Friday, 16 September 2011

Why Evolution is True - response to criticisms

Hello everyone. Thanks for the responses. I generally don't respond to responses but I feel that these below deserve some clarifications. Thank you for taking your time to write responses and think about the material.

1. "Believers in what?" - you answered your own question. A Creator.

2. If you became a believer through reason rather than childhood brainwashing, that's ok. You're a sample of one, a statistical outlier. We'd need to do a statistical analysis of data to find out the correlation between belief and childhood brainwashing. I wager that we'll find a strong correlation - simply because otherwise there would be a completely even distribution of religions across the planet - if it were based on reason. E.g. the statistics would not show that the majority of christian children belong to christian parents. Look at it this way. The evidence and reasons in favour of belief favour a number of different religions in different ways. Each religion may have statistically the same chances as any other; there doesn't seem to be, from my indifferent point of view, a good reason to choose one or another. So, if that's true, then we'd expect to see a statistical smear of belief over areas, rather than strongly geographical areas defining belief. IE the English-speaking world is mostly Christian - why? Is it because Christianity is obviously true if you speak English, or is it because of historical brainwashing? I think the latter. Ditto Islam, Hinduism, etc. Of course people can individually choose to go for something different, e.g. English-speaking hippies in California following Hinduism of a sort - but that is an outlier. It also has nothing to do with my basic premise that the reason evolution irks believers is because it threatens religion and they've been largely brainwashed. Geography is the proof. Think about cliques like the Amish, or how you can get Hassidic Jews in New York who don't know who Elvis is (Cf. Penn Jillette). It's the same thing: the only explanation I can think of for the overwhelming correlation between belief, geography, language, and specific religious background, is cultural brainwashing. I don't mean the term 'brainwashing' pejoratively. I'm using it as shorthand for 'deterministically led by social pressures and family bonds to believe that P, where P is any arbitrary non-verifiable cultural statement.' I just don't want to type that whole long spiel every time.

3. As for believers taking Genesis literally (I think two people said this), I think it must be taken literally. If not, why do we only take Genesis symbolically, and the rest of the bible literally? I mean, was King David symbolic, not really extant? Was Jesus symbolic, or was he real? Etc. By what criteria did you arbitrarily decide that Genesis (alone) and in particular, the Garden of Eden story alone, is symbolic, but Moses was real, etc etc.? If the snake is symbolic, why is the fiery writing on the wall of 'mene mene tekel upharsim' not symbolic, never really happened that way? Clearly if you look at the origins of the Genesis story (the fact that, as someone below - Bob -points out), there are two redacted and interspliced versions of creation. Genesis it has ancient origins in primeval myths. Primitive sheep herders took it literally, just as they took Moses, David and Jesus literally. The only reason apologists defend the Garden of Eden as 'symbolic' is because it is so obviously false, and a myth, that they're embarrassed by it. E.g. The light is made before the sun and the moon.

4. IF you came to believe in God, through reasons, that's ok. You are in good company; there are many professors of religion who are believers. That doesn't mean they're right. Or that your reasoning was correct. I often make mistakes in reasoning; the difference is I try to find them. I believe that a believer who 'reasoned' his or her way into belief has simply made an error in logic. E.g. I think the argument that the universe exists, entails that a person created it, is false. It's a non sequitur, but theologians the world over are guilty of it. Too many assumptions are required for it to be true.

5. John. Thanks for your reply, but I think Evolution might be fundamentally devastating to Christianity; not just threaten it. Christianity's eschatology depends on the view that we're born sinners (hence the baptism ritual). Original sin. It's in the Pauline epistles. If we reject the doctrine of Original Sin, then we're left with a Christianity that offers salvation only ONCE we've sinned. But now recall that the Catholics (to whom you refer) invented purgatory to cope with the idea that putatively innocent babies would go to hell if they died before baptism. Of course, the Church recently retracted purgatory. But it was standard church doctrine for forever and a day. Why? Because babies are, in the Church's eyes, born with Original Sin. Furthermore, the idea that we have the capacity for the knowledge of the difference between good and evil - viz free-will - is due to the snake tempting Eve, in the story. Without the myth of the Garden of Eden, Christianity would lack the free-will defence for the problem of evil, it would be unable to say that people CHOOSE to sin and therefore DESERVE hell. Free-will is given to us by the snake, not by God - because free-will just means knowing what you're choosing/wanting to do, and whether it is right or wrong. Think of it this way: when someone is exculpated on grounds beyond their control, it means they had no choice, no free-will in the matter. The ultimate innocence, and exculpation, freeing us of the burden of free-will, is, then, of course, that we never had the knowledge of our free-will. Hence, to punish us, and give us hell, Christianity REQUIRES the Fall of Man, it requires it literally, and it requires that evolution be false.

6. Evolution is a religion? No, sorry, you'll have to re-read my definition above. Evolution means: you are born with a genetic difference. It enables you to survive. If you survive long enough, you reproduce, and the feature is passed on. I do not see how that remotely resembles religion. Religion is the organisational practices of mystical beliefs, and the collection of such beliefs. At best, you could argue that the 'new atheists' like Dawkins display religious-like fervour in favour of evolution, but that doesn't mean that they worship evolution, or that they pray to it, or that they have certain rituals, such as eating Darwin-shaped biscuits, etc. Religion is ritual, evolution has nothing to do with ritual. Sorry.

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