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Evolution is one of God's creations

My friend ysabetwordsmith posted a post with an article about evolution vs. creationism and in response I said, "Always with the "evolution vs intelligent design." Gah! I believe in something that combines the best elements of both: intelligent evolution! God as an artist co-creating with Its creations, in a process of creation wherein things change over time, just like art tends to do anyway."

To which she replied, saying what is the whole reason for this post:

And that, you see, is precisely where most people go wrong: they think like mortals, not like deities. They don't understand the divine scale. A Being who creates a universe is not going to micromanage every molecule of it. Deities work best on a big canvas, and for that one needs big tools. So the gods make Laws of Nature. They sculpt gravity to manage matter. They create life and shape it with evolution.

They aren't going to design every last animal because that would be A) time-consuming and B) boring. The first is like drawing on a computer: you create a brush program, you don't put each pixel in place one at a time. You CAN work on a pixel-by-pixel level, but mostly you don't. The second is like growing a garden: you have a plan, you start things out, you give them some help, but you also let them do their own thing because that's the fun part. You want to find out what happens when you set up a good system and then let it run.

Deities are rarely as fussy or short-sighted as humans. They are more curious, more flexible, and more patient. Of course ... so are cats.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
Thank you...
... for relaying the conversation here. You lead me in such interesting directions.
May. 19th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you...
You're welcome! And thanks!

I come up with so many neat ideas, I wish I could sell them to people who could make them happen.
May. 19th, 2009 11:50 am (UTC)
That may hold true for YHVH/Allah or Ormazd, but would it necessarily apply to a polytheistic deity? Not all gods have the vast, sweeping power of the Abrahamic or Zoroastrian Gods, some are far more limited in power.

Poseidon Earthshaker and Amatesaru don't need to operate on that kind of scale. Neither do Huitzilopochtli or Montezuma...
May. 20th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Fair point. Though I guess we were meaning Creator deities, as opposed to personal deities.
May. 19th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
Well, whether or not there is some kind of "(G/g)od(s)", the science itself is atheistic, in the sense of having no deity. Whether or not a deity set up the rules is, unless evidence can be found of this, irrelevant. The point is, we find nothing that requires the presence of a deity, only things that do not rule out the existence of a sufficiently aloof deity. Thus, the idea of a deity doesn't belong in the science, unless and until evidence can be found for such a being.

EDIT: To clarify, what I mean to say is, it seems to me that you're not really offering an alternative to evolution at all. But rather, a theistic view of the science, which is already quite a common view. While there are a good many atheistic/agnostic biologists, there are also quite a few biologists of all sorts of religions.

Edited at 2009-05-19 09:56 pm (UTC)
May. 19th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
Agnostic, not atheistic.

Science neither says that there is or isn't a god. If it said there is one, that is theism. If there isn't, that's atheism. But science is agnostic, which is why the agnostics are the only ones who look at the evidence and say "Yah, huh, that's right, I'll go with that."

Theism and atheism both in some ways presume a bit too much, and I say that as a monotheist.
May. 20th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Wrong. Atheism merely means "no belief in God" (literally "Godless"). Science is atheistic as God has no place in its explanations. Nowhere in any scientific theory does the word "God" appear. Unless, of course, it's a psychological or sociological theory to explain religious belief, and then "God" is used as a description of a belief, not of an external agent.

I am an atheist. That does not meant that I "believe there is no God". I believe that there is no evidence of God, and, unless and until such evidence shows up, I will place God in the same category as other things for which there is no evidence, such as unicorns or leprechauns or orbiting teapots. Some people would call that agnostic. Fine. I'm agnostic about God in the same sense that I'm agnostic about Bigfoot. That is, I consider both to be highly implausible, but I'm open to evidence, if it should show up. If actual evidence in favor of God should appear, I will readily admit that I was wrong, just as I would admit I was wrong about Bigfoot if someone should find a Bigfoot carcass.

This is how pretty much every self-described atheist feels. Certainly everyone I've ever met or read books by.

Edited at 2009-05-20 01:01 am (UTC)
May. 20th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Semantics PHAIL.

Technically, science does not say that there is a god. It does not say that there isn't. The question is unknowable, and therefore science is agnostic, not atheistic.

And yes, you're an agnostic, and not an atheist. Weak atheism states belief is not there. Strong atheism states that there emphatically are not any Gods. Science cannot rule one way or the other.

Sorry, but the word atheist does not mean what you think it means, and to Hell with popular definitions of the term!
May. 20th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. I am godless. That makes me an atheist. That is how pretty almost everyone who calls themselves an atheist uses that term. Do not try to tell me what I am.

Besides, even by your definition, I am a "weak atheist". "Belief is not there". Yep. No belief in God here.

Also, while science cannot rule one way or another on the generic concept of God, simply because that concept is so vague that it can be defined in any way that a believer chooses, it CAN rule one way or another on specific gods. No one today believes that lightening is Thor throwing bolts down. Even people who believe in Thor don't believe in the traditional "lightning-bolt-casting Thor".

Furthermore, the statement that "Science cannot prove or disprove God" is equivalent to saying that God is irrelevant to the universe. If God cannot be disproven, then that is the same as saying that a universe with God is indistinguishable from a universe without God, in other words, that God has no influence on the universe. For if God did have an influence on the universe, one could potentially (even if the technology does not exist yet) detect that influence and thus prove or disprove God's existence. Thus, for God to be "not disprovable by Science" would mean that God doesn't do anything. God would be an irrelevant being that exists outside of the Universe.

Edited at 2009-05-20 02:57 am (UTC)
May. 20th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
The real issue isn't creationism/intelligent design/whatever the new term is (yes, there is a new attempt). It's *why* these "religious" types feel a need to not have evolution be true.

Most of that boils down to biblical literalism and other such bible worship.

Besides the preachers involved don't dare let their congregations start thinking.
May. 20th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
That's a part of it. But there's also, on a deeper level, the idea of essentialism. Christianity, and many other major religions, contain as a major part of their theology, the idea that humans are somehow special, not "mere animals". But if we're only one part of a vast evolutionary tree stretching back to proto-cells 3.8 billion years ago, then there's no clear distinction between human and animal. That's also part of the reason for the "life begins at conception" idea. There has to be a specific point where "life begins".

Evolution intrinsically contains grey areas. At some point in the past, we were "mere animals". Today we are (theoretically) rational thinking beings. This happened gradually over the course of millions of years. Many people have a hard time accepting this idea of gradual development and fuzzy borders.

EDIT: Actually, this isn't a problem intrinsic to religion, but to the human brain, with religion merely reinforcing it. Humans in general have a hard time understanding that categories exist only as a convenience of the mind, that the world ISN'T divided neatly into discrete categories and entities. We even find it difficult to argue about definitions, because we tend to assume that they're real. Take the Pluto debate. Logically, the debate should've been framed as "Is a definition of 'planet' that includes Pluto sensible?" rather than "Is Pluto a planet?" But, language is set up in such a way that it's a lot more difficult to ask about definitions than to assume them.

Edited at 2009-05-20 03:19 am (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
But if we're only one part of a vast evolutionary tree stretching back to proto-cells 3.8 billion years ago, then there's no clear distinction between human and animal.

Another possibility: God went to all the work of evolution to develop sentient life. Not necessarily humans, since other animals have the potential for it. Speaking of animals with the potential for civilization, I highly recommend the Uplift Trilogy by David Brin. It starts with "Sundiver."

But I prefer to think that every step in evolution is important to God. Every lifeform, every star, every rock, every atom is equally important to God.

Evolution intrinsically contains grey areas. At some point in the past, we were "mere animals". Today we are (theoretically) rational thinking beings.

One of my fictional species called the Harún, in my main fantasy world, are blessed (or cursed?) with IQs that would make Einstein look like an earthworm, the ability to think about thousands of things at once, even the ability to switch between individual-level thought and various stages of collective thought. They are also shapeshifters to such an extent that they could have 2 or 3 brains in the same body, or even 10 brains! They can also merge their bodies together like Odo's people (except that the Harún are multicellular beings and not just goo) and could make some superbeing with 1000 giant brains. Hell, they hoard information and knowledge to such an extent that they need to store most of it in artificial planets that are essentially planet-sized Harún with a brain larger than the moon. Is it any wonder the Harún think of humans and other civilized creatures around out level of intelligence as tiny, insignificant, dumb animals?
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
You're assuming they haven't already taken over.
May. 20th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
You need not just the laws of nature, but also the values of certain natural constants.

Keep the same laws, but change the value of the speed of light or Planck's constant and the universe is *very* different.

A minor change either way in one particular constant and we wouldn't have stars.
May. 20th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
A minor change either way in one particular constant and we wouldn't have stars.

Sometimes I like to imagine that if there is a God, that he's actually far more interested in stars than in biological organisms. Life, and humans, are merely an incidental byproduct of his design for beautiful stars and galaxies.
May. 22nd, 2009 08:23 am (UTC)
Then again, maybe not. Maybe stars are like incubators. Meticulously designed with a specific, life-centered purpose.
May. 22nd, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the way many people see it. My point, though, is to question that biocentric view. To say, if there IS a deity, what makes you think he/she/it/they care(s) about us? What if God really just cares about his stars and galaxies, and we're just an accidental byproduct of that?
May. 23rd, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
I do explore that idea a little bit, actually. In "Carbon and Silicon," the mechanical races believe the universe was created for machine races, and biological life was just a failed experiment.
May. 23rd, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
That's actually the same idea, just as believed by machines instead of organics. In both cases, it's the idea that your group is special. That God Himself designed the universe specifically for you. If there is some kind of deity, why should it even notice us, much less care what we do?

Just once, I'd like to see someone who believes in a creator without believing that that creator has any special interest in themselves, or at least, in their kind.

Edited at 2009-05-23 01:15 am (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Wow. O_O
May. 22nd, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
That may not be quite so true. No one really knows *what* the universe would look like with different constants. Different, yes, but there might still be some kind of stars.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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