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Michael Ruse: Christianity and Darwinism as rival religions

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Cover for Darwinism as Religion Recently, Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse spoke on this theme at the Oxford Brookes Philosophy Public Lectures:

Christianity and Darwinism have very different understandings of the nature and causes of war. However, beneath the surfaces, there are some surprising similarities, not the least a debt to Saint Augustine’s claims about original sin. This talk uncovers these and other pertinent facts, arguing that we are not dealing with a religion versus science debate but more a religion versus religion debate.

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. More.

The lecture follows on his 2016 book, Darwinism as Religion.

Ruse has always been honest about that. For example, in 2000, he wrote:

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint–and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it–the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”– Ruse, M., “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics”, National Post,pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000)

And he has made the same point many times.

So one wonders how it comes about that Ken Miller claims in Scientific American that the very term “Darwinism” is a “scientific slur.” Can he really know nothing of Ruse’s widely known work? Or is this another instance of post-modernism seeping into science, where background knowledge of the facts actually doesn’t matter much? Miller likely has nothing to feel embarrassed about at Scientific American.

See also: Is the term Darwinism a “scientific slur”?

Physics needs Darwin? Ken Miller should hear this

16 Replies to “Michael Ruse: Christianity and Darwinism as rival religions

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    So one wonders how it comes about that Ken Miller claims in Scientific American that the very term “Darwinism” is a “scientific slur.”

    I’m not wondering. I’d say that Miller is correct about it being a slur.

    When I post a comment at UD, I am often accused of being a Darwinist, even though I am not a Darwinist. That tends to make it look as if ID proponents and creationists are using the term as a slur.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Neil,

    It is it is total BS. Total BS. That is why anyone would even think it was a slur

    But Dawkins doesn’t think it is a slur.

  3. 3
    LocalMinimum says:

    Neil @ 1:

    “Evolution” is such an umbrella branding term that includes any variation in the genome…or even none (“stasis”). So, even young-Earth creationists are evolutionists in many senses.

    “Believer in common descent” is not only clumsy, but doesn’t actually distinguish ID/creationists from evolutionists, because we have plenty of folks here that are both.

    Not all unguided evolutionists self identify as Darwinist; though all other unguided systems are either references to properties of the modern synthesis or depend on it, so it works.

    But, if it’s as difficult to properly produce a non-offensive term to identify unguided evolutionists as it is to find the right pronoun for a genderfluid gender theorist, blame evolutionary biology. It’s messy and they like it that way.

  4. 4

    Calling someone a Darwinist is not a slur, it just means they believe (have faith) that Darwinian mechanisms are the cause of speciation. To be sure, the term has become less favorable in the minds of many, but that alone doesn’t make it a slur.

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    Neil, I guess anything can evolve into slur but there are differences between those who believe that evolution of some type occurs, think common descent is the best explanation but otherwise keep an open mind, and hold it as dogma that all must accept.

    Darwinist is an honest label for the latter category and it is a faith not a science. That implication is what I think really bothers most of those who are called it.

  6. 6
    blip says:

    Neil, since you claim not to be a Darwinist, would you please state what you are? It’s an honest question. I don’t know what you believe.

    Speaking of religion, the other religion mentioned here is often maligned by the mere mention of its adherents. Christian! If you don’t think so, go look up which is the most persecuted group in the world. Hint: it’s not Darwinists.

    And yet, those Christians, those who really are, and who know they are being slurred, see the intended slur very differently. They see it as a blessing, for they are counted as worthy by the Master to follow in his footsteps.

    It helps to grow think skin. And a gentle heart.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Darwinism is a religion. Moreover, Darwinism is itself, (contrary to the false ‘warfare’ narrative between science and Christianity that is promulgated by Darwinists), found to be a rabidly unscientific religion.

    It turns out that when Atheistic materialists, i.e. Darwinists, came along and rejected God as the basis for all of reality, (as the Christian founders of modern science had originally envisioned), that they ended up rejecting reality itself. In other words, Darwinists, since they have rejected the Mind of God as the basis for all of reality, end up living in a world of fantasy and illusion that makes Alice in Wonderland seem mild in comparison.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’, who has the illusion of free will, who has unreliable beliefs about reality, who has illusory perceptions of reality, who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection, so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design, and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear, and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God.
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.

    Here are a few references that solidify each of those claims against the religion of Atheistic Materialism and/or Darwinism.

    Ross Douthat Is On Another Erroneous Rampage Against Secularism – Jerry Coyne – December 26, 2013
    Excerpt: “many (but not all) of us accept the notion that our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.”
    Jerry Coyne – Professor of Evolutionary Biology – Atheist
    https://newrepublic.com/article/116047/ross-douthat-wrong-about-secularism-and-ethics

    At the 23:33 minute mark of the following video, Richard Dawkins agrees with materialistic philosophers who say that:
    “consciousness is an illusion”
    A few minutes later Rowan Williams asks Dawkins ”If consciousness is an illusion…what isn’t?”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWN4cfh1Fac&t=22m57s

    “There is no self in, around, or as part of anyone’s body. There can’t be. So there really isn’t any enduring self that ever could wake up morning after morning worrying about why it should bother getting out of bed. The self is just another illusion, like the illusion that thought is about stuff or that we carry around plans and purposes that give meaning to what our body does. Every morning’s introspectively fantasized self is a new one, remarkably similar to the one that consciousness ceased fantasizing when we fell sleep sometime the night before. Whatever purpose yesterday’s self thought it contrived to set the alarm last night, today’s newly fictionalized self is not identical to yesterday’s. It’s on its own, having to deal with the whole problem of why to bother getting out of bed all over again.”
    – A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, ch.10

    The Consciousness Deniers – Galen Strawson – March 13, 2018
    Excerpt: What is the silliest claim ever made? The competition is fierce, but I think the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience.,,,
    Who are the Deniers?,,, Few have been fully explicit in their denial, but among those who have been, we find Brian Farrell, Paul Feyerabend, Richard Rorty, and the generally admirable Daniel Dennett.,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2.....s-deniers/

    “that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.”
    Francis Crick – “The Astonishing Hypothesis” 1994

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: “If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.”

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    “In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.,,,”
    “I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”
    – Albert Einstein – early 1930s

    Albert Einstein vs. Quantum Mechanics and His Own Mind – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFFtZ301j4

    Sam Harris on “Free Will” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,
    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? – Video – 9:59 minute mark
    Quote: “fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes.,,, Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is, and it is fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution. So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness. Who wins? Well I hate to break it to you but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality, but are just tuned to fitness, drive to extinction that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those (accurate) perceptions of reality go extinct. Now this is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?”
    https://youtu.be/oYp5XuGYqqY?t=601

    Sociobiology: The Art of Story Telling – Stephen Jay Gould – 1978 – New Scientist
    Excerpt: Rudyard Kipling asked how the leopard got its spots, the rhino its wrinkled skin. He called his answers “Just So stories”. When evolutionists study individual adaptations, when they try to explain form and behaviour by reconstructing history and assessing current utility, they also tell just so stories – and the agent is natural selection.
    Virtuosity in invention replaces testability as the criterion for acceptance.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=tRj7EyRFVqYC&pg=PA530

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    “… another common misuse of evolutionary ideas: namely, the idea that some trait must have evolved merely because we can imagine a scenario under which possession of that trait would have been advantageous to fitness… Such forays into evolutionary explanation amount ultimately to storytelling… it is not enough to construct a story about how the trait might have evolved in response to a given selection pressure; rather, one must provide some sort of evidence that it really did so evolve. This is a very tall order.…”
    — Austin L. Hughes, The Folly of Scientism – The New Atlantis, Fall 2012

    Evolutionary Just-So Stories – March 22, 2011
    https://www.wayoflife.org/database/evolutionary_just_so_stories.html

    Darwin’s greatest discovery: Design without designer – Francisco J. Ayala – May 15, 2007
    Excerpt: “Darwin’s theory of natural selection accounts for the ‘design’ of organisms, and for their wondrous diversity, as the result of natural processes,”,,,
    Darwin’s Explanation of Design
    Darwin’s focus in The Origin was the explanation of design, with evolution playing the subsidiary role of supporting evidence.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/suppl_1/8567.full

    Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker impress us with the illusion of design and planning.
    – Richard Dawkins – The Bilnd Watchmaker – pg. 21

    “Darwinism provided an explanation for the appearance of design, and argued that there is no Designer — or, if you will, the designer is natural selection. If that’s out of the way — if that (natural selection) just does not explain the evidence — then the flip side of that is, well, things appear designed because they are designed.”
    Richard Sternberg – Living Waters documentary
    Whale Evolution vs. Population Genetics – Richard Sternberg and Paul Nelson – (excerpt from Living Waters video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0csd3M4bc0Q

    “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”
    – Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker – pg. 1, 1986

    “Organisms appear as if they had been designed to perform in an astonishingly efficient way, and the human mind therefore finds it hard to accept that there need be no Designer to achieve this”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit – p. 30

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit – p. 138 (1990)

    living organisms “appear to have been carefully and artfully designed”
    Richard C. Lewontin – Adaptation,” Scientific American, and Scientific American book ‘Evolution’ (September 1978)

    “This appearance of purposefulness is pervasive in nature…. Accounting for this apparent purposefulness is a basic problem for any system of philosophy or of science.”
    George Gaylord Simpson – “The Problem of Plan and Purpose in Nature” – 1947

    Study: Atheists Find Meaning In Life By Inventing Fairy Tales – Richard Weikart
    MARCH 29, 2018
    Excerpt: However, there is a problem with this finding. The survey admitted the meaning that atheists and non-religious people found in their lives is entirely self-invented. According to the survey, they embraced the position: “Life is only meaningful if you provide the meaning yourself.”
    Thus, when religious people say non-religious people have no basis for finding meaning in life, and when non-religious people object, saying they do indeed find meaning in life, they are not talking about the same thing. If one can find meaning in life by creating one’s own meaning, then one is only “finding” the product of one’s own imagination. One has complete freedom to invent whatever meaning one wants.
    This makes “meaning” on par with myths and fairy tales. It may make the non-religious person feel good, but it has no objective existence.
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....iry-tales/

    Morality: Objective and Real or Subjective and Illusory? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnrrIvz8mSE

    Stealing from God: Atheists Presuppose God for Morality – Frank Turek, PhD – 2015 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWxBxDMTzjM

    If Good and Evil Exist, God Exists: – Peter Kreeft – Prager University – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xliyujhwhNM

    Thus, although the Darwinist may firmly believe he is on the terra firma of science, the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic worldview and/or religion, it is found that Darwinists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would, in fact, be hard to fathom a worldview that is more antagonistic to modern science than Darwinian evolution and/or Atheistic Materialism has turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Science, and Scientists, should definitely stick with the Theistic worldview that brought them to the dance, i.e. Christian Theism!

    Jerry Coyne on the Scientific Method and Religion – Michael Egnor – June 2011
    Excerpt: The scientific method — the empirical systematic theory-based study of nature — has nothing to so with some religious inspirations — Animism, Paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, and, well, atheism. The scientific method has everything to do with Christian (and Jewish) inspiration. Judeo-Christian culture is the only culture that has given rise to organized theoretical science. Many cultures (e.g. China) have produced excellent technology and engineering, but only Christian culture has given rise to a conceptual understanding of nature.
    per ENV

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

  9. 9
    Neil Rickert says:

    Neil, since you claim not to be a Darwinist, would you please state what you are?

    My view is that evolution is driven by the behavior of biological organisms (and population). I see natural selection as mainly a statistical effect.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Neil:

    My view is that evolution is driven by the behavior of biological organisms (and population).

    Evolution driven by behavior cannot account for the diversity of life starting from populations of prokaryotes. Perhaps if the original diversity was close to the present diversity that would do it.

  11. 11
    Allan Keith says:

    The term Darwinist and Darwinism are not, of themselves, slurs, even though they do not accurately describe modern evolutionary theory. But when used on this site, they often are used as slurs. As are terms such as a/mat, Progressive and Liberal. For example, in just the first few months of this year, four OP titles have included the word Progressive. These terms are often used in a derogatory context, often linked to a decline in civilization, declining morality, reduction in freedoms, etc.

    But before you jump all over me, the other side is no better. They use terms such as Neo-Con, Conservative, Republican and Christian Right in a derogatory context, akin to “mouth breathing knuckle draggers” and Luddites.

    Personally, I think that the use of any of these terms in a derogatory fashion is just childish. I try not to use them (not always successfully).

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Allan:

    But when used on this site, they often are used as slurs.

    That’s your opinion. To me it’s just a description of what someone believes, like a religious denomination.

    That said, Allan’s other socks have no problem using derogatory language aimed at people that expose it for what it is

    And Allan, have your other sock, William Spearshake, look up Epicurus. Ignorance is not an argument

  13. 13
    Neil Rickert says:

    Evolution driven by behavior cannot account for the diversity of life starting from populations of prokaryotes.

    I count reproduction as a behavior.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    Neil:

    I count reproduction as a behavior.

    OK. My point still stands. Bacteria reproduction brings on more bacteria. It doesn’t produce eukaryotes.

    Humans reproduce more humans. Cats reproduce more cats:

    ”The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.”- geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti

  15. 15
    LocalMinimum says:

    Neil Rickert @ 13:

    So, not simply a Darwinist. But your belief is still inclusive of and stands on the modern synthesis.

  16. 16
    bb says:

    My view is that evolution is driven by the behavior of biological organisms (and population). I see natural selection as mainly a statistical effect.

    Strikes me as more “Lamarckian” than “Darwinian”. Maybe a combination of the two?

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