Equating evolution with atheism

Q. What do YECs and Richard Dawkins have in common?

A. They both equate acceptance of evolution theory with atheism.

I have seen it a few times now, from good Christians whose hearts are in the right place.

Here’s the most recent. Virtually every time this guy says “evolution”, he actually means “atheism”. (His dad joke game is great though :smiley:) https://youtu.be/shyI-aQaXD0

Where does this come from?

Is it possible that somehow they have been persuaded by their sworn enemy?

Could it be that the central figure behind the rise of Young Earth Creationism is Richard Dawkins?

Why do they do this? Was it not already understood in Biblical times, that the general adherence of Creation to patterns and laws of nature, in no way deletes God’s continual agency? Colossians 1:17.


Or those of his philosophical tribe at any rate!

I’ve been banging that same drum for a long time. YECs and the Dawkins crowd are allies of sorts. It’s a different battle line. One between the “conflict-thesis” people and the “no-conflict people” rather than between creationists and evolutionists.

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Yep… it’s a problem. And Kent Hovind has been spreading that misconception for decades now – that’s probably where I picked it up in the first place as a teenager.

It’s funny how Richard Dawkins can become a pawn for both sides. ECs can say “Why are they agreeing with Richard Dawkins about their faith?” while (some) YECs will say “Why are they agreeing with Richard Dawkins about science?” Since Richard Dawkins is a scientist and not a Christian, it makes a lot more sense to me that I’d give more credence to his views on science than his views on Christianity…


I have to remind myself, emphatically, that you are, by your own admission, “a new believer” and, as such, may well be unfamiliar with rudiments of historical developments in theology. That said, I have to say that, IMO, your citation of Colossians 1:17 and your impression that that verse affirms that “the adherence of Creation to patterns and laws of nature, in no way deletes God’s continual agency” is a novel understanding of what that verse affirms, which–in turn–I’d say, explains your perplexity over the agreement of YECs and Dawkins that equates acceptance of evolution theory with atheism.

Hopefully, the fact that Dawkins equates acceptance of evolution theory with atheism does not surprise you, leaving the source of your perplexity in your failure to recognize the origin of YEC concurrence in equating the acceptance of evolution theory with atheism.

  • First, I propose, your reading of Colossians 1:17, is–as I’ve suggested–the “novel”, i.e. newer, more recent, interpretation.
  • Second, I propose, that strong, conservative readings of Scripture tend to arise first, in response to real or imagined errors. So, for example, we find the following statements of Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Doctrine regarding Scripture and Evolution being published today:
    The Doctrinal Position of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
    • We teach that the Holy Scriptures differ from all other books in the world in that they are the Word of God. They are the Word of God because the holy men of God who wrote the Scriptures wrote only that which the Holy Ghost communicated to them by inspiration, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21. We teach also that the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is not a so-called “theological deduction,” but that it is taught by direct statements of the Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3:16, John 10:35, Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:13. Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.
    • We furthermore teach regarding the Holy Scriptures that they are given by God to the Christian Church for the foundation of faith, Eph. 2:20. Hence the Holy Scriptures are the sole source from which all doctrines proclaimed in the Christian Church must be taken and therefore, too, the sole rule and norm by which all teachers and doctrines must be examined and judged. — With the Confessions of our Church we teach also that the “rule of faith” (analogia fidei) according to which the Holy Scriptures are to be understood are the clear passages of the Scriptures themselves which set forth the individual doctrines. (Apology. Triglot, p. 441, Paragraph 60; Mueller, p. 684). The rule of faith is not the man-made so-called “totality of Scripture” (“Ganzes der Schrift”).
    • We reject the doctrine which under the name of science has gained wide popularity in the Church of our day that Holy Scripture is not in all its parts the Word of God, but in part the Word of God and in part the word of man and hence does, or at least, might contain error. We reject this erroneous doctrine as horrible and blasphemous, since it flatly contradicts Christ and His holy apostles, set up men as judges over the Word of God, and thus overthrows the foundation of the Christian Church and its faith.
    • We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God’s own record, found in God’s own book, the Bible. We accept God’s own record with full confidence and confess with Luther’s Catechism: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures.”

I note that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is among the most conservative of Protestant, American, Lutheran denominations, traces it history in U.S. back to 1847, but traces its theology back Martin Luther (1517). Similar theological history can be found among the Calvinists.
Are there liberal efforts among Lutherans and Calvinists? Yes, so one should not paint all Protestants with the same brush. However, my point is that the conservatives–who equate evolution and atheism are the earlier proponents of the equivalence, not the later.

Both sides subscribe to the conflict narrative that insists religion and science must be at war and cannot peacefully co-exist.


Here’s an analysis of the history behind this thinking pattern. There are other articles on the BioLogos site to if you search “New Atheist” or “conflict thesis.”


If such superficiality is hard to understand, it is because it is indeed motivated by a desire to push unreasonable conclusions. The fact that opposite positions are using the same rhetoric is a significant indicator.

I am reminded of another kind of superficiality which Jesus speaks of in response to the query about why He speaks in parables.

Matthew 13
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says:

‘You shall indeed hear but never understand,
and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them.’

In other words, this superficiality is derived from the fact that they simply have no interest in the honest truth but only in pushing what they have decided is the case.

This is not to say that atheism is unreasonable, but only that it can be.

His views on Christianity are perfectly scientific.

Just like my chef’s views on my car problems are perfectly culinary.


Is it?

I regularly hear references to God as the Creator and sustainer of the world and all that is in it. Isn’t that what Col 1:17 affirms?

I can’t see why this position should seem so strange or be so unusual.

God creates and sustains all. But if I let a ball roll off the edge of the the table, it will fall and hit the floor. Again and again. And each time, it will look very similar to the last, in terms of speed, acceleration, trajectory, etc.

Because I can understand and predict what will happen, does that somehow mean all of the sudden that God is extirpated from the process?

What about if I go for a swim, and predictably get wet? Or sow a seed, which predictably germinates? Or a couple lay together and nine months later a baby is born? Is God somehow not involved in those, because the outcome was predictable?

Is God only involved when He acts in blatant violation of the patterns and laws of nature? How does that fit with an understanding that He is the author of those laws and patterns and of everything in the Universe?

It’s hard to believe that any Christian would start thinking that way of their own accord. It’s so bizarre and seems to be deliberately set up to support a conclusion of atheism.


So Christianity isn’t grist for science’s mill? Oh, but TGD isn’t science? It’s a polemic against dominant not best case Christianity by a brilliant scientist at the top of his game. The fact that he doesn’t engage with your and my minority best case Christianity is another conversation. Where is he ‘theologically’ wrong? Or [even just] rationally?

Do you think Dawkins is aware of or assigns much value to best case Christianity? Even though it seems to be a minority (minuscule?) portion among those on your side of the divide, do you think it nonetheless plays a vital role in our cultural fabric? I’m not convinced it does not.

I agree completely @MarkD, which is why he almost completely overlooks it, apart from references to the then Bishops of Edinburgh (Holloway) and Oxford (Harries) with who he got on famously.

Theologically wrong? I don’t get the impression he’s trying to be theological anything. He’s not on the field (or perhaps doesn’t recognize his own location within it - broadly construed). But that aside, maybe many of his criticisms as an outsider [to organized religion] are spot on and even needed, yet the fact remains he self-identifies as an outsider to the theological discussion, and who am I to withold respect for his own self-identity choices?

[If there was one main fault of his to pick out for criticism, this is the main one that comes to my mind: (with TGD in mind - it’s been a few years). He sees everything and everyone else on the playing field, and is able to deconstruct and pick apart their narratives (especially if they’re religious). But he has no sense of where he is, except to imagine (delusionally I will suggest) that he and his small coterie of like-minded individuals are above that field observing, as if they’ve been granted special dispensation from … themselves … to finally have the one unprecedented, objective platform of all history to stand on. And that furthermore - that platform itself is a sacred space - so holy that it can’t be mentioned, much less critqued, and in fact they seem barely even aware of it, just as a fish might be oblivious to water. But if others (dreaded philosophers) do try to bring it up, such unfortunate trespassers discover quickly that it is a holy-of-holies, not to be trifled with.]



On the identity and work of Jesus, for starters.

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How so? O[m whoops!]n the one and on the other.

Quite. Theology is subject to science, not a scientific subject.

Is this something that really needs answered, friend?

It is subject to reality … all of it. (yes - including the science - so I’m not disagreeing with you there.)

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Aye Joshua. Jesus being God incarnate is THE proposition. The greatest. That is His work, if He is. Nothing else works [i.e. no theory of atonement beyond it, and by incarnation I mean His entire life-death-life cycle].

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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