The Atheistic Argument from Evolution

It is a common taunt among combative non-theists (henceforth called atheists) that evolution, because it is a well-established scientific fact, somehow provides positive proof that God does not exist. God, as the title of the evolutionary zoologist Richard Dawkins’ book proclaims, is a delusion. If this is so it then follows that belief in God is the same as belief in Santa Clause, which directly opposes our best scientific knowledge. It appears as if there is an atheistic argument being made.

1) If evolution is true then God does not exist.
2) Evolution is true.
3) Therefore, God does not exist.

Notice a couple of things about this argument. First, it follows logically. By virtue of the law of logic called modus ponens the conclusion is necessary and inescapable if the two premises are true. That means in order to defeat the argument at least one of the premises will have to be denied.

Second, notice is that premise 1 is a theological in nature, and premise 2 is a scientific in nature. If someone wants to defend or refute premise 2, they will have to do some science, and similarly, if someone wants to defend or refute premise 1 they will have to do some theology (something atheists generally don’t want to do). Now we could argue against that second premise and question if evolution is in fact true. But today I want to look at that the more crucial first premise.

Premise 1: If evolution is true, God does not exist

If evolution is true does this imply that God does not exist?

It seems clear that it is not so. If evolution is true, the most that means is a certain literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is incorrect. Now if such an admission shakes you, I hope that those shakes don’t register on the Richter scale. There have been many Christians who have believed in God, and found no contradiction in also believing in evolution. Many very clever people have been and are theistic evolutionists. C.S. Lewis was one of these who thought that God very well could have used the process of evolution to bring about human life.

Howard Van Till of Calvin College asks:

“Is the concept of special creation required of all persons who profess trust in the Creator-God revealed in Scripture? . . . most Christians in my acquaintance who are engaged in either scientific or biblical scholarship have concluded that the special creationist picture of the world’s formation is not a necessary component of Christian belief . . .”[1]

Augustine in the fourth century (1500 years before the pressure of modern science) was suggesting that the days of Genesis one were not literal “solar days,” but narratorial devises to explain a logical framework. Davis Young from Calvin College explains Augustine’s view:

“Some things were made in fully developed form as we see them today, and other things were made in a potential form, so that in time they might become the way we see them now. Augustine went far beyond any superficial reading of the text by claiming that neither the creation nor the subsequent unfolding took place in six ordinary days. He is explicit that God did not create the world over the course of six temporal days. “The sacred writer was able to separate in the time of his narrative what God did not separate in time in His creative act.”[2]. [3]

Yet even if the Bible’s creation account demands a literal interpretation, then all that would follow is that the doctrine of inerrancy needs adjusting. Studied theologians generally suggest essential doctrines should form a central core. Tenets like God’s existence, his essential attributes, the doctrine of Christ, and of Salvation: these you never up and fight to the wall for. But there are other doctrines positioned nearer the periphery of your theological circle that you could take or leave without causing irreparable harm. If the doctrine of inerrancy falls away, that is not the end of Christianity. (Now in light of scientific and philosophical critiques of evolution, such an admission might be too hasty.) Still, it is worth noting that if the scientific community can establish a convincing proof of evolutionary theory and give explanations of the model’s shortcomings, the existence of God is not what is at stake…


The Atheistic Argument from Evolution | Thinking Matters

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