Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Darwinism best career choice for aspiring influential atheists?

arroba Email

Of the 25 most influential atheists featured at a student homework help site, it’s curious how many are best known or widely known for pushing Darwinism.

(I’m sure Larry Krauss, at #11, is as solid a brass-footed fish as you could hope for. But he is best known for preaching the end of all things, including science, so he’s not in tonight’s lineup.)

How about, instead:

#1 Richard Dawkins (“Darwin’s Rottweiler”, ‘nuff said)

#4 Daniel Dennett (winner of Darwin look-alike contest) and the Darwinist education award: “If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods- that the earth is flat, that “Man” is not a product of evolution by natural selection-then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity.”)*

#7 Michael Shermer (skeptical of everything except Darwinism, I gather, but as Dennett would assure him, Darwin answers all needs)

#12 Edwin O. Wilson, prophet of Social Darwinism, oops, make that sociobiology, no wait, “evolutionary psychology”is the new brand name. To see the reason for continual rebranding, see #4 above.

Note: Wilson apparently describes himself as a provisional deist. I’d call it “true agnostic”, but see the combox below for a discussion of terms.

#13 P. Z. Myers, who finds time from his busy agenda teaching and researching at a Minnesota university to trash ID – also to rant, blaspheme, get tossed out of family friendly movie screenings, and desecrate Eucharists. (I’m told he’s good to kids and cats, but the cat who said so is not trustworthy.)

#19 Barbara Forrest has forged an academic career out of opposing the design of life. It’s okay, all right? Some people have made a career out of 9-11 truthing or “Oswald didn’t act alone.” Look, she probably gets better benefits. But, apart from ID, who would ever have heard of Barbara Forrest?

Note: Some vigorously dispute Forrest’s influence. See combox below.

#20 David Sloan Wilson, who “argues for the pervasiveness of selection in the evolutionary process. In consequence, he sees religion itself as an adaptation that can motivate humans to cooperate and behave altruistically.” Okay, presumably, if he forsook atheism and joined a traditional religion, volunteering and donations would head south? Well, for sure, nobody these days would want to convert the guy; too busy, too many hungry mouths to feed.

# 22 Will Provine made clear that most of today’s evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists – no God and no free will.

And they will all promote their religion through the school system, enforced by courts, never short of a standby chorus of Christian Darwinists wittering on behalf of a Jesus whom Darwin could explain.

And, by the way, when Evolution Sunday rolls around in 2011, all Christian Darwinists should pause to reflect on how much their faith owes to these people. (I mention this because I am knee-deep in these blessed dimes of Darwin, for some project I am stuck with.)

* It feels offensive, hearing someone like this arrogate to himself some role in free speech. I have toiled undeservedly alongside heroes of free speech, like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. Dennett is at least more honest than the Islamic fascists; he makes clear that his version of free speech means forcing his views on your children.

Richard Dawkins once stated that learning about Darwin and evolution made it possible to be "an intellectually fulfilled atheist." Apparently, that's what evolution is for: an atheist creation story. Some might disagree with equating Darwinism and atheism, but it's difficult not to see the link there. Darwin lost his faith and posited a naturalistic, creator-free version of life on Earth and the intelligentsia of the Enlightenment age ate it up. Barb
Sorry null but the word we’re looking for here is “agnostic” not “deist.” Could well be. He's the one calling himself a 'provisional deist' - not me. And I think he's a bad pick for a 'Top 25 Influential Atheists' list. But then, I think they're scraping the bottom of the barrel just to fill the list. nullasalus
Dawkins is more like Darwin's chihuahua- a lot of barking but nothing to back it up. Joseph
tragic mishap,
Baptists have a great record of losing Christians to scientific unbelief don’t they? Every time I turn around. I can’t remember the last time I heard an atheist conversion story from anybody other than a former Baptist.
I hear de-conversion stories, every once in a while, from former Catholics. Clive Hayden
I wonder what they will say after reading this: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20927963.000-quantum-states-last-longer-in-birds-eyes.html (BA77 will surely like it) The problem with any quantum mechanics related technology in biological systems (and this is not the only one) is that there is no step-by-step gradual process that can lead there. It is not like increasing a beak size bit-by-bit. It's either you have it or not have it. And even if it could appear spontanously through random changes (a preposterous suggestion, knowing the engineering difficulties behind it) you would need an incredible amount of additional machinery to process the output information, which has no use before the quantum system accidentally appeared. Alex73
Hmmm. The Salon issue says he doesn't discount the possibility that there is a God: "Maybe. That has not yet been discounted as a hypothesis. That’s why I use the word provisional." Pending clearer insight, I'd say he was an agnostic in the true sense. He is agnostic about atheism as well as theism. I am far less inclined to think him a deist because there is no point in claiming to be a deist if it is only provisional. Put another way, would a deist consider him a deist? O'Leary
Sorry null but the word we're looking for here is "agnostic" not "deist." tragic mishap
Baptists have a great record of losing Christians to scientific unbelief don't they? Every time I turn around. I can't remember the last time I heard an atheist conversion story from anybody other than a former Baptist. tragic mishap
Maybe he believes that 'evolution' produced a belief in God, but that this belief is true at least in some sense. I managed to turn up this Salon interview from 2006. He's no friend of 'traditional religion' and such, but here's the relevant part: Let me follow up on this because I've heard you call yourself a deist. Yeah, I don't want to be called an atheist. Why not? You know, being a good scientist, and having been drawn up short so many times on my own theories and speculations -- as all honest scientists are -- I don't want to exclude the possibility of a creative force or deity. I think that would be a mistake to say there is no God or supernatural force. As the theologian Hans Kung once said, how are we to explain there is something and not nothing? Well, that's a question I'm happy to leave to the astrophysicist -- where the laws of the universe came from and what is the meaning of the origin of existence. But I do feel confident that there is no intervention of a deity in the origin of life and humanity. That is the distinction between theism and deism. That is the distinction. So I am not a theist, but I'll be a provisional deist. To be a deist, you're saying maybe there was some creator, some presence, that set in motion the laws of the universe. Maybe. That has not yet been discounted as a hypothesis. That's why I use the word provisional. It's fascinating because everything you've said up until now suggests that you should be an atheist. Why hold out the specter that maybe there was some divine presence that got the whole thing going? Well, because there's a possibility that a god or gods -- I don't think it would resemble anything of the Judeo-Christian variety -- or a super-intelligent force came along and started the universe with a big bang and moved on to the next universe. I can't discount that. So, there you have it. He goes on to disparage ID, but then again that's to be expected. nullasalus
Okay, not clear how someone can be a deist and believe that God is a product of evolution. Doesn't that mean evolution is God? In which case, wouldn't that make Wilson either an atheist or one confused parakeet? O'Leary
If Wilson’s a deist, I’ll knock him off. Well, here's the Wiki on him: Wilson is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. He is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters.[1] and On the question of God, Wilson has described his position as provisional deism.[22] He has explained his faith as a trajectory away from traditional beliefs: "I drifted away from the church, not definitively agnostic or atheistic, just Baptist & Christian no more."[15] Wilson argues that the belief in God and rituals of religion are products of evolution.[23] He argues that they should not be rejected or dismissed, but further investigated by science to better understand their significance to human nature. In his book The Creation, Wilson suggests that scientists "offer the hand of friendship" to religious leaders and build an alliance with them, stating that "Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation." So there you go. It's Wikipedia, and I haven't been able to check the cites, but it's been that way for a while. Like I said, that list just seemed poor. Though I think it reflects on the poor calibre of atheists on offer more than anything else. (Forrest. I'm still having trouble getting over that one.) nullasalus
Wilson a deist? Been converted, like Antony Flew? Not via design this time. Well the original list wasn't mine. If Wilson's a deist, I'll knock him off. Somebody want to nominate an actual, no-mismatched-sox atheist? O'Leary
Frankly, that list seemed downright underwhelming. A few comments. * Wikipedia lists EO Wilson as a deist rather than an atheist. So which is it? * What has Ray Kurzweil done for atheism, aside from prophecize a technological singularity that some atheists (and some religious people) are fans of? * Barbara Forrest? Pullman? Really? If they scraped the bottom of the barrel any more they'd be pulling up wood shavings. nullasalus
O'Leary writes: "And, by the way, when Evolution Sunday rolls around in 2011, all Christian Darwinists should pause to reflect on how much their faith owes to these people. (I mention this because I am knee-deep in these blessed dimes of Darwin, for some project I am stuck with.)" Why on earth would my faith owe these people anything? My faith in Jesus and my acceptance of evolutionary biology doesn't hinge on whether or not these people are atheists. These people were atheists long before they supported evolution. And evolution has been around a lot longer than they have. Jimpithecus

Leave a Reply