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Sunday, November 9, 2014

God and Evolution

Why does life evolve? Doesn't it evolve to adapt to the environment that hosts it? After all, if life failed to adapt to its environment, it would cease to exist. Darwin and his fellow scientists have observed that all of the organisms on this planet are engaged in a process aimed at the perpetuation of life here. In other words, life is preoccupied with the perpetuation of itself. Why? What is the impetus behind the adaptation of species to their environment and the survival of the fittest?

Many Theists have focused on the circumstances that have made life possible on this planet and have pointed at how they favor the existence of life here. I think that it is much more interesting and remarkable to consider how that life has evolved to fit the circumstances in which it finds itself.

At first glance, natural selection appears to be a completely random device - until we consider the fact that its objective is always the perpetuation of the organism. We have tended to ignore the significance of the fact that the environment "chooses" those characteristics within an organism that best suit its survival (e.g. fat, hairy, white bears have a better chance of surviving in artic climates than small, balding, black bears do). Take just a moment to consider all of the physical adaptations that have been necessary over vast expanses of time to arrive at where we're at today (e.g. the differentiation and specialization of organs within both plants and animals to perform certain functions to facilitate the survival of the organism as a whole). Think too about how behavioral instincts have developed within certain animal species that have made significant contributions to their survival (e.g. nest building, feeding and reproductive rituals). Consider how humans have used artificial selection to produce desirable traits in plants and animals to help perpetuate humankind (e.g. docility, productive capacity, disease and pest resistance, beauty, etc.). Nature, however, has always "selected" those traits which are best suited for the survival of the succeeding generations of a species (or life in general).

The inability of an organism to adapt produces extinction. Nevertheless, through all of the catastrophic events that have occurred on this planet (volcanic eruptions, asteroid and meteor impacts, atmospheric and climactic changes, etc.), life has continued to exist and adapt to its new circumstances. Thus, when we look at this from a macro perspective, it appears that individual species are much less important in the grander scheme of things than the perpetuation of life in general. In other words, whatever species (or group of species) best accomplishes that goal/objective/purpose (however you choose to describe it), those are the one(s) that survive and thrive.

Hence, for me, evolution suggests God. For me, the available evidence points to the existence of someone or something that provided a mechanism for life to perpetuate itself here (and very likely in other places too)! It should also be noted that evolution explains the continued existence of life on this planet - it does not truly explain the origin of life here. Moreover, whether one chooses to explain the origin of life as someone (God) or something (a "random" mix of molecules in a primordial soup), it seems to me that both the origin of that life and the mechanism for its perpetuation (evolution) demand an intelligent source. And who needs gaps? For me, the more evidence that Science discovers about the origins and perpetuation of life on this planet, the more evidence we have for the existence of a Creator. What do you think?

7 comments:

  1. I like the thoughts in the article. I agree, evolution has never diminished my belief in God, it has only enhanced it. I am always in awe of creation. Thanks for the article. Roy.

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  2. Christian damage-control Apologetics: A wonder to behold!
    Like Tkach's GCI (possibly your church) says:
    "The Bible was not intended as a science or history book—it affirms God as the Creator of the universe and all life on earth without addressing the “when” and the “how”"
    What arrant nonsense!
    Christians are stuck with Genesis. which gives a contiguous genealogy from "Adam & Eve" - So you are limited to a (mythical) young earth! At what point, Christian, does this genealogy cease being "metaphoric/poetic" and become history?

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  3. I'm not a member of GCI, but I do like the Tkach statement that you referenced in your comments. And no one can force me to be a literalist - I'm not stuck with anything. I like most of the poetry of Robert Frost (he's my favorite), but I don't like all of it. If something in the Bible doesn't make any sense or contains obvious error, why am I stuck with it? It sounds like you are still a prisoner of Herbert Armstrong's "all or nothing" approach to Scripture.

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  4. Christians (not including scholars LOL) have only ditched Genesis the last few decades of their 2000-year miserable history. What kind of credibility does that confer to you people? Not much judging by the accelerating thinning of the ranks.

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  5. Much of the history of Christianity is miserable, and you are justified in taking most Christians to task for their late acceptance of scientific and historical fact. It is, however, a great irony to me that the people who have fled God and Christianity have generally faulted God and the religion instead of their own ignorance and faulty reasoning. In my opinion, the "thinning of the ranks" is generally a consequence of folks not wanting to deal with the embarrassment and fallout resulting from their former associations and thinking. "I'm enlightened now, so all of that stuff is useless!" It seems to me that's just an equally unenlightened place to be as when they were sitting there in church swallowing everything the pastor was feeding them. So one could reasonably say that such a person wouldn't have much credibility before or after he/she left the ranks. Isn't it more enlightened to come to the conclusion that one's belief system contains a mixture of truth and error, and that the most intellectually (and spiritually) honest thing to do would be to try to weed out the error.

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  6. So far you have dodged my question. Let me repeat it:
    Your holy book gives a contiguous genealogy from "Adam & Eve" to your god-man savior: at what point does this genealogy cease being "metaphoric/poetic" and start becoming historic?

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  7. As someone who has studied his own genealogy for almost forty years, I feel very comfortable addressing your question. To answer it, however, we have to address a couple of other questions: How did the people who wrote the Bible regard genealogy? and What motivated them to include so much of it in the Bible?
    Then, as now, people were concerned with the subject of origins - How did I get here? Where (Who) did I come from? Who (What) am I? Hence, these genealogies were a significant part of their attempt to answer these questions.
    The author of Matthew begins his genealogy with Jesus Christ as the "son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew 1:1) He then picks up with Abraham and carries the line forward to David and then to Christ. (verses 2-16) The author concluded his genealogy by pointing out that there were fourteen generations between Abraham and David, between David and the Babylonian Captivity and between the Captivity and Christ. (verse 17) So he is obviously focused on demonstrating that Christ was a descendant of Abraham (connecting him to the story of the origins of the "children of Israel" and thereby demonstrating that Christ was an Israelite - one of God's People - an heir and a fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham). Next, the author wanted to demonstrate Christ's connection to the man who founded the God-ordained dynasty of Israel (David). In ancient times, a king's legitimacy (right to rule) was derived from his ancestry. Thus, embellishing that ancestry with gods, heroes and/or former kings was important in establishing the person's bona fides in this regard. Finally, the author of Matthew was concerned with demonstrating that there had been structure and purpose behind God's plan (the fourteen generations between seminal events).
    I think that it is very significant that Luke's genealogy of Christ ends with "which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." (Luke 3:38) In addition to showing Christ's connection to figures like Abraham and David, Luke wanted to affirm God as the source of the entire human narrative.
    Hence, the purpose of these genealogies was to tie Christ to the bloodline, traditions and God of the Israelites. In this connection, the actual existence or order of individuals within the genealogies is unimportant. Even if one allows that one of these genealogies should be attributed to Joseph and the other to Mary, it cannot adequately explain all of the technical discrepancies that exist within them: Generations are skipped, Order is changed, We know that people have never lived to be nine hundred years old, etc. Nevertheless, all of that becomes irrelevant when you look at what the authors were trying to accomplish with these genealogies. In other words, they weren't interested in meeting the standards of modern documentary based genealogy. In this respect, I think that one would have to conclude that both authors succeeded in accomplishing their objectives with regard to these genealogies.

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