Atheism needs evolution
Does evolution ‘fall out’ of the facts?
The question of origins (where did everything come from) has only two possible answers. Either the universe arose by itself or it didn’t. If it did then some sort of cosmic evolution must have taken place to account for reality. If it didn’t then there must be a Creator. There is no third option.1
Many people seem convinced that the theory of evolution is based on an analysis of brute facts that clearly prove evolution has been a real process throughout history. As arch-evolutionist Richard Dawkins said:
[Y]ou have got millions and millions of pieces of evidence which no reasonable person can possibly dispute.2
However, every person has an ultimate starting point of belief about the question of origins, a presupposition that is simply accepted as true without proof, or an axiom. Even if one says that their ultimate starting belief is the result of the analysis of a collection of facts that lead them to that ultimate starting position, it remains that at the root of their belief system they will always have a starting point that cannot be supported further.
Evolutionist Michael Ruse admitted as much when he stated:
[E]volution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically.3
As an abstract example, if one says “I believe ‘A’”, and someone else asks “Why?” and the responder says “Because of ‘B’”, they cannot keep doing so forever (infinite regress). One can run the full length of the alphabet so to speak (because of ‘C’, because of ‘D’ etc) but sooner or later one will have to stop and say “I believe it because I believe it”. You will ultimately arrive at a place where you cannot justify that belief with any other belief—otherwise that other belief becomes the ‘ultimate’ belief.
Once someone has adopted a specific starting point, all other data will usually be processed through that ‘filter’, providing them with their worldview.4
Evolution ‘falls out’ of atheism
For the atheist the starting point is an active belief in the proposition ‘There is no God’ (a-theos), despite some revisionism claiming that it’s merely an absence of belief in God. If one starts with that premise, what would the logical interpretation and explanation of the general facts we observe (the universe, the earth, the diversity of life, human experience, etc.) be?
5 points of atheistic belief
(Naturalism) Obviously one would have to believe that everything has arisen through naturalistic processes, because the ultimate assumption is that there is no mind, no intelligent designer or ‘guiding hand’ to account for existence.
(Simple to complex) Believing that our universe with such vast complexity could come into being fully formed is simply not viable. Therefore there would have had to have been, and presumably are, innumerable changes taking place in matter over time. The processes involved must have caused matter to go from simple to more complex.
(Deep time) In order to account for the vast diversity of things in our universe, all of these processes must have happened over an immense amount of ‘deep’ time.
(Humans are autonomous accidents) Human beings must have come about via natural unguided processes so we are therefore not special in any sense other than we are at the ‘top of the food chain’ as it were. Any sense of morality or ethics is just part of our naturalistic development and is therefore not absolute in any way.
(Evolution) The ultimate conclusion is that everything we experience is the result of a process of what might be termed ‘self creation’.5 (Notice that even though ‘self creation’ in its truest sense is an incoherent idea [because something can’t do anything before it exists], new atheists like Lawrence Krauss actually propose such unscientific nonsense.)
So all of the core elements of the grand theory of evolution (cosmological, geological, chemical, biological and human evolution) are simply a logical, philosophical outworking of the basic concept of classical atheism applied to the world we live in. All of these conclusions could be derived from a simple general belief that God does not exist (atheism), prior to influence from specific physical evidence whatsoever. From that point forward every fact one sees could be interpreted according to that view. These would then be correlated to create a history about the universe that supports those beliefs.
These ultimate starting axioms have been the same throughout history. The idea of evolution is not a modern concept. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Greeks and Romans all had ideas of millions of years and/or biological evolution in their beliefs all without access to facts commonly held up today as proof of evolution (geologic column, DNA, natural selection, radioisotope dating, hominid fossils etc).
As a more modern example, Charles Darwin’s atheistic grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, conceived and published a naturalistic explanation of the world (in his book Zoonomia ) some 65 years before Charles did. This included the ideas that the earth was formed from a cosmic explosion, life began in the sea, became progressively more complex and eventually became people, and that all of this happened over millions of years. Again, notice that all of these assumptions were concluded without the common ‘evidences’ that evolutionists point to today.
Why would anyone start with the concept of atheism?
The Bible says unregenerate people are in rebellion against God. The ultimate rejection of any person would be to deny their existence (hence the idiom “You are dead to me”). Ultimately, some people reject God to the point that they deny His existence. The denial of God is often epitomized by the (in)famous atheist Nietzsche’s statement “God is dead.”
Although some people throughout history have declared themselves atheists, the concept has always been deemed questionable by astute thinkers (presumably because of the scientific and philosophical illogicality, and the obvious moral indications of that system). For example, Sir Isaac Newton (undoubtedly the greatest scientist who ever lived) once said:
Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.6
Some have the wrong impression that evolution itself is ‘scientific’. But it was not simply scientists that immediately embraced Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution. Rather it was those (whether scientific minded or not) that were naturalists and Bible skeptics that supported Darwin initially.
Opposition to Darwinism came immediately from many brilliant scientists. These include physicist James Clerk Maxwell (founder of electromagnetism),7 Louis Pasteur (pioneer of immunization and developer of the fundamental law of biology [Biogenesis]),8 Lord Kelvin (pioneer of thermodynamics and the trans-Atlantic telegraph),9 and Louis Agassiz (founder of modern glacial geology) rejected Darwin.
Famous mathematician, astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society Sir John Herschel dismissed it as ‘the law of higgledy-pigglety’.10 Richard Owen, the Superintendent of the Natural History Department of the British Museum so irked Darwin with his objections to his theory that Darwin eventually admitted he hated him!11 William Whewell, renowned philosopher of science (author of ‘The History of Inductive Sciences’), banned Origin from the Cambridge library. And there was a slew of scriptural geologists that also rejected Darwinism and its accompanying ‘millions of years’ of earth history.
Many thought Darwinism was very unscientific indeed. Professor Johann H. Blasius, director of the Ducal Natural History Museum of Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany, in an interview, said, “I have also seldom read a scientific book which makes such wide-ranging conclusions with so few facts supporting them. … Darwin wants to show that kinds come from other kinds.”12,13
On the other hand it was self described ‘free thinking’ individuals such as Charles Lyell who wanted to “free science from Moses”, soi-disant agnostic Thomas Huxley, the notorious faker Ernst Haeckel,14 (who already had deep seated anti-biblical ideas regarding origins, and hated the Bible’s opposition to racism) who eagerly supported Darwin’s book. Even the initial adopters coming from a theological perspective (like theistic evolutionist Asa Gray and racist theologian Charles Kingsley) seemed predisposed to naturalistic explanations for the creation prior to accepting Darwinism.
From the beginning of the scientifically fruitful Middle Ages to about only 200 years ago, the Western World’s primary worldview was overtly based on Christianity and the biblical narrative and concepts of law and morality that sprung from it. Today it is very different, with Christianity and the Bible nearly thrown out of public life altogether. Teaching from the Bible, and even promoting biblical morality, is literally outlawed in many places and only one view of origins (evolution) is taught in the majority of state schools.
So it is easy to see why so many people believe in the theory of evolution today, because state run school systems and media throughout the Western world teach it as ‘fact’ and ‘science’ to impressionable children everywhere. So much so now that evolutionary teaching is a self perpetuating concept. Because evolutionary ideas support a naturalistic worldview rather than a theistic worldview, this means that many (even ones that grew up in a home that professed belief in God) conclude atheism is true and adopt that as their starting point.
However, evolution does not fall out of ‘the facts’. People would do well to re-examine the starting point of atheism. The alleged ‘pieces of evidence’ used to support it via evolution simply do not stack up (as our brand new award winning book and documentary, Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, demonstrates). Starting with a biblical view, what we see in God’s world matches what we see in His word with little need for the ‘fudge factors’ so common in the evolutionary explanation of origins.
References and notes
- Note that theistic evolution (the idea that God used evolution to create) is not a true third option as it still postulates a Creator at the root of existence. Return to text.
- The Genius of Charles Darwin (Episode 3): Richard Dawkins, Channel 4 (UK), Monday 18th August 2008. Return to text.
- A complete transcript of the talk is available online at arn.org/docs/orpages/or151/mr93tran.htm and in print in: Young, C.C. and Largent, M.A., Evolution and Creationism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, pages 253–260. Return to text.
- It is of course possible to have your starting point change. Return to text.
- Note that there are many different names and proposed mechanisms for the generic concept of ‘evolution’; Darwinian evolution, Neo-Darwinian evolution, Punctuated Equilibrium, Chaos theory etc. There is even flat-earth evolutionism! Return to text.
- Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953. Return to text.
- Lamont, A., James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), Creation 15(3):45–47, 1993; creation.com/maxwell. Return to text.
- Lamont, A., Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), Outstanding scientist and opponent of evolution, Creation 14(1):16–19, 1991; creation.com/pasteur. Return to text.
- Woodmorappe, J., Lord Kelvin revisited on the young age of the earth, Journal of Creation 13(1):14, 1999; creation.com/kelvin. Return to text.
- Bowlby, J., Charles Darwin: A new life, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, p. 344, 1990. Return to text.
- Darwin, F., Seward, A.C. (Ed.), More letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. 1, pp. 226–228, 1903 as cited in Bowlby, p. 352. Return to text.
- Director Blasius interview: “Evolution is only a Hypothesis”, 1859, cited in Braunschweiger Zeitung, 29 March 2004. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Blast from the past, creation.com/blasius, 16 June 2006. Return to text.
- van Niekerk, E., Countering revisionism part 1: Ernst Haeckel, fraud is proven, J. Creation 25(3):89–95, 2011; part 2: Ernst Haeckel and his triple-woodcut print, J. Creation 27(1):78–84, 2013. Return to text.