According to many leading proponents, Darwinian evolution holds important implications for morality, theology, and public policy. Noted philosopher Daniel Dennett praises Darwinism as a “universal acid” that corrodes traditional religion and morality. The world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, says Darwinism allows atheists to be “intellectually fulfilled.” Darwinism does not necessarily entail an atheist worldview, but the fact remains that the majority of evolutionists hold views similar to those of Dawkins and Dennett. Cornell evolutionary biologists Gregory Graffin and William Provine surveyed the religious beliefs of 149 top evolutionary scientists in 2003. They found that 78 percent reject belief in the supernatural, and less than 5 percent believe in a personal God (American
Scientist, July–August 2007).
Since it says all living things are the product of an unguided process, leading scientists say Darwinian evolution challenges the view that humans were purposely created by God. America’s champion of evolution, Stephen Jay Gould, said that “before Darwin, we thought that a benevolent God had created us,” but because of Darwin, “biology took away our status as paragons created in the image of God” (Ever Since Darwin). Paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote that under evolution, “man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind” (The Meaning of Evolution, rev. ed.). Likewise, a 2007 editorial by the editors of the world’s top scientific journal concluded that if human minds were produced by evolution, then “the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside” (“Evolution and the Brain,” Nature, June 14, 2007).
A number of theologians and scientists believe that Darwinian evolution can be compatible with theism and Christianity. However, some of them espouse views that accentuate the challenge evolution poses to traditional theology. For instance, some theistic evolutionists advocate an absentee God, insisting that God does not know how evolution will turn out. Former director of the Vatican observatory, Father George Coyne, believes that neo-Darwinism makes it unlikely that God is omniscient or omnipotent. Christian evolutionary biologist Kenneth Miller believes God set up an evolving creation, but views human existence as “an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just well have left us out” (Finding Darwin’s God). Some theistic evolutionists jettison the Judeo-Christian idea that the first humans were sinless but became sinful by an act of disobedience. Karl Giberson, for instance, says humans were sinful from the beginning of their evolutionary development because natural selection bred competition and selfishness (Saving Darwin). Giberson’s book was widely praised by other theistic evolutionists, most notably Christian evolutionist Francis Collins.
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