Are Evolution And Belief Incompatible?

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2012 @ 9:25am

A few years ago, Sir David Attenborough seemed to think so:

Attenborough recently changed his tune:

I don't think an understanding and an acceptance of the 4 billion-year-long history of life is any way inconsistent with a belief in a supreme being. And I am not so confident as to say that I am an atheist.

Eric MacDonald strongly dissents:

[T]here could certainly be a god that was consistent with evolution, but that god would be, without a doubt, either evil and cruel, or powerless. And neither type of god would be religiously meaningful. This was Darwin’s problem. He realised, over the years, more and more, that the theory he had discovered was simply inconsistent with the goodness of god, and duck and dive as they please, no one has suggested how to make evolution consistent with a god’s goodness.

Jerry Coyne parses the interview seen above:

Attenborough argues that the existence of pain and suffering in the world does not comport with the existence of a “merciful God that cares about the existence of human beings.” When further asked whether morality reflects the existence of God, Attenborough doesn’t assent, but argues that the Golden Rule is a straightforward moral principle, which I take to mean that it’s an innate feeling that doesn’t need justification via a deity.