Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Creationism and Evolution: Why I don't consider it a vs.

So, I'm back to blogging on topics that have me peeved off again. I'm not sure why, but I keep hearing time and time again, the idea of evolution vs. creationism. It's only ever presented as one or the other. No one ever brings in the third choice - that you believe in BOTH!

I'm a scientist. I of course believe in evolution. It's fairly obvious from both nature and the fossil record that creatures on earth have evolved over time and continue to evolve.

I'm also a christian. I believe in the omnipotent power of something larger and more powerful than myself. I believe in a loving and forgiving God who created the universe. No matter how far you go back, there has to be a beginning, and how we began and why remains a mystery. To me, its a mystery of faith.

So, based on the black or white world in which many people live, that seems like a conundrum. How can you believe in both? Well, I did go through that same crisis, when I was a CHILD. When I was young, my mind had not matured to believe that these ideas could co-exist. I was a fairly geeky child, and I recall reading about Darwin and his finches when I was quite young. So, seeing how this didn't quite line up with another book that I had read, the Bible, I went to the foremost authorities on all things - my parents. I remember sitting down with my Mom and asking; how can this be? My Mom's answer to me was simple. Genesis is a book that was written by men based on what was given to man at the time, many years ago. The words of God in the Bible were given to man to help him understand his world in a way that he could comprehend. The statement that she gave me that has always stuck with me, was "What makes you think that a day that is depicted in the Bible is a true 24 hour day that we observe now? What makes you think that He sees time as you do?" I thought about that, I read some more, and thought some more, and then came to the revelation that creation did not have to be an instantaneous process. That in itself, evolution is a miraculous event and speaks to a higher and larger power.

These are my beliefs in a nutshell. I get very frustrated when I get lumped in with people who feel either that evolution is heretic and should not be taught to children, or that religious beliefs are outdated superstition. I believe neither. Education and discussion is the answer. An open mind can see all possibilities and a closed mind sees nothing but limitations.

Have a great day!


Rosie said...

I am not a christian, but I have often thought about the whole black and white argument. I thought that perhaps creationism could be explained by what you suggest as well.

Do you think the creation story is anecdotal? (ie women do not come from adam's rib). How can you explain human origins through Adam and Eve if evolution does indeed exist?

It is very interesting talking to Christians who are aso scientists-this isn't meant to be confrontational at all. I try to have an open mind and I respect people's diversity.

Marianne said...

Hey there.

You know, I don't think that I need to personally explain every story of the Bible to believe, or to validate them. It doesn't work like that. I think people who go into literal translations of Bible verses can find justifications for a lot of actions and beliefs that I don't feel are in keeping with how I view Christianity, so I abstain from it completely. I assume I'll know everything when I am meant to, and until then I won't pretend that I know it all. Funny, I take that same tact when I interpret any experiment I do in the lab. I build on the framework I know, and go from there. I don't by any means think that the stories contained in the Bible are anectodal, because to me it would lessen their meaning, and to me they are more than stories in an old book. I just think that there are meanings there that go beyond literal. It's just a part of who I am. I'm also comfortable enough with my beliefs not to be offended by people questioning them. I think people in general make assumptions based on what they know and belive and the only way to change that is to talk about it :D

SteveN said...

There are plenty of people who believe as you do. I think the term is deism. Although it isn't creationism as stated, since creationism implies God's interference after the creation of the universe. Whereas, deists believe that the universe was created by God and left alone thereafter. This is what happens when you read a thesis on the subject....

Rosie said...

well, I'm happy with that answer. I like it when people have an open mind, no matter what their beliefs are. My mom is pretty rigid in her beliefs and its frustrating to me sometimes. She refers to my concern over the environment as "Earth worshipping" which she believes is pagan. I try to say, mom, i am an atheist, so i don't believe in God, let alone many. She still thinks i'm a pagan and evil at some level. Oh well. she's my mom and i love her.

Melanie said...

Please hear me out...

It seems as though over the years Scientists have lost sight of what makes a “fact” fact. Theories are not true just because we want them to be and often and rightly so theories are just theories. Theories have been considered fact when they have religious ramifications before verification. Actually, in science the basic concept is the search for truth and to be open to new ideas and reasons for the way things are and to truly explore. I believe people that believe whole heartedly in evolution are doing so by an act of faith. I think it takes more “faith” to believe we came from nothing than to believe we were created by an intelligent designer, God. I would like to urge all scientists to look at the research done on evolution and make their own decisions. I believe we should leave the door open to explore the idea that we were created by an intelligent designer. I believe it is a mistake and wrong scientifically to close the door to the idea of an intelligent designer. Studying science and looking at the world makes me appreciate the complexities of our world and realize that we were wonderfully created. I have been a believer all of my life and I have never questioned the existence of God. My heart knows he is there.

However, when working in the science world you meet lots of great people who do not believe in God. So recently I wanted to explore the reasons for their unbelief. I recommend The case for a creator by Lee Strobel to all scientists who love to explore. This man has a law degree and is a legal editor of the Chicago Tribune who in the past was an atheist. One day his wife told him she believed in God and Jesus. He was shocked and after a few months noticed a real change in her. She was different in a good way. So he decided to investigate!!! He has had interviews with several scientists and PhD’s in a variety of disciplines questioning them on the possibility of a creator! A lot of these scientists believed in evolution until they studied in the field themselves and they came out believing in an intelligent designer. When you look at physics, biology, chemistry and archaeology it is so awesome to realize all of these complexities did not happen by chance. This man Lee Strobel did not want to believe and he set out to ask the experts to find the truth. I hope all scientists keep all options open and look for the truth. Read this book and see what the experts (not me) have to say about evolution, Darwin, biology and archaeology... Decide for yourself.

I grew up in a Christian home but my father was not always a Christian. He was an atheist through and through. Until he started to explore the scientific proof out there for evolution. He read a lot when he was young and came to the same conclusions as Lee Strobel. So even though I have a one tract mind, I come from a family who didn't "just" believe but explored to find the truth. I urge all people to do the same.

Rosie said...

HI Melanie....I am not saying there isn't a god, or an intelligent designer, I just don't believe there is. I might end up being wrong, I might change my mind some day. I grew up in a non-christian home (in that my parents called themselves christians but we didn't go to church or pray or anything). I went to church out of my own volition because I believed myself to be a christian. Early on, I found myself questioning the church. I found myself unable to relate to some of the teachings and unable to reconcile things I saw in the real world with stories told in the bible. I became frustrated that some rules still applied (like homosexuality being a sin) but some were thrown out (like stoning women to death for adultery). How are we to know what is right and what is wrong?It wasn't until I was about 15 or 16 when I began to think that maybe Christianity was wrong for me. At that point I called myself agnostic. It wasn't until a few years ago where I really realised I didn't believe in afterlife or God.

I can see why people do embrace religion. I sometimes wrestle with a sense of purpose in life. I mean death is a lot more scary when its final. But, as much as I've tried throughout my life, I just can't believe. Maybe its letting me appreciate the time I am here even more? I don't know. I get sick to my stomach when individuals/politicians like Bill Whatcott are continually trying to make people second class citizens in the name of religion. It goes far beyond that one issue, but Christianity as a whole has a long way to go before I can begin to explore my beliefs.

As for needing "faith" for evolution, you couldn't be more right! Its hard to directly prove something that you can't find cause and effect for. I also have a lot of faith in the environmental movement....but like anything, it could be ALL wrong. I guess only time will tell. As for that book, I might pick it up. Thanks Melanie, for being a good friend.