I am working on a book which contains a chapter on “Evolution versus Creationism”. I was hoping that I could get a quote from you concerning the origins of mankind. Basically, I have summed up the creationist argument based on the Bible, and the evolutionary argument based on scientific evidence.
Does the Positive Atheism philosophy generally accept evolution as valid? Or is Positive Atheism more broad than that and leaves everyone to make up their own mind independently?
Any quotes or opinions that you would care to share with me would be most appreciated. Thank you for your time!
From: “Positive Atheism”
To: “Karl Wiebe”
Date: November 18, 2004
Subject: Re: Evolution and Creationism
Positive Atheism is a journal which is the work of one man, Cliff Walker, but which constantly seeks the editorial advice of no small number of contributors, ranging from bright but unschooled laypersons to highly educated and well-accomplished professionals in various fields.
Several things to keep in mind when discussing this in public:
Positive Atheism, as such, accepts (tentatively) the explanations thus far provided by the theory of evolution, that being the natural selection of random mutations. We also accept (tentatively) the explanations thus far provided by the inflationary big bang model (the Universe came into being without the benefit of expending any energy), a model that is over 25 years old at this point.
More important than all this, however: we accept atheists — the people.
There are many atheists who do not give a rat about origins. Of course! They don’t care about the subject of religion and thus don’t pay any attention at all to their own atheism. The subject of origins does not interest them in the least. A few atheists actively discredit evolution altogether, being atheistic creationists. To understand this model, just imagine benevolent space brothers who have existed in a Universe that had no beginning and has always existed. A well-known group who espouses this view is called the Raëlian Religion, an atheistic religion popular mainly in Europe. We were the first atheistic entity in these parts (that we know of) to openly welcome the Raëlians as allies despite our disagreements regarding scientific findings.
As much as these ideas rub more than a few atheists the wrong way, we, Positive Atheism, accept the atheists who consider these creationistic ideas to be valid.
Many people, particularly creationists, have a tough time accepting that evolution is not really “an atheist thing.” In its normal contexts, the evolution-versus-creationism discussion (argument) is mainly restricted to theists. Indeed, with a handful of exceptions, only theists care whether or not this world might have been created! Their ideas of theistic creationism are constantly under attack because a small but busy contingent tries to get free advertising for the Christian religion by claiming that creationism is scientific and thus belongs in the biology classes of the public school systems. Scientists in the fields of biology and physics almost unanimously disagree with this claim, and several “wins” on the part of the creationists have awakened a small but fierce contingent of scientists to oppose these attempts by the Christians to put their religious beliefs into the public school curricula.
Most atheistic worldviews leave little or no room for this particular discussion, apart from this little problem with the schools. Add to that a few curiosity seekers, mainly newly deconverted atheists who want to check out “the other side,” a handful of atheistic activists, and a smattering of “village atheist”-types and you’ve got the entire list of atheists who are even remotely interested in arguing, discussing, or even studying the evolution-versus-creationism dichotomy. With the exception of the Raëlians and similar groups, there is no more room for Creationism in the mind of an atheist than there is for flat-Earthism in the mind of an Apollo Moon-shot astronaut or a former International Space Station resident!
Theists, however, have a genuine controversy on their hands with this one. I will leave it to your imagination, however, as to just what these controversies might entail.
As I mentioned above, the one thing we must keep in mind when discussing this topic is the fact that a significant majority of evolutionists are theists, and vice versa. Most theists are evolutionists and most evolutionists are theists. This is not restricted to Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims in the world, either; a significant majority of the evolutionists in the United States of America are Christians: they call themselves, “theistic evolutionists,” and, using the Bible, come up with (in my opinion) a stronger case for God having created species that change over time than (for example) the young-Earth creationists do for God having created each species to remain unchangeable regardless of migration, ecological changes, or other such factors.
(The fact that theistic evolutionists outnumber atheistic evolutionists this has everything to do with there being fewer atheists.)
Theistic evolutionists hold that the evidence for evolution is valid with a single exception: they leave room for the possibility of divine intervention within the evolutionary processes, particularly when it comes to the very beginnings of life (the very first self-replicating molecules) and the final stage giving rise to the species homo sapiens. For many, this is a strong likelihood, highly probable; for most, this is a scientifically unprovable certainty — an article of faith that does not interfere with any scientific studies or pronouncements. Many if not most scientifically trained individuals who are theists, who consider this a certainty, probably limit their scientific certitude to this one proposition. Most scientists try to refrain from engaging in certitude even on the surest of propositions.
There is no way to prove or disprove the claim that a “God” is tinkering with the natural course of things, such as the properties of the various forms of matter, energy, and force. Neither is it (currently) possible for the theistic evolutionists to disprove the claim that the Universe could easily have appeared and become what it is today without the use of any energy. In other words, they cannot prove that more is needed: the laws of physics, as they are currently known, allow for this to have happened. Ditto for the formation of self-replicating molecules: what we have is not so unlikely as to force one to seek out alternatives to a natural processes, alternatives such as supernatural intervention. Had the “Stuff of Life” been made, for example, of molecules containing atoms such as radon or helium, elements that are not known to bond easily into compounds. Had the DNA double-helix of information been structured with nucleotide pairs of compounds that contained the elements argon, krypton, helium, and radon, instead of the familiar (and very likely) adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine, and had we been unsuccessful at synthesizing these structures without powerful forces or complex apparatuses, then it might be logical to seek out an alternative explanation such as that offered by the Christians, that the Son of a supernatural entity has been playing with that crazy chemistry again, the one that He got for His birthday (which happens to fall on Christmas, poor guy).
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