This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← How Did You Lose Your Religion?

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Adrian Bartholomew

21. Comment #452675 by Steven Mading on January 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm
When someone complains loudly that "Evolution isn't an accident, dammit" that does not show that they understand evolution so much as it shows that they DON'T understand the word "accident". "Accidental" is the antonym of "deliberate", not the antonym of "deterministic".
I can pretty much guarantee any theist that disbelieves Evolution that hears an atheist saying we got here by “accident” WILL interpret that as being random chance. Lets look at The Free Dictionary definition:

a. An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm: car accidents on icy roads.
b. An unforeseen incident: A series of happy accidents led to his promotion.
c. An instance of involuntary urination or defecation in one's clothing.
2. Lack of intention; chance: ran into an old friend by accident.
3. Logic A circumstance or attribute that is not essential to the nature of something.
In my opinion accident in the context of evolution appears to fit 1b and maybe 1a if you remove “undesirable” (and remove the “especially one resulting in damage or harm: car accidents on icy roads.” Part too).

Of course the free dictionary isn’t the be all and end all:

1. an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents.
2. Law. such a happening resulting in injury that is in no way the fault of the injured person for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.
3. any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause.
4. chance; fortune; luck: I was there by accident.
5. a fortuitous circumstance, quality, or characteristic: an accident of birth.
6. Philosophy. any entity or event contingent upon the existence of something else.
7. Geology. a surface irregularity, usually on a small scale, the reason for which is not apparent.
3 fits and maybe 5 but then there is 4 sitting there too. OK I don’t think there is any need for me to quote other dictionaries. The problem is that although you, and probably Ricky too if I’m generous, maybe using the word accident in the sense of “3. any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause” you can’t ignore the fact that “4. chance; fortune; luck” is in common usage too (if not more so).

PS. I'm not going to get into the Thesaurus for it hehe.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 15:17:00 UTC | #433809