Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Creationism and Evolution

I am reading this book called “Living Biblically: One Man’s Quest to Follow the Rules of the Bible”. It is tough for me to get into it, because I am constantly thinking he is putting on a farce for his own amusement. So far it feels like he is almost mocking the very thing he is pretending to revere. He is an atheist Jew who is trying to understand the Bible, so he grows a beard and proceeds to take literally all the wacky rules in the Bible. It is funny that this guy thinks he is being unique, but actually he is doing what hundreds of millions of Christians and Jews strive to do everyday. The only difference is that they approach the task with sincerity and our author seeks amusement and attention that might be complimented by some sort of revelation. I digress from the point of this writing.

In the book, the author goes to a Creationist Museum and proceeds to rail on these guys for obviously being stuck in the Stone Age. He compares Creationist to those that think the earth is flat or that everything is made up of the four elements (air, water, fire, earth). Personally, I do not agree with the idea that the earth is only 6000 years old but I do not take the combative standpoint that the Creationist idea is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution. Allow me to explain.

It all comes down to two big ideas. One, that if you are a religious person, you most likely believe that God can do all things… i.e. no task is impossible. (Insert paradox: Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?) The second big idea is that of the biblical miracles. God allowed men in the Bible to do some amazing miracles, but none of them were spectacular. They always left room for skepticism. The rising of the dead (one of the more impressive feats) could be seen by skeptics as a conman trick… the person was never dead, or better yet, they were heavily sedated. Or take the feeding of the multitude, something truly miraculous, but one that was only evident to those that sent the basket out in the first place. The members of the multitude would hardly notice that one basket fed everyone… they would only notice that there was some food for them in there or assume that several other baskets were being passed around simultaneously. The point I am trying to make with this is that miracles were not necessarily supposed to prove something to people. It was a demonstration for those that already wanted to believe. If you did not want to believe, there was room for denial. If God wanted to make it obvious that Jesus was his son, or that he himself was all powerful he could do something undeniably amazing like turn a mountain upside down or take everyone into space for a few minutes and return them back with a handwritten note saying “See what I made. – God”. The combination of these ideas is how I picture the Creationist/Evolution debate.

If God truly made the world in seven days over 6000 years ago and left proof of it everywhere, where is the room for faith in that? It would be science, a fact, indisputable. We would dig up fossils of humans riding Velociraptors or find a pristine Noah’s Ark somewhere on a mountain top and we would say to ourselves “I guess this whole Bible thing was right after all.” Faith would be proven by fact.

Instead we live in a world in which all evidence states that the universe is billions of years old and that humans have evolved over millions of years. We have carbon-dating, radio telescopes, fossils, DNA mapping and everyday physical evidence (like your average rock that is hundred of thousands of years old) that tell us that this world is very very very old.

Isn’t it possible that an all powerful God that wants people to choose him through faith would create some ambiguity in his ultimate miracle? The miracle of life. If there is a being of all powerful abilities, I think it would be a pretty easy task to create a world in seven days 6000 years ago and make it appear that it took much longer. Why would God do that? Maybe for the same reason that he did not create us to be sin-free or to automatically have faith, because God wants us to choose to believe. So in my head, I see that the two ideas do not have to butt heads necessarily. It is like when I go through the markets here in Qatar, you will see some stores selling antiques. Upon closer inspection you will see that these ‘antiques’ are simply modern things made to look old by sprinkling dust, or applying a flame or maybe by leaving it out in the sun too long. The point is that things are not always what they seem and that we are dealing with a being with the potential to create a perfect forgery.

Disclaimer: This seems very pro-religious, and it is. I think that Creationist have been given a hard time and that they need an argument in their favor every once in a while. My personal belief is that the world is very old and that humans have evolved for quite a while, but I do consider the literal Bible creation story to be possible.

Aside: What I do not like is the idea of Creationist having their cake and eating it too. The idea that dinosaurs were in the Ark rubs me wrong for instance.

Here is the Creationist logic. Obviously there were dinosaurs (there are fossils), since they were part of the ‘animals’ that God created they cohabitated with humans, since all animals were put in the ark they were in there too, and sometime in the last couple thousand years they all disappeared.

If you are a Creationist, I don’t want to hear ‘secular’ logic from you. I want you to say something like: the Bible does not mention dinosaurs so for all I know they did not exist (the bones could be for earthly decoration). Essentially, if you believe in an all-powerful God that shaped the universe in seven days, you don’t have to fit his plan into science. You fit science into his plan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your last statement. We should use science to explain the works of God not to try to disprove His work. Take the world is flat thing: I can only see as far as the horizon so it has to be flat. Crazy mathematicians and others decided to prove it is not and so we learned to accept that the world is not flat...though I still can only see to the horizon. New concepts were developed to explain what is there. We might not be ready (capable of developing new concepts) to comprehend His works yet. You gotta give scientific facts credit for trying to explain things though, but just because not all of it fits in nicely doesn't mean creationism should be denied. Some also say seven days to us might not be the seven days of God.....Einstein's theory of relativity?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Tatamwari said...

Now I will tell you what I believe. It is fallacy to think that we can understand God or the things that He has made. Trying to force science on top of God and vice versa is an exercise in futility. The fact is that we'll never know God's full intentions and that's where faith comes in. As far as the basket feeding a multitude, what if everyone who took something from the basket added a little something back from their own stores? A multitude of people sharing with their neighbor? That's a miracle.

6:58 AM  

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