawkins arguments on this subject seem inadequate. Do you have any others?

August 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm 115 comments

Scientific Method vs. Creationist Method

Scientific Method / Creationist Method
by John Trever, Albuquerque Journal, 1998.

June 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm 88 comments

Why I Support Intelligent Design

I don’t have a problem with intelligent design (ID). In fact, I believed in something like intelligent design when I was a kid and it allowed me to be both a creationist (believing God created the universe) and to accept science and evolution (God set the ball rolling, set up the rules, and used evolution as a tool). Eventually this led to me dropping the creationist beliefs.

I do support ID as a philosophy because it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.

Literal young earth creationism on the other hand, is part of a mindset that does not leave much of a window for thought at all, and it is a much more insidious philosophy.

I can live with people thinking that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, and even with the idea that he tinkers with it a little bit — as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of public school science classrooms, unless they actually scientifically discover verifiable evidence of God’s tinkering…

Continue Reading June 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm 47 comments

Since god didn’t create the matter, where did it come from?

At the moment, the consensus in the scientific community is that the universe originated in a “Big Bang.” While that may be hotly contested by the religious community, there are certain facts that make the theory hard to easily dispel. One of those facts is that astronomers can observe the visible universe moving further and further away at increasing speed in all directions (and no we are not at the center of the universe.)

Some of the questions raised by those opposed to the theory are “what happened to cause the Big Bang?”, and “where did all that stuff come from?” Just such a question was mentioned by John, a 15 year old also struggling with matters of faith and reason, who commented on my previous post “Branding an Adolescent Mind”:

Although, i speak to anyone willing to try to convert me but i have never heard anything that really made me wonder about the truthfullness of their beliefs. The one line that i really couldn’t answer was, ‘despite from the big bang and any of those scientific beliefs, where did all that matter come from?’ My only answer i could give to that christian crusader was, ‘Who are you to say that it all began from a superior being or entity, for some reason, deciding this should be and made it happen?’

Before I make an amateur attempt to answer that question, I want to say that science isn’t about having the one right answer…

Continue Reading June 20, 2008 at 11:58 pm 86 comments

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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