This morning on NPR there was a brief interview with Richard Dawkins about the publication of his latest book on evolution (apparently he’s already written nine on the subject), called “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Unfortunately I cannot find that interview now, so I may have been experiencing an early morning hallucinogenic spell, induced by high levels of post-telecon adrenaline and low levels of sleep. Anyway, this man, who reportedly is part of the so-called “new atheist” movement, felt the need to return to writing about evolution “as fact” (his words, not mine) after coming out with a blockbuster hit – “The God Delusion”*.

(As a side note, I am quite disappointed with some atheists because they seem to have missed the target of their hatred/frustration/mocking sarcasm, and focus on being against religion rather than against God. According to the trusty http://www.m-w.com, atheism is just what you’d expect it to be: a disbelief in deity. But instead of talking about how God doesn’t exist, they seem to target religion. Which is kind of absurd, because even Jesus was against religion (enter: Pharisees). So guys, if you’re gonna waste all that energy and creative/intellectual potential on hating and just being against something, at least pick the right target. Goodness.)

But that’s another post.

Here I want to say a few words about why the Evolution vs. Creation issue is actually a non-issue. Well, it’s simple: because whether the world came to be in six days or five billion years just doesn’t matter in the sense that people think it does.

Fundamentalist creationists argue that the Judeo-Christian God created the universe(s), our Earth, and everything else up through Adam and Eve in six literal, 24-hour periods (some of the later ones being day/night). Evolutionists argue that first there was nothing, then, nothing exploded, and then, via random processes and natural selection, everything came to be. Personally, I think both of these views are equally brilliant. Which is why I am glossing over this and making criminal generalizations. Because, like I said, it doesn’t really matter.

Why is the Christian religious right so adamant about having Creation taught in schools, and just fighting for its “rightful” place in society? Because they, mistakenly, feel, that as evolution becomes the more and more widely accepted theory of how things came to be, there will be less and less place for God. Evolution will oust Him from His throne. People won’t need God as an explanation for why we are, why the universe is, and why, mysteriously, everything in nature is so darn fine-tuned to supporting life on Earth (as if someone planned it). Atheists fight for evolution for the same exact, faulty reason, thinking that once macro evolution is proven as fact (note: this will never happen because it is an epistemological impossibility), God will be dis-proven, by default.

I propose that the two theories in discussion are not at all set against each other, and that neither has the power/authority to debunk the other. We’re basically trying to compare apples and oranges.

While evolution may attempt to explain the mechanics of how change in nature occurs, it cannot answer some EPIC questions: what was there at the beginning, and what came before that? How can life come from non-life? (It’s not a matter of complex vs. simple, but of a qualitatively different matter). And finally: what about the human soul? At what point between chimpanzee ancestor and homo sapien sapien did we evolve souls, and why?

I know, I know: prove it that we have souls. I don’t think there’s a need to. Here’s why. Imagine you have a gerbil name Fluffball. Everything goes well for a while, then Fluffball dies. Your kid comes home from school and asks, “Where’s Fluffball?” You tell him, “Fluffball died. I left him in his cage, though…”. Now imagine you have a great aunt Ruth. She dies. You’re devastated. You drive to her home, and are met by her grieving husband. You tell him, “I would like to see her body…”. Later, there may be a public viewing of her body, before her body is cremated. If people are looking at her body, then where is she ? Where is her self? The language itself reveals that humans see themselves as bodies with a separate entity living inside. Roughly speaking, that would be the soul. Animals are not seen that way. It would be strange to say that “Fluffball’s body is buried beneath the tree…”

Anyway, I digress.

Just as evolution would do well by not trying to answer these questions, creationism would do likewise by leaving the science to the scientists. By insisting that everything happened in six 24-hour periods, religious folk do more harm than good by discrediting themselves. If God is who they say He is (ie. omnipotent), then why couldn’t He use evolution as a tool to bring His creation about? Makes sense to me….

Another thing to keep in mind about the roots of evolutionary theory: Darwin himself was never an atheist. He never intended his hypothesis to debunk Christianity or diminish the significance of creation.

Imagine your grandpa gives you a remote-controlled car for your birthday that he himself made. You are amazed and intrigued by it. At first it seems like magic – you maneuver toggle switches ten feet away from the car, and the car moves. Then you start taking it apart. You learn about remote-control signals, you begin to understand how your grandpa put it together. Now you think your pops is even cooler, because you see how brilliant he really is!

I imagine this, expanded drastically, is the wonder and joy that Darwin and other scientists before him felt at studying and learning more and more about the world they lived in, the world that they believed God created.

So to me, everyone’s just arguing about the mechanics of how He went about creating it. Granted, I believe in God.

*Feel free to read this
instead.

Advertisements