Many hold that Darwin’s understanding of Evolution contradicts Abrahamic traditions or vice-versa. In religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam – an Almighty God is said to have created the Earth, universe and all species of life, including the first pair of man and woman. Evolution theories seem to claim that life emerged from prehistoric oceans and evolved: single-cell organisms > reptiles > birds or mammals > apes > humans. Thus the Earth was populated with millions of species.
Are these two versions incompatible? I don’t see how (though there are plenty of ‘why’s). Okay, for example, say your grandmother had knitted a woolen scarf in 1940. In 2013, you examine it minutely and produce the following narrative: first it was just wool and then, yarn. Then the yarn got together with needles. The right needle went up through the loop on the left needle. Then the yarn was put over the right needle and twisted up onto the left needle. And then, the scarf was there!
Now that you’ve figured out how the scarf was knit – which of the following will you conclude / assume?
- The wool just went boom! and suddenly, it was a scarf – there was no process
- The wool chose to become a scarf (and not briefs or a sweater)
- The scarf knitted itself automatically
- Your observation knitted the scarf
- Your grandmother never existed
- Your sweater (also made of wool) evolved from one of grandmother’s scarves
None of the above, right? Your description of the how the scarf came into being, while incomplete, is 100% accurate. And that granny chose the yarn, colors and sat down to knit – is also true. That’s how the Creationism-Evolution debate seems to me.
Abrahamic traditions don’t preclude evolution. In fact, the Holy Qur’an actually says that all life is made from water (the Science). Biogenesis is now scientific fact (Abiogenesis, rather, is speculative). As for evolution of humans from apes, it was never suggested by Darwin nor proven. But the Adam-Eve version is scientific. We now have evidence of Eve and a hypothesis about a Y Chromosomal Adam – both of whom lived between 160,000 to 120,000 years ago.
Science is observation / explanation / post-analysis of God’s work. No science precludes a God. In fact, often, it reinforces Him. Till we know more, I am happy to believe that Life, the Earth and the Universe aren’t what some have called a happy accident.
Finally, a fellow rational being when it comes to this topic!
The one flaw in the logic is that the Bible says the world was created in six days and that included man. If you believe, as many Christians do, the Bible to be the divine word of God and infallible there is an issue. If you believe the Bible to be divinely inspired but transcribed by flawed creatures (man) there is some wiggle room.
I am a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I also believe the evidence for evolution is pretty compelling. It may still be completely flawed but at this pint in time it makes logical sense. Since I call into the second category of Christians I can maintain both sets of beliefs.
I have loved science pretty much all my life. I have been known to read text books (science and history) for fun. I have not always been a Christian. The fact of the matter is, that science, to an extent, led me to God. The more I studied and the more I learned the more I could see the hand of a divine being in such a beautiful system and design. There are many random patterns but many that appeared to make sense only when the divine hand was introduced. Science to me is simply a matter of understanding God’s design of the Universe.Evolution is just part of that design.
How do I reconcile the seven days to the estimated age of the Earth?
What is a simple sheep herder going to record when God tells him He created the universe in 13 billion years? Some number greater than zero.
Be aware of the hubris involved in the science of creationism. Virtually every scientific theory and hypothesis from 1000 years ago has been rendered a silly fable by our current understanding. How many of whet we hold as scientific gospel will be just as laughable 1000 years from now?
Dear Cranky, thanks for that lovely, thoughtful comment. Can’t agree more that evolution is a part of the Divine design and that science is our effort to understand it.
I feel that translations and imperfect scribes can cause problems in Scripture. Having said that, I do believe in the Inspiration behind both the Bible and the Quran: they’re telling us the same basic truths (I often describe them as different versions of Windows/iOS & prophets as installation discs).
The Quran (7:54) also says ‘Allah created the world in six days’. The Arabic word used is ‘Yom’ (I believe in the Hebrew Bible, its Yawm) and it can mean a 24-hour day, era, age, period. Personally, I think the problem starts when we translate ‘Yawm’ as ‘day’ and insist that both HAVE TO mean 24-hours. I wait for the yawm when science will confirm that indeed the universe was created over 6 distinct periods of time. Let’s cross our fingers 🙂
I have always wondered how a omniscient, omnipresent, eternal being’s perception of a “day” might differ from ours…
I’m amazed by how our understanding of words has changed. ‘Awful’ once meant ‘awesome’ and ‘affluent’ indicated ‘free-flowing’. What a grand mystery we have in our hands!
“Science is observation / explanation / post-analysis of God’s work. No science precludes a God. In fact, often, it reinforces Him. Till we know more, I am happy to believe that Life, the Earth and the Universe aren’t what some have called a happy accident.”
Science is not the business of disproving or proving. It is merely in the business of describing – but to presume it is an analysis of “God’s work” is putting a label on science incorrectly. 🙂 Faith and science are in no way related, and people who try to justify “faith” with scientific methods to “prove” their beliefs don’t understand the nature of science at all. There is no scientific gospel. Science doesn’t say anything with certainty – it is all but probability and inherently subject to challenge by anyone at anytime. But I will admit that even in the scientific community people will assume the post of priests.
Hey Tawfik – thanks for reading and posting a very interesting argument. You see, I am a believer and as such. hold the universe and everything contained within to be created by an Almighty God. Of course, you’ll notice the qualifier ’till we know more’ – which essentially allows for the inherent uncertainty of Science. I just we feel with what we know about Creation – the two dominant theories don’t have to be mutually-exclusive. But both have ‘priests’ preaching otherwise.
I guess our difference is of a philosophical nature since I seem to be one of those people who ‘don’t understand the nature of science at all’ 🙂
Science is a language and people often make grammatical mistakes 🙂 Perhaps that’s a better way to put it than say people don’t get it? 😛
For the record, I am indifferent to people’s faith or lack of it. I am just bothered by the grammatical errors like a misspelling here and their. 😉
Haha …I see what you did their.
Okay now that is confusing. I’d rather pay attention to my varsity admission for now. 😛
Hello Sajib, sorry to have confused you. Best of luck for your admission.
The only hope mankind has of ever moving forward is to get past petty discussions of faith. I appreciate and respect your post – my frustration stems from an overall attitude that whatever “our” religion is blinds us to what’s really important. 🙂
Hey – thanks for reading and I appreciate your comment. I can’t use ‘Faith’ and ‘petty’ in the same sentence – given that I believe that Faith (in God, logic or absurdity) guides our actions. Unfortunately, I also hold that all morality stems from Religion; ipso facto, it IS what’s important. But that’s okay – as long as we keep thinking in different directions, one of us is bound to stumble upon the Truth.
I don’t think faith is petty; what I find petty is the squabbling over whose God is the “one” or true God.I agree that morality is a product of religion – I may not believe in a Christian God or any sentient being, that said I am a spiritual person.
Years ago my family was driving a deserted back road on the Navajo reservation in the American south west.We pulled off the road to watch a massive thunderstorm approach. We hadn’t passed another car or seen a person for over an hour.Focused on the storm we were startled when an elderly Navajo man came up behind us and began to speak.His voice struck me a incredibly sad and tired – he told us why mother earth had sent the storm, and how she protected the world – my husband and I had tears streaming down our faces. His voice trailed off and we turned to thank him, to let him know how he touched us and that his voice mattered. He was gone, as if vanished into thin air. Our children thought we had lost our minds as we frantically drove up and down that road looking for him. We never found him but I can tell you that never in my life have I felt such a powerful spiritual connection. That moment has shaped the last 25 years of my life.
Thank you for not judging and agreeing to disagree – it warms my heart. If only more people could be so enlightened. 🙂
I really enjoyed your scarf example, as well as the rest of the post. I was raised a Catholic, so I do have a religious background, but since then have branched my beliefs. I have always believed that science and faith can co-exist to an extent. The creation myths of religions hold value, and are extremely important for understanding the basis of belief and faith of any religion. They are valued for their pedagogy, not their accuracy.
I loved this post, it definitely asks some great questions.
Hey Stephanie – thanks a lot..Yes, co-existence doesn’t appear to be a problem, unless we want it to be – and that’s my central theme here. My scarf example is for arguing why there’s no pressing reason to relegate Abrahamic religions (though not generic faith or spirituality necessarily) as pedagogical or mythical (in a Campbellian sense). In our modern Logic-vs-Belief struggle, belief in Divine intervention in Creation helps imbue, in society, a particular sense of purpose – one, which is hard to conjure when we assume we’re mere byproducts of an accident by the cosmic juggernaut (which also must be an aberration then). Maybe its just all old-fashioned thinking 😀
P.S. seems like you haven’t posted / come around in a while. Academics weighing you down?
Yes, I agree with you. Life seems more purposeful, a little more significant, with the belief that life was created by the Divine. I do believe in a God.
And ya, I have been a little busy, but my academics for the summer are done! Thankfully. I will try to visit more often though. I do enjoy reading your posts.
Keep in mind, many of the myths of our past religious or otherwise were the advanced science of that time and place…
For example, the quaint myths of alchemy were the advanced chemistry of that time. The science of chemistry has progressed. How long will it be before much of what we hold as scientific law today will be viewed as myth?
Hey Cranky, thanks for your genuine interest in the topic. I agree with you 100% – today’s science will/may be tomorrow’s myth. It may not, however, mean all of today’s myths are yesterday’s science. Relating it to my original post: unless we’re prepared to unconditionally accept ‘newer = better’ – there seems to be little evidence that displaces Creationism or that proves Creationism contradicts Evolution. Unfortunately, I know embarrassingly little about the science of Alchemy i.e. nothing beyond Paulo Coelho 😀