Intolerance and fundamental conceit
17 December 2004
Dear Dr Batten,
I just made my first visit to your website. You are an excellent writer. Strong mind, even stronger faith. Such a faith must be comforting. The human ego so dislikes self-doubt. Religiosity is indeed a powerful human trait with very Darwinian survival advantages.
Every day while caring for critical ill patients in my hospital’s intensive care unit, I see how people’s religiosity helps give them stength and hope during the crisis of illness in the family. It also makes it very hard for them to let go of a dying loved one, so they continue to hang on and ask that “everything be done” while the patient suffers on artificial life support, long past the point of meaningful recoverability.
Religiosity also helps cement an advantageous group cohesion. Sadly, when combined with human’s tribal instincts, such fervor tends to lead to intolerance of new questions and ideas, and repeated persecution of skeptics and outsiders.
Darwin was a religious man. His observations and the patterns he observed only made “creation” seems more wondrous to him. There’s nothing inherently anti-religious in observing patterns in nature and making logical connections. As a scientist, you of all people should know that science is merely a method of asking questions that should not be confused with dogmatic fundamentalism through a deceptive term such as “creation science”.
To an outsider, it’s scary how people can be so certain they know God’s ways and God’s will, with only one way to think and believe. It’s so ironic how Fundamentalists lack insight into this fundamental conceit. So are the related conceits: that skeptics and nonbelievers must be immoral or amoral (Fortunately morality is another potent human trait that helps modulate some of the excesses of religiosity); and that Fundamentalists must civilize the rest of the world. And now the world is ever more dangerous because various societies are unable to civilize their own fundamentalists.
I pray for the spread of tolerance according to the Golden Rule.
Dear Dr Batten,
I just made my first visit to your website. You are an excellent writer. Strong mind, even stronger faith.
Most astute comments about my colleague. Of course, what you say is true only because Dr. Batten rejects the fact-value distinction, so refuses to compartmentalize faith from the real world. See this interview, especially the diagram “The Great Divide”.
Such a faith must be comforting. The human ego so dislikes self-doubt.
Evolutionists certainly must dislike self-doubt intensely, since they go to great lengths to protect their ideas from being questioned. Evolutionists get hysterical at the slightest hint that students might be challenged with problems with evolution, and use political and academic power and legal intimidation to keep criticisms of evolution out of public schools. In fact, the atheistic anti-creationist Eugenie Scott tacitly admitted that if students heard such criticisms, they might end up not believing it!
“In my opinion, using creation and evolution as topics for critical-thinking exercises in primary and secondary schools is virtually guaranteed to confuse students about evolution and may lead them to reject one of the major themes in science.” [Cited in Larry Witham, Where Darwin Meets the Bible, p. 23, Oxford University Press, 2002.]
Religiosity is indeed a powerful human trait with very Darwinian survival advantages.
Well then, atheists must be Darwinian flops! Except that a leading anti-creationist philosopher admits that evolution is a religion, so maybe you’re OK in a Darwinian sense after all. ;)
But you would do well to think through the implications of your assertion. I.e., you have just claimed that Darwinian selection will produce behaviours and thoughts that are wrong, from your perspective, because survivability is the only criterion. Right, so from your own perspective, this must apply to your own thoughts and behaviours too. So why should you trust your own thoughts and behaviours to be rational? After all, if your belief system were true, then your thinking process evolved only to produce survival advantage, not truth or logic.
Funny how misotheists think that they arrived at their position because they are freethinkers who rationally weighed the evidence, and then freely chose atheism over theism. Yet they also believe that their thinking and actions are nothing more than the fixed reactions of the atoms in their brains that are governed by the laws of chemistry and physics (although my brain that produces opposite thoughts presumably works by exactly the same laws!).
Every day while caring for critical ill patients in my hospital’s intensive care unit, I see how people’s religiosity helps give them stength and hope during the crisis of illness in the family.
Yes, of course. What can atheism offer them? “Sorry old chap, that’s the way the evolutionary cookie crumbles—you’ve had your innings and soon it’s an eternity of oblivion”.
It also makes it very hard for them to let go of a dying loved one, so they continue to hang on and ask that “everything be done” while the patient suffers on artificial life support, long past the point of meaningful recoverability.
Sounds like something an atheist would also do, even more so, since there is nothing to look forward to after death (they hope!). Christians in this position may merely want to protect their loved ones from involuntary euthanasia, which is common in the Netherlands.
Religiosity also helps cement an advantageous group cohesion.
That’s nice. But all this is irrelevant to whether the religion is true, the only thing that matters. All this fact-free theorizing, along with claims about a “God gene” or “religion virus” or “belief system meme”, entails an elementary logical error called the genetic fallacy, the error of trying to disprove a belief by tracing it to its source (real or imagined).
Sadly, when combined with human’s tribal instincts, such fervor tends to lead to intolerance of new questions and ideas, and repeated persecution of skeptics and outsiders.
Oh, you mean like the purges and genocides responsible for millions of political murders in the atheistic communist regimes of last century, such as the Soviet Union, Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia? Or perhaps the evolution-inspired Nazi Holocaust, which was intended to exterminate Christianity as well? Any one of these had far more deaths than all the religious wars of all previous centuries combined. Also, professing Christians who murder are acting inconsistently with their religion; these evolutionists were acting consistently with evolution, as Arthur Keith admitted about Hitler.
Darwin was a religious man.
It depends on what you mean by “religious”. He was fanatically opposed to Christianity, having an unbeliever for a father, a Unitarian heretic for a wife, and his own grandfather Erasmus wrote a book proposing evolution (“All from shells” was the motto on his family crest). Even Stephen Jay Gould, an atheistic Marxist, who died in 2002 (well, he's a creationist now), agreed that Darwin’s primary motive was to undermine divine design. See Darwin’s real message: have you missed it?
His observations and the patterns he observed only made “creation” seems more wondrous to him. There’s nothing inherently anti-religious in observing patterns in nature and making logical connections.
Exactly so. We work by the principles of causality and analogy. E.g.,
- In every case where we observe something beginning, we know there is a cause. So for something like the universe, even though we were not there at its beginning, it is perfectly reasonable to assume there was a cause as well. Yet atheists must believe that the beginning was uncaused, or reject the overwhelming scientific evidence for its beginning—see If God created the universe, then who created God?
- Whenever we observe life beginning, it comes only from other life. This is called the Law of Biogenesis. But evolutionists believe, against all observation and evidence from real chemistry, that life once evolved from non-living chemicals, by chemical evolution.
- Whenever we observe new information generated, it always has a sender. Leading German information scientist Dr. Werner Gitt says this is a law of nature pertaining to information theory. But evolutionists believe that the encyclopedic amounts of information in even the simplest living creatures came about by random mutations and natural selection. But real observation supports Dr. Gitt—these processes merely sort and reduce already-existing information, not generate new information (see Beetle Bloopers: Even a defect can be an advantage sometimes and The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction).
As a scientist, you of all people should know that science is merely a method of asking questions that should not be confused with dogmatic fundamentalism through a deceptive term such as “creation science”.
Yes, so why are you so dogmatic about evolution and clearly accepting of such a deceptive term as “evolutionary science”? In fact, you make the case for us: that we should not allow a “mere method of asking questions” to override the clear teaching of God’s Word, as churchian compromisers do.
But again, if you had looked at much of our website, you would have learned about the clear distinction between operational science vs. historical science. Philosophy determines the acceptable stories concocted by the latter (e.g., evolution of life). Philosophical constraints play only a small part in operational science. See “It’s not science”.
To an outsider, it’s scary how people can be so certain they know God’s ways and God’s will, with only one way to think and believe. It’s so ironic how Fundamentalists lack insight into this fundamental conceit.
To an outsider, it’s scary how people can be so certain they know that God doesn’t exist, or if He does, has not told us how He created and what He expects of His creation in the propositional revelation of Scripture. It’s so ironic how fundamentalist evolutionists lack insight into this fundamental conceit.
But, unlike the atheist, our certainty is not based on our own supposed intellectual prowess or moral virtue—we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). No, that would give no certainty at all. Our confidence rests on what God has clearly said and done, not in ourselves (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19–23).
So are the related conceits: that skeptics and nonbelievers must be immoral or amoral
No, this is not the Christian claim—this is a straw man. Rather, our point is that they have no objective basis for any morality they have. Rather, they must graft morality from another belief system, such as Christianity, onto their atheistic framework.
(Fortunately morality is another potent human trait that helps modulate some of the excesses of religiosity);
This proves my point. This is the logical outcome of evolutionary reasoning: that morality has no objective basis and is just a feature that has (or had) some survival advantage. In fact, fanatical misotheist Richard Dawkins agreed that “our best impulses have no basis in nature.” But then you have the problem that some evolutionists have claimed that rape was also a behaviour that evolved so that men could propagate their genes more widely. One of them was tied in knots trying to justify why rape should be considered “wrong” under his own belief system—see interview.
… and that Fundamentalists must civilize the rest of the world.
It is true—fundamentalists (in the original sense of Christians who believe the Bible) were instrumental in abolishing child labour and slavery, and setting up hospitals and orphanages, and even the universities (originally modeled on theological colleges), observatories and modern science. The benefits of Christianity are well documented in Christianity on Trial (see review).
And now the world is ever more dangerous because various societies are unable to civilize their own fundamentalists.
Yeah, evolution-based Communist and Nazi societies could never civilize the murderous “fundamentalist” atheist despots they spawned. But you also fail to differentiate between one theistic religion and another—Christianity spawned the scientific and cultural revolution that gave birth to the modern democratic state, which guarantees freedom of conscience. Islam did not. Christian fundamentalists do not fly jets into buildings killing people indiscriminately; Islamic fundamentalists do. Christians are called to “love their enemies”; the Koran tells Moslems to kill the unbeliever who will not convert.
Finally, while the likes of Dawkins groups Islam and Christianity as “Abrahamic religions”, the true Abrahamiciblical religion is salvation by grace alone through faith alone, not by works, as shown by Paul’s citation of Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, cf. Eph. 2:8–9). Islamic terrorists were trying to earn salvation by a work, i.e., martyrdom, so by definition was not part of the Abrahamic religion; rather, their religion was a counterfeit. Many professing Christians who committed unchristian acts were also practising a salvation-by-works mentality, in an age where the Bible was not readily available to the people.
Guilt-by-association is a deceitful debating trick. The difference has been well documented in books such as The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic (2002).
I pray for the spread of tolerance according to the Golden Rule.
To whom would you pray? Darwin’s ghost? And why believe Jesus on the Golden Rule but deny His claims about who He is and disbelieve Him that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.
Giving strength to the “little folks on the ground”
I really felt the need to write in about the “Jason Lisle vs. Eugenie Scott on CNN!” article. Although I enjoy reading as much of your website as I can get time to, the debate transcripts are the most enjoyable. To see someone ask the questions that need to be asked of evolutionists, and then read their fumbling replies never fails to lift my heart and lighten my mood.
May the Lord continue to bless you in all that you do. The strength that you give to all us “little folks on the ground” cannot be known this side of eternity.
Hope to hear and see more from Dr Lisle in the future.