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Creationism versus Evolution
The struggle between faith and objectivism is not as new as some think.
Can God and Darwinism coexist?
And God said; "Let there be Charles Darwin", and then there was and God saw that this was good. And God saith unto Darwin, "Go ye forth into the world, learn about my creations and tell my people about the way of my creation. Thus by your findings shall you exalt me and bring low the liars and hypocrites". It came to pass that Darwin having been given this command proceeded to learn thereof and not being fulfilled, traveled to diverse places through much hardship and found many strange and wondrous creatures thereat. Darwin wrestled with the task that the Lord of Hosts had given unto him and meditated deeply on his findings. The church was exceedingly corrupt and God having seen this, had Darwin make his discoveries to once more humble the haughtiness of the priests, just as was done in days of old when Jesus, Luther and Copernicus brought division in their ranks. For the Lord God is one and not the author of confusion, seeking to make plain his plan in creation. Then Darwin had his revelation and inscribed them in "The Origin of the Species" and "The Descent of Man". The Pope and the church learned of this and became exceeding wroth. As of old in the days of Jesus, Darwin was accused of being in league with the devil. And so the struggle continues unto this day.
Many people cannot reconcile belief in God and creationism and Darwin's ideas of evolution without the intervention of a god. A few say that God works through evolution in the act of the creation of new species. Still others say that God is continually present and indwells everything in the cosmos. The act of creation is unfolding continually and has not ended. The Hindus hold that Brahma is expressed through creation, sustainance and destruction. In this threefold manner, the process of cosmic evolution continues to develop involving creation at every moment.
In the current period and in the last few decades, a battle has raged concerning what is justified to be taught in schools and what is not. That battle has centered on the divide of creationist thinking versus Darwin's theory of evolution. The divide was over whether or not we would include God in the curriculum. In the 1980s, the battle was seemingly innocent enough when Christians merely wanted their ideas to have an equal chance in the schools. That was to evolve to the excluding of evolutionary theory and ideas in favor with a creationist approach alone. At the head of the battle was the Moral Majority headed by Jerry Falwell who sought to integrate a bigoted, so called Jesus centered approach to creationist science to the exclusion of Darwin's theory of evolution. It was either-or and not both. They even managed to get Darwin's science of evolution listed as a mythology, while creation according to the fundamentalist view became fact and science. In this context, the tables were turned when religion became science and science became myth. This was pulled of in part due to a "dumbing down" that was underway at the time, which is the cruelest of all censorship.
The fact of the matter, any one needs a background in science to appreciate this. In the context of the religious and science divide, the matter is entirely the reverse. Ideas pertaining to the creation event are rooted in mythology and sky lore of the past. Darwin's ideas of evolution are based on hard observation and some experimentation. We now know that evolution can occur in a matter of hours and days in the realm of viruses and bacteria. We have mapped the changes in various pathogens, particularly in H.I.V. We have even intervened in evolution with gene splicing techniques and with genetically modified plants and animals that are more resistant to disease and pests. Recently, a scientist manufactured a gene sequence from raw chemicals and instructions from a computer program. They inserted this sequence to the genome of a living bacteria and successfully got it to reproduce with the artificial sequence attached. This has not gone without controversy, as some said they were “playing God” and especially since things like genetically modified corn are under the control of agri-business and the Monsanto Corp. Experimentation has evolved to the point of researching a potential terminator gene, which has many people outraged. Among the protesters are the fundamentalists for different reasons. Some people saw that such experimentation as dangerous with unknown risks to health and the food supply. The Christians protested stating that we should not be playing God.
Creationist ideas were and are an attempt to address the age old question as to why there is a cosmos and a world and why we are here in it. Ancient peoples in the view of some, though this point can be contested, did not have the science we have now and answered the questions according to their own context within the natural world. Sky and Earth were linked and the axiom, "as above, so below" was the view held by almost every major society until recent times. Events in the sky were timed with those on Earth, so a conceptual link was established. As life was renewed in the spring when certain star patterns were prominent, sky lore developed which aided people through the annual transit. There were small cycles like the day and larger ones like the year and even greater ones like the long count of the Maya. This was the science of prognostication for that time and much of it still holds true, though for most of it is now veiled. It is veiled due to our way of life in highly technological cities and materialist way of life. We have the remnants in the form of calendars, clocks and astrological columns. Advanced science has found evidence of cycles of climate lasting for 100,000 years. Thus repeated cycles of destruction and rebirth apply. Each cycle brings with it a "new creation" with new flora and fauna, many old ones having gone extinct.
Another branch that evolved early was religion. This gave an answer as far as many were concerned about the origin of things. Science too seeks the origin of things. Religion includes a motive creative principle and science states that everything is contained in the laws of nature, many of which remain to be refined and some yet to be discovered. Every time we learn of something new, we are humbled by our limited view, even to the point of ridicule. Yet we would not be here now were it not for the science and thinking of days gone by. It was enough to get us to this point and now with new revelations concerning the natural cosmos, we see as we have not seen before.
The idea of creation expressed through evolution is one that evolved to solve the divide between two diametrically opposed schools of thought, both struggling to achieve supremacy over the minds of the people. Yet with the current climate change in our midst, we are finding evolutionary quantum jumps occurring in complex species like birds on the Galapagos Islands, which incidentally is where Darwin made some of his seminal findings and recordings, which occur in mere months rather than thousands or millions of years. Some will argue that this is the handiwork of God creating in the world today. Others bring up date Darwin's ideas to include catastrophe driven evolution in the sped up version of the adaptation of species to a changing environment. Certainly in the microbial world we have ourselves driven adaptations to antibiotics to the point where we now have few or no treatments for the new "super-bugs" that are immune to our medical practices such as MRSI.
Changes from generation to generation, was an idea worked out by a Christian monk who wondered how traits were passed on from generation to generation. Gregor Mendel worked out what we now call the Mendelian ratio, where a trait like blue eyes verses brown eyes could statistically arise in generations based on specific ratios, specifically in a 1:2:1 or 1:4 and 3:4 combination. He specifically worked on pea plants, watching for color traits in the flower blooms. He also worked out the idea of dominant and recessive traits. He is considered the father of modern genetics. Breeders know about this and consciously breed dogs, cats and horses for very specific traits. This is one of the founding ideas for genetics and evolution and is used is a very calculated and scientific way.
Life is a dynamic and complex function that exists within a set of conditions that must be in fulfilled in order for life to occur, even in the simplest context. The modern view is that life seeded Earth from space and we know from experiments that some forms of life can indeed survive the hostile environment of a hard deep vacuum in the space environment. Experiments with tiny crustaceans called water bears demonstrate that these creatures, though complex multi-cellular organisms, can survive conditions of near absolute zero, the hard vacuum of space and intense ionizing radiation and still can revive and reproduce. Other organisms can remain dormant for long periods to revive when conditions are ideal for them. This includes fish that become landlocked in Australia and lotus seeds buried for thousands of years, only to spring to life when conditions are right. Microbes by far hold the record, being able to remain dormant for millions of years and then come to life when conditions are right.
If one takes the creationist view, then it can be said that God indwells nature and is the sum of nature in all its changes and evolution. Thus the ideas of Darwin can be seen as part of the unfolding of creation. We like to hold that ancient peoples were more primitive, yet these same people worked out complex structures such as the vast pyramids that we fail to achieve today. They worked out calendars that are more accurate than the one we use now. They figured out the complex Metonic and Saros cycles of the moon. They developed agriculture and animal husbandry where today we can interact and co-exist with several species as part of our everyday community life, living with horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, chicken, ducks, geese, camels, elephants and others. The only thing that we have achieved in advance of ancient peoples is the industrial revolution that brought in a host of machines from the steam driven machines to assembly lines and the electronics we so much depend on now. Even this distinction has been blurred with the discovery of ancient machines.
The ideas of evolution have been carried forward to the cosmos itself in the evolution of galaxies and solar systems. It has been incorporated into the concept of social Darwinism where we emphasize the "survival of the fittest" usually interpreted as the survival of the most brutal over everyone and everything else that is crushed under brute domination. But in the later case, this is something of a misapplication as Darwin emphasized adaptation to a changing environment. If anyone today is using social Darwinism to its ultimate emphasis, it is the fundamentalist Christians who seek to remove Darwin's ideas totally and substitute their own agenda for education. They would have us believe that Darwin's theory, though it works from what we now know, is just a hypothesis and that creationism is a fact.
Even within the Genesis creation story in the Bible, we see creation being done in stages, such as we see in evolution. We read about the creation of the Earth, the establishment of light and darkness, the formation of the seas and land, creation of fish, insects, animals and birds and finally man, just the same order that we now appreciate with contemporary scientific understanding from diverse fields.
At the bottom of this is economics. For eons, religion made economic progress from donations of the people in various ways. Thus when televangelists ask for donations, this is nothing that is new under the sun. Religion is big business and once one understands this, a lot becomes clear. Religious causes have always made more money than science. When surveyed, it is often found that the vast majority of people have a belief in God, even in a world filled with natural and scientific wonders. A simple adage is to follow the money to find the power and a lot becomes clear.
In our industrial cities, we have lost the sense of awe concerning nature, the cosmos, life and the changes that go on continuously. It was the sense of awe that inspired the god stories that abound in their different ethnic varieties, yet have a common thread in most of them. What we have in the world today is far from universal, even among sects of the same belief system, i.e., Christianity. Part of the problem of creationism and evolution co-existing is tied up with the politics of power and manipulation. In a constant struggle, we see one rise at the cost of the other and vice versa. Ideas of God and evolution can co-exist as long as we see each in their context. This requires knowledge in both disciplines; a multidisciplinary approach that is sadly lacking for most people.