Essay: Schematics of Belief against Factual Theory

Creation vs. Evolution:

Schematics of Belief against Factual Theory

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for Humanities 551 Spring 2015}

Biology and spirituality are two separate identifiers of the human species. The physical biology of homo sapiens sapiens is immutable by humankind while spirituality varies dependent on culture, geographic location, and individual understanding; the former being the fiber of life, and the latter being a personal choice, albeit influenced by culture. I argue that concerns of religion, especially in matters of the origins of species, are in no matter qualified to outweigh the theories and discoveries of science. Science and religion are not equal opponents – belief should not be able stand up to fact when put to the test; however, as per human understanding, much credence is placed on one’s spiritual concerns. The betterment of the individual is achieved through “right living,” but the factors of morality are not exclusive to religious interpretation. Morals are a boon of natural selection and are evident in genetic code whereas religion is an interpretation of the history of life.

Morality and ethics are modified characteristics of modern humankind in which evolutionary fingers urge homo sapiens sapiens toward the betterment of species through social concerns. Human emotion is seen as a gift and a curse of nature in which the former allows for happiness, love, and fulfillment; and the latter holds implications of regretted obligation and duty to humankind. Individual ethics are influenced by one’s culture and experience. Society formed to feed the nature of humankind to interact and benefit from a communal setting. Philosophers from the Sophists to Victorians acknowledged culture as a taming mechanism for human nature in direct relation to the selfishness inherent in humankind (Ridley 518). Humankind as a selfish creature is not a new consideration; Thomas Hobbes addressed the need for order in Leviathan, in which he depicted the warring nature of humans. Hobbes saw humans as power hungry, he said, “So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death” (343). To limit the power of humans, “artificial man” or government, is implemented in which the matters of right and wrong may be deliberated.

Much like religion, government is not the sole supporter of a balanced life. Nature considers the struggle of life and offers natural means to continue existence. Peter Kropotkin discussed the importance of support, both within and without species separation, in his piece Mutual Aid, and he argued for the importance of cooperation, as chaos was not realistic as the phrase “survival of the fittest” implied, but: “…life in societies is no exception in the animal world; it is the rule, the law of Nature, and it reaches its fullest development with the higher vertebrates” (402). Humans inherited sophisticated societal instincts that are present in other animals, just not as advanced as the human component. Cultures are the expression of these instincts, with reoccurring themes of emotion: “Instincts, in a species like the human one, are not immutable genetic programmes; they are predispositions to learn. … Society was not invented by reasoning men. It evolved as part of our nature. It is as much a product of our genes as our bodies are” (Ridley 519). Culture, the fabric that makes up society, is responsible for individual interpretation and implementation of ethical concerns.

Components of culture include, among others, family, language, and belief. Influence on the individual comes from the contact and authority issued from one’s culture. However, the a priori need to belong to society is found in genetics: “Seeing morality for what it is, a legacy of evolution rather than a reflection of eternal, divinely inspired verities, is part of this understanding” (Ruse and Wilson 511). Human beings arrive in life with an ingrained morality in which it is then manipulated and cultivated by the parents as well as the community. Religion is a strong regulator of the concerns and direction of culture. Organized religion issues the laws of their deity in addition to the laws of nature. But what happens when these laws differ? For Western thought, the predominant religion is Christianity. The struggle for the modern Christian mind is to accept or refuse the law of nature: evolution. Modern attempts are made to placate myth for truth, and believers will go to any means necessary to ensure they reserve a place for their comfort blanket – religion – in the darkness of nature.

Resistance to accepted scientific thought is convoluted matter. In example, biology declares the mortality of man, or that anything that is alive will not live forever but will suffer physical death. Christianity holds that believers will live forever in heaven – the catch is they refer to one’s soul and not one’s eternal physical life. The modern theme of religious thought is a focus on life after death; therefore, an individual is encouraged to live a good life so one’s afterlife is pleasant. The authority championed by religious thought is morality, yet ethics is noted by biology as being an evolutionary modifier – morals exist within humankind regardless of one’s belief in a higher power. Morality indirectly determines the individual’s ability to participate or conform to society so as to allow humankind to interact and benefit from one another: “Evolution has produced the requisites for morality: a tendency to develop social norms and enforce them, the capacities of empathy and sympathy, mutual aid and a sense of fairness, the mechanisms of conflict resolution, and so on” (Waal 513). The wants and needs of humankind, including the lure of society, is a genetic formula. Ethics are a result of genetics in which “ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate…ethics is a shared illusion of the human race. If it were not so, it would not work. The moral ones among us would be outbred by the immoral” (Ruse and Wilson 510). Ethical concern is a natural means to reduce the inherent selfishness of humankind.

Through an ethical lens, religion could be understood to guide the biological yearning for order in which science could support the efforts through evolutionary abilities. Science and religion could see the benefit of each other if the elements were given the proper space to breathe instead of one begetting the other one. Science is the action of physical intelligent thought while religion is the consideration of the spiritual. Both science and religion support ethics, though the former demands for natural as opposed to metaphysical order, regardless of origin: “We need something to spur us against our usual selfish dispositions. Nature, therefore, has made us (via the rules) believe in a disinterested moral code, according to which we ought to help our fellows” (Ruse and Wilson 508). Science and religion are vastly different entities, yet modern thought entertains the notion of allowing them the same considerations in regards to the beginning of life. While upsetting to creationists’ stomachs and humors, it could be that religion is in fact a production of evolution to allow for hope inside of humanity.

However, science produces too many realistic concerns that contradict the beliefs of the spiritual. Two sides emerge for the question of origins – Creationism and Evolution; however, Scott notes, “Most members of the public define the creation/evolution controversy dichotomously with creationists on one side and evolutionists on the other, but in truth there is a continuum of positions rather than a dichotomy” (Scott 267). The latter is limited to fact, theory, and scientific reasoning. The former is open to human interpretation and varied opinions of numerous groups, to include: Deism, Flat Earthism, Geocentrism, Young Earth Creationism, Gap, Day-Age, Progressive, Intelligent Design, Theistic Evolution, and Materialistic Evolution (Scott 267). These groups, ranging in radicalism, assume the bits of science in which support their beliefs while discarding those that do not indicate the presence of a creator. The deists are alone in their understanding as they acknowledge a laissez-faire Creator who created life then sat back to watch what would transpire. Fault may be drawn at this point as the multitude of creation theories cannot agree amidst themselves, let alone when faced with the truth of science.

The age of the planet is proven by science to be over four billion years old. In creationist theory, the earth is said to follow the designs of Genesis, literally depicting the existence as six thousand years. Religion clouds reality in great measures of time in which creationists insist the length of a day was different for God. Utilizing the power of persuasion, Christian interpreters twist the metaphors in the Bible so that a single day could happen outside the abilities of time. The Orthodox Jewish opinion of Rabbi Simon Schwab “hypothesized that time was compressed during the Six Days of creation; the Earth rotated much faster and all other processes were similarly speeded up, so that God’s ‘Cosmic Days’ of creation lasted billions of years according to our human frame of reference” (McIver 550). Religion relies primarily on interpretation, and the length of the day justification is a metaphoric manipulation of religion on science to make truth fit belief.

The Catholic bible states that God created the planet, solar system, and all organic life in six days and rested on the seventh; in the first creation story, man and woman are created on the fifth day, at the same time: “God created man in his image; / in the divine image he created him; / male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). However, in the second story of creation, God is noted for creating man first and allowing him to name all the animals; only later does He create woman because man is lonely without a partner (Genesis 2). Why include two stories of creation: for obedience. The second creation myth depicts woman as coming from man, ultimately making her subservient: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones / and flesh of my flesh; / This one shall be called ‘woman,’ / for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken” (Genesis 2:23). Whereas the first creation myth shows man and woman holding equal creation matters, the second myth places woman after the animals. Adam can be seen as being created for the pleasure of God, and Eve respectively created for Adam’s pleasure. Inside nature Adam witnessed the male and female species joining as one being. Even in dogmatic law, man is seen looking to the natural world for direction.

If religion is only means of manipulation to control the masses, then why is it in human nature to long for a creator? In a debate against a creationist, Richard Dawkins addressed the human ability and desire to believe in God through psychological and evolutionary means; the former being the comfort afforded humanity from the belief in an higher power, and the latter being natural selection shaping the brain of our ancestors to hold a predisposition to believe in higher authority so as to instinctually understand obedience (Sinobiological.com). Religion is means to tame the natural mind, affording society influence through the direction given of religious leaders. In exchange for individual belief and free will, religion relies on the compassion of humanity to reach for the good in life. But compassion is not a direct gift of deity either and is also tied to the evolutionary traits of species, finding origin in the animal kingdom. Robert Wright notes the origins of human compassion are found in kin-selection and reciprocal altruism, in which the allowances for mutual aid benefited animal life (Wright). Compassion, though heavily relied on by religion, is an evolutionary modifier of natural selection just like morality, ethics, and obedience. While these characteristics of humanity are utilized by authorities such as government and religion, the credit for these factors are found through science in which these longings are known as purely biological in nature.

Science enjoys simple truth over flowery interpretation. The beauty and grace of evolution is that while it appears to be so complex that many require the need for a creator, it is a simple process of species selecting the best means to progress. The insistence for an intelligent designer is requisite in creationist theory, but Dawkins illustrates the absurdity of the assumption. Dawkins said, “You can’t use the intelligent designer to explain anything because you have to explain where the intelligent designer came in the first place. The whole beauty of evolution is that it explains how you start with simplicity and work up to complexity, to the illusion of design” (Sinobiological.com). Evolution works because it is a natural process in which life struggles for survival to the best of its natural ability. The elegance of evolution is impressive and needs not rely on a hominid prescience for construction. Humankind is so egocentric that the creationist mind affords for all life to be in direct relation to the human experience.

The implementation of scientific thought follows a different formula than that of superstition and religion. Science has a way of disenchanting life by exposing data of proof. Science explores ‘mysteries’ to find reason and logic instead of accepting magical or supernatural components whereas theology is steeped in mysticism: “In the contemporary evangelical world and beyond, salvation ideas are found in the idea that God designed the molecular natural world and has ultimate power over individual genetic body space” (Jenkins 1694). Jenkins addresses the rewriting of biology to fit cultural restraints to fit a particular religion: “…a repertoire employs gene as cultural icon (symbolic engagement), embeds this symbol in cultural debates of scientific naturalism and genetic essentialism (disputatious engagement), and well executes scientific performance (performative engagement), the resulting organizational legitimation has the potential to resonate deeply throughout a subculture, to enchant and reinforce the mystical in contemporary experiences of the world” (1695). Media is seen as a tool to implicate culture, a powerful medium to sway the thoughts of the audience.

Culture holds on to mysticism by implying the need for superstition. In Review of Johnson (1992), Eugenie C. Scott clarifies the differences of naturalism and evolution, placing science with a non-theistic (as opposed to anti-theistic) view in which he addresses the issues with supernatural origin: “The problem with supernatural explanations is that, correct or incorrect, they cannot be rejected, and science proceeds by rejecting explanations rather than ‘proving’ them true” (590). The allure of the supernatural of creationist thought is found inside of fear – the Christian mind is afraid for evolution to be correct: “…if evolution by natural selection (Darwinism) really happened, then it is not possible for life to have purpose and for the universe and Earth to have been designed by an omnipotent, personal God. He feels that life would have no meaning, and moral and ethical systems would have no foundation” (Scott Review of Johnson 586). Evolution is prepared to address these concerns. Morals and ethics are traits apparent in human DNA to instill order and obedience, and the meaning of life is seen as progression towards perfection of species via natural selection. Evolutionary matters address the oneness of life, including the complexities of humankind but not limited to the human experience. Evolution allows for growth of all organic life and silently demonstrates the story of our origins.

Works Cited

Hobbes, Thomas. “Leviathan.” Main Currents of Western Thought: Readings in Western

European Intellectual History from the Middle Ages to the Present. 4th ed. Ed. Franklin

LeVan Baumer. New Haven, Massachusetts: Yale University Press, 1978. pp. 342-48.

Holy Bible: The New American Bible. Trans. United States Catholic Conference. Wichita,

Kansas: Devore & Sons, Inc., 1987.

Jenkins, Kathleen E. “Genetics and Faith: Religious Enchantment through Creative

Engagement with Molecular Biology.” Social Forces, 85.4 (2007), pp. 1693-1712. Web.

Accessed 4 Apr 2015.

Kropotkin, Peter. “Mutual Aid (1902).” Darwin a Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Philip Appleman.

New York: W W Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 398-403.

McIver, Thomas. “Orthodox Jewish Creationists (2000).” Darwin a Norton Critical Edition. Ed.

Philip Appleman. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 549-51.

Ridley, Matt. “The Origins of Virtue (1997).” Darwin a Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Philip

Appleman. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 517-24.

Ruse, Michael and Edward O. Wilson. “The Evolution of Ethics (1985).” Darwin a Norton

Critical Edition. Ed. Philip Appleman. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2001. pp.

507-11.

Scott, Eugenie C. “Antievolution and Creationism in the United States.” Annual Review

of Anthropology, 26 (1997), pp. 263-89. Web. Accessed 04 Apr 2015.

… “Review of Johnson (1992).” Darwin a Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Philip

Appleman. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 586-92.

Unknown. “Richard Dawkins vs. Creationist (Full Debate).” Online video clip.

Sinobiological.com, Unk. date. Web. Accessed 13 Apr 2015.

http://www.phamtoi.com/richard-dawkins-vs-creationist-full-         debate/NnFuT0loTFpUcGc.html.

Waal, Frans de. “Good Natured: The Origin of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals

(1996).” Darwin a Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Philip Appleman. New York: W W

Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 511-17.

Wright, Robert. “The Evolution of Compassion.” Online video. TEDtalk, Oct 2008. Web.

Accessed 13 Apr 2015.

Picture c/o:  http://i.ytimg.com/vi/f9fQchjJWFY/hqdefault.jpg

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