Does evolution show that there is no need for God? According to many prominent Atheists, yes.
“The evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design.” – Richard Dawkins
“the deeper we probe these questions, and the more we learn about the world in which we live, the less reason there is to believe in God… Science, in the broadest sense, is making belief in God obsolete, and we are the better for it.” – Stephen Pinker
Before his death in December 2011, perhaps Christopher Hitchens best represented this common Atheist sentiment when he wrote this:
[Scientific discoveries] make pathetic nonsense of any idea that our presence on this planet, let alone in this of so many billion galaxies, is part of a plan. – Christopher Hitchens
Moreover, it would seem that some Christians have accepted the premise that they have to choose between God and evolution. Therefore, some have rejected evolution in favor of what they believe has been empirically verified; their relationship with God. But do Christians have to make this choice? Whether evolution is true or not, there are several reasons why I believe this is a false choice, but that will not be my focus today.
In this entry, I want to put the shoe on the other foot. I will attempt to demonstrate that if evolution is true, it is a serious, perhaps unworkable, problem for Atheism!
Here’s my case…
Evolution supports the second premise of the cosmological argument that “the universe began to exist” because, as I will show, it relies on a linear view of time. That is to say that time can be described as a sequence of moments taking place one after another moving in a straight line. A linear view of time certainly seems to correspond to our experience of reality and, as such, this conclusion appears to be uncontroversial. But as we will see, this has serious theological implications.
To see the problem we need a brief over view of the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
- Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Premise 1: Anything that begins to exist has a cause. This claim, generally, is uncontroversial among contemporary scholars. However, there have been some notable objectors. Enter prominent theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss.
In his book A Universe from Nothing , Dr. Krauss argues that the universe could have sprung into being from nothing. The problem with Dr. Krauss’ objection is his definition of “nothing”. Quantum vacuums, simply put, are not nothing! Nor is gravity, nor are the laws of physics! Nothing literally means “no things”, or to use Aristotle’s definition, “what rocks dream about”. So we are still left with explaining how matter can come from non-matter… And that’s another matter (see what I did there?).
Premise 2: The universe began to exist. This is supported by “big bang” cosmology, the second law of thermodynamics, and, as it turns out, by evolution.
To explain, evolution purports to account for the complexity and variety in biology with small incremental changes accumulating one after another over millions of years. In other words, evolution has given rise from the simple to the complex by a process of natural selection and that process continues to the present day. This is a clear example of what is meant by linear time.
The issue is that, if time really works this way, there must have been an absolute beginning. i.e. It is logically impossible to have an infinite number of past events. If the number of days in the past is INFINITE, we would have never reached the present day. Likewise, if you could travel back in time, no matter how far back you go, there would still be an infinite amount of days in the past. This is metaphysically absurd.
If we exist — right now — in a changing state of affairs, then it is impossible to go on and on forever in the past. Logically, there must have been a beginning or a first change. – Tim Stratton
Thus, the second premise “the universe began to exist” is true.
Conclusion: Therefore, universe has a cause. And since the universe is composed of time, space and matter, the uncaused first cause of the universe is, by definition, timeless, space-less and immaterial. In other words, the cause of the universe is what Christians would call “God”.
Or am I wrong? Let me know in the comments section and click follow if you want to see new posts as soon as they are published!
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[Editorial note: When I use a capital “A” in reference to Atheism in this blog, I am referring to a person who makes the positive claim “I believe there are no gods”. This is meant to differentiate from the more “passive atheism” that purports to simply “lack a belief in god”. This is a distinction that I reject in principal, but indulge here because I do not want to distract from the topic at hand.]