Is Darwinian Evolution Corrosive of Belief in God?

From the start, Charles Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution sparked debate among scientists, philosophers, clergy, and laypeople about whether evolution eroded belief in God. In the following essays, you can explore the debate over evolution’s impact on theistic beliefs from the writings of leading supporters and critics of Darwin’s theory.

The Improbability of God

Richard Dawkins

Biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, argues that Darwinian evolution makes belief in God highly improbable by refuting the idea that nature was intelligently designed.

 

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

Daniel Dennett

In his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett praises Darwinian evolution as a “universal acid” that dissolves traditional religious and moral beliefs.

 

Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea

Phillip E. Johnson

Darwin’s idea may well be dangerous, according to retired University of California (Berkeley) law professor Phillip Johnson, but the scientific evidence for Darwin’s denial of design is far less persuasive than supporters of theory like Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins seem to think.

 

Something Darwin Didn’t Know

Rick Weiss

Acknowledging that Darwin’s theory “threatened some conventional religious beliefs,” science journalist Rick Weiss argues that Darwin never conclusively ruled out the existence of God and that he “knew there is plenty of room for God at the top, upstream of the business of biology.”

 

Does Charles Darwin Really Serve as a Positive Example that Repudiates the New Atheists?

Steven Schafersman

Geologist Steven Schafersman, head of Texas Citizens for Science, accuses journalist Rick Weiss of “trying to make Darwin into something he was not, and then using that misrepresentation to make a case against New Atheist activists.” According to Schafersman, “Darwin… did not believe in a god, and most importantly, Darwin rejected the Christian God.”

 

Nature’s God and the Theology of Evolution

Larry Arnhart

Political theorist Larry Arnhart at the University of Northern Illinois argues that Darwinian evolution is compatible with Biblical theism, contending that “[t]he God of the Bible is not presented as concerned with designing everything down to the last detail.”

 

Living with Darwin

Philip Kitcher

Agreeing that Darwinian evolution is incompatible with “supernaturalist” religion, Columbia University philosopher Philip Kitcher nonetheless argues that the tension between faith and Darwin can be reduced by convincing religious believers to replace their acceptance of supernaturalism with “spiritual religion.”

 

The Tension between Darwinian Evolution and Traditional Theism

John G. West

John West, Asssociate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, argues that Darwinian evolution and traditional theism can be made compatible only by either redefining evolution or by watering down traditional theism.