Atheism and The Missing Link to Evolution
Atheism and (the theory of) Evolution: How are they connected and why does it matter?
In order to have a meaningful discussion, the participants must be sharing a language. This may seem a painfully obvious notion, but in this case, it merits additional consideration. Whether you’re reading this in English as written, or translated version, the words will carry meaning. Semantic ambiguity prevents an idea from being properly expressed. I mention this because of the word theory in the context of evolution. Per Merriam-Webster’s dictionary there are 6 discrete definitions. Looking at numbers 1 and 5:
1: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena the wave theory of light
5: abstract thought : SPECULATION
These are very different meanings for the same word. In the case of the theory of evolution, the first applies. Use of the phrase, “it’s just a theory” assumes to the latter. Scientific theories aren’t generally considered as such until there has been a preponderance of evidence that supports it and none that refutes it. If any scientific theory is proved false, it is no longer valid theory. This includes the dictionary example, the gravitational relationship between masses, that the sun is at the center of our solar system, and evolution.
Evolution is fact. It’s happening. It’s observable both in effect and in action. It’s no more in question than whether jumping is a round-trip. All related real-world observations support this. Why then, would anyone deny its validity?
The theory of evolution is denied because a widely held belief to the contrary predates it. It’s not based on scientific research, but rather a simplistic notion that was presented long before the scientific method was first utilized. This notion is referred to as creation and it consists of the belief that a powerful being created all things as they are. While invented before, the myth was heavily referenced and relied upon in the literal interpretations of the Christian Bible. In fact, without the assumptions of creation, the claims of this religious doctrine unravel entirely.
Without creation, there is no Adam and Eve and therefore no “original sin”. Without that, there is no sacrifice of Jesus and Christianity has no claim of divinity. Without addressing these inconsistencies, Christianity continues. If you ask a hundred Christians which parts of the Bible are true, you’ll get nearly 100 answers.
For those who place doctrine above observation, there has been no reason to deviate from the creation myth. For those whose cognitive dissonance does battle with their faith, Christian apologists step in to do the mental gymnastics of “godsplaining.” In any faith-based institution of “higher learning”, you will find special degree programs dedicated these pursuits complete with PhDs in apologetics and the paradoxically named “creation science.” While their particular arguments and alternative theories may be laughable, the consequences are real and sobering. There are large, well organized, and very well-funded church factions whose influence is no laughing matter. Consider the reach of answersingenesis.org. There you can get tickets to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, but you can also buy homeschool curriculum in order to keep your indoctrination game strong. You can buy “witnessing tools,” sign up for events, and most importantly give your money to them so they can “preserve and broaden” their outreach. This is just one organization of many.
You might rightfully be wondering what any of this has to do with atheism and why atheists should care. I apologize for meandering, but I’m nearing the point. If you’re atheist, you have no use for creationism and no reason not to accept the science of evolution. The notion that any time should be devoted to creation myth (beyond mythology classes) is secularly indefensible.
It’s easiest to say people should be allowed to believe whatever they want to believe. It doesn’t matter if an individual thinks the Earth is 6000 years old and flat. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated. What if that individual wants to teach her children this? What if they’re taught hatred and distrust of secular concerns? Is this child abuse? An argument could be made. Now consider the activist. Many believers are not of the “live and let live” variety. Many are convinced that spreading “the word” is a necessary part of their religion and a moral obligation. Some believe secular education leads to the ruin of society. Invariably, they want their religion to be taught in schools. These people are numerous and they vote.
Here are the absolutely shocking results from a 2005 study regarding the proposed teaching of creationism in public schools. Most Americans believe creationism should be taught alongside evolution. In fact, 14 states currently allow teaching creationism in tax funded schools. Now consider the current trend. Do you think the influence of Evangelical Christians is greater or less than it was a decade ago?
You might feel as I do that Americans have been more susceptible to disinformation campaigns recently. It’s disturbing to say the least when elected leaders knowingly and repeatedly make demonstrably false claims with no consequence. Not only is it easy to disseminate harmful information, there’s a growing demand for it. All the proof in the world can’t seem to measure up to the appeal of telling people what they want to hear.
If you’re atheist, it’s likely you value intellectual honesty. The truth means something to you. You’ve rejected claims of magnificent rewards and the most sinister threats in order to speak the truth to yourself. In the very least, you don’t want to be subjected to the will of those who pull the strings in someone else’s religion. Standing up for the reality of evolution is a small step toward creating a future where knowledge and honesty are valued above obedience and faith. If you don’t think it matters, maybe the disease of denial has spread to you too.
This article was originally written for The Bearded Heretic as a guest blog article. Please also check out Luke’s articles there and check out his Twitter @BeardedHeretic_ and his YouTube Channel: Bearded Heretic – YouTube