Friday, December 20, 2013

Is Darwinism Hard-Wired For Truth or Survival?

From Alister McGrath's great book Why God Won't Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running on Empty? (read my review of the book here):
A real problem for those believe that reason can liberate us relates to contemporary interpretations of evolutionary theory. Charles Darwin is often adopted as a popular mascot by the new atheism. For example, Daniel Dennett is adamant that Darwin's theories demolish many traditional ideas - such as belief in God. Dennett playfully imagines his critics - there turn out to be rather a lot of these - demanding that Darwinism be kept on a tight leash: "Cede some or all of modern biology to Darwin, perhaps, but hold the line there! Keep Darwinian thinking out of cosmology, out of psychology, out of human culture, out of ethics, politics and religion!" For Dennett, Darwinism is a universal acid that corrodes the certainties of much traditional thought - especially religion.

Yet the attentive reader of this quote will notice a conspicuous absence from the list of disciplines that Dennett suggests might benefit from Darwinian intervention: Dennett's own discipline of philosophy. If Darwinism is indeed the universal acid that Dennet proclaims it to be, it must be allowed to corrode his own ideas - not merely those of others.

It's easy to figure out why Dennett wanted to seal his philosophy in an acid proof bubble: it relates to a disturbing question, fundamental to philosophy, that has recently received much attention: Does natural selection select for truth or for survival? More than one evolutionary theorist has concluded that natural selection does not care about truth; He cares only about reproductive success." Is human reason hardwired for survival rather than for seeking truth? If so, what are its implications for the pure reason in which the new atheism places so much trust? (103-104)
This is an extremely important point. Evolution seeks to explain everything but fails to explain its basic presuppositions. Our minds have to be free from mere survival of the fittest in order to intellectually stand outside and observe survival of the fittest. Thus truth, whatever that may mean in a consistent evolutionary worldview, becomes whatever best fits the narrative for survival rather than what is actually true.

This is not to say that evolutionists spin the truth to favor survival. It does mean that evolution cannot explain why we humans seek out truth, study everything from atoms to the universe in pursuit of more knowledge and truth. Animals do not spend their time doing such things. But we do.

Of course, to me, the reason for this is obvious. We are not simply higher evolved animals (whatever that may mean) at the top of the food chain. We are humans made in the image of God.

For more:
"Why God Won't Go Away" by Alister McGrath
Why Won't God Go Away?: McGrath on the Demise of the New Atheism 
The Atheist Debates 
Expelled: A Film About Freedom, Evolution, and Intelligent Design
Expelled:  A Movie We Must Take Seriously
"Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
"Heresy" by Alister McGrath: A Review
"Atheism Remix" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
"The Delusion of Disbelief" by David Aikman
"The End of Reason" by Ravi Zacharias
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
On Why Darwin Still Matters
Collision:  An Important Documentary About Faith and Atheism  
Causation and the Existence of God:  How Scientists Continue to Prove Aquinas's Point  
Creation or Manipulation:  The Limits of Man and the Evidence for God
Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality  
Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism  
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