Unnaturalness of Atheism

Johannes Moreelse Democritius

The idea that atheism ought be assumed by default is a chimera. Atheism cannot be assumed by default, it must be demonstrated. The belief that given the failure of theistic case for God, atheism ought be assumed does not only commit an appeal to ignorance but is also against the picture painted by modern discoveries in Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR).

Several recent researches in CSR shows that children naturally hold certain universal religious ideas such as belief in divine agents and belief in mind-body dualism. Similar to universals of language, universals of religious belief include principles that are shared in all culture and time, the belief in supernatural beings.

Paul Bloom explained that it was believed that those beliefs in Gods, the afterlife &c., could not have been a result of innate but social and cultural learned beliefs. Observing a recently growing body of literature on this field, however, Bloom affirmed that such a view is no longer entirely right. Though culture plays a certain role, “some of the universals of religion are unlearned”(Bloom 2007: 149) Jesse M. Bering concurs with Bloom’s observation. He wrote:

Although conventional wisdom tends to favor a general learning hypothesis for the origins of after-life beliefs, recent findings suggest a more complicated developmental picture (Bering 2006: 454). Continue reading

Plants vs. Zombie: Fossil Record Contradicts Evolution

Darwin SignPopular myths are like zombies.  They invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth II: Fossil Record Contradict Evolution

In Evolution? The Fossils Say No! Duane T. Gish wrote that paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould argued that fossil record “does not produce evidence of the gradual change of one plant or animal form into another”(Gish 1979, 172) Gish pointed out that according to Gould fossil record produced evidence for “each kind appeared abruptly”.

A zombie appeared with the hidden assumption that if phyletic gradualism is wrong then Darwinism¹ must also be wrong. This zombie failed to see the difference between two schools of evolutionary biology.

It is true that Gould and Niles Eldredge contended that “[m]ost species, during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent direction.”(Gould & Eldredge 1977, 115) Punctuated equilibria explains the “overlooked phenomenon of marked stability, responding to a pattern where adaptive evolutionary change seems to be concentrated into (relatively) brief episodes, ‘punctuating’ vastly linger intervals where little or no change is accumulated.”(Eldredge 1989, 174)

According to Gould and Niles, most evolutionary modification is concentrated in rapid proceedings of speciation in small, marginally remote populations (1977, 117). Even if we were to assume that “graualistic tale were true, which it is not” (ibid 116) there is limited fossil date to establish the truthfulness such a tale. What were prima facie treated as gaps in fossil data are actually data, stasis period of species proliferation.

Although Charles Robert Darwin in his later works moved towards gradualism, his early stages works showed that he held saltationist view. On page 130 of his Red Notebook, for example, Darwin argued that were there is no gradual change and one species has changed into another, then “it must be per saltum- or species may perish”.

Darwin encountered what paleontologists  found and noted it as a good objection to his theory (Notebook E, 1838). Since “[o]n the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she[nature] should not; for natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by the shortest and slowest steps.”(Darwin 1964, 194) Darwin resolved this objection by appealing to an incomplete fossil record (1964, 310-11)

Even though paleontologists failed to see gradualism, a slow, steady and gradual change of species in fossil record as the only paradigm of Darwinism, they harmonized that broad-spectrum patterns of evolutionary history displayed in the fossil record with another evolutionary biological paradigm, ‘punctuated equilibria’. It is prima facie contra natura non facit saltum of Darwinian gradualism but Darwinism nonetheless.

Bibliography:

Darwin, Charles (1964) On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gish, Duane T. (1979) Evolution: The Fossils Say No! San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers.

Gould, Stephen Jay & Eldredge, Niles (1977) ‘Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered.’ Paleobiology vol. 3: 115-151

Eldredge, Niles (1989) ‘Punctuated equilibra, rates of change and large-scale entities in evolutionary systems.’  Journal of Social and Biological Structures Vol. 12:173-184

Previous Myth: Hume Was An Atheist


[1] I used Darwinianism and Evolution synonymously.

Nietzsche and Two Unpleasant Implications of Darwinism

Nietzsche

“There was a type of enjoyment in overpowering and interpreting the world in the manner of Plato,” contended Friedrich Nietzsche, “different from the enjoyment offered by today’s physicists, or by the Darwinians and anti-teleologists who work in physiology, with their principle of the ‘smallest possible force’ and greatest possible stupidity”(Nietzsche 2002, 15-16)

Nietzsche’s rejection of Darwinism is scarcely discussed and often ignored in contemporary philosophy of science. This article concisely introduced two unpleasant implications of Darwinian paradigm which played a role in Nietzsche’s early critique of Darwin and his followers.

Order From Disorder: Death of Rationality

If Darwinian premises are true, “how”, asked Nietzsche,  “can something originate in its opposite, for example rationality in irrationality, the sentient in the dead, logic in unlogic, disinterested contemplation in covetous desire, living for others in egoism, truth in error?”(Nietzsche 1996, 1)

Nietzsche’s question also flies over the contours of the horrid doubt that arose in Charles Darwin’s own inward conviction, as penned in his July 3rd 1881 letter to William Graham; “whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

Following Nietzsche, the origin of rationality, sentient, and logic are not accounted for in a naturalistic Darwinism. Darwin’s rhetorical question: “Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” underlines a doubtful reliability of our rationality. (Plantinga 2012, Nagel 2012)

Conceived World of Darwinism: Death of Ethics

The existence of undeniable occurrences of human kindness, compassion, love and self-denial, according to Nietzsche, lacks their ontological foundation in bellum omnium contra omnes, a Darwinistic premises viz.,  “struggle for existence” and “survival of the fittest”. (Nietzsche 1995, 39-40)

Contemporary Darwinian philosophers, E. O. Wilson and Michael Ruse, concurs with Nietzsche that there is no ontological foundation of ethics in Darwinism. Ethics, they argued, “is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes in order to get us to cooperate.”(Ruse & Wilson 1989, 51) An illusion that is biologically advantageous to aid human survival and reproduce.

This  Nietzsche’s early critique of Darwinism applies to those individuals, who he tagged “our ape-genealogists”, who believed in undeniable existence of objective moral values and duties. In my next article on this serie, I visited Nietzsche’s later works, which went head-on against Darwinian evolution.

Next: Nietzsche’s Rejection of Darwinian Evolution

Bibliography:

Nagel, Thomas (2012) Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1995) David Struss. Translated by Richard T. Gray in Unfashionable Observations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

______________  (1996) Human, All Too Humane. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______________(2002) Beyond God and Evil. Translated by Judith Norman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Plantinga, Alvin (2012) Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruse, Michael & Wilson, E. O (1989). The Evolution of Ethics. New Scientist 17, 108-28