Thursday, April 13, 2017

Religious Literalism and Science

This post should be best described as a "just in time for the holidays" entry on the Gauntlet.

Driving cross-country the other day I spied a rather huge billboard situated on the roadside in an area that I would describe as "middle America", or perhaps more correctly, as "rural". The sign was a paid advertisement that simply stated a quote from the opening verse of the Bible "And God created...". To the left of the quote was the famous silhouette of man's evolution from ape to modern man with a "X" crossing it out. Clearly the message was one of an uncompromising anti-evolutionist and pro-creationist stance with the contact info of the church that sponsored the ad at the bottom. Obviously, the sponsoring organization must feel that this is a message they must urgently relate to the world, and/or they are fishing to aggrandize the size of their movement with like minded individuals.

I must say that I was taken aback upon noting the giant placard, and reactionary judgements flew through the science-minded quadrants of my mind. Now I know that there are many, let's call them "literalists" out there, who are members of many faiths, that think they are holding true to the Bible, The Torah, the Koran, what have you, by holding onto a false reading of the text, and they fail to see how neither science nor religion have an absolute hold over this issue, which to my mind is so easy to synchronize that I am amazed that these people, who read their holy books on a daily basis, somehow haven't stumbled upon the solution to the quandary.

And so, for anyone who is interested, here is a step-by-step guide of how Creationism and the Theory of Evolution are actually the same thing, and can work seamlessly together, allowing the literalist to come to terms with science. It's really quite simple, so, here it goes...

Step One: Chapter One of the Book of Genesis clearly states that God created the heavens (i.e. the universe) and the earth (yes, our planet) and stars ("Let there be light"). If the universe was "desolate" prior to God initiating this creative act, why is this so hard to synchronize with a causal event such as the "Big Bang". Isn't the Big Bang a sudden flash of light that ushered life into a lifeless universe. Case closed - God caused the Big Bang and the events in Genesis One followed.

Step Two: Further into the chapter the geological changes that the surface of the Earth underwent are chronicled. This is only a problem if you believe that the six days of creation are literally six twenty-four hour days. As a religious person I challenge you to try and dictate to God, who exists out of linear time and space, just how long a day is/was to him/her. In fact the six days leading up to the creation of Adam in Genesis 1:27 can be easily thought of as 2.3 Billion years each with the Earth "evolving" over the last two days.

Step Three: If any human can in one lifetime create a new breed of dog, or one can chose to alter the appearance and race of one's offspring by the choice of a procreative partner, than by extension, if God created the first lifeforms, and guided them into actualization, does it not follow that these beings would adapt to their environments and change accordingly over time. If I can make a dog in a few years, image what nature does selectively to a breed over millions of years.

Step Four: Your stickiest wicket. Man. Genesis 1:27 does not say that God created all men in that verse. He is credited for creating a single man, Adam, and later a single woman, Eve, who go on to have offspring who, yes, intermarry, with humans that God did not create. Has it ever occurred as funny to you when after Cain kills his brother, and God marks him as a murderer, that he is is afraid that the people in the east of Eden will hate him. What people? Apparently there are plenty. In fact, I would argue that there were millions of Homo Sapiens on Earth at the time of Adam's creation. Does this make Adam sound like a bit of Yahway's science project, oh yes, it does, and maybe he was. Mind you according to Jewish sources, before Eve was separated from Adam, he was an asexual being with eight limbs. From that description I would say "not quite human". Irregardless, the descendants of Adam then intermixed other local Mesopotamian peoples and contributed to the bloodlines that survived Noah's flood. These were the the Semites, the Hamites and the Aryans, and this mixing was very localized mind you. If you look at the hierarchy of tribes listed in Genesis 10, it becomes very clear how local this mixing was. Most Sub-Saharan African, Far Asian and the Peoples of the Americas had almost no contact with the special "Adam" gene, at least not until the 17th century or so. Regardless, we are all human.

So there you have it. If a Creationist can break free of their literalness and accept that the "days" in the bible are not 24 hour days, and that God created lifeforms that changed through adaptation and breeding, just like you have through the course of your life, this is an issue easily put to bed.

You're welcome.

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