Given that we are in December now, and December includes a particularly large number of holidays involving God, I acknowledge it might be an awkward moment to bring this up.
But then again, with this particular subject, I can’t really think of any other time where it would be less awkward or potentially incendiary to discuss the ongoing debate between evolutionists and creationists.
Plus, to be honest, this isn’t a subject that I’ve ever found particularly troubling, personally speaking. This is because I know there is no way to know for sure – as in with tangible proof – whether one theory or the other is actually “true.”
I also figure if this is something I really need to know, dying will eventually take care of it. I’ll be much closer to the ultimate authority by then and they can answer all my questions. And if they still don’t want to answer, I’ll have all the time in the world to pester them until they do.
So the reason this topic is on my mind right now? My mom recently recommended a very intriguing book called “Homo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow.” The book’s title loosely translates to mean “man as God.” “Homo Deus” is written by a New York Times best-selling author named Yuval Noah Harari.
The book tackles lots of topics relating to homo sapiens, plus other species, connections (or disconnections) between the two, humanity’s past trajectory and where it seems to be pointing us in the near future, tensions that arise from different backgrounds and belief systems and why we probably shouldn’t be quite so eager to develop A.I.s and cyborgs, which Harari calls “next generation humans.”
Anyway, I am currently stuck on a section in the book where the author talks about a 2012 Gallup poll surveying who believes what when it comes to creation versus evolution. This survey’s results showed that just 15 percent of people think evolution is true. 46 percent of people think creation is true. And 32 percent think that both are true, in the sense that evolution was God’s plan all along.
Reading about this survey prompted me to ponder what I think. Evolution or creation? Which one resonates with me personally?
As I pondered, I realized that 99 percent of me is an evolutionist all the way, but my reasons have nothing to do with rejecting or disrespecting my Christian upbringing or any religion or anything like that. Rather, they have a lot more to do with how evolution makes me feel close and connected to everything and everyone around me…more on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, the 1 percent of me that holds fast to a creation-based viewpoint isn’t actually too keen on the originating story, which of course involves a couple named Adam and Eve and a certain serpent and a juicy apple and a Creator who likes to say “I told you so.” As a child in Bible class, I tried my utmost to buy into this method of, well, delivery I guess, of homo sapiens to Earth, but I never could get past the seeming unkindness of it all…like the deck was stacked against our kind from the start.
I mean, here is God, all-knowing, all-seeing, creating these two people. Why did he do it? Was he just bored? Did he need someone to play practical jokes on? So God creates these two prototype people and he knows they are curious and smart and he knows human nature because he created it. So he sets them up with the whole serpent and apple scenario and then shames them into leaving the pretty garden he made for them.
Bad. This is just a bad deal right from day one.
Never mind that we don’t get much backstory. For instance, why did the serpent talk to Eve and not Adam? Did he try to talk to Adam but Adam was asleep and snored too loud to hear him? Or did he wait until dinner time to dangle the juicy apple, knowing it was Eve’s night to cook?
There’s just nothing in the whole scenario that makes me feel like I should or could trust a God like that…or at least not any farther than I can throw his danged apple.
Plus, down here on this physical Earth plane, there is all kinds of archeological evidence dug up by some really smart people that show how we share a whopping 96 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees and 61 percent of our DNA with fruit flies (this factoid from NASA, no less).
We have the same basic limbic brain structure as just about every other life form on this planet. Our fight-or-flight survival instincts are wired to react the same, regardless of what the particular danger may be.
Even our body structures are remarkably similar, and Dr. Neil Shubin, anatomist and paleontologist extraordinaire, has made a career out of explaining just how similar we are to even ancient invertebrates (for more detail about this, read his most excellent book on the topic, “Your Inner Fish.”)
But at this point, I feel like I should stop and clarify that I have never had a moment in my life where I felt strongly that I wanted to prove one theory or disprove the other. Rather, I just wanted to understand a bit better why I often feel closer to non-human species than to my own kind!
As I’ve studied and practiced meditation over the last nearly three decades, I’ve learned a lot about different states of consciousness. Like there is consciousness, sub-consciousness, un-consciousness, and then the elevated state of spiritual awareness (which I guess is like some kind of super-consciousness).
I’ve also read many references to different layers or levels of existence – some meditators call these “planes,” like in-a-physical-body plane (Earth), without-a-body plane (heaven or somewhere less pleasant), merged-with-all plane (oneness). I don’t know a ton about this, but the gist seems to be that the same unfolding event will move at different speeds on different planes of existence, with the Earth plane being the slowest of all of them.
So in that sense, why couldn’t there be evolution and divine interference (creation) too? On this physical Earth plane, maybe that is just how things need to happen – kind of awkwardly and mechanically – like, first there is an amoeba and then it divides and then it becomes a fish which then grows legs and turns into reptiles and mammals and gets bigger and smarter and then opts for brain mass over body strength and suddenly we have homo sapiens as well as all sorts of other fascinating creatures.
But then there is this underlying sense of balance throughout it all – we are often poised on the brink of peril yet we never quite fall over the edge – and sometimes I personally get the eery sensation that there is a type of benevolence or love or grace or at least benign goodwill gently mentoring and guiding us all without interfering too terribly much so we miss out on all the lessons we need to learn….
I hope that makes some kind of sense! I guess for me personally, it didn’t take me any time at all to realize that, at least in my personal world, Adam & Eve’s God wasn’t the god for me. But far from ending my quest for divine connection, it strengthened my interest, and when I next picked up the thread, I found it not in people but in nature and even more specifically in my little domestic flock of feathers and shells.
As pure unconditional love prompted me to learn more about them – their origins, their bodies and brains, their histories and care requirements, their drives and fears – I learned how very alike we are in so very many ways. And where I found love, I found connection – a connection that helped to erase my sense of being separate, different than, apart and alone, and replace those feelings with feelings of togetherness, family and love.
And from everything I’ve read about God, or divinity, or spirituality, or whatever term is “in” at the moment, where there is love, oneness, connection, empathy, kinship, there too is the shared spark that connects us all.
Today’s Takeaway: What is your take on this longstanding debate of creation versus evolution? Do you think it is an important debate to have? Or are you comfortable with simply knowing where you stand personally? I truly do want to hear your thoughts, and also PLEASE know this is not a place to diminish those who may feel differently from you or who are still seeking their own personal insights!! Honest, respectful personal perspectives are welcomed and the moderator (yours truly) will make sure the dialogues shared publicly reflect that. Peace.