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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Atheism doesn't have all the answers, and it can be a religion, say some prominent atheists

Michael Ruse is a prominent philosopher. His academic career has included a lot thinking about the relationship between Christianity and science. He has written a lot about the connection between Darwinism and ethics. In a recent article, he describes himself as "an atheist Darwinian evolutionist ..."

The article is about what Ruse sees as excesses by some other prominent atheists, and he names some of them: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, Edward O. Wilson. Actually, he calls these people, and they would probably agree, Humanists. These Humanists, and others, Ruse says, are too enthusiastic. In other words, they are actively trying to convert others to their views, and ignoring weaknesses of their position. At least some of these four, and others, are advocating a sort of religion based on science.

Ruse points out some serious weaknesses. For one thing, he says ". . . there is no simple line from evolutionary biology to the ethical life, and there is no guarantee that an alternative secular religion will lead us there." I agree. Ethics has to be based on something, and Darwinism doesn't provide such a foundation, whatever the scientific merits of Darwinism.

Another serious weakness is that science has limitations. Ruse says that science can't answer the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" or "Does life have a purpose." Indeed. The Humanists claim that those questions can be answered by science, or that they aren't important, which is ridiculous.

Ruse makes a powerful case, and it's more powerful because of his prominence, and his own atheism.

For more about Dawkins, see here and here.

*  *  *  *  *

In another article, Gary Gutting, writing in Salon, claims that Richard Dawkins has departed from ideas with firm foundations. The question Gutting considers is the question of whether God exists. Dawkins does not, I believe, claim to have disproved God's existence beyond all doubt, but he clearly believes that he has made some strong arguments against His existence. Gutting, a philosopher who apparently believes in God, himself says that "I myself think that there’s no argument that decisively establishes that God exists." But that's by no means the same as proving that He doesn't.

(Gutting is apparently a solidly competent philosopher, but he's not much of a biologist -- he seems to think that tortoises are amphibians . . .) 

Gutting concludes that there is a serious case to be made for theism. Therefore, either Dawkins doesn't understand that, or he does, and has chosen to pretend that there is no such serious case.

I conclude by quoting Hebrews 11:3 "By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible." (World English Bible, public domain) My own belief is that Gutting is correct -- there is no decisive argument for the existence of a creator God. But I can logically and legitimately believe that He does exist, and so can you, even if Dawkins doesn't.

See also here.

I thank Jim Stump, of BioLogos, for pointing me, and other readers, to these articles.

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