Hurricanes, evolution, and atheism

Surprise, surprise.  Atheist activist Jerry Coyne tries to exploit the recent hurricane tragedy to score points for his atheist agenda:

This, of course, gives atheists the chance to once again note that natural evils don’t comport with most people’s idea of God.

[…]

The good rabbi, of course, doesn’t consider the more parsimonious alternative to the suffering of innocents: G-d doesn’t exist, and the suffering is simply what one expects when evolution creates creatures in an unstable world.

I find it highly ironic that an evolutionary biologist, writing on a blog that promotes his own book about evolution, would spread misinformation about evolution.  How so?

 

Well, was there something inevitable about the evolution of creatures with the ability to experience suffering?  Or could a planet exist where the only living creatures are single-celled organisms?

I would think that any evolutionary biologist would insist on the contingent nature of evolution, where “evolution creates creatures” that can experience suffering simply on the basis of luck.  If that is the case, evolution does not lead us to expect suffering.  That would only hold true if evolution also led us to expect the eventual appearance of creatures complex enough to experience suffering.  Then again, maybe Coyne believes bacteria suffer when they are “attacked” by phages.  But then he would be invoking some immensely subjective and weird notion of “suffering.”  Bottom line – the evolutionary biologist is wrong when he insists that evolution leads us to expect suffering.

As for the theological angle, I think the argument is supposed to be this: If God exists, there should be no hurricanes.  Hurricanes exist.  Therefore God does not exist. 

This type of thinking appeals to superficial thinkers.  Coyne himself likes to ridicule “Sophisticated Theologians™”, but in reality, some of us rather unsophisticated types can see the folly in the atheist’s hurricane argument by using some rather unsophisticated Christian theology.  For starters, the hurricane argument can just as well be rephrased as follows:

If God exists, Jesus should not have been crucified.  Jesus was crucified.  Therefore, God does not exist.

To the one-dimensional worldly mind, that would hold true.  But let’s just say that doesn’t ring true for Christians.

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10 Responses to Hurricanes, evolution, and atheism

  1. Heuristics says:

    It is even worse then that.

    >” That would only hold true if evolution also led us to expect the eventual appearance of creatures complex enough to experience suffering.”

    There is no known connection between “complex enough” and capability of “experience”. Adding more mechanical parts has no known connection with the creation of the capability of having experiences. It is not predicted by any theory in evolution or in any other theory in science that there is a causal relationship between experiences and complexity. in fact there are no theories at all regarding experiences in science for the people that created science explicitly created it in such a way as to make it impossible for experiences to be mentioned in the framework.

  2. apollyon911 says:

    This is basically another variation of the ‘evil exists, therefore God does not exist’ view. A standard argument, one that appeals on a simple, emotional level but not on a logical level.

    The reality is, why does a hurricane disprove the existence of God? Perhaps it only disproves the existence of a god that atheists think is supposed to exist but does not.

    The sad fact is, the vast majority of atheists are woefully ignorant of theistic arguments. I’ll bet Mr. Coyne has never read (or even heard of) William Craig.

  3. eveysolara says:

    Evil exists therefore I exist. All my experiences whether good or bad, made me into the person I am today.

  4. Most arguments from evil seem to presume that there is a specific state that human circumstance should be under if a God truly exists.

    But how would you actually justify this? What criteria are we supposed to use to decide how good/evil things ought to be if theism has merit?

  5. Syllabus says:

    If God exists, Jesus should not have been crucified. Jesus was crucified. Therefore, God does not exist.

    I think that’s dis-analogous, unless you think that hurricanes free humanity from enslavement to sin and death. But I agree with the general point.

  6. L.W. Dickel says:

    Here’s a good description of the Judeo-Christian religion.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this.
    For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”-Albert Einstein

    Religion is mind rot. A bunch of asinine Stone Age bullshit that only the weak minded, apparently in need of comforting fairy tales, can swallow.

    Virgin births, blood sacrifices, talking donkeys, genocide, infanticide,slave trading, stoning non-virgins to death, stoning homosexuals to death, etc. In other words, absolute Stone Age bullshit!! Gotta love it!!

  7. Michael says:

    As for the Einstein quote, it boils down to this:
    “is for me…..(for me)….. for me….. my experience….. I cannot see.”

    In other words, he had an opinion based on his personal perceptions. Good for him. We all have them.

    As for “mind rot,” I’m afraid some Gnu chest thumping, which consists of cutting and pasting the same stale clichés (three times now) does not exactly put you in the position to throw stones.

  8. eveysolara says:

    LW here’s a quote for from actual scientists:

    “To describe any living group as ‘primitive’ or ‘Stone Age’ inevitably implies that they are living representatives of some earlier stage of human development that the majority of humankind has left behind. For some, this could be a positive description, implying, for example, that such groups live in greater harmony with nature …. For others, … ‘primitive’ is a negative characterisation. For them, ‘primitive’ denotes irrational use of resources and absence of the intellectual and moral standards of ‘civilised’ human societies…. From the standpoint of anthropological knowledge, both these views are equally one-sided and simplistic.”

  9. Crude says:

    As for “mind rot,” I’m afraid some Gnu chest thumping, which consists of cutting and pasting the same stale clichés (three times now) does not exactly put you in the position to throw stones.

    His horoscope said “today is a good day for repeating yourself”, so he decided to go for it. He’s a Scorpio, you know. 😉

  10. G. Rodrigues says:

    I think we should cut some slack on poor Jerry Coyne, as he may have found a good argument against God’s existence:

    1. If God exists there should be no ignorant fools.

    2. Jerry Coyne obviously exists and is an ignorant fool.

    3. Ergo, God does not exist.

    My Christian faith is wavering before this knockdown argument. Can anyone help me out here?

    God does not exist, life is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing. Out, out brief candle! Think I am going to buy 20 copies of the “The God Delusion”, become a vegan and a gnu, prowl Christian blogs and dump vitriolic, witless, retarded rants.

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