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Author Topic:   How Darwin caused atheism
ApostateAbe
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 175
From: Klamath Falls, OR
Joined: 02-02-2005


Message 1 of 122 (601315)
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


In another thread (The evolution of hell: how rhetoric changes religion), I inadvertently started a dispute about whether the theory of evolution allowed atheism to thrive in the late 19th century and 20th century. Many other members took issue with it, and I fought with them, hijacking my own thread. An administrator clamped down on those shenanigans, so I started this new thread, and you can fight me here.
I didn't anticipate that this point would be such a contentious issue, but I suspect that many of us want atheism to be entirely independent from the theory of evolution, because we do not want to affirm the accusations of creationists. But, maybe they are at least in part correct. It is not that theory of evolution is fundamentally atheistic--no, the theory does not directly say anything about God, and there are millions of people who believe in both God and evolution--but, by explaining life without God, the theory of evolution still allowed the rise of atheism, especially among the philosophers, scientists and serious thinkers of our time.
To me, the connection is very straightforward. Before Darwin, there was no very good way to explain life except with the gods. This made atheism a seemingly unreasonable position. After Darwin, life had a very good explanation without the gods. Therefore, Darwin's theory allowed atheism to rise, and we see it in the influence and popularity of such figures as Marx, Nietzsche, Ingersoll and Freud, we see it in the coining of the term, "agnostic," by TH Huxley and its widespread acceptance among scientists and the public. Before Darwin, we had belief in deism among philosophers--the belief in a creator God who remains distant from human society. After Darwin, there were no well known deists left. The belief was replaced by atheism.
This isn't just a belief peculiar to me and creationists.
Jonathon Miller hosted a television series titled, "Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief." In it, he interviewed the philosopher of religion (and champion of atheism) Daniel Dennett. Miller thought the interview was so interesting that he wanted to release more of it to the public than what was included in the original showing, and it found its way on YouTube. Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hio4ZtVVLhY
At 4:56, Jonathan Miller asked Dennett:
Q: So, if Darwin had not produced this dangerous idea, do you think that the development of infidelity, atheism or disbelief (or however one wants to call it) would have been delayed?
Dennett answered:
A: I suppose that's a historical question that one should do very careful research on, and I haven't. But, it seems very plausible to me that it was Darwin that broke the dam. Because, before Darwin, there really wasn't a good answer to the question, "How did this come to be, how did this bird with this wonderful wig, how did it come into existence, if not by some divine act of creation?" The rhetorical question, "What else could it be?" had no answer. That was what William Paley had said. And I think it is important to realize that Paley's argument from design is actually very very powerful. It challenges any thinker to come up with an alternative. And Darwin called his bluff. He didn't deny the Paley argument. He said, "I'm going to meet it head on. Yes, there's fantastic design in the biosphere, and I'm going to show how to get that design without a designer."
This is also my own opinion. If you disagree, then I would like to know your argument. Some people think there were a lot of atheists who were simply in the closet. If so, then explain how such a proposition is more probable than an actual shift in belief. Otherwise, it would help to explain an alternative for specifically what caused the rise of atheism in the late 19th century and the 20th century. If you think that atheism did not rise in that time period, then give me examples of some names of prominent people who were probably atheists before Darwin, and explain. For example, if you somehow think that the Biblical scholar and Catholic monk William of Ockham was actually an atheist, then you will very much need to explain.
Thanks.
Edited by ApostateAbe, : left out a few words
Edited by ApostateAbe, : added link to original thread
Edited by ApostateAbe, : Punctuation

Replies to this message:
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 Message 6 by Iblis, posted 01-19-2011 10:43 PM ApostateAbe has replied
 Message 7 by sfs, posted 01-19-2011 10:57 PM ApostateAbe has replied
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Adminnemooseus
Administrator
Posts: 3977
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 2 of 122 (601324)
01-19-2011 8:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


Going to promote, but there should be something added to message 1
In another thread...
I think a link back to the relevant part of that topic would be a good thing. You can edit in such to the promoted version.
Adminnemooseus
Added by edit - Glitch happened. I've lost my admin powers. Can still edit my own messages, even in the PNT forum.
(part of my long-term goal to drive you mad ... you should have sent me the chocolate when you had the chance ~~the Queen)
Edited by Adminnemooseus, : See above.
Edited by AdminAsgara, : taunt

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 7:37 PM ApostateAbe has replied

Replies to this message:
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ApostateAbe
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 175
From: Klamath Falls, OR
Joined: 02-02-2005


Message 3 of 122 (601330)
01-19-2011 9:35 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Adminnemooseus
01-19-2011 8:36 PM


Re: Going to promote, but there should be something added to message 1
Done.

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 Message 2 by Adminnemooseus, posted 01-19-2011 8:36 PM Adminnemooseus has not replied

  
AdminAsgara
Administrator (Idle past 2381 days)
Posts: 2073
From: The Universe
Joined: 10-11-2003


Message 4 of 122 (601338)
01-19-2011 9:59 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the How Darwin caused atheism thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 1334 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 5 of 122 (601342)
01-19-2011 10:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


Atheism became more prevalent after Darwin announced his theory of evolution, therefore Darwin caused atheism. Can you say "post hoc ergo propter hoc?" I'm certainly not a sociologist, but I'd venture to guess that there were myriad social forces at work.
The ToE is exactly as important to atheism as are astronomy, geology, medicine, seismology, meteorology, psychiatry, and any other science that explained phenomena that were attributed to gods.
In one sense, atheism is completely independent of any science. Once one realizes that there is no evidence for any religious claims, and that attributing real world phenomena to gods doesn't really answer any questions anyway, religious fails regardless of whether science can answer the questions. Did the rise of science make this process easier? It makes sense to suppose that it did. But I'm not aware of any reason to elevate the ToE to the position you propose above all other sciences.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate
...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 7:37 PM ApostateAbe has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:21 PM subbie has replied
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Iblis
Member (Idle past 3975 days)
Posts: 663
Joined: 11-17-2005


Message 6 of 122 (601347)
01-19-2011 10:43 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


good for the goose
Before Darwin, there was no very good way to explain life except with the gods. This made atheism a seemingly unreasonable position. After Darwin, life had a very good explanation without the gods.
You are going to have to work really hard clarifying this statement. As it stands, it looks like you are confusing TOE with abiogenesis. If someone on the "C" side did that we would be ripping chunks out of their flanks right now.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 7:37 PM ApostateAbe has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:07 PM Iblis has replied

  
sfs
Member (Idle past 2612 days)
Posts: 464
From: Cambridge, MA USA
Joined: 08-27-2003


Message 7 of 122 (601350)
01-19-2011 10:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


I think the key sentence you quote from Dennett is this:
quote:
I suppose that's a historical question that one should do very careful research on, and I haven't.
He hasn't done the research, and neither have you. You're making a historical argument here, that Darwin caused atheism, and you have presented no historical evidence and done no historical research that I can see. You haven't even made any attempt to correlate the timing of the increase in atheism with the widespread acceptance of Darwinian evolution (which occurred when, exactly?). What you've offered is an opinion rather than an argument.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 7:37 PM ApostateAbe has replied

Replies to this message:
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ApostateAbe
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 175
From: Klamath Falls, OR
Joined: 02-02-2005


Message 8 of 122 (601351)
01-19-2011 11:07 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Iblis
01-19-2011 10:43 PM


Re: good for the goose
Iblis writes:
Before Darwin, there was no very good way to explain life except with the gods. This made atheism a seemingly unreasonable position. After Darwin, life had a very good explanation without the gods.
You are going to have to work really hard clarifying this statement. As it stands, it looks like you are confusing TOE with abiogenesis. If someone on the "C" side did that we would be ripping chunks out of their flanks right now.
Yeah, I know. There are a small handful of points where I disagree with the "E" side and I find more reasonable argument on the "C" side, and the point about abiogenesis supposedly being a separate issure from the theory of evolution is one of them. The only event separating abiogenesis from Darwinian evolution is the chemical synthesis of the first self-replicating molecule, which certainly does not require God by any stretch of the imagination. After the first such molecule reproduces, then neo-Darwinism carries it all of the rest of the way to the modern tree of life. I think the "E" side tends to push abiogenesis outside of the theory of evolution primarily because there is such a lack of data and so much speculation, but abioegenesis really is so intimately tied to the theory of evolution that it would be very misleading to separate them. More importantly, to propose--that the theory of evolution leaves room for God to explain abiogenesis and therefore the theory of evolution has no significant effect on disbelief in God--would be hair-brained, at least in my opinion. There seems to be so much bone-headed groupthink that goes on in the activist defenses of the ToE that the side of me who is arrogant prick really shows whenever I talk about it.

This message is a reply to:
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Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6351
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 9 of 122 (601352)
01-19-2011 11:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


ApostateAbe writes:
quote:
If you disagree, then I would like to know your argument.
Nice try, but that's your job. That is, you're the one making the claim. You're the one who needs to justify it. So far, you've been presented with a significant list of atheists from before Darwin. You've been shown how other scientific theories have had just as much if not more significance to the question of religious dogma.
Now, let's not play dumb and pretend that because there is at least one person who studied the theory of evolution and came to atheism that that is proof that evolution led to a rise in atheism. In order to justify that claim, you're going to have to provide evidence that atheism was rare before evolutionary theory (which so far you haven't done other than mere assertion) and then show that atheism increased afterward (which so far you have failed to do as your own sources show that they came to their opinions before Darwin published).
As was stated elsewhere, there is just as much of a drive to deny god from all other aspects of science. Why would evolution be so special? We kicked the earth away from the center of the universe, set it moving around the sun, put the sun in an insignificant part of a boring galaxy in no special part of the universe and you don't think that was just as important in convincing some people that god wasn't exactly the best idea to be had as evolution?
There are too many atheists using too many other justifications for atheism to lay it at the feet of Darwin.
Do you have any real evidence to justify your claim other than assertion? What would it take to convince you that you are in error?
quote:
Otherwise, it would help to explain an alternative for specifically what caused the rise of atheism in the late 19th century and the 20th century.
Nice try, but that's your job. You're the one making the claim. You're the one who thus needs to show that there was a "rise of atheism" in the late 19th Century into the 20th, for there hasn't been.
quote:
If you think that atheism did not rise in that time period, then give me examples of some names of prominent people who were probably atheists before Darwin, and explain.
Already done. You deliberately and specifically avoided responding to it. It would appear that you are unwilling to accept information that contradicts your claim. Is there anything that you would accept?
quote:
For example, if you somehow think that the Biblical scholar and Catholic monk William of Ockham was actually an atheist, then you will very much need to explain.
You mean you won't do your own homework? What do you know of Ockham's claim that there is no rational basis for believing in god? What have you studied about nominalism? It goes all the way back to Plato.
Now, did he believe in god? Yes. But his formulation about what god was and how god connected to the rest of the world was nothing like what you are putting forth as requiring special creation and would lead to atheism if evolution were allowed.
Why don't you know this? You're the one claiming there was no atheism before Darwin. Haven't you actually studied the philosophers from before evolutionary theory?

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 7:37 PM ApostateAbe has not replied

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 1334 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 10 of 122 (601353)
01-19-2011 11:16 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 11:07 PM


Re: good for the goose
I think the "E" side tends to push abiogenesis outside of the theory of evolution primarily because there is such a lack of data and so much speculation, but abioegenesis really is so intimately tied to the theory of evolution that it would be very misleading to separate them.
One is chemistry, the other is biology. The only ones who want to conflate them are those whose religions are threatened by them.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate
...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:07 PM ApostateAbe has not replied

  
Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6351
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


(1)
Message 11 of 122 (601354)
01-19-2011 11:19 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 11:07 PM


ApostateAbe writes:
quote:
There are a small handful of points where I disagree with the "E" side and I find more reasonable argument on the "C" side, and the point about abiogenesis supposedly being a separate issure from the theory of evolution is one of them. The only event separating abiogenesis from Darwinian evolution is the chemical synthesis of the first self-replicating molecule, which certainly does not require God by any stretch of the imagination.
If you need a quarter for the vending machine, does it matter if it comes from the Denver mint as opposed to the Philadelphia mint? Or does the only thing that matters is that you have a metal disc of the appropriate size, weight, magnetic properties, etc.?
If not, why does evolution care where life came from?
There's a reason that chemistry is the study of the interactions of molecules, not the study of where they came from in the first place...that last being a question for physics. Evolution is the study of how life changes, not where it comes from.
quote:
There seems to be so much bone-headed groupthink that goes on in the activist defenses of the ToE
And thus, you show that you aren't actually interested in having a discussion. You're only interested in making a political statement.
"Activist" defenses?
Seriously?
The only reason that scientists defend science is due to "activism" and nothing about, you know, scientific evidence? What will it take to show you wrong?

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:07 PM ApostateAbe has not replied

Replies to this message:
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ApostateAbe
Member (Idle past 4707 days)
Posts: 175
From: Klamath Falls, OR
Joined: 02-02-2005


Message 12 of 122 (601355)
01-19-2011 11:21 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by subbie
01-19-2011 10:27 PM


subbie writes:
Atheism became more prevalent after Darwin announced his theory of evolution, therefore Darwin caused atheism. Can you say "post hoc ergo propter hoc?" I'm certainly not a sociologist, but I'd venture to guess that there were myriad social forces at work.
The ToE is exactly as important to atheism as are astronomy, geology, medicine, seismology, meteorology, psychiatry, and any other science that explained phenomena that were attributed to gods.
Yes, you are right. Dennett used an analogy of a breaching dam, which I think is a good illustration. The sciences of geology, physics, astronomy and so on would each put significant cracks in the dam, but it was the theory of evolution that struck at the heart of religion and removed almost all scientific requirements for the gods. Newton separated the natural from the supernatural. Lyell replaced the creation of the planet Earth. Darwin replaced creation of life, including the human species, and then there was hardly anything left for God to explain.
subbie writes:
In one sense, atheism is completely independent of any science. Once one realizes that there is no evidence for any religious claims, and that attributing real world phenomena to gods doesn't really answer any questions anyway, religious fails regardless of whether science can answer the questions. Did the rise of science make this process easier? It makes sense to suppose that it did. But I'm not aware of any reason to elevate the ToE to the position you propose above all other sciences.
I have mentioned some of my differences with the activist defenders of the ToE, and there is another difference which relates to this point. The assertion is sometimes made that the proposition of creationism or intelligent design must stand on its own, independent of the weaknesses of the theory of evolution. But, the way science is done in reality is to choose the explanation that explains the evidence the best. It is a system of competition. It is not a pass/fail system where there is no scientific theory if no theory scores well. Creationism really was accepted among the most qualified biologists before Darwin's theory of evolution (and for a short time after).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by subbie, posted 01-19-2011 10:27 PM subbie has replied

Replies to this message:
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subbie
Member (Idle past 1334 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 13 of 122 (601356)
01-19-2011 11:30 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 11:21 PM


...but it was the theory of evolution that struck at the heart of religion and removed almost all scientific requirements for the gods.
Yes, you've made it clear what you think. Now all you need is some evidence. I'd love to see it.
I have mentioned some of my differences with the activist defenders of the ToE, and there is another difference which relates to this point. The assertion is sometimes made that the proposition of creationism or intelligent design must stand on its own, independent of the weaknesses of the theory of evolution. But, the way science is done in reality is to choose the explanation that explains the evidence the best. It is a system of competition. It is not a pass/fail system where there is no scientific theory if no theory scores well. Creationism really was accepted among the most qualified biologists before Darwin's theory of evolution (and for a short time after).
It's far from clear to me what this has to do with the point I made. In any event, the problem with religion in general, and creationism specifically, as far as explanations for the world is concerned, is that they don't explain anything. Even in a one horse race they lose, because they don't even get out of the gate. "Goddit and his ways are mysterious" isn't an explanation. It's throwing one's hands up in the air and assuming we'll never know. That's not an explanation, it's an excuse for not looking for an explanation.
Also, I'd love to hear what you consider to be an "activist defender of the ToE." I'm intrigued by the concept.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate
...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:21 PM ApostateAbe has not replied

  
Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6351
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 14 of 122 (601357)
01-19-2011 11:35 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 11:21 PM


ApostateAbe writes:
quote:
I have mentioned some of my differences with the activist defenders of the ToE
There's that phrase again.
You really aren't interested in having a discussion, are you? You want to make political statements. Those who defend evolution are doing so for ulterior motives, not because of any actual science.
Typical bigotry against atheists: They're willful, petulant people who only claim to be atheists out of a sense of pique. It can't possibly be because they really don't believe in god. So since you have it in your head that evolution leads to atheism, then your antipathy for atheism has infected your view of evolution.
quote:
Creationism really was accepted among the most qualified biologists before Darwin's theory of evolution (and for a short time after).
And evolution was accepting among the most qualified biologists before Darwin.
You do understand that Darwin didn't discover evolution, yes? That what Darwin presented was a mechanism for what had already been established, yes? And that the only reason we call it "Darwinian" evolution is because he rushed his work to press before others beat him to the punch, yes?

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by ApostateAbe, posted 01-19-2011 11:21 PM ApostateAbe has not replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6419
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.1


Message 15 of 122 (601358)
01-19-2011 11:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ApostateAbe
01-19-2011 7:37 PM


I agree with several others. We could use some evidence here. Without evidence, we are engaging in speculation.
As far as speculation goes, I would think that Copernicus, Galileo and Newton were more important for giving us reasons to question religion.
Before big-bang cosmology, you could use panspermia as a possible explanation of the source of life. It is still a possibility, of course, but if the universe has a finite history then panspermia loses some of its explanatory power.
Fundies like to blame Darwin, but I'll remain skeptical until there is good evidence to support that view.

Jesus was a liberal hippie

This message is a reply to:
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