Saturday, 3 July 2010

Evolution Revolution

I've never quite been able to wrap my head around why some religious folks are so dead-set against the concept of evolution.
Every time it pops up in the news cycle, causes controversy in regards to schooling or is cited as a source of conflict between community members or different communities, I get all scrunchy face-level baffled.
Why can't science and spirituality be considered together?
As if it isn't possible to believe in both the slow unfolding of the cosmos and all that follows AND a supreme being?

The spontaneous creation of a universe and a world with a fully functioning ecosystem would be an impressive display of power and has formed an important part of the Judaeo-Christian story (amongst others) but there are so many ways to look at it.

The religious texts say that God created the world in six days and the orthodox faithful refuse to accept any alternatives but consider this usage of a time-frame.
In the beginning there was no time, no temporal units in the dense new matter, who is to say how long the 'days' mentioned actually lasted? They could have each spanned millennia, hundreds of millennia, after all 'a day' is a human concept based on how long it takes one particular planet to make a full revolution as it makes its slow way around one particular star.

Some argue that insisting that life evolved from the most basic common components into gradually more complex and diverse organisms as a reaction to their environment, food stuffs and predators/competitors disrespects or denies the involvement of a deity but that doesn't have to be the case.
Why wouldn't a being of infinite wisdom and compassion also be a being of infinite curiosity?
If you've got nothing but time and a whole universe to yourself why wouldn't you nudge things and wait to see what happens next?
Why wouldn't the slow playing out of consequences be as fascinating and satisfying to a divine being as to anyone who has ever taken a chance and made something new under their own power, from artisan to scientist to chef?

At its most essential, the idea that God created the universe in order to create the Earth purely to put human beings on it seems very self-centred and egotistical on behalf of humanity, and seems to glorify humans more than their creator.
If you allow yourself to contemplate the possibility that human beings were not the intended end product of creation it doesn't automatically follow that there is no power outside ourselves and that it might not care for us.
Just because a parent doesn't know how their child will turn out, can't anticipate their exact physical characteristics or personality or future actions doesn't mean they can't rejoice at their birth and revel in their accomplishments.
Just because everything might not have sprung fully formed into being doesn't mean that its existence is not a point of wonder - consider the scope of the whole.

I'm not saying that atheists or agnostics have to believe that there is a God or a pantheon of gods.
I'm not saying religiously observant people have to accept everything that science has to offer or believe that we'll ever be able to explain everything that makes up our reality.
Just to all have a think about it and accept that whether you are looking at the universe through an analytical or spiritual lens, it is a miraculous construct.

We've come a long way as a species in the centuries since the current dominant religious dialogues were founded, we're now able to understand much more complex ideas and maybe that includes being able to grasp a more intricate explanation of existence no matter how you're framing it.

To the religious: Give God credit for possibly being a more inquisitive and creative being and for the creation story we began with maybe being the most complicated explanation fallible human beings were capable of dealing with at the time.

To the scientific: Seeing as even our best guesses concerning the beginning of the universe essentially boil down to 'there was nothing and then it blew up' try not to discount or dismiss other people's beliefs out of hand even if you don't share them.

To everyone: The fact that we exist at all is pretty freaking amazing, enjoy it and if you hold your beliefs dear then you shouldn't worry or feel threatened when other people don't share them as long as nobody tries to force you to accept their view against your will. Allow everyone the chance to make up their own minds on the matter.

For myself, well, as Nick Cave says, "I don't believe in an interventionist God, but I know darlin' that [some of] you do..."
Doesn't mean we can't all get along and acknowledge that no matter how it came into being, the universe is a mind-boggling and marvellous thing.

The discovery that the sun revolves around the Earth instead of vice versa didn't cause the Earth to be rent asunder, scientific discovery need not be seen as a reductive or destructive force.
With everything new we learn, it increases not decreases our ability to appreciate and marvel at the intricacy of our wider environment and of our own physical beings.
That has to count for something.

Disclaimer time: I was raised in an Irish-Italian family which, whilst fairly laid back about observing religion and very tolerant of all religious and non-religious views, allowed me a front seat view on Catholic dogma and communities.
I tell you this so that if you read this and feel that my soul might need saving or think that I would benefit from a deeper knowledge of Christianity you can rest easy that I am fairly familiar with the material. Please do not try to convert or convince me as I'll not be changing my views for any reasons that are not my own.
I also tell you this so that if you read this and you are non-religious or follow a religion not encompassed by this post you don't feel that I am trying to convert you, disrespect your beliefs or lecture you. My own beliefs are a composite of many strains of both scientific and spiritual discussion and I won't be turning this blog into any form of evangelical podium.
I am at heart a bit of a hippie who believes that as long as you do no harm to others as far as this is possible and do what you can to lead a fulfilling life and live up to your full potential that whatever you believe is your own business.
Sorry for the big rambling explanation but seeing as I don't usually cover topics quite so contentious here I thought I should make sure I made myself clear.
In the event any insulting or close-minded comments appear rest assured they'll disappear shortly after.

No comments: