Why Atheism & Evolution Don’t Work For Me
One way to judge a worldview, such as Atheism or Christianity, is by asking, Can it satisfactorily explain the world around us? By this I mean, do the major points of a given understanding of existence make sense with the way things really are? Does what a system teach line up with reality?
As I have thought about these things over the years, one thing I have come to see is not only that there are compelling (at least to me) reasons for why Christianity makes sense, but there seem to be major inconsistencies within Atheism that make it less compelling. When I consider the various implications of Atheism, they don’t strike me as satisfactorily explaining the universe or human life. And, on the flip side, Christianity increasingly makes more sense to me as time goes on. I know that these remarks are highly controversial and will be very offensive to some. Please know that is not my goal. I simply want to share a few thoughts, and you can take them or leave them based on your own assessment of them.
For clarification purposes, when I speak of Atheism I have intrinsic in that term an evolutionary perspective of the origin of the universe. To me, those two ideas are inseparably linked. Atheism by default has such a view of the universe. Therefore, what I say will inevitably weave together science and religious thought. In the end, I simply don’t believe it’s possible to separate these two fields, and so I won’t bother trying.
Probably my biggest problem with Atheism is that it contains what I see to be moral inconsistencies. By this I mean that they way human beings generally are – what they desire, what they think to be good, what they hope in – aren’t what they would be if Atheism were true.
Promoting Moral Absolutes
It makes no sense that someone who believes that humanity has an evolutionary origin would ever promote a moral absolute of any kind. Yet, obviously, it happens all the time. If our greatest ancestor was a single-celled organism that rose to life from a pile of goo, and over time evolved into our very complex form of humanity as it exists today, where does the concept of right and wrong come from?
It is inconsistent for someone who holds to Atheism to say that a particular action is right or wrong, because they have no basis for making such a claim, other than that they simply think it is so. But who cares what you think? If, for example, a man’s wife is murdered in cold blood, it is natural for him to be angry about it. But on what grounds can he say that something wrong has been done? Simply because it was hurtful? Is the presence of pain our moral compass? It cannot be, since the thing that pains one person does not always pain another. In addition, we know that sometimes pain is a good thing, such as the heat of an intense fire warning us that we should stay away from it.
So what makes the murder wrong? It is because society says so? But who cares what society thinks? Are right and wrong determined by a popularity vote? What were to happen if a culture arose – as some have – that see murder as being a morally right thing to do in certain instances? Whose cultural view usurps the other in such a case? The bigger one? The stronger one? It ultimately comes down to a subjective opinion that something is morally right or wrong.
As E.O Wilson and Michael Ruse say:
As evolutionists, we see that no [ethical] justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will…. In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding.
This is consistent Atheistic thinking. What, however, is not consistent is to imply that morality, if it is just an evolutionary force sensed from within, is a meaningful guide for humanity. It most certainly is not. People disagree with each other on what is right and wrong, and thus moral viewpoints are almost completely useless if they comes from within.
If morality is an evolutionary force that arises from within, and people feel differently about moral issues, then it must be that some people are more evolved than others. Yet, without knowing the future, it is impossible to tell who is more evolved, because we cannot know which moral ideals will lead us into greater flourishing. This means that a logical Atheist cannot make any claims on moral absolutes.
If Atheism is true, and there is no God who governs the universe and determines what is right and wrong, then mankind is left to simply make it up. And if we are just making it up, it is not really binding at all. It is just opinions that aren’t grounded in anything. An Atheist might try to say they are grounded in cultural consensus, but not all cultures agree. Or they might try to say they are grounded in what is best for the human species, but who is to say what is best? Or they might say that people just inherently know, but what happens when people disagree? The reality is that in order to have any sense of right and wrong, and therefore a true system of justice, there must be an appeal to a source that is greater than oneself, and even greater than any one culture or group of cultures. There must be a higher court of appeal that exists beyond any human opinion or feeling.
The Atheist has no ground to make any claims of moral absolutes. They cannot say that something is right or wrong, only that they think or feel it is so. That is shaky ground to say the least. On the other hand, however, it makes sense that mankind can make moral claims if they can find them in a source outside of themselves and greater than themselves. Which leads to my next point…
It is inconsistent for an Atheist to condemn genocide. If natural selection (survival of the fittest) is the means by which humanity came into existence and continues to thrive, then it only makes sense to remove human beings that might hinder the forward progress of our species. It is no secret that Stalin, Mao, and Hitler were all heavily influenced by Darwin’s theories on evolution. What makes no sense is that Atheists call what these men did an atrocity, when really they were just being consistent with their evolutionary mindset. If the human race is to be protected from extinction, then getting rid of weaker individuals makes sense. Why then the outrage? It is because, even for most Atheists, deep down they know the slaughter of human beings to be wrong. But why? What makes it wrong?
We know it is wrong because people are valuable. Yet where do people get their value? For an evolutionist, the only consistent answer is “people have value based on what they can contribute to society”. Therefore if they are mentally handicapped, physically disabled, elderly and unable to work, or possess any other “undesirable” trait, they have no real value to society. They are, in fact, of negative value, because not only do they not contribute to society, they actually drain its resources. Those who come to the conclusion that such people ought to be terminated are sick in the head but at least are being consistent with Atheistic thinking. Perhaps some Atheists will counter by saying that compassion somehow fits into the process of evolution in a beneficial way, and therefore killing people we deem unhelpful to society is not serving the greater good. There’s a worthy argument there, except that it ascribes too much value on compassion. After all, natural selection is anything but compassionate on those individuals whom it aims to dispose of.
If evolution is where we came from and how we will continue to exist, it not only is illogical to condemn genocide but any kind of societal structure that threatens our extinction or weakens our ability to continue to exist. This brings me to my next point…
Affirming Homosexual Relationships
An evolutionist who trumpets natural selection as a good thing, yet would affirm a homosexual relationship as good, is an inconsistent person. Unless, that is, they think that homosexuals deserve to become extinct (which I’m assuming most don’t).
Because homosexuals cannot procreate, their relationships do little to further the human race in terms of evolutionary progress. If homosexuality became the majority relationship, eventually human beings would have less children and would become more susceptible to extinction. In other words, it is not advantageous from an evolutionary perspective to affirm homosexuality. One could argue that having homosexual couples find love and friendship brings value to society, but the lack of childbearing would lead to a lack of existence over the long term. Isn’t existing more important than being happy, from a natural selection point of view? If we are really just a collection of cells and nothing more, happiness is a trivial thing. It is just a perception of one’s personal state based on chemical reactions in the body. Why would we allow such a fleeting thing like happiness to trump the very existence of our own species? The answer is that, in the cold hard world of evolution, we don’t. Therefore, to trust in evolution but affirm homosexuality seems inconsistent, as it weakens our chances of survival.
Speaking of relationships….
A consistent Atheist would not put much of a premium on romance. Romance is a subjective experience that, while perhaps enhancing the quality of life (at least we perceive it that way), does little to enhance the continuation of life. What I mean is that, if the survival of humans is dependent upon them having children, it would not hurt our evolutionary chances of survival if we ditched romance in favour of mere animalistic sex. Why bother with meaningful relationships, especially since they can sometimes be a headache anyways? Again, it could be argued that it improves the quality of life, but so what? Wouldn’t we be better off investing our time and money and energy to finding cures for diseases that threaten to wipe us out, than watching sunsets or going to the movie theatre? If we are really alone in this universe and left to fend for ourselves, why are we not more frantic in our search for human survival? Who has time for such trivial things as romance when our very existence is at stake? We would be much better off just scheduling childbearing as best as we can, testing to see which humans are most fit and then mainly breeding them. If we are honest, is not this lifeless, rigid, machine-like mindset the natural outcomes of Atheism, when drawn out to its logical conclusions? The only thing that prevents it is raw emotion.
Taking People Seriously
After saying all of this, why should you even take me seriously? Doubtless, some of you will not. Have it your way. But in reality, if Atheism is true, no one should take you seriously either. Everything you think is just electrical impulses surging through the tissues clumped inside your skull. Everything you say is just the random babblings of an animal. If you fancy yourself evolved, consider that 1000 years from now you will be laughed at as an antiquated joke. So why should anyone take you seriously now? Your opinions hold no weight. Your life and actions are meaningless. You have no value and no one should take you seriously. At least, that would make sense if Atheism were true.
Why so many Atheists cannot see such realities as these is confusing to me. There have been some Atheists over the years who were consistent, to a degree, in their thinking. They took their beliefs about God (or lack thereof) and how the universe came into existence and then drew out logical conclusions. Most of the time we consider their conclusions to be outrageous, but many times they actually make sense, given the premises they began with.
In contrast to this, I see Christianity as being very consistent with its premises and conclusions. God is real and supreme over all, and therefore he sets forth what is right and wrong. That makes sense. God created us and endowed us with intrinsic value, therefore we don’t kill weak people. We care for them. That makes sense. God is the inventor of emotions, therefore we do not neglect them. That makes sense too. God is the one who instituted marriage and formed sexuality, therefore we do it his way. God made us different from animals, therefore we treat each other with respect and dignity. We value people. We love them. We enjoy life. We go outside of ourselves for guidance. We become God-centred instead of man-centred.
To me, it just makes sense.
I don’t think you should really stress/worry about atheism and evolution so much (they’re not the same thing). If religion works for you and you truly believe in the garden of Eden story, by all means do; provided it doesn’t infringe on other people’s liberties. I think before you start worrying about those of us who don’t believe in any God, you need to first reconciled with those who believe in other gods other than yours (crusades/jihad anyone?). Or closer to home, reconcile the arguments with one religion.
Hey there, thanks for reading and commenting.
I don’t consider Atheism and evolution the same thing, but I see them as being strongly linked, hence why I move back and forth between them often in the article. I suppose I am “worried” about Atheism in one sense, because if God is real and we are accountable to him, I am concerned for my Atheist friends that they are not ready to face God. If what I believe is true, which obviously I think it is, then I think it is loving of me to warn others or at least plead with them to consider what I have to say. What one does with that information is out of my hands.
Thanks for the cordial response, they seem rare these days when it comes to controversial subjects.