History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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3 silly beliefs held by critics of silly Xtians

October 31st, 2009 · 18 Comments

3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People

By Greta Christina, Greta Christina’s Blog. Posted October 30, 2009.
Many of the beliefs held by religious moderates — smart people who respect science and the separation of church and state — are as untenable as the dogma of fundamentalists.

And I want to point out that even these beliefs are in direct contradiction of the vast preponderance of available evidence — almost as much as the obscure cults and the rigid fundamentalist dogma.

So let’s go! Today’s beliefs on the chopping block are:

1: Evolution guided by God.

2: An immaterial soul that animates human consciousness.

3: A sentient universe.

These strategies by left to debunk religion tend to get absolutely nowhere, because they are based on a kind of Feuerbachian/Marxist tradition of anti-religion that is stuck in the nineteenth century.
This particular effort here is odd in including the proposition about a sentient universe as one of its targets. I would not wish to defend the thesis of a sentient universe. But I would not wish to defend its antithesis.

That issue apart, the question of evolution, and soul, however confused by religionists, are almost never properly addressed by followers of reductionist scientism or leftist anti-religion.
The issue of evolution guided by god is mis-stated: the real issue is whether Darwin’s theory of natural selection is really science, or whether natural teleology is an aspect of a real scientific theory.

The question of soul is also mis-stated: a Kantian perspective on the question will suggest that the overall framework of consciousness is larger than its space-time perceptual function.
We arrive instantly, if not at soul belief, then a complexification of standard scientism.

To call beliefs in the field of religion silly is ill-advised. I can think of nothing sillier than the reductionist scientism of Darwinists, turned into dogma. Small wonder ‘silly’ religionists refuse to budge.

Tags: Evolution · Science & Religion

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 reece sullivan // Oct 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    Do you have any good reading suggestions on the subject?


  • 2 reece sullivan // Oct 31, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Sorry, nemo –

    Didn’t mean to call you Greta.


  • 3 nemo // Oct 31, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Read a history or exposition of Kant’s first critique, where the metaphysics of god, soul, and free will are discussed showing the way both sides of the debate tend to get confused.
    Stay tuned, I will post a series of materials on this issue.

  • 4 reece sullivan // Nov 1, 2009 at 3:33 am

    I’ll stay tuned, nemo.

    But I will say, I’ve tried taking in Kant; I’ll re-check him out.

    I don’t how related or unrelated this is: in a philosophy class I had, I wrote a paper where I posited the idea that, since the brain is born of space and time, it cannot function outside of space and time. I tried to show this, for one, by saying that, while we can imagine a billion times a billion years, for instance, we cannot think of eternity – no beginning and no end. The same could also apply to space, of course. This was just to illustrate that when we approach subjects like eternity and infinity, we’re in a wholly inadequate position to comment or say much. Our brains aren’t meant to function on that level. So, I tried to show that if there was such thing as something eternal or infinite, attributes we associate with spirit and such, we wouldn’t even recognize them as such. The brain would – I suggested – filter such information through a finite lens.

    After having written the paper, I realized that Kant may’ve said something similar. . . and that I’d unconsciously ripped him off. Am I mistaken? Your comment tends to make me think that I was somewhat correct in thinking I’d ripped him off . . . the comment about consciousness requiring a larger framework than space/time . . . in other words, my paper and assumption was that the brain is born into space/time, four dimensions, and that anything that enters it is interpreted – even if it means “cramming” – into four dimensions, even if the thing interpreted involves more dimensions.

    I hope that somewhat makes sense.


  • 5 reece sullivan // Nov 1, 2009 at 3:40 am

    sorry for so many comments, but . . .

    I’m highly interested in this subject as a whole. I’ve been conversing with an old philosophy teacher concerning reading suggestions, as well . . . I’ve been pro-active, in other words.

    Concerning Darwinian evolution, I’ve read different things, some from Ervin Laszlo and also some thoughts from Keith Ward. Both say that it would seem that matter has a propensity towards consciousness. I’ve brought this up elsewhere, and it was completely disparaged. So, my attitude is that I don’t want to defend the indefensible, but on the other hand, I’m simply confused about these various interpretations of the facts: in other words, it seems to me that to arrive at one or the other interpretations, one has to be present at various experiments and see where data leaves off and interpretation begins. Once I knew what the data was, I could draw my own interpretations, but as it stands, I’m left to sort out other’s interpretations not knowing how they arrived at them and if they’re plausible.

    Any scholarly reading suggestions on this subject? Any illuminating comments?

    Thanks again.


  • 6 Stephen P. Smith // Nov 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Kant would note that the brain is only an appearance, and that there is hint of the thing-in-itself that is beyond. Therefore, to attach selfness to the appearance of brain matter is to miss Kant`s point.

  • 7 Darwiniana // Nov 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    […] Comment on ’silly beliefs…” Stephen P. Smith said, November 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm · Kant would note that the brain is only an appearance, and that there is hint of the thing-in-itself that is beyond. Therefore, to attach selfness to the appearance of brain matter is to miss Kant`s point. […]

  • 8 nemo // Nov 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    The question of Kant and the brain is undeveloped in Kant: he only speaks of his ‘transcendental deduction’ and the categories, highly difficult subjects. But the point is that space and time are an aspect of the categories, which means the mind/brain is constructing space and time. Remarkable that Kant never quite comes out and draws this conclusion.

  • 9 nemo // Nov 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Another book would be Biocentrism. The relationship of matter and consciousness is treated directly.

  • 10 reece sullivan // Nov 1, 2009 at 8:12 pm


  • 11 reece sullivan // Nov 1, 2009 at 8:28 pm


    I wish I would’ve read the “biocentrism” book suggestion a little earlier; I just back from the library. I did, however, read a quick synopsis of biocentrism as a theory. Here’s my question, (excuse my ignorance, please): I thought that einstein showed that time was “a thing” that could be considered “out there,” which stands in opposition to us thinking of time as something akin to a happening; I read something to this effect in “The Matter Myth” by Paul Davies. So, if time and space are seen as things, things that came into being with the big-bang, then how do we arrive at the conclusion that time and space are tools used by consciousness? In other words, is this view consistent with Einstein’s?

    This stuff is above my head, admittedly, and I consider myself somewhat intelligent. I suppose the only way I can hope to start understanding these things is by asking questions.

  • 12 nemo // Nov 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Good question here: one of the classic issues in Kant is the puzzle over the reallity of time and space. Kant’s position is that these have full reality, even though they are also cosntructs of mind.
    Schopenhauer has been critical of this.

  • 13 reece sullivan // Nov 2, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    My thoughts as a layman are that, somewhat coinciding with my earlier post, we cannot think of space and time any differently than we do. As I pointed out earlier, we can think of a large amount of time, but not eternity – no beginning and no end. To refer to the book I mentioned above, “The Matter Myth,” he said that he grappled with wrapping his mind around the implications of relativity, and though he still can’t really think of it, as such, he can understand the mathematics of it. I mean, I’m not really sure how that plays out with Kant’s thought . . . .

    At any rate, thanks for the Biocentrism suggestion. It’s such a fresh, new way of looking at things.

  • 14 nemo // Nov 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I address your comment in a topline post:

  • 15 nemo // Nov 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm


    A link about Deepak Chopra on this issue

  • 16 trex // Nov 3, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I love this stuff, might I recommend watching a recent Horizon called the Secret You (it’s bit dumbed down but has some enlightening moments in regards to our awareness and perception of time). First part -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7YtpH3M_sY – in particular the left/right image picking. I’m pretty fresh to this subject matter and will certainly be reading Biocentrism, am I alone in feeling just a little mad when I contemplate these topics deeply or is that universal?

  • 17 reece sullivan // Nov 3, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Concerning biocentrism – still looking forward to reading it (the book) but still don’t have it in my possession yet – QM, waves/particles, and “things” needing an observer, it couldn’t help but cross my mind after reading Einstein’s statement about liking to think the moon is there even when he’s not looking at it that if there’s any residue of consciousness in “matter,” then the moon would “still be there.” With the biocentrism book, I’ll read it and take it in on its own terms, of course, but I still couldn’t help but think something similar concerning the theory: I think it might be wise to not completely rule out consciousness existing everywhere in everything, to varying degrees. To go back to the moon thing, it’s also possible that there would be a holographic “intelligence” that “keeps the moon there.” This is speculative, and it’s coming from someone who doesn’t completely understand the ramifications of QM and the observer effect and the wave/particle thing, but it still seems worth mentioning.

    Trex, no, you’re not alone.

    I’ll check out your link.

  • 18 Darwiniana » The secret you // Nov 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    […] Comment on ’silly beliefs’ and Youtube link […]

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