Tag Archive: evolution

In search of our Story.

“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people”  –  Albert Einstein

We are beset by two questions: Who am I and where do I belong? The first question is answered in “my story” and the second is answered by a “master story”. My story is a fairly easy thing to write with some thought and time. It starts at birth, ambles through early childhood, primary and secondary school, maybe university, marriage or not, hobbies and interest and continues to the day of our death.

My story however has the danger to start floating in space if it is not connected to something more; to a Master Story.  It is clear from Einstein that we sense this Master Story but we are not to clear on what it is. We do know that this story will always include that we exist for others.

This aspect I think is being denied by the popular Master Story of the day. It seems that people today use their existence as motivation for self gratification and advancement at the cost of others. The prevalent paradigm is not that I exist for others but that they exist for me. Evolution and the “survival of the fittest” maxim become the pillars of thought and the critique of a God-centre must be destroyed at all cost. The goal becomes a nihilistic quest for satisfaction before death ends it all. This Master Story is essentially a self-centred story.

The counter culture Master Story is that of a God-centred story. People are acknowledge as being more than mere animals; entities that is created in the image of Community. It acknowledges that we do not live primarily for ourselves but that we live for others. Death is not an end but a transition to something other. The Master Story of faith gives hope and purpose; it focuses us on the other.

In a world that is besieged by all kinds of crises; we could do worse than to take to heart the advice of Einstein that “only a life lived for others is worth living”. It might solve some of our problems, not immediately, but in the long run; problems of the community, economics, environmental and maybe even the self.

God vs no-god debate

The debate between the existence of God and the non-existence of God have been ongoing for millennia; raging between philosophers and theologians, believers and non-believers, in newspapers and on the internet (see the articles by CraigXII – “God does exist” http://tinyurl.com/yex96tp and Peter K – “Questioning the existence of God” http://tinyurl.com/yd9ob7j), by some of the brightest minds of our time and by some with questionable academic accreditation; this list will go on ad infinitum or maybe not. What is true is that we haven’t read the first word on it, nor have we read the last.

I am not so much interested in how well each side states it own viewpoint, that usually happens with tried and tested formulations, with sincerity and conviction, sometimes with the uttering of archaic arguments; what interest me is how well each of the antagonists listen to the other “side” and are capable of understanding the argument made.

CraigXII sets out to make a case for God against those who deny (H)is existence;  the two traditional offenders being evolution and the Big Bang theory.

As far as evolution is concerned Craig points out that 1) there is a lack of “missing link” fossils and 2) evolution seemed to have stopped 4000 years ago. If we take modern science seriously at all, and we do when we go to the doctor, pick up a cell phone, watch television or a number of other mundane daily tasks, we have to conclude that there are a number of transitional fossils that have been collected and described. On the second count evidence is in abundance that evolution is happening before our eyes and in some cases much more rapidly than we ever expected. One major and a few spin-off studies are described in the excellent book by Jonathan Weiner, The Beak of a Finch, which follows the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant, (this book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1995).

There is some acknowledgement of the Big Bang theory but a little, actually very important, question is tagged on to the end. Who caused the Big Bang? Unfortunately I do not have a scientific answer to that; if I did I would be in line for a future Pulitzer Prize myself. I think it is important to state that there are a number of alternative theories and that the Big Bang theory is not the only theory in the spot light any more but shares the stage with a few others. This might just void the question, who caused the bang, altogether. However, all has not been said about this question and we will return to it shortly.

Peter K in his article points out to the holes in Craig’s argument in regards to evolution, rightfully so I think. He uses causality in his argument to say, yes if God does exist and caused the Big Bang; who or what caused God. From there he moves to criticize Pascal’s Wager by using absurdity as an argument (the Easter Bunny approach). This argument is also used by Richard Dawkins, the Giant Teapot, who also refers to another parody of religion, the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I agree with him that the question, who caused the Big Bang, does not proof nor disprove the existence of God. However I do not agree with the use of causality as a characteristic of the metaphysical world (of course if it does exist). Causality is all we know, limited in time and space (to select only two of the dimensions) as we are, but there is no proof that this is the only way things can function outside our universe. It is at least theoretically possible that parallel universes might exist in which the natural laws that govern our universe are completely alien. For the same reason we cannot presume that life in other universes or even in a metaphysical world will be carbon-based.  So much for the Big Bang angle on both sides!

Pascal’s Wager in itself does not offer proof that God exists nor does it disprove the existence of God. Pascal’s Wager was the conclusion of Blaise Pascal that reason will not provide us with an answer to the question to whether God exists or not. Space does not allow us to go into this any further but further reading is readily available on the internet.  The question about which God, maybe the God proclaimed by Christians or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, presumes a whole different debate. This cannot be used in an argument against the existence of God; the moment you start debating the merits of which god is the true God, you have conceded that a god(s) exist and that the knowledge about which god is the true God is up for debate.

I hope the revisiting of the two arguments above and the attempt in a balance hearing allows me note a few observances. These are mostly aimed at believers, especially Christians. I will therefore start with a note on non-believers.

I have a vague suspicion that we think we know a lot more than we really do. Not everything can be explained by science for example emotions and in something’s that can be explained; we are only starting to scratch the surface for example quantum physics, string theory and the search for Higgs boson.

As a last observance to non-believers; the Bible is not merely a book full of stories comparable to a child’s story omnibus. The Bible is a collection of genres, stories, poems, myths, parables or allegories. Some parts of the Bible are even historical facts supported by many non-biblical sources. Please take your own advice to heart; before engaging on a subject, get to know more about it than what your were told by the priests of non-believe.

Observances to believers, especially Christians; it is amazing that a non-believer has more grace in the debate than many of the “Christian” responses following both articles. It is true that we live in a day that our faith and faith in general will be challenge; however responding in an unloving, derogative and graceless way negates the very message that we profess. Very often it is actions and not words that speak, no, shouts the loudest.

Science is not the enemy. Science is not opposed to God nor religion or faith. Science is merely the activity of curious minds. I think many things have been hidden to be found, to delight those who are curious enough to go and find it. This is evident in the many world-leading scientists who also happen to be devoted believers. An excellent example of this being Francis S Collins, the author of The Language of God, and Alister McGrath.

A new approach is needed in the discussion between those who confess faith and those who deny the existence of any god(s); however, I think the greater responsibility lies on the shoulder of those who profess faith. It is theirs to suffer in humbleness, service and above all love, because the argument will never be settled nor won by rational thought and argument but rather by walking the talk with integrity and love.