Arguments of Atheists • Most scientists, highly intelligent, or highly educated people do not believe in God • Problems relating to the actions of religious people • Arguments based on perceived imperfections in nature • Arguments that are based on logic
Language of Evolution • Certainty: “Evolution has, by now, the status of fact” (Science on Trial, p. xi) • Uncertainty: • “The first replicators were probably cruder and simpler than DNA.” • “… it seems likely that the first replicators on Earth were much more erratic” (BW 127-128) • “To return to our primeval replicators, while most miscopyings probably resulted in diminished copying effectiveness, or total loss of self-copying property, a few might actually have turned out to be better at self-replication than the parent …” (BW 130) • “Although we believe that all birds and bats must have a common ancestor if we trace their lineages back far enough, that common ancestor was also the common ancestor of all mammals (including ourselves) and all birds” (BW 95) • “We still don’t know exactly how natural selection began on earth” (BW 165).
Asking Too Much • Small changes in certain types of animals imply transition from one kind of animal to another • “The changes that mutation and natural selection can bring about in any one species within the short span of human observation are limited in degree; we can see one species of fly give rise to another, but we do not expect to see flies transformed into fleas in laboratory experiments. That would be asking too much…” (Science on Trial, p. 204)
An Embarrassing Feature • “The majority of major groups appears suddenly in the rocks, with virtually no evidence of transition from their ancestors.” This is “one of the most striking and potentially embarrassing features of the fossil record.” (Science on Trial, p. 82) • “It is impossible to find an absolutely continuous gradation from an ancestral species to a new family or order…” (Science on Trial, p 83).
Implications of EvolutionG. A. Kerkut • Assumption 1: Non-living things gave rise to living material. • “It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available” (p. 150). • Assumption 2: Biogenesis occurred only once. • “This is again a matter for belief rather than proof…It is a convenient assumption that life arose only once and that all present-day living things are derived from this unique experience, but because a theory is convenient or simple it does not mena that it is necessarily correct” (p. 151).
Implications of EvolutionG. A. Kerkut • Assumption 3: Viruses, Bacteria, Protozoa, and the higher animals were all interrelated. • “We have as yet no definite evidence about the way in which the Viruses, Bacteria, or Protozoa are interrelated” (p. 151). • Assumption 4: The Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa. • “Here again nothing definite is known. We can believe that any one of these views is better than any other according to the relative importance that we accord to the various pieces of evidence” (p. 152)
Implications of EvolutionG. A. Kerkut • Assumption 5: The various invertebrate phyla are interrelated • “The evidence, then, for the affinities of the majority of the invertebrates is tenuous and circumstantial; not the type of evidence that would allow one to form a verdict of definite relationships” (p. 152-153) • Assumption 6: The invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates • “Here again it is a matter of belief which way the evidence happens to point. As Berrill states, ‘in a sense this account is science fiction’” (p. 153).
Implications of EvolutionG. A. Kerkut • Assumption 7: Fish gave rise to the amphibia, the amphibia to the reptiles, and the reptiles to the birds and mammals. • “The evidence that we have at present is insufficient to allow us to decide the answer to these problems” (p. 153).
The Stuff of Prejudice “Sir – As working biologists at the British Museum (Natural History) we are astonished to read your editorial “Darwin’s death in South Kensington” (Nature, 26 Feb, p. 735). How is it that a journal such as yours that is devoted to science and its practice can advocate that theory be presented as fact? This is the stuff of prejudice, not science, and as scientists our basic concern is to keep an open mind on the unknowable. Surely it should not be otherwise? You suggest that most of us would rather lose our right hands than begin a sentence with the phrase “If the theory of evolution is true…” Are we to take it that evolution is a fact proven to the limits of scientific rigour? If that is the inference, then we must disagree most strongly. We have no absolute proof of the theory of evolution. What we do have is overwhelming circumstantial evidence in favor of it and as yet no better alternative. But the theory of evolution would be abandoned tomorrow if a better theory appeared. Charles Darwin died nearly a century ago and is honored at South Kensington as a great man of science. It does neither him nor science any service to misrepresent the status of his work.” Quotation from Nature (Vol 290, p. 82, March 12, 1981)
The Problem of Evil • Argument stated • God is all powerful • God is infinite in love • God should act to relieve suffering • God’s power gives Him the ability to do something • God’s love morally obligates Him to do something • God does not act to relieve suffering • An all-powerful God of infinite love does not exist
The Problem of Evil • God is not the only being involved in determining what happens on the earth • We live in a fallen world • Both Satan and human beings contribute to these events • Sometimes we suffer when forces that usually benefit us harm us [gravity, electricity] • We have been given free will and may choose good or evil • When we choose to do evil, consequences follow • It is not possible to have free will, make terrible choices, and suffer no consequences
The Problem of Evil • Benefits to suffering • At times suffering makes us stronger. • Suffering makes us compassionate and gives us the opportunity to serve others • Makes us depend on God • Where does sacrificial love come from? • If suffering in the world implies there is no God, would not the presence of goodness imply there is a loving God?