A frustratingly common YEC tactic to criticize Christians’ acceptance of evolution is to say, “Darwin was an atheist, or [insert prominent biologist’s name here] is an atheist, therefore evolution is inherently an atheistic enterprise.”
They claim that evolution is an attempt to explain life “without God,” which makes it — at its very foundation — “anti-God,” evil, probably Satanic and just something that good, Bible-believing Christian folk should stay away from at all costs.
Allow me to explain why this is stupid.
Like all misleading rhetoric, the argument has a thread of truth to it. Evolution is agnostic about the question of God, and it does seek to explain the origin of species without invoking supernatural intervention.
But, wait for it: All science does that.
All science is agnostic on the question of God. All science seeks to explain whatever it is seeking to explain without invoking supernatural intervention. It is not atheistic, it is not Christian, it is simply silent on the subject, because science is the study of the material world, and God is an immaterial Being.
As I’ve pointed out here on more than one occasion, the theory of the water cycle is every bit as atheistic as Darwin’s most demonically animated fever dreams.
Like evolution, the water cycle tries to explain some aspect of the natural world (in this case, precipitation) “without God” (DUN DUN DUN!!!). And yet, you don’t often see churches and Christian protesting outside meteorologists’ offices or trying to have information on the water cycle censored from science textbooks.
Evolution cannot be described as atheistic, because that implies that it speaks to something that, by definition, it cannot speak to. It’s a category error.
It would be like saying magnifying glasses are useless because they don’t show the microwave spectrum. A magnifying glass is an extremely useful tool, when it’s used in the way it was intended.
It was never meant to measure microwaves. That doesn’t make it a bad tool. It’s not the magnifying glass’s fault when you use it incorrectly, or expect it to do something it was never designed to be capable of doing.
Evolution is not “anti-God,” any more than the magnifying glass is “anti-microwaves.” “Anti-” means “against” or “in opposition to,” and you can’t oppose something you have no means of interacting with in the first place.
So, it doesn’t matter if Darwin was an atheist or a fundamentalist Christian or worshiped an invisible blue fairy who lived in his big toe.
The beliefs of the person who happens to be engaging in scientific inquiry are irrelevant; they do not change what science inherently is, nor do they change its inherent limitations (that it cannot speak to questions of the supernatural or transcendent).
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.