RE: [asa] (facts on Darwin and his motives) on science and meta-science

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2009 - 13:21:47 EST

Hi Schwarzwald-

I relayed the point that I read a book which said Darwin was a true believer when he started the Beagle boat trip and even preached to the crew. Do you dispute that? From what I remember, Darwin studied for the priesthood, even learning the ancient languages of the Bible. I believe it was the science/observations of evolution that turned him from belief- not his desire to be an atheist (or agnostic) that made him make-up the theory of evolution, as I thought you were implying.

You said: "When he did give his reasons for doubting God, they hardly involved evolution itself - he relied on the problem of evil, with some pretty weak arguments in that vein."

Think about Darwin's "problem with evil." Isn't that wrapped-up in evolution, for the descriptions of evil?

When you say: "Darwin intended to weaponize science for atheism," that seems so backwards to me. Why would Darwin be a pillar in his local church and community if he was anti-religion? From what I read, he was such a pillar.

From: [] On Behalf Of Schwarzwald
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:51 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science


First of all, your speculations about Darwin's desires don't speak to whether or not Darwin intended to weaponize science for atheism. I say it's evident if you read his writings and letters that he was not concerned simply with science, but with metaphysics and philosophy. When he did give his reasons for doubting God, they hardly involved evolution itself - he relied on the problem of evil, with some pretty weak arguments in that vein.

But if we want to play that game, well, we do have the famous quotes: Darwin saying he considers it "absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist", and his insistence that "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. - I think that generally ... an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind."

So, Bernie, if you're going by Darwin's words.. not just the "evidence" of evolution but the full blown assumed fact of evolution had no need to make a man an atheist by his view. And Darwin claims he never denied the existence of God, but was at most an agnostic on the matter. Me, I have no problem with any of this - I think the evidence shows that Darwin wasn't enthralled with Christianity early on, and he was more concerned with presenting himself as a believer than really being one. But if you want to argue that Darwin thought evolution was only compatible with atheism, or that he denied God (not just Christianity, but God, period), you're likely going to have to call him a liar. Have fun with that.

I see it totally backwards for you. I consider the point that Darwin WANTED to be a believer. He just couldn't believe, based on the evidence. I read that when Darwin started on the Beagle voyage, he was a preacher to the crew! It is not at all like he wanted to reject God and developed evolution for that reason. I believe Darwin was intellectually fulfilled, and it is evident in his writings.

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Received on Fri Nov 13 13:22:17 2009

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