The crux of young earth creationism is simple; that acceptance of Darwinian evolution surely leads to atheism. They will often go further and profess that evolution was invented solely to revoke humanity of their accountability to God, as some kind of grand excuse to behave like wild beasts and other such nonsense. Does acceptance of evolution really lead to atheism though?
Evolution teaches us that the appearance of design in nature occurred through a lengthy process of adaptation commonly known as natural selection. It does therefore go against the notion of special instantaneous creation, and renders a literal reading of the book of Genesis impossible given the facts we now know. The theory of evolution might destroy Biblical literalism, but does that necessarily mean it leads to atheism?
Absolutely not. In fact I can prove it. Many members of both the clergy and the scientific establishment have no problem accepting both evolution and God. Creationists have drawn a false dichotomy; either you accept creationism and God, or you accept evolution and atheism. Biologist Kenneth Miller, who testified against creationism in a US supreme court, states:
“As an outspoken defender of evolution, I am often challenged by those who assume that if science can demonstrate the natural origins of our species, which it surely has, then God should be abandoned. But the Deity they reject so easily is not the one I know. To be threatened by science, God would have to be nothing more than a placeholder for human ignorance. This is the God of the creationists, of the “intelligent design” movement, of those who seek their God in darkness. What we have not found and do not yet understand becomes their best—indeed their only—evidence for faith. As a Christian, I find the flow of this logic particularly depressing. Not only does it teach us to fear the acquisition of knowledge (which might at any time disprove belief), but it also suggests that God dwells only in the shadows of our understanding. I suggest that if God is real, we should be able to find him somewhere else—in the bright light of human knowledge, spiritual and scientific.”
Francis Collins, who headed the massive Human Genome project has also written a book called The Language of God – like Miller he has no problem reconciling evolution and God either:
“I believe that God had a plan to create creatures with whom he could have fellowship, in whom he could inspire [the] moral law, in whom he could infuse the soul, and who he would give free will as a gift for us to make decisions about our own behavior, a gift which we oftentimes utilize to do the wrong thing.
I believe God used the mechanism of evolution to achieve that goal. And while that may seem to us who are limited by this axis of time as a very long, drawn-out process, it wasn’t long and drawn-out to God. And it wasn’t random to God.”
There are many other members of the scientific establishment who have no problem accepting God and evolution. What about clergy? Well I guess a good place to start would be the Vatican. Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying:
“Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams believes that creationism should not be taught in schools and is quoted as saying:
“I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories… so if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories, I think there’s – there’s just been a jar of categories, it’s not what it’s about.”
There is no evidence that acceptance of evolution leads to atheism, in fact the evidence would indicate that the two are unrelated. Evolution is not a theory about God’s existence, one can comfortably accept both.