Friday, December 10, 2010

Beware Luddites at Work.

In this post I developed the idea that many anti-evolutionists share the atheist's view that the “evolution machine” puts God out of work. Here is the relevant passage from that post:

The underlying ideas driving this kind of thinking are a very anthropomorphic; gone is the idea that God is so totalizing an entity that He is an environment, but instead God is imagined to be in an environment - almost to an extent reminiscent of the Grecian view of gods, gods who have very human attributes and live in a very human environment. The picture is of a God who, much like a human artisan, one day creates a cosmic sized mechanism that once running needs little sustenance, and which he can then walk out on and leave to manage itself.

Ironically the fundamentalists and anti-evolutionists share in this mindset; they have a sneaky suspicion that the atheists are right and that somehow mechanism, like the machines of the industrial revolution, is likely to put people out of work - even a cosmic designer. Anxious therefore to have a God who doesn’t put himself out of a job they downplay the abilities of mechanism to generate form and variety. It is no surprise then that for fundamentalists and anti-evolutionists using mechanism to explain life is bad, bad, bad, whereas using Divine fait is good, good, good.

There is a strong common gut feeling that the “Law and Disorder” mechanisms of modern physics betoken a regime that can function apart from the presence of God. The underlying anthropomorphism inherent in this form of deism is not only at the root of atheist thinking but also, ironically, not far away in anti-evolutionist thinking.

Now here is a passage taken from this post on Uncommon Descent that is the perfect illustration of what I mean:

Many Christians who say they believe in “Darwinism” do not understand what they are saying. They believe that God created through evolution and was involved in the process and guided it through to completion. They do not understand that “Darwinism” properly understood rejects the very view they hold. A Darwinist believes that the combination of natural law and random variation are sufficient to account for the origin and diversity of life without any guiding intelligence from God or anyone else. They believe that the human body is the result of a process that did not need God any more than a stone rolling down a hill needs God. Very often, therefore, the issue is not whether a Christian can believe Darwinism, but whether a Christian can hold a mistaken belief about Darwinism.

Darwinism, properly understood, is dangerous to all religious belief. It truly is, in Dennett’s phrase, a universal acid, and faith is one of the things that acid dissolves. It is for a very good reason that Dawkins famously proclaimed that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. And we see a strong correlation between the rise of Darwinism and the decline of religious faith, especially among the so-called intellectual elite. Belief can be very inconvenient when that belief places constraints on the sovereign will. Darwinism helps people throw off those constraints.

So the author of this post has imagined that it is possible posit processes that don't need God. Even the Athenian poets understood the error of this thinking: "...for in him we live and move and have our being". (Acts 17:28) As I said in my previous post I wouldn't say that I’m a 100% convinced by standard evolutionary theory (Caveat: that may be down to my ignorance of the details of evolutionary theory) but I stand by it partly because of some of the crass philosophy (and theology) one finds amongst the anti-evolutionists. As Nietzsche said:

Sometimes we remain true to a cause simply because its opponents are unfailingly tasteless. (or stupid – ed)

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