Debate:Is belief in evolution equivalent to belief in religion?

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I would suggest the place to start is the definitions of "religion" and "faith".
Here are some from that I think could prove helpful.
Religion - 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
3. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience
Faith - 4. confidence or trust in a person or thing
5. belief that is not based on proof
The only one, I can see that might be in question, is number 5, and only depending on the definition of "proof"
Even if you accept the "evidence" evolutionists supply, 1 through 4 still clearly describe evolution.Bdonelson 21:06, 23 July 2008 (EDT)


I can't say yes - I think belief in religion is something way more than belief in evolution, having faith involves having a spiritual connection with god - and there's no way evolution can imitate that--IDuan 11:40, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Agreed. Ajkgordon 11:46, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Are religions mutually exclusive? Can one be a Christian and a Muslim? Or a Jew and a Hindu? I'm fairly certain they are. You are of one (or no) religion, even though you might follow a few "philosophies" of several. Evolutionism as a religion poses the problem of all the religious people who also believe in evolution and other materialist scientific theories. Therefore, no, I do not accept that "evolutionism" can be equivalent to a religion. Dogma maybe but religion no. Ajkgordon 11:52, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Thank you for agreeing so readily to a fresh aspect of the debate. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, as well as your courtesy, although I may disagree with a point or two.
Not all of the theories of physical science are materialistic. Chemistry and classical physics refer only to physical laws, yet have made immense strides. Acceptance of these discoveries by no means compromises the faith of a religious believer. Even Young Earth creationists agree that sodium + chlorine => salt. And there are no longer any major thinkers who assert the immobility of the earth; the Catholic Church even apologized for that sorry exercise in dogmatism.
Where is the theory of evolution is "materialistic"? When it insists that natural causes (i.e., physical forces and principles) are sufficient to account for design. Note that this is the point for which I was recently "banned" at Wikipedia, for trying to get into their intelligent design article. Oddly enough, it's one of the main points of ID; it should be in the article, if only so the liberals their can argue against it.
Conservatives like Ann Coulter say that evolutionism is a "belief" because the idea that nature is sufficient is taken purely on faith. The other protest is over the philosophy of science professed by evolutionists, which insists on excluding any consideration of intelligent causes. --Ed Poor Talk 12:51, 12 January 2008 (EST)
I would agree that evolution is a belief taken on faith ... but I believe that a faith in God is something more than faith in evolution--IDuan 12:54, 12 January 2008 (EST)
We will have to agree to disagree on that one. But let's take a different "Evolutionist" theory such as the Big Bang. That isn't taken on faith at all. You cannot, in my humble opinion, say that presuming that God didn't create the universe in six days six thousand years ago is a faith position. It's simply absence of presumption. Most evolutionary biologists will use the same argument for their theories but I won't get into that :) Ajkgordon 13:44, 12 January 2008 (EST)
Which is why I said materialistic science rather than science in general.
I must admit, however, that materialist is a concept alien to me, at least in the context it is used here. Materialism is a philosophical position that most scientists don't have a view on. What science can only study is the natural world. It has no say in the study of the supernatural because it is outside its field. (Although some scientists argue that the proposition of God is a scientific proposition like any other and His existence or non-existence should be able to be studied in principle just like any other. However, this seems to be a minority position.)
There are plenty of physics theories, often described as discoveries, that do explicitly contradict religion, or at least some flavours of religion. The discovery of the Big Bang explicitly contradicts YECreationism. The Big Bang is often cited as a theory that "Evolutionists" believe in. And yet, the discoverer of the Big Bang was a Catholic priest! And many, if not most, Christians in the world believe in the Big Bang and other materialistic scientific theories.
So the study of science is necessarily materialistic. As soon as science steps outside the natural world, it is not following the scientific method. Of course, science often does this. It blue-skies, it free-wheels - this is a necessary part of thought experiments and being innovative. Where would quantum mechanics be without a bit of lateral thinking? But theory building must then revert back to the scientific method and this is where there is no room for the supernatural. Evidence is gathered, it is interpreted sometimes by highly innovative thought, a falsifiable model or hypothesis is built which fits the evidence, the model is repeatedly tested and, if lucky, it can be turned into a theory.
And then the researchers and scientists can give a prayer of thanks!
I'm being a little flippant (and I hope not condescending - I'm sure you understand the scientific method). But the fact is that what you call evolutionism contradicts some religious positions but doesn't contradict others. It doesn't have an infallible book that is automatically incompatible with other religions, so it cannot be a religion.
I will concede, however, that it can be a dogma. When it is, then it is not, by definition, being scientific - a problem faced by the scientific community daily. Ajkgordon 13:40, 12 January 2008 (EST)

(before edit conflict) A lot of that seems contradictory or illogical to me. For example, you say that 'materialist is a concept alien to me', yet you assert that the study of science is necessarily materialistic. You seem to know what materialism is, and yet you call it an alien concept.

  • "Materialism is a concept alien to me, at least in the context it is used here" is actually what I said. The philosophical position of materialism isn't the same as the meaning of materialism typically used by opponents of "Evolutionism". Ajkgordon 14:13, 12 January 2008 (EST)

I see a circular argument in the limitation of 'science' to the physical sciences. Some argue for empiricism, on the speculative ground that supernatural causes would necessarily be unpredictable. However, has anyone ever tried to study the supernatural with the same sort of methodological rigor that physical science studies the natural world? Perhaps life after death would be a good place to start.

  • I didn't limit it to the physical sciences. Science limits itself to the natural world. That is part of what defines it. If scientists did discover a way of studying the supernatural then, of course, the supernatural would no longer be supernatural! (And I seem to remember that scientific studies have been carried out on claimed life after death experiences. You are no doubt as familiar as I am as to the conclusions that were drawn,) Ajkgordon 14:13, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Perhaps the problem is the a priori assumption which most people know materialism makes, i.e., that matter is all that exists. This combines with empiricism, which says to trust only one's physical senses. The result is an obstinate refusal to study anything outside of nature.

  • That's right, that exactly what materialism means. But not what science means. Take field physics or quantum theory. Before the hypotheses and theories were developed, any proposition for them would have been dismissed as supernatural. Now that the theories are scientific and can be tested and falsified, they are part of the natural world. And I suspect that scientists who study particle-wave duality or quantum tunnelling would scoff at your assertion that empiricism means trust only in one's physical senses. Ajkgordon 14:13, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Oddly enough, we can distinguish between natural and man made causes readily enough. Human beings are predictable. --Ed Poor Talk 13:50, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Thanks, Ed. I'm not sure if this is helping us with the debate but I have answered a few of your points above by inserting them into your text using bullets. Hope you don't mind.
But my real point is that "evolutionism" cannot be a religion because it can co-exist with some religions or religious cults particularly those that don't take a strict innerent view of their holy book. Ajkgordon 14:13, 12 January 2008 (EST)