The split between creationism and evolutionism has been the cause of massive debate, which has increased in recent years. One side, led by Richard Dawkins, uses the theory of evolution to disprove the existence of God, while the other uses their belief in the existence of God to disprove the theory of evolution.
Speaking as part of the Sydney Ideas lecture series, Philosopher Elliott Sober argues that it is philosophically consistent to believe in both God AND evolution, and examines the religious views of Charles Darwin, and his late-in-life crisis of faith.
Professor Elliott Sober received his PhD in philosophy from Harvard University. He has taught at Stanford University and the London School of Economics, and is currently the Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In 2008 the American Philosophical Association named him the Prometheus Laureate. His latest book, Evidence and Evolution: The Logic behind the Science was published in 2008.
Professor of Philosophy Elliot Sober analyzes Charles Darwin's critique of religion and Christianity. Darwin's stance that an omnipotent God would not have been so evil, Sober argues, was shaped by the amount of cruel suffering the naturalist observed while in the field.
Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of materialism. In the 18th century David Hume and Immanuel Kant, though not atheists, argued against traditional proofs for God's existence, making belief a matter of faith alone. Atheists such as Ludwig Feuerbach held that God was a projection of human ideals and that recognizing this fiction made self-realization possible. Marxism exemplified modern materialism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist atheism proclaimed the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. Logical positivism holds that propositions concerning the existence or nonexistence of God are nonsensical or meaningless.
(born Feb. 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Eng.died April 19, 1882, Downe, Kent) British naturalist. The grandson of Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and biology at Cambridge. He was recommended as a naturalist on HMS Beagle, which was bound on a long scientific survey expedition to South America and the South Seas (183136). His zoological and geological discoveries on the voyage resulted in numerous important publications and formed the basis of his theories of evolution. Seeing competition between individuals of a single species, he recognized that within a local population the individual bird, for example, with the sharper beak might have a better chance to survive and reproduce and that if such traits were passed on to new generations, they would be predominant in future populations. He saw this natural selection as the mechanism by which advantageous variations were passed on to later generations and less advantageous traits gradually disappeared. He worked on his theory for more than 20 years before publishing it in his famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). The book was immediately in great demand, and Darwin's intensely controversial theory was accepted quickly in most scientific circles; most opposition came from religious leaders. Though Darwin's ideas were modified by later developments in genetics and molecular biology, his work remains central to modern evolutionary theory. His many other important works included Variation in Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868) and The Descent of Man (1871). He was buried in Westminster Abbey. See alsoDarwinism.
Darwin may have been a keen and systematic observer of life. However, his comments on Christianity seem to be the very opposite of what a rational and systematic observer would do. In particular, his views on evil seem anecdotal, emotional, based on confusions, and shallow. Once again: Theologians have no business in making baseless comments about empirical reality... and scientists have no business in presenting their emotions and feelings as if they were somehow based on their science. Darwin should have refrained from speaking about Christianity... or should have spoken after taking the time to study his subject thoroughly.
There are at least three fallacies in this line of thinking;
1) Suffering does not necessarily equate evil. I would argue that suffering by one, imposed upon another for the purpose of pleasure, greed, megalomania, etc., is closer to the definition of Evil).
2) Just because one can't comprehend God's intent, (if one can use such a word), that does not prove or disprove Its existence. Anthropomorphizing God is as naive as anthropomorphizing Nature.
3) The existence or non-existence of God has nothing whatever to do with Christianity or any other man-made religion.
Sober refers to a person who was an atheist his entire life and who in old age before he died became very religious.
No mystery here, the neurologist V. S. Ramachandran in a lecture on the effects a head injury, which resulted in a condition called “Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”; described how this young man, who had exhibited no previous religiosity, suddenly became extremely religious as a result of this injury, heard god’s instructions, spoke to god and sometimes even thought he was god or god’s messenger.
Now the gentleman Sober spoke of was old and amongst the old minor strokes are common, all that would be required to initiate a sudden conversion from atheism to religiosity would be a minor stroke event in the temporal lobe of his brain.
As the Latin saying goes, “lex parsimoniae”, )When competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question.)
It is highly annoying that Sober tries to elude the fundamental question: is it reasonable to consider theories on god?
Every time I see him step around this issue, carefully trying to avoid it, I wished he would answer the following question:
"What do you think about the idea of the Great Spaghetti Monster, and how does the value of that religion upholds itself to the value of the christian or islamic god?"
To me it feels like Sober is trying to reconcile science with religion, or trying to get science out of the way of religion, while religion always steps in the way of science. History and present day is filled with religious people or institutions that try to mess with science or scientists.
Sober also poses that no investigations have been done on the amount of believers amongst sciencists - he is so wrong. There is a strong correlation between atheism and intelligence, found in more than one study. It just isn't nice for the world to hear that dumb/ignorant people are more prone to religion.
But I'll stop here.
6:00 I find his claim disingenuous because when he says that evolution is not inconsistent with the concept of god he is referring to the god of Einstein, or Spinoza--a very vague and amorphous sort of entity that has nothing to do with people. Not the god of Abraham which is the one that Richard Dawkins is referring to. Evolution most definitely contradicts the literal story of genesis. He avoids addressing this point at all and seems to be deliberately trying to mislead people by not pointing out clearly that evolution completely disproves ALL Abrahamic scripture. Nothing like the story of genesis is true.
I am afraid that I do not find your argument compelling. Considering that numerous lives are spent without being witnessed by anyone (humans?) seems to border on speciesism and place significance on one life versus another. Furthermore, the suffering, length of life and intelligence in your argument are all seemingly based on your perspective over and above any others. I am quite sure the caterpillar might not agree with your position on it's own existence. FInally, you seem to be implying that evil and suffering require some cause or rationale which has purpose or some greater meaning and I am not entirely convinced that this is the case. As the speaker discusses, mutations may have causes but often remain unguided. I often consider much suffering and evil to be similar, with causes but often unguided.
The question is better if it's:
Why is there so much unnecessary evil in the world?
One migth argue that there is no true good without true evil, but the example of this caterpillar suffering it's short life without anyone actually seeing it 1/1 000 000 times is a valid argument against any true good god.
The caterpillar will not change it's ways to a more christian life, or wont possibly ever learn any ways to avoid thi shorrid event in it's life, because it's quite a stupid organism.