About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paula Kirby on evolution and Christianity

Paula Kirby explains over here some of the reasons why evolution does, in fact, threaten Christianity.


Evolution means that the creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis are wrong. That's not how humans came into being, nor the cattle, nor the creeping things, nor the beasts of the earth, nor the fowl of the air. Evolution could not have produced a single mother and father of all future humans, so there was no Adam and no Eve. No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life. And not the slightest reason to believe in eternal life in the first place.

That said, of course there are forms of Christianity which do away with a literal fall from grace, and reinterpret the sacrificial atonement so that no such historical event is required. Nonetheless, the doctrines of fall, sin, atonement, and the last things are closely integrated in traditional Christian theology. Many, many people are committed to forms of Christianity that tend to fall (as it were) apart if the literal Adam and Eve story is no longer accepted. Those people - or large numbers of them - would just as soon abandon Christianity altogether if this set of doctrines no longer holds. They will not cheerfully step over to some kind of thinned-out system of doctrine that involves only a symbolic fall from grace.

Kirby has much else to say in the article, and she says it very well indeed. It's a powerful explication of why evolution and Christianity don't mix well, despite all the efforts of accommodationists. She deserves to be better known and used more frequently at conferences and in books and journals.


latsot said...

Paula is also a fun and engaging speaker who obviously enjoys what she does.

Graham Martin-Royle said...

Paula is one of the best writers and speakers out there. If you've never heard of her, take a look at her previous Washington Post articles. If you get a chance to hear her speak, take it.
This article just blows the foundations of christianity to little pieces.

Ken Pidcock said...

Paula Kirby takes on something here that is usually avoided.

While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject. Not only does evolution not need to be guided in any way, but any conscious, sentient guide would have to be a monster of the most sadistic type: for evolution is not pretty, is not gentle, is not kind, is not compassionate, is not loving.

Acknowledging the incompatibility of evolutionary theory with a Christian worldview is kind of taboo among biologists. Michael Ruse contends that doing this could bring establishment charges against biology teachers, a secular = accommodating argument. I disagree. I don't think that science can be held responsible for its impact on delusions.