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Remembering William Provine (1942–2015)

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William B. Provine, HSS 2008.jpg
William B. Provine, HSS 2008/Ragesoss

Further to the recent announcement of philosopher of biology Will Provine’s passinghere were many fields to which he contributed.

With a colleague, he did a most interesting study of evolutionary biologists, 78% of whom he described as pure naturalist atheists like himself.

Some of his many reflections on the true meaning of the Darwinism he espoused:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. (Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy April 30 1994)

Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” (1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address)

As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. No Free Will (1999) p.123

In a world where many consider it their duty to lie for Jesus about Darwin, he was a refreshing voice for honesty. The ID theorists respected him for that. Though he didn’t believe in free will himself, he gave others the opportunity to make fact-based choices about what to believe about the world of life.

Some may remember his debates with Phillip E. Johnson in 1994:

Readers may wish to contribute their own memorabilia below.

One Reply to “Remembering William Provine (1942–2015)

  1. 1
    Christian-apologetics.org says:

    Very sad. Of we didn’t agree with Provine, but at least he was honest and logical about Darwinism and its implications. I respected him a lot from the fragments that I understood of him.

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