was Darwin an atheist?

by Ruby456 32 Replies latest jw friends

  • Landy

    A quote from Herb Silverman which explains atheism quite well.

    Many people tell me they wouldn’t mind if I were an agnostic, but that I shouldn’t be so arrogant as to be an atheist.

    I used to call myself an agnostic because I could not logically prove whether a god exists, so I took the agnostic position that the existence of any god is unknown — and perhaps unknowable. I was without belief in any gods and thought it highly improbable that any supernatural beings exist. When I learned that this view is consistent with atheism, I became an atheist.

    So, my “conversion” from agnosticism to atheism was more definitional than theological. In reality, depending on how terms are defined and their context, I can accurately call myself an atheist or an agnostic, as well as a humanist, secular humanist, freethinker, skeptic, rationalist, infidel, and more.

    I’m curious about why people find “atheist” so much more threatening than “agnostic” when self-described “atheists” and “agnostics” often hold identical views about deities. As with atheists, agnostics almost never give equal merit to belief and disbelief. For instance, I can neither prove nor disprove the following claims.

    Claim 1: The universe was created 30 minutes ago and the creator planted false memories in all of us.

    Claim 2: Infidels who don’t believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster are condemned to burn for eternity in a vat of hot pasta sauce.

    I assume we are all “agnostic” about these two hypotheses, but at the same time pretty certain they are false. (I’d also call myself an atheist with respect to such creators.) The burden of proof is on the person making the assertion — as it should be with any supernatural claim.

  • Finkelstein

    God but his evolutionary thesis is used to support atheism.how come?

    No it is not, it was original concept of biological evolution in itself.

    There are still to this day who accept this conceptual ideology as well in a omniscient spiritual creator.

    It may support atheism as it contradicts ancient mythological expressions.


  • Finkelstein
    Though he thought of religion as a tribal survival strategy, Darwin still believed that God was the ultimate lawgiver, and later recollected that at the time he was convinced of the existence of God as a First Cause and deserved to be called a theist. This view subsequently fluctuated,and he continued to explore conscientious doubts, without forming fixed opinions on certain religious matters.

    Darwin continued to play a leading part in the parish work of the local church, but from around 1849 would go for a walk on Sundays while his family attended church.Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a god, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.. He went as far as saying that "Science has nothing to do with Christ, except insofar as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities."

  • The Rebel
    The Rebel

    Was Einstein an athiest?

    The Rebel (A) Einstein was a genius, and there are not many of them.

    Reading this thread it would appear conclusive that Einstein was a believer that became an agnostic. But what did the definition of an agnostic mean for Einstein when he wrote?:-

    " The mystery of all things is insoluble by us, and I must be content to remain an agnostic" Einstein. How would his work and theories have been received at the time he presented them, if he had stated he was an athiest?

    Anyway Einstein died April 18 1955, and at the time of his death he was athiest. I based this conclusion on a letter he wrote in 1954. This letter was sold back in 2012 on eBay for 3 million dollars, and addresses many philosophical themes including religion. The letter is conclusive proof that towards the end of his life he rejected the idea of a personal God.

    The letter can be read on the Internet in its entirety.

    The Rebel.

  • Diogenesister

    Darwin accompanied his deeply religious wife to church on Sundays but did not enter, waiting outside for her. Research from Cambridge suggests his delay in publishing " Origin.."was due to ill health, in part, combined with a heavy workload. It is considered a myth that he delayed due to religious sensibilities or that he feared censure. He had gathered such vast amounts of evidence supporting evolution via natural selection it would be unthinkable that he could any longer believe the biblical creation narrative and thus Christianity at the very least.

    When Astronomer Royal Martin Rees was asked why he still attended church his reply was " loyalty to the tribe".Don't know why I wrote that but it seemed appropriate, somehow.

  • punkofnice
    coffers - Darwin's beloved daughter Annie in Malvern on holiday last year. She died aged 11. This was the end of Darwin's faith.

    Yes. I'm not surprised. To me it's a kind of evidence that no magic man in the sky cares one itty bit.

  • Ruby456


    I took this picture of the grave of Darwin's beloved daughter Annie in Malvern on holiday last year. She died aged 11. This was the end of Darwin's faith.

    thanks cofty

  • Ruby456
    interesting comments and in reading them I'm wondering if an agnostic is someone who's worldview is not linked to whether or not there is or isn't a God. But I don't know how this would apply in life...thoughts?
  • Mephis
    I'm agnostic in the general sense because I can entertain the idea of a being somewhere in the universe of such vast power that humans would label it 'god'. If there were such a being, I've seen no evidence for it playing a role in human development or society so one may as well deal with that absence and crack on with things. If there's a belief system which comes closest to mine, it's probably something like humanism. Agnosticism stresses the knowledge element, so proof and evidence over belief. There is a point where it becomes de facto atheism. They're not the same terms, but they're not exclusive either.
  • Ruby456


    If there were such a being, I've seen no evidence for it playing a role in human development or society so one may as well deal with that absence and crack on with things

    this fits the oxford dictionary definition of agnostic very well. I think Darwin felt like this but (as finklestein mentioned above) he did (at one time anyway) believe that there were laws in the universe and that God had probably put them there.

    I don't think that either Darwin or Einstein thought that religion and science were incompatible except of course when religion made scientific claims to support creationism

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