A basic point about evolution

Evolution is an entirely natural process. It occurs through well understood mechanisms for which we are gaining ever improving detail. The belief in theistic evolution runs counter to all this; it is not compatible with the theory. Yes, yes, there are people who say they accept both their interventionist god and evolution and therefore their views are not contradictory, but that holds no relevance here. Things don’t become compatible simply because a lot of people believe them simultaneously.

In order for one’s views to be consistent with evolution, one can only hold two positions: atheism or a sort of deism. By “a sort of deism” I mean either exactly deism or something where, okay, there is a god who intervenes in human affairs, dictates our morality, and does all that other magic bigoted thought-crime sort of thing, but this god does so incidentally. That is, since no particular form of life, much less characteristic, much less species, was ever destined to exist by any law of biology, a god which it is believed made humans (or intelligent life, a la Miller) inevitable is necessarily false. Only a god which had no part in evolution is tenable; evolution is a miracle free process.

So let’s break it down:

Atheism: Entirely compatible with the theory of evolution. The process of natural selection is miracle free and excludes all directed intervention.

Traditional Deism: Compatible, but likely unsatisfying. By “traditional” I mean the deism which says there was a creator with intention that began the Universe, but that creator’s interest ended there.

Other Deism: Compatible, but still unsatisfying. I use “other” because there is no particular name for this sort of deism as far as I am aware. This is the deism which says we have a moral lawgiver and all that swell BS, but it can only be incidental. The theory of evolution tells us that humans were not destined to exist, therefore we cannot say that this interventionist god planned on us, as if we’re somehow special.

Theistic evolution: Not compatible. No species are destined to exist. That includes humans.

Creationism: Moronic anti-science nonsense. It isn’t compatible with any major branch of science.

I have excluded agnosticism because it doesn’t mean much to say that this or that is or is not compatible with “idunno”.

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Einsteinian Religion

There are these perverse notions floating around about what Einstein believed or didn’t believe regarding religion and god(s). The page at Conservapedia – which deserves no link – will give the impression that Einstein believed in some sort of conscious, higher power. Any research will show this is highly unlikely. Einstein believed in ordering physical principles to the Universe which are ultimately far beyond the understanding of humans. This is not a god at all, which is why it’s somewhat unfortunate that he used the term “god” to describe these ordering principles. On the one hand, it’s misleading and it tends to invite people to attempt to associate a brilliant thinker with their own positions, as if appeals to authority confer truth to a statement or thought or idea. On the other hand, there’s a certain poetry to his language; we should all appreciate personification in our literature.

Ultimately, Einstein was an agnostic. Precisely where he stood on, say, Richard Dawkins’ Scale of Religiosity is unclear. I suspect he may be slightly to the left of someone like Carl Sagan (physically assuming “1” is left and “7” is right – see scale video). That may place him as a 4, as I would place Sagan as a 5. Unfortunately, neither man can clarify at this point. However, it is quite clear that neither one believed in any personal god – the seeming indifference of Nature to our plights, our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, it all indicates a lack of personality, of personalization, no matter how much poetic personification we like to use.