Posted by Timothy Sandefur on August 13, 2005 05:32 PM
I should probably leave it up to Sanchez to defend himself, but I’ll say this: it is true that “Evolution is no more or less ‘naturalistic’ than any of these other sciences.” But what Sanchez was saying, correctly, is that evolution demonstrates that there is no need for a divine spark to set in motion, or to maintain, the processes that gave rise to life, and/or consciousness. To say that science does not “conflict with the theistic theological view that God creates the universe at every moment of its existence” is beside the point. The point is that, as Sanchez quoted, there is no need for such a hypothesis.
Further, taking the basic view that the onus of proof is on him who asserts the claim, the existence of a natural explanation for the origin and diversity of life makes it far more difficult for those who claim the existence of a supernatural entity to support that proposition on the basis of reason. They must resort, as Sanchez points out, to actual faith, something that is somewhat rarer than is often claimed.
Matzke suggests that I am “insisting that evolution proves atheism.” It’s rather obvious that I’ve done nothing of the sort. What I’ve done is insisted that evolution deprives the Argument From Design of whatever logical force it once had—an argument that for the longest time was thought to “prove” theism. Again, the onus is on him who asserts the claim. This is, incidentally, why Matzke is wrong to say that atheism is a religion. It obviously is not. It’s simply the belief that the case for the existence of some Supreme Entity has not been made. Sure, a person can believe in both: he can go through life insisting on reasons and logic in everything except The Most Important Things; yes, a person can simultaneously believe in science, backed by experiment, logic, fact, observation and reason, and also believe in a Supernatural Entity. But I believe he does so at the cost of his intellectual integrity.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I agree 100 percent with Richard Dawkins, and then only because it’s not possible to agree more than 100 percent. I do believe that it’s science or religion, in that I believe it is logic, evidence, facts, and reason, versus the will to believe in the absence of reasons. Whether that changes any minds or not is irrelevant. It’s the truth as I see it, and all I can do in the service of “changing minds” is to say the truth as I see it. I will not trim the truth as I see it to suit the demographics of an audience. I very strongly disagree with the proposition, advanced by an unfortunately large number of American defenders of evolution, that we should avoid mentioning this conflict, or try to smooth it over, so as to appease the sensibilities of those too sensitive to face it.
Finally, as to comments, I no longer have the time to police the comments in all my posts, and so I open comments only when I think people might really have questions or something constructive to contribute. I will open comments here.