Why do atheists still believe in evolution?

Monday Musings for November 23, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

I often challenge my readers about warrant. I ask, what gives you the right, logically speaking, to believe the things you believe? If you are a “Bible-believing” Christian, it follows that the things you believe ought to be grounded in Scripture.

Now, if you are a physicalist atheist, your moral beliefs are a crapshoot. But you still have to defend the epistemological warrant for the things you do believe. Why do you believe, for instance, that there is no God… especially in light of sufficient — make that abundant — evidence that God exists?

Not too long ago, physicalists insisted that the universe was all that existed. Furthermore, they assumed it was eternal. But that was more of a philosophical statement than a scientific one; they had no data… and if the universe had no beginning, then it had no Beginner.

But as our telescopes improved and new data started coming in from the stars, people like Edwin Hubble and Albert Einstein predicted that our universe was expanding... and there is no way that an expanding body could have an eternal past under the laws of thermodynamics.

Nevertheless, it took an embarrassing amount of time for science to get on board with the idea of an expanding universe... and I don’t know any credible scientist that does not believe this now. So, my question is, since the universe is known to have had a beginning, why aren’t all the scientists fleeing atheism? They had been beating up on the Bible because it taught that the universe began — and now they have proof that it did! So, why aren’t they in church?

As it turns out, many scientists do attend church. Hugh Ross, astronomer and president of Reasons to Believe Ministries, says that this is more common among astronomers than biochemists, though. This may be because astronomers see the big picture; they peer back from observatories located in creation day six (Genesis 1:31) — and can see back to creation day one! The problem with biochemists is that their field of study is limited to a single creation day, day six; as such, their discipline does not fall as acutely under thermodynamics’ ax.

But biochemists have a problem of their own: Darwinian evolution does not explain what we see in the biosphere. The earth is 4.5 billion years old — which sounds pretty old! But that is not anywhere near enough time, using Darwinian processes, for single-cell life to evolve into the complex life forms we see today. So, where are the biochemists in our churches?

Here's the thing: a single issue is usually not enough to change a worldview. We’ve lived with our worldviews peaceably for a long time, so it takes an existential crisis for us to begin the hard work of untangling valid ideas from invalid ones. Our default is to “believe” in the overarching statements of our worldviews… like God exists or he does not exist — despite individual, albeit compelling, pieces of evidence to the contrary.

I’m suspicious of any “conversion” that doesn’t change a person’s worldview — and that’s a big ask. So, it’s only fair that we believers try doing that and seeing how we like it. We need to challenge the things we believe constantly — to test their validity (2 Corinthians 13:5) …. or else we might crumble when someone else tests us.

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