Philosophy of Evolution: Not Atheistic

Participants in the Dialogue

Overview
Background
Dialogue
Definitions
Question
Aquinas
Solution
Certitude
Links

Atheism has spread more widely in the modern and scientific age.
 
Atheists are the adversaries of the thesis.6 Among the Atheistic Materialists are Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who was the first major advocate of Darwin in Germany, and Karl Marx (1817-1883),7 the father of Soviet Communism who admitted nothing except material. The Atheistic Positivists teach that there is no extra-experimental reality, and in fact they deny the existence of God; among these Positivists are: A. Comte, Littr, and Taine in France, Stuart Mill and Bain in England, and Wundt in Germany. Huxley in England is an Absolute Agnostic. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), although he admitted some kind of God, did not permit that God to interfere in any human events. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) called himself the "killer of God," and only admitted the Superman as the supreme value. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) called himself an Absolute Nihilist; he denied essence, substance, and also denied God.

Among atheists in the twenty first century, Richard Dawkins is the foremost polemicist for the opposition of science to religion. Richard Dawkins, a staunch Darwinian, denies the value of the philosophical proofs that St. Thomas Aquinas gives for the existence of God, and compares the belief in the supernatural to a vestigial organ that has outlived its evolutionary purpose.8 Dawkins calls himself a "de facto" atheist, since he lacks evidence to disprove God’s existence but places the probability of a divine being at "less than zero." Dawkins published The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Miffin, 2006), a 416 page book that was on the New York Times best seller list for five weeks.9 The book depends heavily on Darwinian theory while it attacks faith philosophically, historically, and scientifically. Dawkins is an explicator of evolutionary psychology so lucid that he occupies the Charles Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science at Oxford University. Dawkins is not alone in literary atheism, but is riding the crest of an atheist literary wave.10 In 2004, Sam Harris, a graduate student in neuroscience, wrote The End of Faith, which sold over 400,000 copies. Harris then wrote a 96 page follow-up entitled Letter to a Christian Nation, which was number fourteen on the New York Times best seller list in November 2006. In February 2005, Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett published Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, promoting atheism. In September 2006, the Harvard University biologist Marc Hauser published a work on the non-divine origins of our sense of right and wrong. In January 2007, biologist Lewis Wolpert wrote Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, one of which is religion; Wolpert describes himself as an "atheist-reductionist-materialist." Victor Stenger, physicist and astronomer, wrote God: The Failed Hypothesis. In addition, Ann Druyan, the widow of the arch-skeptical astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, has edited Sagan’s unpublished lectures on God and God’s absence, and published a book, The Varieties of Scientific Experience (November 2006).

Other adversaries to the proposal in this chapter are Emergent Evolution11 (or Creative Evolution), and secondly, what Benignus calls "Naturalistic Evolution."12 Emergent Evolution theories teach an ascending evolutionary process which begins from the many, such as matter or space-time, and rises through successively more perfect forms of being and culminates, or will culminate, in God. Such a system can be described as the reverse of Emationism, the classical system of descending evolution from the one (God) to the many. Emergent Evolution has God as the end of evolution in the sense that God is what the whole evolutionary process is producing. However, from the point of view of metaphysics the theories of Emergent Evolution are indistinguishable from Materialism and Atheism. Emergent Evolution gives no explanation of the world’s origin other than matter and time, and admits no God who now actually exists. In the book Space, Time and Deity (1920), S. Alexander maintains such a system, and professes no final moment is ever reached when God actually exists. Secondly, Naturalistic Evolution held by many contemporary philosophers of various evolutionary schools deny that God as transcendent cause directs and moves nature toward its goals, but maintains that nature and natural beings tend by some immanent power, urge, force, or lan to certain ends or to some goal. Therefore, both Emergent Evolution and Naturalistic Evolution hold only immanent finality, and deny extrinsic finality. Intrinsic finality arises from the power of matter. The denial of extrinsic finality is the denial of God as final cause, which results in both theories being atheistic.13

Donat notes "Many hold Darwinism as a solution for their atheism."14 On the other hand, care must be taken not to fall into Fundamentalism, as Klubertanz states, "As far as I know, no Christian thinker held that the distinct species of living things were separately created in this strict sense of creation, production from nothing of self and subject (productio ex nihilo sui et subiecti).15

Proponents of the thesis are all the Neo-Scholastics.16 Adversaries of atheism in the ancient world were Plato (Plato Laws 10) and Philo (Philo De Praemiis 7).17 The Transcendental Thomist, Marchal, certainly affirms the existence of God against atheism, but by a different method.18 Claude Tresmontant asserts, "Atheism is incompatible with the reality of cosmic, physical, and biological evolution."19 Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute since 1993, headed a multi-national 2,400 scientist team that co-mapped the three billion biochemical letters of man’s genetic blueprint, and recently published a best-selling book: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006).20 In the United States of America, the Fundamentalists opposed atheistic evolution to the teaching of the Book of Genesis that the world was created by God.21 In the United States of America, Intelligent Design is a movement that attempts to scientifically show that the blanks in the theory of evolution are more meaningful that its total presentation; the purpose of Intelligent Design is to have Creationism taught in American public Schools, even if this teaching is along with Evolutionism.22 The Intelligent Design Movement continues to argue before local school boards and in the courts; in December 2005, Intelligent Design was dismissed by a federal judge as a pseudo-science unsuitable for teaching in Pennsylvania schools.

Adversaries who reject the proposal make it clear that the thesis proposed is a serious subject for discussion. The thesis proposed and defended as true presents an objective problem worthy of dialogue. Adversaries who seriously contradict the proposal in this chapter deserve respect. These adversaries have reasons for their position. In every false position there is some truth. In dialogue, every attempt should be made to clarify that truth. In this case, the existence of God has to be demonstrated.23 Accordingly, even if our proposal and its proofs demonstrate the adversaries wrong, their reasoning can be understood and respected.

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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