Atheism, Evolution and Worldview Consistency

by Pastor Vocab Malone at Street Apologist

Many of the New Atheists tell us science can explain everything – except when it can’t. They rely on empiricism – except when they can’t. Both happen more often than you might think. For example: on evolution, what’s the proof that there are other values besides survival for the surviving evolved? We don’t need more descriptions of human behavior from atheists, we need paradigm consistent answers.

Press the atheist on this and you will quickly receive what amounts to a quasi-admission that evolution has no explanatory power for the way real people actually live. Sam Harris often refers to ‘moral emotions’. What are ‘moral emotions’ – from a biological standpoint? Can you measure them and tell us their place among the laws of physics?

Likewise, I always shake my head when I see that Dawkins quote about rebelling against the tyranny of our genes – right after he talks about how we’re programmed by our DNA. It almost sounds like Romanticism or Existentialism; I don’t know what to call this brand of whimsy. But what is Dawkin’s evolutionary reason for stating we can conquer our evolutionary reasons?

Either way, I’m not sure if Daniel Dennett (see his ‘evolution as acid’ motif) or Stephen Hawking (Mr. ‘Philosophy-is-Dead’-so-now-I-can-do-bad-philosophy) got the memo about the limits of science – or most atheists when they are debating Christians. What’s the point of Sam Harris’ book on morals, anyway? Science can answer moral questions.

If an atheist tells me science is not the only way to know things, then I ask: can you give a list of your other authoritative inputs, then? Do you have a bullet-point hierarchy, perhaps? Just boil it down; maybe one or two words for each authoritative category. I want to know: what are your other, non-scientific epistemological venues and your other, non-empirical knowledge tools. Why? To better understand what you claim. And it just may help you work out some very knotty knots in your non-systematized ‘system’.

As I discuss this with folks, I keep running into atheists who resist the idea of worldview. Why? It seems their reason is they don’t want to be pegged down. Why? I guess so they can remain inconsistent in applying their axioms. But don’t atheists need to apply what they believe in a rigorous manner? I ask you: if you think evolution is irrelevant for your moral decisions, than what role does it play in how you, as a product and believer in it, live? If it does not factor in, then it has no real application to human behavior and is powerless.

Worldview is your philosophical construct. For the Christian, the concept may be a rough corollary to the Biblical concept of “heart” (Hebrew ‘leb‘ or ‘lebab‘, which occurs 855 times in the OT). Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) first used ‘worldview’ (Weltanschauung) in Critique of Judgment (1790). Others explored it: Wilhelm Dilthey, G.F.W. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, James Olthuis, Albert M. Wolters, and John H. Kok. Kiekegaard says a ‘life-view’ (his word instead of worldview) results in one understanding one’s life backwards through the idea retrospectively. It makes no sense to say people don’t have ways in which they view the world.

I have yet to meet the consistent atheist. Or consistent evolutionist. Or consistent empiricist. Or consistent rationalist. Or consistent secular humanist. Most modern atheists seem blissfully unaware of the trail blazed through modernity to land them in the cultural and epistemological milieu they sit in so comfortably. It seems too facile, this atheism. Too non-reflective. Too easy.

I just want more. An axiomatic-aware atheism. A robust rationalism. A self-conscious secularism.

Where is it?

‘It is the transfer of broken elements of the imago-content into secular ethics which actually leads to the major inconsistencies in those systems. Not even the ethics of self-conscious revolt against God and objective morality can fashion its system of morals without borrowing something, even if inadvertently, from the ethics of creation. And the spokesman for anti-God and anti-morality lives closer to the imago than does his system of ethics. For the imago is a subjective phenomenon of human life and can nowhere be totally pulled out by the roots.’

-Carl F. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics (p 159).

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