Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking are members of the religion of Secular Humanism. I agreed with Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguilar, when he stated that “The United States Supreme Court has held that secular humanism is a religion. … Belief in evolution is a central tenet of that religion.” This is based on a series of minor court cases (see references below) by various secularist and humanist groups suing to gain tax-exempt status for their organizations. This goal was finally achieved in 1961, which Justice Scalia properly referenced.
But it is a little surprising to hear scientists openly express their true beliefs. It’s amazing to see them reveal themselves as practitioners of a religion, and evangelists seeking converts to that religion.
As referenced in our book Conflict of the Ages, Part One: The Scientific History of Origins, Michael Ruse, Canadian professor of philosophy and zoology, cited Dr. Duane Gish, a PhD. in Biochemistry from Berkeley. Ruse said,
“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr. [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
“… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.”
This statement by Michael Ruse explains that evolution for a secularist is more than a mere tenet of his religion. It is an integral part. Evolution is his expression of faith, and the secularist must become an apologist for Evolution, an evangelist for his religion. It makes very clear the true position of Richard Dawkins when he says,
“Evolution is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.”
As the Great High Priest of the Life Sciences, Dawkins takes the position of all High Priests. Yes, “Evolution is a religion.” (Ruse) and my religion “is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” He willingly accepts the job of every High Priest, to convince, and if necessary force, people to follow his beliefs. An earlier High Priest, Carl Sagan, felt free to express it in even more religious terms.
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
In practice, the position of Richard Dawkins is identical to Stephen Hawking, the Secular Humanist Great High Priest of Physics. Stephen Hawking in his work A Brief History of Time, does not use the word religion, though he describes it. He says, “We still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from.” He also said in A Briefer History of Time (chapter 8) “I put a lot of effort into writing A Briefer History of Time at a time when I was critically ill with Pneumonia because I think that it’s important for scientists to explain their work, particularly in cosmology. This now answers many questions once asked of religion.” He also claims in A Brief History of Time “our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”
In the words of Satan in the Garden, “You will be like gods.”
Edwards v. Aguillard, U.S. Supreme Court, 1987 “The United States Supreme Court has held that secular humanism is a religion. …” Id., at E-36 (Sen. Keith) (referring to Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495, n. 11 (1961)); 1 App. E-418 (Sen. Keith); 2 id., at E-499 (Sen. Keith). “Belief in evolution is a central tenet of that religion.” 1 id., at E-282 (Sen. Keith); id., at E-312 — E-313 (Sen. Keith); id., at E-317 (Sen. Keith); id., at E-418 (Sen. Keith); 2 id., at E-499 (Sen. Keith).
The following excerpt from Chapter Nine of our book Antidisestablishmentarianism presents a chronology of secularists seeking tax-exempt status through the courts in America.
Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 1956 The Fellowship of Humanity described itself as a non-theistic group but filed for tax-exempt status, which was granted on the basis that they held weekly Sunday meetings and met other criteria applied to religious groups. The Fellowship of Humanity case referred only to the term humanism. Justice Black apparently added the term secular when referring to the case in Torcaso v Watkins to distinguish the group from such beliefs as Christian Humanism.
Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 1957 The Washington Ethical Society honors ethical living but does not require a supernatural origin for ethics. It considers itself nontheistic and was granted tax-exempt status as a religious organization on appeal. This case is considered to have established generic Secular Humanism as a religion.
In the cases of both the Fellowship of Humanity and the Washington Ethical Society, the court decisions turned not so much on the particular beliefs of practitioners as on the function and form of the practice being similar to the function and form of the practices in other religious institutions. These organizations applied for and accepted tax-exempt status on this basis. “If it walks like a duck … ”
TORCASO v. WATKINS, CLERK, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND. No. 373. Argued April 24, 1961. Decided June 19, 1961. Justice Hugo Black commented in a footnote (emphasis added),”Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others.”
Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 1956.
Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 249 F.2d 127 (D.C. Cir. 1957).
TORCASO v. WATKINS, CLERK, 1961. APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND. No. 373. Argued April 24, 1961. Decided June 19, 1961.
Here are the other sources cited in this blog:
“Leading anti-creationist philosopher admits that evolution is a religion” Ruse, M., How Evolution Became a Religion: Creationists Correct? National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7 May 13, 2000.
(The article quotes Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada. The “sic” is because Duane Gish is a PhD in Biochemistry and properly referred to as “Dr.,” not “Mr.”) From Answers in Genesis website http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/tools/quotes/ruse.asp
Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution, Ch. 1, Free Press, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 2009.
Carl Sagan, Cosmos, Random House, New York, NY, 1980.