Comments about ‘Joe Cannon: Darwin, Marx and Freud: Crafters of secular belief’

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Published: Sunday, June 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

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When Darwin did mention religion (and it wasn't often) he spoke from an agnostic tone. There is nothing about natural selection that removes God from our lives. There are only people like this author who allow themselves to blame science for the failings of modern society. Eventually God and Science are not mutually exclusive. Rather they are complementary. One thing the author did get right, he is not qualified to speak about evolution and natural selection.

Merrill Cook

Excellent commentary, Joe. There is no doubt that Darwin, Marx, and Freud provided the over-arching framework for secularism, agnosticism, and atheism. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that the three have become so influential to modern thought.

Unholy Trinity

You have the unholy trinity of the modern superstitious and unscientific religion of today and much of the two preceding centuries.

These three have fascinated and lured people away from the belief in the obvious (that highly ordered creations do not happen accidentally) to the illogical doctrine that they do.

Marx gave us doctrines that provide a godless alternative to Christianity, that professes to lead mankind into a heaven on earth and perfect society, yet his proponents have brough only misery and injustice to thosw who have espoused them and sought to realise them. Tens of millions have died, killed by those who say they desire the greater good of makind.

Freud has given us universal excuses for sin, shifting the blame, onto parents and environment, that rightly belongs to every individual.

Murray Dad

Actually in the belief world of most modern educated people in the western world, the overlapping Venn diagram area of an Almighty and science is where they find their purpose. Natural selection reinforces my belief in a Creator; the Hubble images reinforces my beleif in a Creator. No conflict between God and Science here.

Katherine Farmer

This has been an exceptional series. It offers a broad overview of key changes in the Western view of God and His role in our lives and in society more generally. Thank you for taking the time to research this issue so thoroughly. I appreciate the many references. It is a wonderful launching pad for personal research on an issue key to an understanding of modern life and philosopy. Terrific!

Ultra Bob

I dont know if God exists or not. However I am very sure that if he exists, the various religions of the world, know nothing of his nature and plan. Religion, this far in the history of the world, is simply a tool that men have used to enslave other men.

There is nothing in this world today to tell me that God exists, and there is much to tell me that God has nothing to do with what is here and what happens to it.

The movement toward a more secular world is probably the result of the increased level of
intelligence and knowledge that people have achieved.

Religion has been good for man because it provided a means for men to work together and rise above the animal state. If the end is near for Religion, I hope that human beings will find a new way to combine their minds and energies.


Mr. Cannon,

You try to pigeonhole skeptical, secular thought, and you talk about the "true" creation story in your smug commentary, but you cannot get around the fact that this great moral foundation you call religion is all just MADE UP. You cannot admit that you have bought lock, stock, and barrel the musings of charlatans.

Maybe modern society is starting to value intellectual honesty, and not value tradition merely for the sake of tradition.

But of the three individuals you exalt as the architects of all things secular, only Darwin endures. I think psychology has moved on from Freud and most governments have rejected Marxism.


It's interesting that Cannon says that Dawkins is a "reigning high priest" of secularism. Isn't that language turning secularism into a religion? Is it saying that it has a well-defined dogma?

If science can give us about as many answers as religion, how is it not legitimate? And, isn't Cannon saying he is a creationist? Is the creation story in the Bible true? If so, what part? Does it matter how we interpret it? Is the earth 6000 years old or so?


It's a mistake to dismiss Darwin as a champion of secularism. Evolution doesn't address the question of whether God exists. I believe evolution is the best explanation of how God created the magnificent array of life forms on Earth.


The problem with putting God into science is that, instead of finding answers, we just say "God did it." That's no way to do science.
Richard Dawkins is just as off as Cannon here. Science doesn't say there is no God, and it doesn't say there is a God, any more than any other secular field (construction, computer programming, editing a newspaper) does.
Cannon says he's not a scientist. If he wants to make an intelligent statement about science, he should at least learn a little about science first. There are plenty of good scientists at BYU that would be more than happy to talk to him about Darwin, the nature of science, etc., although for some reason I doubt he'd listen.

Roland Kayser

Mr. Darwin's thesis has been shown to be correct over and over again. Freud and Marx were both wrong about almost everything, and could be categorized as intellectual fads who have now passed. Lumping the three together amounts to guilt by association.


This essay deserves no one's attention. May it quickly pass into the archives of the Deseret News, a soon forgotten sophomoric attempt to do a "feel good" for the angry, poorly educated, religious community.

The jello-ee premise of this article is summarized in one of its quotes, "secularization is specifically a rejection of its Christian foundations."

Cannon utterly fails to support this self-indulgent canard I imagine because the defense of such a statement would require Christianity to claim as exclusive (for itself) a set of "foundations" that have existed parallel to Christianity.

To suggest that secularization requires a rejection of Christianity is little more than self-indulgent pandering to a pseudo religious society uninterested is much more than feel sorry for itself because it creation story cannot compete with science.

Cannon's dearth of credentials on the subject of religion, science OR literature is obvious.

Mike Richards

This series of articles has given us much information and a starting point for serious pondering.

Searching for the roots of the thoughts that are giving acceptance for conduct and actions that have been considered reprehensible throughout most of recorded history has been made much easier by Mr. Cannon's series of articles.

Rejecting his articles simply because some readers have allowed themselves to become blind to any thought that they did not originate only shows how necessary these articles are.

Too many people, who would reject God and religion, have focused on the "how" instead of the "why". Knowing *how* God created all things is not nearly as important as searching for the reason *why* he does His great work. As a world, we are just beginning to recognize the complexity of all things physical, yet many would explain that wonderful order in all things untouched by mankind as just something that happened spontaneously.

Mr. Cannon's articles clearly shows the evolution of that thought process.



You raise an interesting premise in the statement, "Knowing *how* God created all things is not nearly as important as searching for the reason *why* he does His great work"

This of course begs the question that God is the creator. This is a non-sequitor for a scientist since there is no evidence of a single creator nor is it a requirement of 'how.'

Your perspective therefore is entirely a religious one which renders your assessment virtually irrelevant for the same reason the article itself is irrelevant.

May I assume your use of science-dependent technology in your daily life is not subject to your religiously inspired rejection of the same?

Best to keep your religion safely out of your public discussions.

Joe Cannon

I appreciate very much the comments on this and my other columns.

Nothing I have written should be read to undermine science or even the Darwinian explanation of evolution. The virtues and products of the scientific method are many and wonderful. And, of course, there are many scientists who believe in God, including at BYU.

My point is not that Darwin's explanation is right or wrong. That is why I noted my lack of scientific credentials. What is unarguable, however, is that Darwin believed, and most evolutionary scientists believe, that the random action of atoms and elements is a complete and exclusive explanation of human creation. This materialistic explanation of human origins is necessary for a secular view that excludes God's role in creation.

That some evolutionary biologists find God's hand in evolution is wonderful, but doesn't change the fact that Darwin's explanation was entirely materialistic.

Joe Cannon

To Timj. There may well be BYU scientists who have written on the confluence of evolution and religion. I would welcome some references. This column was sparked, in part, by a lecture given by a BYU scientist who stated that Darwin was misunderstood and that evolution is compatible with religion. I have no argument that evolution can be understood with a religious twist. But, unlike Descartes, Darwin, himself, had no intent of combinig the two.

Outside of the BYU relm, I find the writings of John Polkinghorne very satisfying. Polkinghorne was an internationally recognized theoretical physicist who came to religion later in life. He left Trinity College, Cambridge where he was a colleague of Stephen Hawking and became President of Queens' College, Cambridge. He is now an ordained minister and the only ordained member of the Royal Society.

He has written a number of books. I think the best are "Belief in God in an Age of Science" and "Science and Christian Belief, Theological Reflections of a botton-up Thinker."

Mike Richards

To LadyTrue @ 10:40,

How convenient to justify your position that God is not the creator simply because you have not studied long enough or hard enough to prove to your own satisfaction that He is the creator.

Does your position not beg the question also?

It seems somewhat odd to me that someone who infers knowledge of science would limit himself/herself to his/her own knowledge. Has all knowledge about all things physical already been obtained? Has all knowledge of all things other than physical already been obtained? If so, where, pray tell, is that knowledge kept?

Until you have scientific proof otherwise, it's best to allow God to exist, even without your understanding or permission.

MIke R, I agree with

what you said:

"Until you have scientific proof otherwise, it's best to allow God to exist, even without your understanding or permission."

Of course, you see that if you allow one God to exist, you must also allow *all* Gods and Godesses to exist, even without your understanding or permission?

K then, we're cool.

Lew Jeppson

I don't consider myself a Marxist, but let me point out that most of the reforms that have prolonged capitalism have their origin in Marx. Moreover, Marxian economic theory itself is still highly useful, but too often ignored, because most people (including economists) don't have a clue as to what Marx's economic model is all about.

I don't think these three men can be singled out as perpetrators of 19th century atheism. The entire scientific revolution of that age was atheistic.

Poor Steve

The US Supreme Court long ago ruled that atheism is a religion.

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