Posts Tagged Evolution

Can We Really Say We Have Evovled?

The premise of Evolution is that we are growing into higher levels of being. Each evolutionary stage brings us forward giving us more and greater abilities physiologically allowing greater mental capacity. Dryopithecus changes to Ramapithecus to Australopithecus to Homo-erectus etc. If this is accurate, why has society declined so much in the 6000 or so years of recorded history rather than truly advancing? Steven Pinker gave a speech at TED where he statistically tracks the decline of violence in the last 4000 years and states we are living in the most peaceful time of human existence. Peter Diamandis speaking at a different TED conference paints an optimistic view of the future based upon statistical progress over the last century. He charts points such as life spans increasing and per capita income tripling. Both of these men are obviously intelligent and well read but are stilted statistical models the best way of determining the progress of society? Pinker blames religion and uses the bible to cite evils associated with God that modern atheists can avoid. Unfortunately his agenda betrays the value of his work and makes his point somewhat mute. Diamandis blames modern media for aiming the news at tragic and difficult circumstances which play to the Amygdala in our brains. This area controls our fear response thus making society on edge instead of hopeful. I understand and agree with the premise of his point but is telling our Amygdala to take a chill pill and zen out going to stop the problems in our world?

We have faster transportation that pollutes our planet and slowly kills us. We have better medicine and can cure more disease, but we make the cost so prohibitive that people see no real benefit from much of it. We have better food gathering skills that pour toxins into the ground to increase revenue but also pollute the environment. Income has increased but the value of the dollar has decreased causing greater poverty. Global literacy has increased dramatically but people aren’t paying attention to what they have read and are repeating the same mistakes of our ancestors. It seems that each major advance has created even larger problems. I realize the scientific answer to the question is that evolution occurs over millions of years but if we can’t see any benefit to the process on a micro level within the recorded history our species, what is the value of the study and more importantly, will we kill ourselves off before the next so called wave of evolution in the species?

What are we really claiming we have done if the outcome is social disorder, greed, war, terrorism, self centered gain for the few at the detriment to the many, and a lifestyle of fear? There has to be some kind of mechanism or bridge to allow our modern advancements to truly better mankind and not just individuals within mankind. Political structures have not been successful at this. Science offers nothing to link their information to a moral or ethical spectrum that can benefit society. Mainstream organized religions offer structure and balance within moral parameters but frankly add far more structure than they can support at times. They build on historical assertions by previous religious leaders that don’t really apply to modern culture however are taught as “gospel” just the same.  Atheism posits that the end of life leads to the great nothingness and the world around us is only valuable for the corporeal experience which ultimately should breed nothing more than hedonism. That is certainly not good for the future of mankind.

If our problems become acceptable risks to the next money making venture or philosophical Ponzi scheme then mankind is not evolving, it is mutating into something that is no longer recognizable. We have a choice, we can continue to believe our own press and miss the evidence or we can react to the problems and fix them now. The question is how. If we really expect to survive, we need to be willing to sacrifice our egos and address the problems rather than claim we have arrived while we are still waiting for the plane to take off.

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Myth or Monkey?

In 1859 Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” and posited his view that all species evolve from common ancestors. This book contained scientific theory that was aimed at the scientific community. At the time the Church of England was very involved with this community so the reactions to it started immediately and have reverberated through the Church in general ever sense. Other scientists have extrapolated from these concepts and contributed various aspects of modern Evolutionary Theories. These concepts range from genome mapping to cosmological models. Christianity has refuted these theories from almost the onset and as evidence for their veracity mounts, Christians seem to argue all the more. I really need to ask why?

I am by no means an expert in Evolutionary Science and will never be. I do however know how scientific theory works. Scientific facts are really facts as of today and will cease to be facts if enough evidence arises to disprove them. Scientific constants can change and are represented with standard error rates from the mean. Scientists disagree regularly with each other on their findings and conclusions. None of this disproves or even causes question in the scientific process or Evolutionary Theory, quite frankly it supports it through a commitment to the validity of the evidentiary process. Science in a very general view is an attempt to draw conclusions from factual data for the purpose of understanding how our universe operates. What I am unclear on is why this ever was or should be a problem for the church? I understand the history, but I think we have kind of missed the point.

Christians use the Bible to refute scientific findings. I am a firm believer in the value of and authority of the biblical text in my and the church’s life. It however is not now nor has it ever been a scientific or even a historical document. That was never its purpose. The purpose was and is to communicate how God has worked through his people and how that inspires us to be in relationship with him. To try and use it as a counterpoint to scientific discovery falls flat quickly.

There are huge differences between the who, the how, and the why. We are not at all in jeopardy philosophically or theologically to say that evidence in the current scientific model supports a very old earth beginning with a collision of atomic matter expanding with heat and cooling to allow the creation of subatomic particles (my apologies if I misstated that). This theory is a good one and worth review but not concrete and does not conflict with the text. The Bible clearly shows God spoke the world into being.  It does not claim how or when and to require a Houdini-esque magic show causing things to create in a 24 hour window adds far more to the story than it states.  Human evolution is similar. I think there are several solid questions that make the idea of monkeys turning into men untenable.  But realistically countering it with an image of God blowing air into dirt doesn’t seem feasible. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that God created man. The imagery mentioned however is not meant to explain it on a scientific level.

The Discovery Institute proposed a concept called Intelligent Design that attempts to blend the two sides on the basis that the complexity of features (their word, not mine) of the universe indicate an intelligent cause but even that offers far more structure than needed. It seems more and more like we are trying to place a square peg in a round hole. Science and Faith are separate. My Faith expects me to live a life that glorifies my God, not have to have the definitive answer to every question. He doesn’t need us to defend him by taking his word and forcing it into places that it does not belong. I am reasonably certain that if my oldest ancestor was Adam or Cheeta, or for that matter the world first looked like a garden or primordial stew, God is still God and man can either accept that or choose to try and beat it which never really turns out like we want. The Bible is a book of hope, faith, and love. If we spend effort and energy trying to prove science wrong using the Bible, the only thing we will prove is that we don’t really know what is says.

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