Posts tagged ‘evolution’
The fallacy that we all abide by one paradigm (or at least that we should) has led many Christians, both those of the conservative typology as well of the “floundering liberal” (Falwell’s words, not mine), to believe that non-believers have no ultimate purpose or meaning in life. Yet they do not realize that this unfair accusation is no different than the atheist who would also unfairly place his or her paradigm on the Christian and proclaim that a worship of an imaginary being and the subsequent false hope for a life after this one is foolishly nihilistic and deters the “believer” from living a purposeful life.
In my previous post I expressed my wariness with the so-called meaningful Christian purpose. I stopped short, however, of offering my own “secular” meaning of life. The conservative pundit I quoted in the previous part recognized, more or less, that a non-believer is fully capable of living of meaningful life. This meaning, however, is limited to the ontological realm. The pundit could not see an ultimate, or teleological meaning for a secularist’s life. To many Christians, the atheist’s view is that we are born, we live for ourselves, we die by ourselves. Finito. Apparently, if their god is added to the equation, even if the only purpose is to bow before him, at least it is something. I believe that this has led Christians to adhere to a false dualism that is so present in gnostic paradigms: the material is empty, the spirit is where life is found. Yet everything in observable reality tells us otherwise. The lack of evidence for either a god or heaven leads one to wonder how it is that a theist can have such a pessimistic view of the material realm…
I wrote this article awhile ago on my personal blog (August 13, 2006 to be exact), but Roopster gave me permission to re-submit some of my old works. I apologize if some of the links are out of date. This post is, of course, a polemic against Biblical literalism, not all Christians. So lets not go there. If you are a theistic evolutionist or whatever, good on yea, let’s move on.
I often wonder what is a greater threat to the Christian faith, the theory of evolution or the belief in creationism (currently passing itself off as “Intelligent Design”). Honestly, I hate writing about the subject and so this will probably be the only time you ever read about it from me. The reason that I am writing this now is the result of a recent article I read in the Globe and Mail (a nationwide Canadian newspaper). The article stated that the journal, Science, published a study that found only 40% of Americans believed in the theory of evolution and an astonishing 39% considered the theory “absolutely false”. Comparatively, at least 80% of citizens of Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and France believe that the theory of evolution it true. What is even more astonishing is that the percentage of “unsure” Americans has grown from 7% in 1985 to 21% in 2005. It is obvious that the culprit of the difference between Europe and the United States is religious fundamentalism.
The other contributors on this website do a great job offering ideas and concepts they find regarding religion, God, atheism, and the like. In lieu of this, I would like to share some wisdom from theologian Huston Smith. Smith is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, of Syracuse University (to learn more, visit his website).
For fifteen years he was Professor of Philosophy at M.I.T. and for a decade before that he taught at Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently he has served as Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Smith holds 12 honorary degrees and has written 14 books (some titles include: Why Religion Matters, The World’s Religions, and The Soul of Christianity). That being said, it is from some of Smith’s writings that I base this post.
Here’s a video by the Atheist Dad (aka The Fighting Atheist):
- The de-Convert
Daniel C. Dennett, in his wonderful book Breaking the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenon, puts forth the theory that religion may be an outgrowth of the needs of the human community in its evolutionary process.
He likens religion to two natural evolutionary phenomenon. The first is the “sweet-tooth theory” which asks, “Might we have a god center in our brains along with our sweet tooth? What would it be for? What would pay for it?…God may just be the latest and most intense confection that triggers the whatsis center in so many people. What benefit accrued to those who satisfied their whatsis craving? It could even be that there isn’t and never has been any actual target in the world to obtain, but just an imaginary or virtual target, in effect: it’s been the seeking, not the getting, that has had a fitness advantage…Is religion itself a subspecies of folk medicine, in which we self-medicate for relief, using therapies honed by thousands of years of trial-and-error development?” (Dennett, 83).
Right about the time I entered grad school, I discovered that simultaneously being a physicist and a literalist Christian was difficult. A religion that relied on revelation by faith, and a discipline that relied on investigation and logic made strange bed-fellows. I was outspoken in my Christian beliefs before entering grad-school and intent on becoming a physicist, but science had forced me into silence. I had to keep my Christian convictions held to Sunday morning, and I completely separated my beliefs from daily life. I discovered for myself that religion and science simply do not mix. This was over 10 years ago, but it was probably the beginning of my gradual slide away from being “on fire” for Jesus…