Is Evolution a Religious Belief?

For years, I’ve heard it repeated that the theory of evolution is a religion, for it is argued that one must accept evolution by means of faith, specifically by a kind of “blind faith” as there is no evidence that evolution is true. Well, I would like to explore this matter further, because, while I may agree with the premise of saying that evolution is a religious concept, I would like to see further evidence from the perspective of evolutionists that would demonstrate whether there is any truth to the idea that evolution is religious, and not merely a “strawman argument” from creationists.

Today, most people associate the beginnings of the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin and the year 1859. While Darwin is most significant in the storyline of the theory, the viewpoint of evolution is actually much older, having its roots in ancient religions; yes, religions.

In a Babylonian religious document (Akkadian Cuneiform), called “Enuma Elis”, written around the 14th-12th Century B.C., is a teaching about the creation of the world. The ancient account tells how the earth developed from chaos, and how it materialized and produced primitive life forms, and ultimately came humankind. While the Babylonian view certainly contains an array of gods and goddesses within the account, there is still a striking resemblance to the modern view of evolution.

The Greeks certainly expanded on the idea of evolution. The paleoanthropologist, Hanry Osborn, wrote, “When I began the search for anticipations of the evolutionary theory, I was led back to the Greek natural philosophers and I was astonished to find how many of the pronounced and basic features of the Darwinian theory were anticipated even as far back as the seventh century B.C.”. Let’s see for ourselves what the Ancient Greeks had to say. Anaximander (611-547 B.C.), taught that man evolved from aquatic creatures, saying “the first animals were generated in the moisture, and were enclosed with spiny barks. As they grew older, they migrated onto the drier land; and once their bark was split and shed, they survived for a short time in the new mode of existence”. Another Greek, Empedocles (490-430 B.C.), believed that the world originally contained creatures, each with every possible combination of limbs and organs; eventually, nature narrowed out all assemblages that were not needed from each creature. Everyone has heard of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.); he was another who taught a theory almost identical to evolution. Notice how he described the formation of our teeth: “our teeth should come up of necessity–the front teeth sharp, fitted for tearing, the molars broad and useful for grinding down the food, since they did not arise for this end, but it was merely a coincident result. Wherever then all the parts came about just what they would have been if they had come to be for an end, such things survived, being organized spontaneously in a fitting way; whereas those which grew otherwise perished and continue to perish.” Then, in the 1st Century B.C., the Greeks continued to affirm Anaximander view of evolution, as stated by the Greek historian Diodoros. However, the Romans held closer to Aristotle’s theory of evolution, as seen in one of their poets, Lucretius, who wrote about the evolution of man from mutant monsters.

Thus, even though Darwin is the star of the show, evolution at its core has come down through history from ancient pagan religious beliefs. Ernest L. Abel, who wrote the book “Ancient Views on the Origin of Life”, stated, “The belief that life had its origins in a single substance is so widespread among the various peoples of the world, primitive or civilized, that it can be considered one of the few universal themes in the history of ideas.” Thus evolution is not science. Evolution was never based on science or scientific facts, it is, however, based on the ancient imaginations of men. What is seen in the realm of science today is an attempt to force scientific observations into the set paradigm of evolution. This is what Darwin is famous for, and many continue in his footsteps today.

Michael Ruse wrote in the periodical “New Scientist”: “An increasing number of scientists, most particularly a growing number of evolutionists, argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory is no genuine scientific theory at all. Many of the critics have the highest intellectual credentials.” Further, the highly qualified physicist and mathematician, Wolfgang Smith, concluded that evolution “is totally bereft of scientific sanction. There exists to this day not a shred of bona fide scientific evidence in support of the thesis that macroevolutionary transformations have ever occurred.” So then, what is the only possible conclusion concerning evolution? Is it a religion or is it science?

Paleontologist Colin Patterson of the British Museum of Natural History is quoted in a BBC article, saying, “Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin. They’ve seen their task as to elaborate his theory and to fill the gaps in it. But it seems to me that the theoretical framework has very little impact on the actual progress of the work in biological research. In a way, some aspects of Darwinism and of Neo-Darwinism seem to me to have held back the progress of science.”

It is important, before debating Creation vs. Evolution, no matter which side one is on, to recognize that this is not a debate of Science vs. Religion, it is rather a debate of religion vs. religion. Which religion is telling the truth? Did all creative things now seen in existence come about from a chaotic origin of disorder? Or is it true that everything that is designed must have a designer. I hope to further address this in future articles, Lord willing.