How would pre-Darwinian atheists explain the origin of species or life?
I’ll come at this not from a historical but from a philosophical point of view. Assume a wold in which there is no evolution of life-forms, and which the climate is unchanging. There is no reason that this had to have been created - it could have always been this way.
“World”, not “wold”.
Spontaneous generation, indeed:
This is conjecture, as I have only been a post-Darwinian athiest, but I think I’d explain it the way I currently explain the origin of the universe: it is to some degree a mystery.
Note that you don’t have to hypothesize a god to explain a thing. I imagine that most of existence is complex beyond my ability to comprehend, and that even the things I could comprehend are mostly unknown because there is so much to figure out and learn.
It would be reasonable to speculate about, say, the origin of life. You know people older than yourself, so you assume life existed before you experienced it. You know about archaeological finds, so you assume it goes back many lifetimes. Maybe you know about fossils and guess about how old they must be. There are always ideas you can try and test and discuss and remember - Darwinism is just one of the most exciting and useful ones in the area of life’s history.
One more note: part of my athiesm is my sense that people often make up fanciful explanations for things they want to understand, and gods fall into this category in my view of our history. Whether God is what the Church claims, or a made up explanation, or something else, is in a narrow logical sense untestable; but I still have a working picture in my mind that guides me, for example, in deciding whether to spend hours praising him (a choice everybody has to make).
In spite of mankinds’ propensity to be wiseasses and always have an answer, an intelligent, pre-evolution individual who doubted the Genesis account, and the garbage that religious nuts propounded as a consequence, could just say, “Life exists but I don’t have enough information to propose an explanation for how it started.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you don’t know.
And in fact we still don’t know although there are several reasonable speculations around.
Historically, pre-Darwinists of a rational turn of mind were either atheists who said, "We don’t yet know how life originated, but the simple fact that we don’t yet know everything there is to know, is not proof of the existence of God. Or they were Deists who said, “We acknowledge that the world we live in must have had a creator of some sort, but we are simply not in a position to say for sure what sort of creature the creator was.”
Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists of this sort. America was not created a Christian nation.
An obvious problem with the “God did it” hypothesis is that God, if She exists, must be a very complex being – at least as complex as any other creature on Earth. So if you postulate the existence of God as an explanation for the existence of life, the obvious next question becomes: how did God come into existence?
If the religous person is allowed to assume the existence of God without explaining it, then the atheist should be allowed to take the existence of life as a given, without attempting to explain it.
I believe that goodness compels the existence of God. That is, Her existence is necessary.
It is not necessary that Christianity and Deism be at odds. It is true that the most powerful churches have been theistic, but it can be argued that that is because it is easier to grab political power with arms and claims of revelation than with persuasive argument and reason. But Freemasonry, Essenism, the Quaker Society of Friends, and many other Christian based belief systems are compatible with Deistic principles.
Well, it could be a wold, too, but the range of species and populations thereof would be considerably limited…
Why is Her existence necessary?
Because the essence of goodness is edification. Surely everyone knows that! Sheesh!
Lib, can you just link to whatever the last thread you did this in was for him? Because this is kind of an interesting thread and I don’t know if I can stand three pages of formal logic proofs of God again…
Will you be kind enough to ask people like Martin Wolf not to do the same thing for the opposite sentiment with statements like: “So if you postulate the existence of God as an explanation for the existence of life, the obvious next question becomes: how did God come into existence?” Or is it your intention to silence believers only and allow nonbelievers to engage in whatever hijacks they wish?
Because it is possible that She exists.
What hijack? My post was directly relevant to the OP’s question.
Just to spell it out: if a pre-Darwinian atheist were challenged by a religious person to explain the existence of life, the proper answer would be “I can’t, and neither can you”. If the religious person then came back with “Yes I can: all life was created by God”, the atheist should answer with something along the lines of “Unless you can give the mechanism by which this God being came into existence, you have not explained anything with that answer – you have merely given a name to your ignorance”.
Of course, in our world, we do have a scientifically sound explanation for the origin of species, which does not require us to postulate the existence of God. Therefore, to debate His/Her existence in this thread would be a hijack, and I will refrain from doing so.
I don’t want to silence anyone. I’m not asking you to shut up. All I’m asking you to do is if you feel the urge to get ontological again, please link to the last time you did so rather than consuming several pages and an unknown number of hamsters in p so not q blahblahblah, as I seriously doubt that a Proof Of God would have changed all that much in several months time that you would need to repost such.