Sunday, October 4, 2009

Evolutionary Silliness

The other evening we were enjoying the movie "Master and Commander", with Russell Crowe. A high-seas epic, beautifully filmed adventure, that I would highly recommend. It is a great, wholesome family flick-- if you can handle a bit of sword fighting carnage.

The doctor on board the ship was a "naturalist". He collected specimen of animals and insects as a hobby. In one scene, he is sharing a book with a young boy that has taken an interest in being a naturalist as well. The two are looking at some of the illustrations in the book; pictures of insects with incredible camouflage such as a walking stick and some sort of bug that looks just like a thorn. The doctor explains that these disguises are to protect the insects from predators. The young boy is in awe and asks, "Did God make them like that?" (or something along those lines). The doctor smiles (a bit patronizingly) and answers, "Yes, God. And, they made themselves like that."

That just struck me as absurdly funny! Though insects are fascinating and industrious, they have no ability to reason or have more than an instinctive thought. They aren't known for advancing scientific theories or having feelings and emotions. "Fight or flight" is the basic way of life for any insect or animal.

Now take me-- your typical human. I can think and reason and emote and all those other things that set me apart from dung beetles and tree sloths, but can I lose 10 pounds? Can I maintain a healthy diet? Can I exercise on even a semi-regular basis? Nope, nope and nope. Can I keep a smile on my face when the house is falling apart around me? Can I even keep said house clean on a regular basis? Can I selflessly serve my husband without thought for my own needs? Big fat nopesies on all of the above. The fact is, apart from the help of the Holy Spirit, I can do nothing worthwhile. The older I get the more helpless I see that I am to do anything good or change anything effectively apart from the grace of God.

I think if, as a "species," we women could
will ourselves to "evolve"... by now we would have conquered the cellulite glitch in our DNA, developed naturally long and lush eyelashes, and learned to survive on raw vegetation without a thought for chocolate. If only.

Once again, it just seems to take a whole lot more faith to believe in the random, minuscule plausibility of evolution than in a Creator that...well...
creates things like bugs that would look exactly like a stick (which He also created... so He basically just reused the same pattern). Its just plain silly to believe a non-reasoning organism could, in a premeditated sort of way, change its appearance over time, passing that need to change on to its offspring (by way of genetics, rather than explanations), and cause its outward appearance to change and even mirror the habitat in which it lives. That's some amazing faith!

I'll stick with the unpopular notion of a loving God that created me in His image. Cellulite and all. (Ok, I am not implying God has cellulite...I am sure it is a tragic result of The Fall-- thanks Eve, darling!). Believe me, if I could have wished cellulite (and bad hair days) away, that would have happened a loooonnng time ago! In the meantime, the only way I can do anything worthwhile in my life is to rely on the strength of God to work in spite of the weakness of my flesh. Without Him I would just be a big, lazy sloth with moss growing on my ugly hair. I'll take a bad hair day and a redeemed soul any day!

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.