Joe Cannon: Darwin, Marx and Freud: Crafters of secular belief

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  • Erasmus
    July 25, 2009 11:48 a.m.

    For a set of interesting stories about contemporary seekers faced with the fierce contradictions and disastrous historical consequences of the materialist belief systems that shaped the 20th-21st century mind, see Nickell John Romjue's book, "The Black Box: Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud."

  • web surfer from the midwest
    June 18, 2009 3:35 p.m.

    Hi, stumbled upon the responses to this article while looking for a defintion of something entirely different.

    St. Thomas Aquinas said about sin:

    1. It darkens the intellect
    2. It disorders the passions
    3. It perverts the will

    Did you know that many of the craters on the moon were named after jesuit priests of the catholic church?

    It seems to me that in their Astronomy they contirbuted to human scientific understanding while living a devout religious life.

    My point is that religion and science do not need to be mutually exclusive.

    Religion and an humanist ethic of the "common good" are compatible.

    Perhaps secularists and God fearing believers can co-exist and have positive influences on each other.

    Peace to you all.

  • Sci Tchr & Believer
    June 16, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    Joe, I disagree with your opinion that Darwin's agenda was to eliminate any involvement of God in the creation. He said in the last edition of "Origin Of Species"..."There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." You may still doubt Charles Darwin's motives, but "by the Creator" IS in there. Why would God be less of a god if he had all that knowledge that he could start the process and it turn out as excpected. Doesn't God know the beginning from the end? Discovering natural selection was not anti-God. It was Man following God's admonition to subdue the learning more about it. As far as the accusation made at some pt. that Hitler used natural selection as his excuse...ANY true priciple can be used for evil.

  • Thomas
    June 9, 2009 4:46 p.m.

    It is important to make the distinction between the process of scientific discovery and the world views which the individuals involved in science hold. The purity, in contrast to religion, that scientific thinking provides, is found in the fact that if any explanation arises that is a better suited, or has the benefit of stronger evidence; the new explanation replaces the old relatively quickly. Science itself is independent of those who work in the field and is by definition amoralistic. The pseudo religious or materialistic world view, that many experts in the field or those who study science (whether they be BYU professors or Richard Dawkins), have created or hold, should be considered separate from their work in science. The fact that Darwin was agnostic is irrelevant when considering the evidential validity of the evolutionary explanation. By contrast, Western or Christian religion is inseparably tied to the individuals who profess its validity, due to the key assumption that understanding comes from an individual connecting with some source of absolute truth. Perhaps you should delve into why so many people that accept this bold religious assumption are so suspicious of scientific, non-world view, explanations of natural phenomena, like evolution.

  • RE: LadyTruth
    June 8, 2009 6:28 p.m.

    LIke all the assumptions that are the foundation of evolution,

    your assumption would be wrong.

  • LadyTruth
    June 8, 2009 5:57 p.m.

    I think it is important to point out that some of the religiously dogmatic on this post have in their statements pitted Science against religion.

    While such ignorance has persisted since Galileo and Copernicus, and will likely persist as long as there men willing to misinform the faithful and gullible, this is not at all what Cannon was saying in his post.

    Darwin's theory has grown into a category of science called Evolution.

    Evolution is a science not a theory like biology or chemistry.

    You cannot say, I do not believe in the 'theory' of biology or chemistry.

    As for commenter "RE:@9:36", we will assume you are not a scientist.

  • RE: @9:36 a.m.
    June 8, 2009 5:32 p.m.

    Still no evidence, huh?

    Just blind belief in science that they have all answers,

    that all interpertation of said evidence is what they say it is,

    and they will allow no questioning of it.

    IT sounds like your science is as much dogma, as any religion.

    But what if they are wrong in their blind zeal to make a theory work, make all fossils fit, all their assumptions, all their supposed relationships?

    all the while ignoring all the unchanging fossils in the fossil record, evidence of no change in creatures, insects, plantlife, that have existed 60-70 million years, even 150 millions, maybe loger, without change.

  • Anonymous
    June 8, 2009 12:29 p.m.

    There is a god. (S)he doesn't intervene on behalf of lottery winners, celebrities or professional athletes; and I think god may not micromanage a lot of other things, either. Put the principle in place and let it run itself. God doesn't care what I drink, either. Everyone can comment on their understanding of god, including marx and darwin and you and I, but we all have the same proof. None. Have a nice day.

  • Trip
    June 8, 2009 11:00 a.m.

    God wants the earth to be flat. If science dosen't stop messing with his teachings to the church they will be in big trouble.

  • Soracates
    June 8, 2009 10:57 a.m.

    Atheism is a non prophet enterprise.

  • @9:36 a.m.
    June 8, 2009 10:15 a.m.

    the difference is that Darwins theories are now backed up by scientific evidance and your cliams are still locked up in ancient thoughts with no evidance.
    Pick up any basic gentics book and you will have all the evidance you need.

  • @@Myths
    June 8, 2009 9:38 a.m.

    1. Well, The Origin of Species was published 150 years ago and we're talking about Darwin's 'contribution'.

    2. Anyone can see, if they choose to, that I'm quoting a book prior to 'Origin' to prove that enthusiastic belief in evolution pre-dates Darwin. This one pre-dates 'Origin' by just 12 years.

    3. Give us some specific empirical evidence for your apparent belief in Darwin's theory.

  • @Myths
    June 8, 2009 8:40 a.m.

    You can ignore the empirical evidence of evolution all you want it does not make it go away. Its funny that your two quotes come from over 150 years ago, it kind of speaks to your state of mind.

  • Myths
    June 8, 2009 7:50 a.m.

    There have always been myths concerning the origin of mankind, and always very popular was been the myth that man came from various forms of animal life. They look a bit like us so we might have come from them.

    It seems just as logical to say that we ultimately developed from trees or that animal life desended from mankind.

    Theories of evolution were popular with much of the public before the Origin of Species was published. Then, as now, many people loved the idea of evolution, even though they had but a confused view about the subject.

    In other words the love of the idea of evolution has very little to do with empirical proof.

    Disraeli characterized this enthusiastic, woolly conception in Tancred (published in 1847):

    "You know, all is development. The principle is perpetually going on. First, there was nothing, then there was something; then - I forget the next - I think there were shells, then fishes; then we came - let me see- did we come next? Never mind that; we came at last."

    ..."Oh! but it is all proved.... You understand, it is all science.... Everything is proved - by geology you know."

    Disraeli: Tancred I; 225-226

  • the truth?
    June 8, 2009 6:46 a.m.

    You really need to read more and post less the Truth. There is strong genetic evidence (or proof for you religious types) as to the links of "old fossils" and modern humans, of course you would know this already if you actually cared about "the truth."
    I find it humorous that people are now trying to turn the word secularism into a bad word like they have tried with so many words in the past. They do not care about "the truth" just their point of view (no matter how distorted).

  • the truth
    June 7, 2009 8:58 p.m.

    The way science does evolution is NO way for science to do science,

    Make up stories of how it could have happened, and how it POSSIBLY could have happened , may have, might have happened,

    then claim that is what did happen,

    While genetics may show how it POSSIBLY COULD HAVE have happend,

    it does NOT show what DID happen.

    WE do NOT know if any of the old fossils even have anyhting to do with modern man.

    all that MUST be assumed in the so called theory,

    it's all built on assumptions, suppostion, made-up stories, it is a house of cards if there ever was one.

    and anything that doesn't "fit" MUST become a branch that has died out, how convenient!

    BAD SCIENCE all around,

    a case where the theory drives the interpretation of very circumstantial evidence,

    and all evidence of_unchanging life is completely ignored,

    from crocadiles and sharks to pteradons that live unchanged for 150 million years, the coelcanths unchanged in over 60 to 70 million years, to many ohter creatures unchanged but perhaps in size.

    genetic similarity simply meanw we have similar features, any relatiohship MUST be assumed.

    Yep, evolution is BAD science, and_more_like_dogma

  • Joseph A. Watts
    June 7, 2009 8:24 p.m.

    Hey Joe,

    What's with this 'Joseph A.' stuff? I thought you were 'Joe.'

    Religion, science, church-state, very fascinating subjects. Interesting column and comments.

    Joe Watts

  • Roger
    June 7, 2009 7:31 p.m.

    This article was complete nonsense. Who wants to go back to the times when everyday heretics were burned alive "to the glory of God," as it was said of the "auto de fe," fire of faith. That was the world 500 years ago.

    Steven L. Peck, an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University wrote an article that was published in the Deseret News last year. He called creationism "a pretense to science that tries to set religion and evolution at odds. Dr. Peck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he fully accepts evolution.

    Peck said, "Evolution is at the heart of the biological revolution that has transformed everything from genetics and medicine to drug discovery and managing antibiotic resistance."

    "Let me be blunt. I find nothing of value in Intelligent Design for both scientific and religious reasons."

    It is a false dichotomy to place god and evolution at opposite poles. You can pick up any evolution text book, and it will say nothing about god or the after life. These are separate subjects that are falsely linked by religious extremists and the uneducated.

  • Jon Marshall, WSU
    June 7, 2009 5:54 p.m.

    Joe and TimJ,

    'Finding Darwin's God' is an excellent book and Ken Miller even recently gave a talk down at SUU. A similar book from a Mormon perspective is "Evolution and Mormonism" by Stephens and Meldrum (Foreword by BYU professor Duane Jeffery, recently retired). I received my PHD from BYU and taught Evolution there and was a teaching assistant to Duane Jeffery for years.

    Science does influence religion. The religious geocentric view of the earth's place in the universe was replaced by a model that fit the data and observations better. This event didn't end Christianity but Christianity had to evolve its theology to accommodate it. The same thing happens today. Over the last several decades genetic and other types of data have caused views of Native American origins to go through dramatic restructuring in LDS theology. It has even resulted in word changes in the introduction of the Book of Mormon. These changes sometimes scare people, but they shouldn't. I don't think science unavoidably wounds religion I think it improves it. We just have to be prepared when it doesnt necessarily go the direction we think it should.

  • LaadyTrue
    June 7, 2009 5:11 p.m.

    Fine Mr. Cannon, then your decision to use the word 'secular' or 'secularism' to refer to social and scientific progress is "self-indulgent."

    The label 'secular' also insists that nothing about religion is useful in the study or application of anything secular and does not "require the rejection" of anything but rather simply refers to the absence thereof.

    Your attempt to claim a role for religion in science by mere use of the word, is nothing more than a tired semantic trick.

    You rest your argument on this? "A number of commenters have noted that, in many cases, science and religion are mutually reinforcing."

    Are you kidding? Religion by its very nature cannot reinforce science by *its*(science) own definition.

    Even if science *could* somehow to satisfy per its own methods, that 'the order of things' cannot be explained by any known, quantifiable forces or physical laws, religion would STILL have nothing to offer science because it is not science.

    Religion by definition and application, requires the suspension reason and rejection of science. This is the Achilles heal of the BYU scientists who do their best to 'serve the master' under the guise of science.

  • Crystal
    June 7, 2009 5:11 p.m.

    Dark Sciences 4;18:
    Thank you. Well said and to the point.
    James Clark Maxwell was an extremely observant and HONEST man.
    Modern Science is true science in a state of apostacy. It is not a vehicle for finding "truth" even if it is "taught" at BYU.LOL!!!!
    Joe Cannon, I am disappointed in your responses here on the posts. I thought you were wise at first. Now you look quite superficial.
    Mike Richards: I wish you would write an article for us to comment on. I would like to hear more from you.

  • People want somethingq
    June 7, 2009 4:58 p.m.

    to believe in...even if it doesn't make sense. I find that science makes more sense. But often if I talk to a religious person about certain issues they will say things "but the Bible says" or "Joseph Smith says" or some such words. Religious people often throw sense to the wind so they can keep their comfort level up with things they've been taught all their lives and that give them good feelings. Feelings don't always make sense, however, but they sometimes give a false sense of security. I would rather face harsher truths than live my life this way. There are many people in the world like this now...we are becoming the majority. I'm not saying "majority" is always right, but at least we can evaluate issues with rationality and lots of thought and not fall back on fairy tales which many times, can be proven false.

  • The Dark "Sciences"
    June 7, 2009 4:18 p.m.

    The Dark Sciences... while they profess to treat of laws which have never been investigated, afford the most conspicuous examples of the operation of the well-known laws of association... in imitating the phraseology of science, and of combining its facts with those which must naturally suggest themselves to a mind unnaturally disposed. In the mis-begotten science thus produced we have speciously sounding laws of which our first impression is that they are truisms, and the second that they are absurd, and a bewildering mass of experimental proof, of which all the tendencies lie on the surface and all the data turn out when examined to be heaped together.. confusedly "

    James Clark Maxwell, 1853, cited in The Life of James Clark Maxwell: Campbell and Garnett, 1884 MacMillan Press

    Why the "endurance" of Darwin? Two reasons:

    1. The desperate attempts of atheists to keep his legend alive.

    2. He is foisted upon students, represented as a 'scientist' and his theories presented as virtually inviolable, free discussion being objectively denied, and unbelievers (in Darwin) being stifled and mocked in the expression of their legitimate objections.

  • Timj
    June 7, 2009 4:03 p.m.

    Joe Cannon,
    I recommend Ken Miller's book "Finding Darwin's God." Miller is Catholic, the book is well written, and it discusses how religion is compatible with evolution. It focuses more on science than on philosophy, however.
    As far as BYU professors go, call the BYU Biology department and ask around. I'm not certain who's teaching the evolution course right now, but if it is who I think it is, he's a very personable man, and would be a great resource. He'd probably have further references for more philosophical-based questions.

  • glendenb
    June 7, 2009 3:53 p.m.

    Mr. Cannon's article confuses the atheistic and the secular state. The atheistic state declares there is no god. The secular state is designed to be religiously neutral but which seeks to guarantee freedom of conscience for individuals. The secular state conforms to the definition of secularism as not specifically or overtly religious.

    The secular Western democracies stand in stark contrast to the sectarian states from which they descended. The bloody sectarianism of post-Reformation Europe convinced liberal thinkers that government should seek to create civil order and peace by establishing itself as not explicitly religious. Especially in the English speaking world, this project has succeeded, the notable exception being Northern Ireland.

    Jefferson and the other founders deliberately prohibited religious tests for office; a principle demonstrating their dedication to a religiously neutral state.

    Jefferson argued we are endowed by our creator with certain rights, but the Jeffersonian creator is not the personal, engaged god of contemporary conservative Christianity. Jefferson was a deist and the deist God was the distant, uninvolved "Prime Mover" which established the laws by which nature operated and then stepped back. The Deist god would get a contemporary believer banned as a heretic in many churches.

  • What is the loss, Mr. Cannon?
    June 7, 2009 3:36 p.m.

    I look at those societies where religion is/was the main focus, our own past and the moslem world of today.

    Who can make the claim that our semi secular world is not more enlightened than either.

    Slavery has been done away with only in our society. We don't kill people for having different opinions as as the moslem world of today does and the catholic world of yesteryear.

    We don't overly focus on religious topics, but have more of a variety. Women only in our semi secular society society are given their due rights.

    Why Mr. Cannon do you think the direction we have turned has been a loss?

  • Joe Cannon
    June 7, 2009 3:11 p.m.

    To Michael Elliott.

    The Oxford English Dictionary has numerous definitions of secular and secularism, I cannot find a definition related to government in the sense you have described. While our Founders clearly wanted separation of church and state, their principal concern was to avoid a state sponsored particular religion. All of the Founders, including Jefferson, understood that rights were God-given and not invented by men. Inherent in our founding documents is the natural law notion of rights as God-ordained.

    The OED defines "secular" a "of or belonging to the present or visible world as distinguished from the eternal or spiritual world; temporal, worldly; caring for the present world only; unspiritual."

    The OED also includes a draft definition of "secular humanism." I have tried to stay from that term because it is so emotionally charged, but the definition is interesting. "A form of humanist practice and theory that rejects religious belief as a basis for moral judgement and action."

  • Joe Cannon
    June 7, 2009 2:46 p.m.

    To LadyTrue.
    Notwithstanding its harshness I appreciate your comment. It is neither a "canard" nor "self-indulgent pandering" to say that "secularization requires a rejection of Christianity." By definition, secularization is centered on the absence of religion. The secular and the religious are mutually exclusive. This is not the same as saying that religion and science are mutually exclusive, they are not. A number of commenters have noted that, in many cases, science and religion are mutually reinforcing.

    There are a number of believers who reject science and a number of scientists who reject religion, but as I hope to point out in future columns, if either is "true" they must both reinforce each other.

    As to my credentials: One of the limitations of newspaper columns is the inability to footnote statements, this is particularly troubling to me as a lawyer. Space is another limitation.

    Over three decades I have read and studied many thousands of pages on all these subjects. You may rest assured that, despite my limitations, each of the propositions I write about have been written about and supported by numerous scholars and theologians.

  • Michael Elliott
    June 7, 2009 2:11 p.m.

    Mr. Cannon states "Secularism is the abandonment of a belief in a power external to mankind..." This is incorrect. Secularism is the belief that public institutions should be separate from religious institutions. The schism that occurred with the Enlightenment was not between theists and atheists, but rather between those who insist on religious orthodoxy and those who believe in religious freedom (which includes the right to disbelieve all religions). Paradoxically, the United States with its explicitly secular form of government is among the nations with the highest rates of religiosity.

    By separating religion from government, secularism actually fosters religious variety. The secularism that Mr. Cannon so despises is the philosophic and legal foundation granting him the freedom to believe in an unorthodox Christian sect.

  • I disagree "Abuses"
    June 7, 2009 1:53 p.m.

    Although religious abuse is terrible, I don't believe that I would still believe in the mostly ridiculous claims of religion if abuses didn't exist. The reason? Because I consider myself an enlightend person. I am not overly intelligent, but I can see "God" has very little to do with claims of religion and more to do with the claims to power that it gives them. As to the questions about "God" I liked "logic's" comments. I believe God is science and is the Universe. I don't understand "God", but I believe in a higher power that I can't totally understand.

  • Abuses of religion
    June 7, 2009 12:58 p.m.

    One of the main reasons for the shift from religious world view to secular world view is not only science, but the abuses of religion.

  • Logic
    June 7, 2009 12:57 p.m.

    It is not that complicated: if there is a god then science belongs to god; it there is no god, then science is god. If science exposes secularism then if reveals god. Man invented religion and it has little to do with god: god is science.

  • Agnostic Andy
    June 7, 2009 12:46 p.m.

    True Believers, please enlighten me! Which god is the one true god? Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Ernest T. Bass
    June 7, 2009 12:39 p.m.

    You act like that's a bad thing.
    Darwin has truly enlighted the world with knowledge. Surely you're not blaming Darwin for offering a difference source of our existance than that of myth, lore and superstition of our ancient, uneducated ancestors.
    Seriously, are we suppose to take Genisis 100% literal?

  • Poor Steve
    June 7, 2009 12:35 p.m.

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

  • Lew Jeppson
    June 7, 2009 12:18 p.m.

    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.

  • MIke R, I agree with
    June 7, 2009 12:07 p.m.

    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.

  • Mike Richards
    June 7, 2009 11:08 a.m.

    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.

  • Joe Cannon
    June 7, 2009 10:54 a.m.

    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."

  • Joe Cannon
    June 7, 2009 10:42 a.m.

    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.

  • LadyTrue
    June 7, 2009 10:40 a.m.


    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.

  • Mike Richards
    June 7, 2009 9:42 a.m.

    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.

  • LadyTrue
    June 7, 2009 9:32 a.m.

    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.

  • Roland Kayser
    June 7, 2009 8:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Timj
    June 7, 2009 8:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Geezer
    June 7, 2009 8:32 a.m.

    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.

  • Steve
    June 7, 2009 8:22 a.m.

    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?

  • Kevin
    June 7, 2009 8:05 a.m.

    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.

  • Ultra Bob
    June 7, 2009 7:58 a.m.

    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.

  • Katherine Farmer
    June 7, 2009 7:51 a.m.

    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!

  • Murray Dad
    June 7, 2009 7:38 a.m.

    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.

  • Unholy Trinity
    June 7, 2009 7:33 a.m.

    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.

  • Merrill Cook
    June 7, 2009 7:07 a.m.

    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.

  • Actually,
    June 7, 2009 5:28 a.m.

    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.