Schopenhauer on evolution

I don’t know if by the time of writing the Fourfold root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Darwin had published his Origin*. In this book he criticizes De Lamarck. He writes about De Lamarck

For he quite seriously maintains and tries to prove at length, that the shape of each animal species, the weapons peculiar to it, and its organs of every sort destined for outward use, were by no means present at the origin of that species, but have on the contrary come into being gradually in the course of time and through continued generation, in consequence of the exertions of the animal s will, evoked by the nature of its position and surroundings, through its own repeated efforts and the habits to which these gave rise.

He [Schopenhauer] writes that this could not have been the case. He says there is a simple objection to this. He writes

[…]he overlooks the obvious objection which may be made, that long before the organs necessary for its preservation could have been produced by means of such endeavours as these through countless generations, the whole species must have died out from the want of them. To such a degree may we be blinded by a hypothesis which has once laid hold of us!

He says though

Nevertheless in this instance the hypothesis arose out of a very correct and profound view of Nature : it is an error of genius, which in spite of all the absurdity it contains, still does honour to its originator.

He has praise for De Lamarck while at the same time blames the French for the error. He writes

The true part of it belongs to De Lamarck, as an investigator of Nature ; he saw rightly that the primary element which has  determined the animal s organisation, is the will of that animal itself. The false part must be laid to the account of the backward state of Metaphysics in France, where the views of Locke and of his feeble follower, Condillac, in fact still hold their ground and therefore bodies are held to be things in themselves, Time and Space qualities of things in themselves ; and where the great doctrine of the Ideal nature of Space and of Time and of all that is represented in them, which has been so extremely fertile in its results, has not yet penetrated.

He writes that error in De Lamarck’s formulation lies in assuming

the animal to have first been without any clearly defined organs, but also without any clearly defined tendencies, and to have been equipped only with perception.

He continues to write that this idea if carried to its logical end, De Lamarck

ought to have assumed a primary animal which, to be consistent, must have originally had neither shape nor organs, and then proceeded to transform itself according to climate and local conditions into myriads of animal shapes of all sorts, from the gnat to the elephant.

This primary animal, he writes is simply the will to live and as such is not physical but metaphysical. He argues that

the shape and organisation of each animal species has been determined by its own will according to the circumstances in which it wished to live ; not however as a thing physical in Time, but on the contrary as a thing metaphysical outside Time.

The will to live, he writes is

the prius, the thing in itself : its phenomenon (mere representation in the cognitive intellect and its forms of Space and Time) is the animal, fully equipped with all its organs which represent the will to live in those particular circumstances.

and that it is the intellect[knowledge] that is adapted to the mode of life of each animal.

I think that gives a brief outline of his thoughts on the development of organisms to what we have now. And so to end this post, he writes

If, on this occasion, anyone were to raise the question as to whether Nature ought not to have provided insects with at least sufficient intelligence to prevent them from flying into the flame of a candle, our answer would be : most certainly; only she did not know that men would make candles and light them, and natura nihil agit frustra[ Nature does nothing in vain].

* He could have been familiar with the Darwinian theory since this edition is written in 1879, 2 decades after Darwin published the Origins.

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An apology for atheism

My theistic friends are all nice people albeit with beliefs that I think are ridiculous and have no basis other than that they have been indoctrinated to hold such beliefs as true. It is no fault of their own. Maybe some of them think I need help and worry for my soul-whether we have a soul is question of another day- and silently pray that I would come to believe in something even if it is Hare Krishna just as long as I have a belief.

The biggest problem why atheism is misunderstood is not because atheists do a poor job at apologetics, on the contrary, atheists do a very splendid job in justifying their belief but believers it appears to me listen to fellow believers who have no clue on what atheism is. Atheism is misrepresented and often times A straw man who doesn’t stand a chance in a sunny day.

It is my intention in this post to deal with some of this issues as I understand them. Any errors or misrepresentations are therefore my own. A friend of the type I have talked about in the introductory paragraph sent me a link  conservapedia.com to read through just in case am not sure why am an atheist. I want to look at some of the claims made in the page, so excuse the length of this post should it be longer than they usually are since the article is a book long.

The article starts with looking at types of atheism by postulating these questions

There are different types of atheism, based on different answers to the following questions:

What God or gods does the atheist deny?
Why does the atheist deny?
How does the atheist’s denial manifest itself?

The atheist lacks a belief in the existence of god[s] just the same way the christian lacks a belief in the existence of fairies-I hope this is true of christians- and here the atheist makes no distinction whether it is the sun-god of the Egyptians of old or Jehovah -a misnomer- of the Jews and Christians or Allah or whatever god you know of. The atheist makes the above claim since there is no evidence-verifiable evidence- of a god. Subjective experiences of believers of the said gods can’t be treated as evidence. The god of revelation, that is of the Judeo -Christian religions or rather of the three Abrahamic religions are so incoherent in their internal definitions that they/it just can’t exist. Any person who has a belief in some god, such as the God of Spinoza is referred to as a Deist. This God for all we know could have create the universe and left it to run as it so pleases and is not a personal god, doesn’t plan to burn us in hell for not believing in him and more so doesn’t interfere in human affairs. It is therefore important to make this distinction.

  • Militant atheism which continues to suppress and oppress religious believers today .
  • Philosophical atheism – Atheist philosophers assert that God does not exist.
  • Practical atheism: atheism of the life – that is, living as though God does not exist

As I had said earlier, atheism is a lack of belief in gods. If writing that belief in god is not supported by evidence is militant, by all means am a militant atheist. Here my friend writes about militant atheism, I hope you like it.  No atheist that I know of, suppress or oppress religious believers. It is simply not possible, there are more believers than atheists and most believers proselytize everywhere, why they are not called militant I don’t know. The second and third statements don’t make sense,  atheism is a lack of belief in gods, then anyone who is an atheist will live as though god does not exist and will assert there are no gods.

It is false to claim that there has been attempts to dilute the definition of atheism. There is a difference between agnosticism which deals with the question of knowledge -when applied to god is to say we can’t know the nature of god and whether one exists- while atheism is a question of belief or lack thereof in the existence of gods. Neither are atheists shifting the burden proof. This is and must remain the case, if I make a claim of a celestial tea pot aka Russells tea pot, the person making the positive claim provides the evidence not the other way round!

To call atheism a religion, which appears to be widespread among believers is not far from calling not collecting stamps a hobby and a bald head a hair colour. Enough said!

To quote two atheists as expressing doubt over their disbelief and then draw a conclusion that atheism is not true is first and foremost intellectual laziness and to be dishonest to say the least. More importantly, it assumes that atheists are some sort of supermen not subject to frivolities that beset our human existence. Would a believer expressing doubt once in a while make him less of a believer? I don’t think so.

To make anecdotal statements without proof is also poor reporting. To mention one person who became a believer though raised by an atheist parent is a poor correlation. What about the thousands raised in believing families and become atheists? This does not give evidence for anything except to show that human beings are capable of holding opinions different to those held by their parents or teachers or whatever authority you care to mention.

Unless the administrators of these page live in a cave somewhere or have a different source of statistical data on belief or lack thereof, I don’t see how they can make the claim that atheism is losing numbers.

In 2012, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary reported that globally every day there are 800 less atheists per day, 1,100 less non-religious (agnostic) people per day and 83,000 more people professing to be Christians per day

I want you to take in those numbers. Then look at this report here and tell me who are being [dis]honest in their reporting. In any case if there are so many people professing christianity, the reason can be easily explained that believers- like Catholics who follow the Vatican ban on birth control- are likely to have more children than the average atheist.

Till I read this article, it hadn’t occurred to me atheism was a business. All along I have always known Churches to be in the business of alms collection and tithe and would be concerned with market share. This is news to me!

The question of evolution is a scientific question. It has however been noted that those who deny the evidence for evolution haven’t read it and are most likely religious. What I can draw from this conclusion is believers like to take things on faith and prefer when a miracle is included in the works, well science presents evidence and excludes miracles. This to me explains the difficulty religious believers have with evidence for evolution, we are asking them to do something they aren’t accustomed to doing.

I don’t know whether there can be infighting in not having a belief in god. If the writers of these article refer to Atheism+ then all that can be said is they miss the whole point by a million miles. There is no contention between atheists on the existence of god, where there is a small disagreement or misunderstanding is whether atheism can mean more. At the very least that is how I understand it and am open for correction. Why we need a leader still baffles me. I haven’t heard of any complaints among atheists or rather there has been no vote for a pope. The atheist says, and rightly so, that every man can think for and lead himself! No pope or guide-book is required. Our collective experience as sentient beings is enough guide on this matter.

To argue against atheism using communism is again intellectual dishonesty. Russia under Stalin protected the Orthodox Church, so I don’t know where this argument holds any water against atheism.

The logical arguments for the existence of god have not been arguments against atheism but rather attempts by religious apologists to argue for the existence of god and all have been refuted by atheists to be fallacious and weak. So the theist need to spend time reading the various refutations to these arguments.

No atheist in recorded history has killed masses for believing in god. Atheism has never been the reason for the murders! The murderers like Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin could have been atheists but they never killed to promote atheism, no it was always a struggle for state power and control. There is no where I have seen where atheists condoned slave trade and for this I think evidence need to provided.

On charity, I have to wait for data that confirms this, so I will suspend judgement until this data is available then I will add it here.

There is a whole question of morals. Am shocked at what the posters claim about atheism and morality. I know of no atheist who advocates bestiality. Homosexuality is only evil in the eyes of a believer. No atheist condones rape and every other immoral act that we can agree on. To say atheists are immoral just because they don’t believe your god commanded moral laws is absurd to say the least.

Any one making a claim of a miracle has to provide evidence for the same.

I wake up, go for a run, I read during my free time, I eat well and am atheist. I know of christians who are obese. What does this prove, nothing, except that some people will take care of their health some will not and has nothing to do with religious belief or lack thereof.

I have written two articles here and here on suicide and I read a lot of assisted dying here and whereas am saying any one who wants to commit suicide has every right to do so. I don’t think there is anyone atheist who calls for mass suicide. By the way there are more suicides in Japan than in Scandinavian Europe which is mainly atheistic.

I didn’t know there was a link between religion and sportsmanship until this moment. What a discovery 🙂

The atheist has a choice to debate or not to debate whoever he chooses. If you have listened to one William Craig debate, you have listened to all of them. They don’t present anything new except trying to improve on Anselm of Canterbury circa 1056 and add in the new discoveries science has made to their god’s cv. Even I would refuse to debate such people. I think most of the atheists named refuse to debate the creationists because it is rather a waste of time to start such a debate if at the end you are not going to change your position and especially when one has shown they are not interested in considering the evidence for a certain position.

We live in a materialistic and natural world. Any one who has evidence to the contrary must provide it and have it reviewed by their peers in that field. To accuse atheists of deception is malicious. To draw such an inference from Darwin’s letters is also a failure to be honest. At no time did Darwin indicate a god was responsible for evolution, in fact evolution theory does away with the need for a god.

I have attempted to respond to some of the issues raised in that page regarding atheism, those I haven’t covered I hope you my good readers can weigh in on and where am wrong or have misrepresented atheists or theists I welcome correction and I proffer apologies in advance.