God and Evolution Can Go Together
Some religions have taken a definite stand against evolution. Much of the reasoning against evolution stems from a misunderstanding of what the theory of evolution is. In some cases, it is the lack of definitive evidence for specific proposals within the theory that causes animosity. The other big misunderstanding in the debate is that all religions do not accept evolution. However, this is far from true. In some religions, the current evidence in support of evolution also serves as potential evidence of intelligent design. Misunderstandings on both extreme sides of the evolution-creationism debate is what slows down religious and scientific progress.
When we look at the majority faiths in the days when Darwin's take on evolution was first introduced and the suggestion that men may have evolved from apes as we know them today, we can easily understand the religious animosity against the concept. No, man did not evolve from apes and no one said we did. Rather, the idea was that man and apes may have a common ancestor. Apes and humans are different possibilities as natural selection occurred again and again. The ancestor species went in two totally different evolutionary paths.
Even the idea of a common ancestor among such different species enrages some. According to some faiths, man was made in the image of God. If we evolved from something else, then does God look like us? Or does God look like what we evolved from? Some of Darwin's theory was ruled out as more scientific and technological advances were made, leaving some to question how accurate the theory is. However, his concept of natural selection is painfully obvious to even the casual observer.
A popular teaching aid involves the use of a species of moth. This teaching aid reenacts research studies involving the peppered moth. The moths genetically can be a light or dark gray. They tend to seek the bark of light colored trees for rest. Those that are too dark are spotted and eaten and future generations carry on the dominant light gray. Over time, the tree barks become darker with pollution. The moths are easier to see and eaten. Those with dark gray coloring survive and the dark gray becomes the dominant gene. Natural selection, then, is very real.
Intelligent Design for All Religions
Intelligent design does not have to mean that everything that exists as we know it today was made exactly the same. Faith does not have to remain stagnant to be true to those who believe. Religions adapt with societal changes or risk becoming outdated and their teachings lost on future generations. Another religious view in terms of evolution is that it takes a pretty intelligent deity (or group of deities) to consider putting a process like evolution in place so that the many species of the world can live and thrive in changing environmental conditions and provide stabilization in the various populations. If anything, evolution is yet another one of those aspects of the known universe that is incredibly hard to believe happened by chance. Such a genius, natural process is surely a great example of data in favor of those who believe in God in one form or another.
The part of evolution that causes the most animosity in some religious circles is that which goes beyond observable natural selection. The only common "ancestor" of the world's species would be God. Suggesting that various species that are so very different, including man, evolved by the same process over far, far, far longer spans of time goes against their theology. Here is where a religion must choose to adapt or become outdated and lost. Some religions recognize that the stories that have been passed down were written with by the hands of man. Even "words of God" are recorded by men who, no matter how strong their connection with God, can only view the world and God by human perspective. Personal biases can and nearly always appear in any writing (this article is rife with it!) regardless of one's intentions.
Had the men of yesterdays long ago known what we know now, those stories would have been recorded differently. Some recognize this and have come to reconcile known facts with the stories of old. For example, the Genesis story that the Earth was created in seven days is impossible as explained. However, if we recognize that "seven days" may not be the literal seven days as we know them by our measurement of time, the fact does not take away from the story but actually provides the potential for deeper understanding of the stories on a new level. In the same way, evolution might explain why different cultures sharing the same God will depict that God in completely different manners. If we could convince a cat that God exists, the cat will view God as a cat just as we may view God as human. A change in perspective leads to new interpretations of such teachings. To be created in the image of God does not have to mean we look exactly like God as we are now, but could simply mean our spirits are of the same essence.
A Little Tolerance From Both Sides
Current science can easily be reconciled with religious belief to allow a religion to adapt so long as religions are not met with hostility from those who hold pure science (which changes and adapts as new data and discoveries disprove the widely accepted theories of days long past) as their faith. Hasty generalizations such as the image above from those who claim to use "rational logic" fail to recognize that many religions have found ways to incorporate scientific advancements into the understanding of their faith. This in turn causes religious individuals to feel animosity toward the scientific communities (or those claiming to be a part of them). Some individuals may well take the scriptures and teachings of their religions literally and accept no alternative interpretations; however, relatively few individuals are hardly representatives of religion as a whole. The concepts of deity and evolution can and often do go together just fine without anyone on either side of the evolution-creationism debate needing to cause a commotion. In the same way scientific advancements take considerable amounts of data gathered over time and applying new data to old theories, so too does it take some religious institutions time to incorporate new scientific research into theological explanations.
Hub #24/30 for March Challenge.
Do you believe in the existence of God in any form?
Do you agree with the theory of Evolution in its current version?
- Much Ado About Moths - Answers in Genesis
This is the fascinating story about how, because of a combination of environmental changes and selective predation, a moth turned into, well, a moth.
© 2012 Evylyn Rose