Darwinism — Religion?

26 July, 2008

Today, I saw a T-shirt which was bizarre on a couple of levels.  The boy wearing it was in the 10 to 12 year old range.  The shirt itself was a home made one colour tie-die.  The text was iron-on letters.  On the front:

Darwinism is a Religion

and on the back:

You have to believe impossible things.
You cannot question.
It makes you kill people.

At first I thought that this was anti-theist satire.  Then I noticed his younger sister’s shirt: 

God’s Athlete:  Every Point, Every Race, Every Win Is For the Glory of the One True God!!!!!

With a shirt like that, I figured I was observing a deeply disturbed religious family.

The anti-evolution shirt intrigued me.  The idea that the theory of evolution is a religion is absurd.  Selective evolution does not tell us how to eat.  It does not tell us how to live.  It does not tell us how to achieve everlasting salvation.  It does not have ‘one true book, infallible and eternal.’ 

But on the back, the three statements make me wonder about the perception of religion by the parents (or whoever created that strange shirt). 

‘You have to believe impossible things.’  Like people walking on water?  Parting the Red Sea?  Light and dark created before the sun and stars?  The theory of evolution does not have us ‘believe’ anything.  It is based upon evidence.  The theory itself is the best available explanation for the reality we see before us now, while still explaining the fossil evidence. 

‘You cannot question.’  Bullshit!  The theory of evolution is based 100% upon questioning.  The questioning continues.  Uniformitarianism or punctuated equilibrium?  Catastrophism or non-catastrophism?  Warm-blooded dinosaurs, cold-blooded dinosaurs, or something in between?  If I want to look into something in which questioning is verboten I will look to organized religion — Judaism, Christianity, Islam.  In the big three, questioning can lead to death (or death threats).

‘It makes you kill people.’  What the Fuck?  How does a naturalistic explanation for the incredible diversity of life on earth lead one to killing people?  Survival of the fittest?  That’s a piss-poor condensation of the theory of evolution.  Maybe the old absurdity that Godlessness leads to killing?  Ask the people of Carcassone about that.  Or the Jews of Mainz.  Or the men, women and children of Jerusalem. 

I think the shirt has it backwards.  ‘Darwinism’ is NOT a religion because it does not require belief in impossible things, it is built upon questions, and it does not, anywhere, in any way, require us, or even ask us, to kill those with different beliefs.  Christianity, on the other hand, is a religion because is does require belief in impossible things, it is built upon received wisdom, and (in the Old Testament) commands the death of unbelievers, witches, and numerous other human beings.

I did not talk to the family, or ask about the shirt.  I was in uniform and, well, it would have been more than just a little bit inappropriate.



  1. Creation vs. evolution:
    Creation= Intelligent Designer=all existence is planned.
    Evolution=random selection=innumerable atomic and sub-atomic accidents.
    Science is not exclusive to either evolutionists or creationists.
    Evolution=presently considered by a perceived (since it can not be determined either way) majority as the truth. This change in perception can be attributed, in large part, to the work of Charles Darwin in the mid 19th century, Albert Einstein in the 20th century, and many other scientists past and present. A main tenet of evolutionists is that science and creationism are incompatible.
    Creation=with the exception of ancient Greeks who considered science an intellectual exercise, not a practical application, from around 600 B.C., science originated in the 16th-17th century A.D.. A main tenet is that science is a means of identifying the creator. Here are some examples:
    Francis Bacon- considered the father of modern science—said “There are two books on which we should read. One was Scripture, the other the book of nature.”
    Johannes Kepler- Celestial Mechanics — said scientists are “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
    Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest scientist of all time,-calculus and dynamics— is quoted as saying…”this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all and account of His Dominion He is wont* to be called Lord God.” And,
    “Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.”
    Other creation believing scientists include:
    Louis Pasteur- bacteriology.
    Lord Kelvin-energetics
    Blaise Pascal-hydrostatics
    Charles Babbage-computer science
    Lord Joseph Lister-antiseptic surgery
    Robert Boyle-chemistry
    James Simpson-anesthesiology
    Samuel Morse-telegraphy
    Belief doctrines for the beginning of all existence:
    Creationists believe in the formation of all things by The Almighty God, in 6 literal days.
    Evolutionists currently believe that nothing exploded nothing else, nowhere, thus the big bang created all that exists. This belief should be left open to change based on future scientific discoveries.

    * From Wikipedia, in the list of commonly misused English words:
    Won’t is a contraction for “will not”, while wont is a rare, slightly archaic word meaning “accustomed” or “inclined to” (as an adjective) or “habit or custom” (as a noun).

  2. Bud:

    You make think your lengthy comment is stunning, but it’s simply stupid.

    First, natural selection is not a random process. Right off the bat, a reasonably informed reader can see that you have no idea WTF you’re talking about. You’ll be lucky if anyone reads another word you wrote after committing a gaffe* like that.

    Second, what is your foundation for stating that the percentage of scientists who accept or reject evolution cannot be determined? Evolutionary theory has been the underpinning of scientific discovery across at least a dozen scientific disciplines – ranging from geology, through palaeontology, through neurobiology, through cosmology, etc., for about 150 years. That’s a helluva lot of scientists.

    Third, your long list of people who believed in God is not the least bit impressive. It’s simply a sophomoric appeal to authority. What these guys believed about God has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of their scientific findings.

    Fourth, thanks for sharing the wisdom you gleaned from Wikipedia regarding the word “wont.” It may surprise you to learn this, but most of Billy’s readers are quite literate and don’t need you to improve our vocabularies.

    *Gaffe (from Dictionary.com) “a social blunder; faux pas.

  3. You really got everyone cranked up. Mr. Darwin knows the truth now, but may be too hot to enjoy it. Likely, he’s looking for a couple drops of mountain fresh unevolutionized water.

  4. Just to clarify for everyone. Christians writers have put out a ton of books talking to the subject of evolution. The parents most likely were drawing from these when they made the shirt. Here are the highlights that I see.

    1. It makes you believe impossible things.

    The absolutely mind-boggling amount of random occurances that would have had to take place to create life as we know it are so improbable they near impossibilty.

    2. You cannot question

    The evolutionist scientific community has a well-known and unapalogeticly hostile stance toward Creationism and/or Intelligent Design. It is fair to say many scientists get written off by many of their peers when they even elect to study and write about these ideas.

    3.It makes you kill people

    Some writers have commented on the fact that Stalin, Hitler, and other dictators who have attempted to wipe-out minority groups were all self proclaimed “believers in the Darwinist Theory of Survival of the superior species”.

    I understand that wearing T-Shirts like the mentioned do nothing but irritate people. Arguing the topic is almost always circular. God didn’t wish to tell mankind how the world was made. If He wanted us to know he would have made Genesis longer. I am ok with not thinking too much how (because we’ll never figure it out completely) and thinking far about why when comes to our existance here in Earth.

  5. alex….wow. One, Hitler was not a Darwinist, in fact, the Origin of Species was one of the books on Hitler’s banned list. Second, he exterminated people based on the bible and the writings of Martin Luther..not on science. Would it kill a Christian to read another book besides the bible?

    And I don’t think your last paragraph even needs a rebuttal, it does a good enough job of refuting your point. If you think that since “god” didn’t make the book of genesis longer, then we are never supposed to know the origin of life, then you have just proven that Christianity is INCOMPATIBLE with science. That is exactly the point of Billy’s article. One of Billy’s salient points is that you can’t question religion, whereas, you can question evolution. Therefore, intelligent design or creationism is NOT science because you can’t question the basic premise; the bible is right, god created the earth.

    And for anyone here who thinks you can’t question evolution, attend an evo-devo conference. Theres a whole lot of questioning going on.

  6. Oh and Archie…threatening atheists with your imagined idea of hell is like threatening Christians they won’t get their 72 virgins. Pretty empty. By the way, how do you know Darwin is in hell? Seems pretty arrogant of you to assume to know whats in God’s mind, it actually seems somewhat sinful.

  7. The anti-evolutionists’ strategy is to refer to evolution as Darwinism, making it appear like it’s a cult of personality belief system rather than a scientific theory and fact. It’s all part of the grander scheme of trying to frame everything based on reason and evidence as merely faith based, because then it erodes its credibility.

    But if they’re faith based, why do they say science and atheism is bad by calling it faith based. Aren’t they then denigrating themselves, too?

    No, they’re leveling the playing field. The strategy is that if your choice now is between faith positions, then you’ll go with them since you’re already familiar with them and they know how win a faith game. They don’t know how to win a game based on reason and evidence, and that’s because they can’t.

    Now for Mr. bud, who has graced us here with his presence and demonstration of technical savvy at being able to copy/paste from the AiG site, I have to agree with the Chaplain. To just add to her reply:
    • Despite Sir Isaac Newton’s genius, he devoted most of his life to alchemy, including trying to turn lead into gold, the foolhardy quest for the “Philosopher’s Stone”. Intelligence is no guarantee of either being right on everything nor being immune from being a fool.
    • “When I look at the solar system…” nonsense is framed rather well by Douglas Adams’ puddle analogy at the end of this clip
    • As for numbers of scientists who accept evolution, try The List of Steves
    • Evolution has nothing to say about the origins of life, just its development. The study into the origins of life is called abiogenesis.

    Archie: You sound more like Jughead.

  8. I particularly like what Darwin-boy’s T-shirt implies for religion. Give it a few seconds thought and you realise what he’s actually saying is:

    Religion necessitates belief in the impossible.
    Religion prohibits questioning.
    Religion makes you kill people.

    Substitute “Christianity is a religion” on the front and you have a T-shirt I’d be proud to wear!

    Alex – do your research, please. Start by reading “On the Origin of Species” instead of “Pandas & People” and you might actually be in a position to start debating.

  9. Bud: Welcome to my blog. The difference between the Big Bang and Goddidit is that the Big Bang has actually left some evidence — the distribution of the galaxies and residual background radiation. The scientific discoveries (and theories based upon those discoveries) of the last 500 years have found rational explanations (explanations with actual evidence) for most natural phenomena, and will most likely find explanations for the rest within the next few decades. There will always be holes in the evidence, but the theories just keep getting stronger.

    Chappie: Thanks. The only one I had to add is above.

    Archie: Welcome to my blog. I see no evidence for the existence of God(s). What makes you think I see evidence for the hell that a vindictive and inconsistent God(s) created?

    Alex: Welcome to my blog. “Christians writers have put out a ton of books talking to the subject of evolution. The problem is (among others) that these books start with the answer (Goddidit) and then proceed to cherry pick evidence in order to arrive at the prearranged conclusion. This type of ‘science’ leads to expecting four wings on a fly, and women having one more rib then men.

    Sabrina: Thanks. Do you think a Christian would even want 72 virgins?

    Yunshui: Thank you for getting the ultimate point of my post. The side trip into creationism (thank you Alex, Archie and Bud) is annoying, but enlightening. Notice how these three attempted to show that evolution is a religion, without realizing what the shirt in question said about religion.

  10. Philly: Damn!!!!! I thought about that frackin’ shirt for hours before writing my post. The idea that by claiming science is a faith-based system, it brings theory and evidence down to the level of the Stupid Book never dawned on me. Someday, I want to know how you (and a few others) manage to, so unnerringly, find the one salient point I should have made and then make said point with the eloquence which is your wont.

  11. Billy:

    The only response to the T-shirt wearers is a hearty laugh. I assume there’s nothing in your job’s guidelines that forbids you from chuckling now and then. If the idiots ask what you’re laughing at, you could say, “Oh, just a private joke between Darwin and me.”

    I don’t know how you do what you do, day after day and week after week. I would have been fired the first time I heard some fundy explaining dinosaurs to his or her kids.

  12. I like the idea of ripping off the basic T-shirt design (minus the tie-dye – are they really still wearing that shit in WB?) and substituting the word “religion” for Darwin.

  13. Ex: I spend an amazing amount of time chuckling. I think (no, I know) that some of my co-workers wonder about my sanity. Luckily I work with cultural, not natural, history, so evolution rarely comes into it.

    Chappie: I like the idea, too. I think the family was from Kansas or Missouri (at the very least, they were Chiefs fans, and no one in their right mind would cheer for the Chiefs unless they actaully lived there) so I guess tie-dies (the home made one, not the really cool multi-colour professional ones) must still be ‘in’ there.

  14. I think that the religionists don’t want to comprehend that the universe doesn’t give a damn. It’s of no consequence to the planet or the galaxy or the whole damn universe what any of us does or doesn’t do. But the religionists keep trying to load it up with intelligence and purpose. We’re on the verge of wiping out most life on the planet, including all the dumbass fundos, and nothing will give a damn when it happens. I do believe they build up these entire belief structures (castles of delusion?) just to avoid the terrifying laws of physics.

    Sabrina: Thanks. Do you think a Christian would even want 72 virgins?

    Umm, there are some of us atheists out here who wish the religionists would stop hogging all the women, virgin or otherwise.

  15. Alex:

    1. It is only mind-boggling to someone who hasn’t or won’t study it. I thought reproduction was pretty mind-boggling, too, until I studied it in biology class. Judging from the way sex-ed is being taught these days, most Christians probably still find it mind-boggling.

    2. Yes the scientific community does have a well-known, un-apologetically hostile stance toward Creationism/ID. That would be because it’s not science, but tries to claim that it is. If I were to theorize that the Christian God is actually a giant space monkey and cherry-picked verses from the Bible to “prove” it, I bet Christians would get a little pissed, too. This is no different from what ID tries to do.

    3. A. The fact that some writers have “commented” on something does not make it true. Regardless of what they believed, Hitler and Stalin were interested in power. Period. Christians used violence to cement power and religion to justify it centuries before Hitler or Stalin. If anything, H/S learned more from Christians about systematic violence and control than from Darwin.

    3. B. Even if Hitler and/or Stalin actually used Darwin to justify their actions, there is no direct link from his book to their actions. Blaming Darwin for Hitler is exactly like blaming Jesus Christ for the Inquisition and the Crusades, not to mention more modern events like the ethnic cleansing in Serbia. Fucking Christ, believing in him makes you kill people. See how stupid that is?

    What I really hate is that valid criticism of Christian shortcomings is successfully portrayed as ignorant and tyrannical by the very people who wish to impose ignorance and tyranny of all of us.


  16. Oh, and bud:

    Polly want a cracker? Who’s a pretty bird?

  17. Wanker

  18. […] 29, 2008 in Religion, Science A recent post of (((Billy)))’s got me thinking about that age-old creationist argument; “Science is just another […]

  19. Ric: The uncaring universe. Love it!

    bullet: Having seen both my children born, I’m just amazed that women survive the process (usually) and are willing to go through it a second time.

    Philly: Glad you noticed. I would hate to think my sarcasm goes unnoticed.

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