Is evolution compatible with religious beliefs?
Perhaps -- it likely depends on the selection of religious belief under consideration.
Is evolution compatible with the existence of an omni-benevolent and all-knowing god?
I believe that it is highly improbable that these two things can coincide, though I cannot eliminate the possibility.
However, there is an intriguing implication for the belief that evolution is guided by a divine hand:
Almost all of the species which have ever lived are now extinct. Does this mean that a hypothetical god has failed? Or is a non-supernatural explanation more plausible?
Would an omni-benevolent god use the mechanism of natural selection to develop the diversity of life? Perhaps there is some utility in this high failure rate, but then one must consider the immense suffering which is implicit in this arrangement.
Competition -- vicious cycles of living and dying brutally -- a state where most animals not able to thrive, but only able to do enough to survive, does not seem like a product of either an all-knowing or an all-loving god.
Let's examine each distinct god hypothesis and decide whether the claims about the nature of gods are consistent with the realities of our existence.
I consider all claims of an interventionary divine being to be a hypothesis: if a god is said to interfere in the natural world, then we cannot simply shrug off difficult questions and deflect criticism with the excuse that such a god is beyond space and time. How can a god which is said to interfere with natural processes be strictly beyond space and time? The claims are not consistent.
Can the existence of gods be proven or disproven? In all likelihood, this is an impossible task. However, I do have every confidence that we can establish the probability or improbability of religious claims.
I believe that the claims of modern religions are extremely improbable in the context of the evidence which we currently have, and therefore I cannot accept them.
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