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« Orwell lives | Main | Holy Depressing Metaphor, Batman! »

April 30, 2007

Faith by Any Other Name

As I previously wrote, “In the nineteenth century, Lord John Morley had a dream: ‘The next great task of Science is the building of a new religion.’” Considering the developments over the last century, Lord Morley could rightly be called the “Daniel” of neo-Darwinism.

As with all religions, neo-Darwinism has its patron saints: Charles Darwin; its founding text: The Origin of Species; its creed: The Humanist Manifesto; its martyrs: Galileo; its evangelists: Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins; its holy days: Darwin Days; its holy relics: fossils; and its religious symbol: the Darwin fish plaque.

And now it has its evangelistic pageants. On April 21, the Cambridge Science Festival debuted Lifetime: Songs of Life and Evolution—a 90-minute musical aimed at “spread[ing] the good word on evolution.” The performing cast was made up of families with children as young as five singing paeans to our evolutionary origins. Cast members sported the Lifetime t-shirt, complete with a logo depicting a primate evolving into a singing man.

The performance included tributes to Richard Dawkins, celebrations of diversity through our evolutionary heritage, and even lyrics against speciesism: "Don't you dismiss, this protist ... What's so great about being the same shape every day?"

Underneath the celebratory patina, one gets a whiff of desperation in all this. Yet one thing’s for sure: you can’t say that those Darwinists aren’t people of faith.

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There is nothing new under the sun...

"Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
While there's always jam tomorrow
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked to toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on highl
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

On then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it well may be)."
- C.S. Lewis, "Evolutionary Hymn"


Evolution is based on scientific investigation and research.

Science is open to rebuke and new ideas, unlike some contradiction ridden ancient text.

What is the difference between an imaginary friend and god?

Did people have morals before that text was written? I would probably think so.

This comment is for the author only, as I don't think you would have the courage to have it posted in your filtered blog.

Regis Nicoll


As you rightly note, “Science is open to rebuke and new ideas.” However, science--it may surprise you--is the product of thinkers whose investigative advances were informed and motivated by their Christian faith. I write about this at some length in “Science and Religion: Adversaries or Allies?” You can check it out at http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=6385

I agree that evolution, namely, micro-evolution “is based on scientific investigation and research.” You’ll find no quibble with Christians or other theists over small scale intra-species adaptation evidenced in the much-touted examples of finch beak variation, dog varieties, anti-biotic immune bacteria, and pesticide resistant insects. However, it has never been empirically demonstrated how random molecular collisions in the pre-biotic swill led to the emergence of the finch itself. Oh yes, there are theories galore—fanciful accounts of life’s origins that are non-falsifiable. That’s because they’re wedded to presuppositions about reality and knowledge. For example, the claims that 1) the material world is all there is and that 2) our only true knowledge comes by way of science, are claims that cannot be scientifically proven—they are a priori statements through which all data is filtered.

And that’s the point of this post: Darwinists, like theists, are people of faith. It’s a point I address more fully in “Faith Under Fire” (http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=5883) and “Star Trek Apologetics” (http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2006/10/star_trek_apolo.html).

As to that “contradiction ridden ancient text” that, as you suggest is not open to rebuke—are you familiar with Dan Brown or Elaine Pagels?

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