It has been some time since I contributed to this discussion, but I came across some comments on one of my previous posting with the same title. After seeing those comments I again felt to contribute a bit on this topic.
The fundamental tenets of the two opposing views are basically:
1) Creationists – matter derives from consciousness
2) Evolutionists – consciousness derives from matter.
The idea that people oppose the very idea of evolution with ideas of creationism not backed by any evidence is ridiculous. Evolution is backed by scientific evidence; religions preaching of creationism are directly opposing themselves to science. The problems with many people’s counter-arguments to these statements are “but God did…” or “but this happened in this book.” Religions are beliefs, for a statement to have ensured accuracy it must be based on fact not belief.
Who created God? We did!
What created the Universe? The most interesting science speculation right now points to black holes from other universes. The Big Bang is the expression of the other side of a black hole.
For humans who have a finite existence…some of us live for a century….it is hard to imagine infinite time, no beginning, no ending. That’s a perspective issue.
We created God as the ultimate “Alpha.” Someone had to be even more supreme than a pharaoh, an emperor, a king, a pope or a caliph. As the ultimate Alpha we put our God somewhere up in the sky, unreachable, omnipotent, overseeing all.
Interestingly, that concept of God is limited to a Judaeo-Christian-Islamic societies and steppe, North American and Australian aboriginal communities who originated under big skies with few trees. Forest cultures created hierarchical god constructs to reflect the complexity of their worlds….we call them pantheists.
A few months ago I listened to a scientist describing information science. His thesis was that quantum physics, DNA, and computer code have one thing in common. They can all be broken down into bits of data. Quantum physics can be explained (although not easily) in terms of quanta bits. DNA can be explained in gene bits and computer code can be explained through data bits. So all we see and don’t see is expressed through fundamental information bits and from there random assembly organizes into the universe we experience. The analogy of all things being a compilation or library of bits of information was novel to me.
Sometimes I am amazed at how we get trapped inside our cultural perspective so that we cannot see the world and universe for what it is. As intelligent as we are we are products of our culture and that often puts blinders in the way of observation. Evolution states that those creatures best able to adapt to environments survive to the point that they breed and pass along their survivability through the gene pool to subsequent generations. When the environment changes, what was once an advantage may prove to be disadvantageous leading to the inability of the species to breed enough new members to offset those that succumb to the environment. The evidence in the geological record shows billions of years of species succession from early single celled creatures to stromatolytes and other multi-cellular organisms, ultimately leading to the Cambrian explosion of life with attendant diversity.
Even if we put an “alpha” deity into the picture as the ultimate creator, the creation rules remain the same…the evidence in the geological record supports adaptation to environment determining species success…plant, and animal. The mechanism appears not to require a creator. The mechanism is environmentally and gene driven. So there is no careful constructor favoring one species over another unless the “alpha” is the master of climate change or the ultimate gene splicer.
But of course there is always the question about how the “alpha” came into being? Is the “alpha” an evolution based on the same rule book? Theists will argue, if they get around to it, that the “alpha” doesn’t obey the rules that drive the universe. The “alpha” is above it all. We suspend our scientific method when dealing with the “alpha.”
So that makes it impossible to win an argument based on reason and the scientific method. Hence we cannot prove or disprove the existence of an “alpha” that is omniscient and eternal….following no physical rules of our universe and somehow transcending everything.
We then all suffer from our limited cultural perspective that incorporates the scientific method and the accumulated observations and experiments that have led us to understand the mechanism of evolution.
There is no mechanism for creationism. It transcends a mechanism. It just is.
Some scientists state that belief and science are compatible. It would be interesting to count the number of scientists who believe in this working in the fields where the evidence of evolution is apparent.
I understand why there are believers. It’s the easy way out. It takes away the need to apply reason to evidence. Just suspend what we observe, and test and let the “alpha” guide us on the true path to our destiny.
I sat with two gentlemen at an event sometimes back. One described himself as religious and the other as agnostic. I told them I was an atheist and they expressed considerable surprise that I could be so definitive in my view.
I talked to them about human perspective and how it limits our view of the universe. I asked them about their cultural backgrounds. We talked about how culture often places a straitjacket on thinking.
I asked them how old they thought the Earth was. I told them about the recent survey in the U.S. where more than 40% of Americans polled indicated a belief that the world was created by God, and half of those were of the belief that the biblical account of creation was accurate. I asked them what they thought of that. Both said that’s nonsense. Was it nonsense because they had a different cultural perspective?
In my house growing up my parents were casual religious observers. We followed the traditions of our culture. Cultural perspectives blur and dissolve when you can begin to walk a mile in another person’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.
The “alpha” is the ultimate expression of social and cultural hierarchies. It is imprinted in the DNA of all social animals. When kings are no longer worshipped as gods then as social animals we seek an “alpha” replacement. The democratization of human society brings with it an “alpha” that must transcend the living. The expression of that “alpha” comes in many godly forms.
Humans as a species are hitched to the “alpha” because of our genes. And our cultural perspective paints a picture of that alpha figure in many different ways. For the people of the desert, of big skies and big land, a single “alpha” is manifested. For people of the forests, multiple “alphas” manifest.
I know of no atheists who make the claim to know it all. In fact, quite the opposite, atheism is a perpetual seeking of knowledge through observation, experimentation and wonder.
I know far more deists who, on the other hand, speak from a level of certainty that would suggest they know it all.
I do apologize for grouping all believers in a God or Gods as Deists. I recognize that there are nuances to belief in supreme alphas.
What frightens even more is the absolute blindness of so many in the fundamentalist movement. They are blind to science, blind to issues related to climate, unaware of much of the rest of the world outside their communities of faith, and resistant to change. They also, in protecting what makes them comfortable, want to impose on others their values, their beliefs, and their political stripe.
Fundamentalists are very much xenophobic. They suffer from the same blindness that should they come to power will create the same kind of disruption that we have witnessed in many nations throughout history.
I too was reared in a home where morals, ethics and values were universal and, from my parents’ viewpoints, derived from their religious beliefs. I absorbed thousands of ideas from the books I read as a child, young adult and adult. At age 49 I haven’t lost my passion for learning and discovering. Sometimes I “blame” myself for being so curious about the world around me and for being exposed to an immense number of ideas and views.
What so profoundly disappoints me about so many of faith is the dogmatic earnestness in a particular belief or moral stand, usually built on the interpretation of a select piece of scripture. That scripture usually reflects a culture long dead with values that have no bearing on the world we see around us.
When monotheistic desert faiths came into being their perspective of the world was limited to tribe, culture, region and province. For faith to succeed over the long term, however, it meant dropping those cultural interpretations that no longer reflected the world in which the followers of the faith lived.
For Christianity to succeed and sell itself its leadership was willing to absorb cultural traditions whenever necessary to get a “buy in” for the faith. Islam’s approach to “spreading the faith” was patterned after Christianity. This religious syncretism ensured that both faiths developed a significant following and remains the key to their strong influence to this day.
Unfortunately not all “beliefs” and “dogmas” evolved to meet modernity and hence so much of organized religion remains mired in cultural “norms” that are not a reflection of a wider understanding of humanity, our nature and our diversity. Nor have religions moved beyond an anthropocentric view of our world and its place in the cosmos.