Re: [asa] NY Times: Darwin's God

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Mar 07 2007 - 13:04:26 EST

Interesting article. It raises for me questions about the limits of
methodological naturalism. For example, the article states the following:

*What [scientists] disagree about is why a tendency to believe evolved,
whether it was because belief itself was adaptive or because it was just an
evolutionary byproduct, a mere consequence of some other adaptation in the
evolution of the human brain.*

Why are these the only two possibilities? Perhaps there is a tendency to
believe because there really is a God, with whom we really have an
innate spiritual connection, from whom we really are alienated, and who
really has broken into history to reveal himself to us and redeem us. The
article seems to present evolutionary explanations for a predisposition to
believe in God as ultimate explanations, without any possibility that such
belief actually relates to any external reality. (And the evolutionary
explanations it presents seem like the worst kinds of just-so stories).

When I see an Aquafina bottle on my desk, I tend to believe there is water
available for refreshment. In some very broad way, I suppose, my perceptual
facilities and pattern recognition abilities reflect evolutionary pathways
that enabled my ancestors to find water and food. But I don't believe there
is water in the Aquafina bottle* merely* because of how those pathways
evolved. My belief that there's water in the bottle is connected to the
ontological reality that there really is water in the bottle. It seems
silly to me to try to explain my present belief that there is water in the
bottle by first assuming that there really is no water there.

Put another way, from a Christian perspective, is it justifiable to
presuppose that belief in God can be explained at any level with reference
only to secondary causes? I don't think so.

Actually, from any sort of non-deterministic perspective, it seems
impossible to me to explain *any* belief adequately in terms of secondary
causes, because *all* beliefs by definition involve some act of free will,
and free will implies intentional downward causation. (I would not consider
a thought held unintentionally a "belief".) IOW, if humans really have any
free will, it seems problematic to me to define human intentionality simply
as an ordinary secondary cause.

On 3/7/07, PvM <> wrote:

> A good article on the evolutionary foundations of religious beliefs.
> Pim
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Received on Wed Mar 7 13:04:45 2007

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