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

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Mar 07 2007 - 21:17:07 EST

*Since Pim is fond of Augustine, a comparison/constrast of the last
paragraph of the article with a quote from his Confessions is warranted:*

Rich, the comparison to Augustine's "God-shaped vacuum" is interesting, but
I"m not sure whether you're suggesting it's a favorable comparison. I don't
think it is. Though that closing paragraph says science might not be able
to close the "gap" in our understanding of human longing, it seems to me
that most of the scientists surveyed are trying to do exactly that. If a
sense of longing for God is merely an evolutionary byproduct, the next step
ought to be to move human evolution "forward," through biotechnology or
other means, to eliminate that longing. Augustine's "vacuum" is rooted in a
completely different ontology and anthropology, which presupposes a real God
and a real alienation. I can't see how that can be easily reconciled with
the reductionistic view of the God-sense this article seems to discuss.

On 3/7/07, Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> On 3/7/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> > I think your summary glosses over the assumptions reflected in the
article. The clear assumption of most of those interviewed (except for one
who is a Christian), and it seems to me of the author of the article, is
that belief in God must be entirely explainable in terms of some
evolutionary mechanism. If a belief in something is entirely explainable by
some mechanism external to whether that thing really exists, it seems to me
that does bear direclty on whether one is warranted in believing the thing
actually exists. Explaining the origin of a belief raises very different
epistemological questions than explaining the physical development of a
physical system or structure.
> Since Pim is fond of Augustine, a comparison/constrast of the last
paragraph of the article with a quote from his Confessions is warranted:
> >
> >
> > This internal push and pull between the spiritual and the rational
reflects what used to be called the "God of the gaps" view of religion. The
presumption was that as science was able to answer more questions about the
natural world, God would be invoked to answer fewer, and religion would
eventually recede. Research about the evolution of religion suggests
otherwise. No matter how much science can explain, it seems, the real gap
that God fills is an emptiness that our big-brained mental architecture
interprets as a yearning for the supernatural. The drive to satisfy that
yearning, according to both adaptationists and byproduct theorists, might be
an inevitable and eternal part of what Atran calls the tragedy of human
cognition .
> >
> >
> > Man is one of your creatures, Lord, and his instinct is to praise you.
He bears about him the mark of death…But still, since he is a part of your
creation, he wishes to praise you. The thought of you stirs him so deeply
that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for
yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.

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Received on Wed Mar 7 21:17:55 2007

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