12. Evolution and Rationalism

12. Evolution and Rationalism - 12 Evolution and...

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Unformatted text preview: 12 Evolution and Rationalism 1 Evolution and religion The growth of evolutionary theory had provided a fatal injury to the pretension of religion. Experience: the existence of things should be grounded on experience/science. 2 An entity that intervenes in space and time (as God should have done when he created the universe and sent his son to earth) provides empirical evidence for its existence. Yet we have no empirical evidence for the existence of deities. All claims that there exist deities is devoid of evidence. 3 But we have evidence for evolution (e.g.: physiological, fossils and biogeography). 1. Physiological evidence Evidence of related structures E.g.: the structure of mammalian forelimbs. The wing of the bat, the flipper of the whale and the human arm all share the same bones organized for different functions. 4 2. Fossils They can be dated and show sequences of organisms from currently unknown forms to familiar forms. 3. Biogeography I.e., the geographical relationships between organisms of different kinds (e.g. Darwin finches who have been blown to different places and in the absence of competitors evolves differently). 5 Prior to the development of a convincing theory of evolution there was an argument of sorts for the belief in God and an argument that could be seen to have meet the naturalistic standards. Rationalists like Descartes, Arnauld, Leibniz, had some “good (scientific) reasons” to posit the existence of God. They need the “Ghost in the machine”. 6 The argument from design Roughly, the argument goes as: the world or some of the things in it show unmistakable mark of design; therefore there must be a designer (i.e. God). Even if it succeeds in showing that the world must have a designer, it has little or no power to disclose what the designer is like. 7 If the existence of an ordered object requires the hypothesis of a designer, it is difficult to see why God himself by being supremely ordered doesn’t require a designer. 8 Moral The argument from design only specifies the theoretical apparatus so vaguely that it becomes meaningless. All it explains is the presence of some order or structure. It gives not a single detail of the actual structure found in the world. There is no possible comparison with the richness of explanatory power of evolution theories. 9 Since it is difficult to separate the question from whether there are any Gods from how things are and stand in the world, Darwinism undermines any good reason to believe in God. For if science is the only discipline licensed to say how things stand, although we have no reason to say that God doesn’t exists, we got no evidence that God exists. Science doesn’t contradict religion. But it makes it increasingly improbable that religious discourse has any subject matter, let alone a scientific impact. 10 Big gap The remaining big gap religion may try to bridge concerns the origins of life. If the inspection of the world we inhabit give us no reason for believing in a supreme being, it doesn’t make much sense to posit one to explain the beginning of life. 11 The intervention of a divine being to initiate life would be the best explanation only insofar as we already proved its existence. The deepest implication of evolution is that it should ultimately make clear that we neither have nor need an all­powerful father figure to take on the task that seem presently beyond us (cf. Chomsky’s mysteries/ problems distinction). 12 Humans and other species The distinctiveness of humans are language, thought and culture. But language is basic, for without it there would be no thought and no culture. This shouldn’t be surprising, for each species presents some distinctive, species­specific, feature (e.g.: the beaver is the only mammal digesting wood). 13 The limits of a creature’s consciousness are linked to its particular set of capacities E.g.: a dog is conscious of the scent of a rabbit who happened to be there. Language provides us with an extraordinary enhanced set of capacities and consequently with an enhanced realm of consciousness. 14 Language and evolution 1. Human language, like the giraffe’s neck or the peacock's tail, has evolved to a state that can easily be seen as different in kind from related features of any of its relatives. Nothing, though, suggests that these features didn’t evolve naturalistically. 15 2. The evolution of human language allowed the possibility of other changes in human life that wouldn’t have been possible without language. These changes profoundly distanced our species from the others. 16 ...
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This document was uploaded on 10/26/2011 for the course PHIL 1301 at Carleton CA.

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