Now many of us argue against making an evolution-atheism connection, i.e. that an acceptance of evolution does not necessarily lead to atheism, and as scientists we should not present evolution as a choice between religion and science. At the same time, it is also clear that evolution rules out certain forms of religious ideas (e.g. special creation, ten thousand year old earth, etc.). I find Robert Wright's reply above, the opposite side of the spectrum. If certain religions keep on rejecting established ideas of science as a matter of doctrine, then many sensible adherents will simply leave the faith rather than abandon science-based evidence.
Were you a churchgoer as a child?
Southern Baptists don’t fool around. At age 8 or 9, I chose to go to the front of the church in response to the altar call and accepted Jesus as my savior.
When did you begin to doubt?Then you went off and studied science?
I think it was roughly sophomore year in high school. I encountered the theory of evolution, and my parents were creationists. There was a clash. They brought a Baptist minister over to the house to try to convince me that evolution hadn’t happened. He was not entirely successful, I would say.
No, I’m not a scientist; I’m just a journalist. I don’t have a doctorate in anything.
While we are on the subject, here are Wright's views on Dawkins and Hitchens:
Like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. What do you think of their work?He also talks about his materialistic approach to the history of religions:
I think they have naïve ideas about the importance of religion in the world. They just seem oblivious to the good that religion has done, and I guess one point in my book is how malleable religion is; it has the capacity for good, which tends to come out when people see themselves as having something to gain from peaceful interaction with other people.
Read the full interview here. Also, please check out an excerpt from Wright's book at Tom Rees' blog, Epiphenom. Commenting on Wright's ideas of the origins of moral societies, Tom brings up a fundamental question regarding this debate:
Your approach to religious history is so nakedly materialist. For instance, you claim the Apostle Paul was a kind of marketing guru who dropped the more demanding requirements of Judaism, like circumcision and dietary restrictions, to attract more followers.Do you have to make Christianity sound like a pre-electronic Facebook?
Do the math. How many Christians are there today and how many Jews are there? If his goal was to gain a large following, he seems to have made the right tactical decision there.
Institutions thrive when they can serve the interest of a bunch of people, and there’s no reason to think the church is different. None of this is to say Paul didn’t feel divinely inspired.
All this is very relevant to discussion of where morality comes from. Theologians argue that if God does not exist, then there's no rational basis for morality. Clearly, that's not the case.Read the full post here.
And if Wright is right, then not only can morality be supported without recourse to God, but our moral society grew naturally from the rational application of common sense. Religion bought into this, but didn't originate it.