Home > Faith > Why I don’t believe in evolution and the natural order

Why I don’t believe in evolution and the natural order

Do I believe in God? Yes.
Do I believe in evolution the same way? No.

I get a lot of flak from my some pals because they’ll post the latest news about how Christians have gone off the deep end. For instance, they might ask me about a post like this: Majority of Republicans don’t believe in evolution. (thanks actually to David) For instance, they might say, “Do you want to see the exhibit on the T. Rex at the museum? OH wait…you think dinosaurs were buried 1000 years ago in a plot against Christians .” or “You know the DNA evidence against OJ is overwhelming, oh never mind you don’t believe in genetics.” Most people would call these kids a$$h*les, I unfortunately call them my friends.

But here’s the thing: I think evolution is a solid theory based on strong evidence that helps explain the world that we live in today. Although certain Christians might try to poke holes here and there, as if its a necessary means to defend the faith. I find that task largely distracting and a time-waster. This is where Christians, I think get it wrong. No, I don’t mind that we discuss theories like “intelligent design” and find those who dismiss it angrily unwilling to listen to the underlying existential questions. These opposing forces want to seemingly invade each others turf as if their survival depended on it; incongruous fighting as silly as if a Christian called a C-chord evil or if a scientist called romantic feelings meaningless.

You see, I can’t believe in evolution in the same way I believe in a higher power. I understand how it might explain the world: how natural selection eventually weeds out the respective weaklings of our species, the way it explains certain social constructions about “selfishness” and “greed” and “violence”.

It is not that I disagree with the mechanism of evolutions (positive arguments), those arguments I find pretty solid, its that I disagree that this is the way things should be (normative arguments).  When Richard Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene, he wrote to describe what actually occurred under evolution not arguing that they were in themselves morally good. So we understand this theory and it helps explain the way we behave, yet somehow I don’t think any of us BELIEVE in evolution.

For instance, Alan Jacobs writes: 

Yet although Pinker and like-minded scholars feel they can account pretty well for the prevalence of selfishness and even violence across all human cultures, they have more trouble explaining why we remain uneasy, even guilt-stricken, about our most common tendencies – why selfish and violent are pejorative terms for us.

Its strange because reality presents a scene of constant struggle and change; an idea that dog eat dog is not necessarily bad and ultimately better for our species. Yet even the most libertarian of us were deeply disturbed by the “greed” of those around us. Nobody lauds a child for hitting a smaller child if he wants something from him. “Yes! Assert your genetic dispositions towards power and height because eventually this will marginally increase the possibility of species development.” This is common among all of mankind, yet none of us live as if we believe this.

Its interesting too, when I see those who romanticize the natural order of things. We hope to believe that by understanding nature’s mechanisms we could help explain the world. Unfortunately, for me, this leaves me more confused. Why is the natural order not just lilies and fresh spring air but also volcanic eruption, hurricanes and earthquakes? More importantly, why am I so bothered by it? Perhaps I need to train myself properly, so that I can stoically embrace the world for what it is, how my body will one day return to the earth and provide the organic material that will sustain this earth. This is the state of order on this earth; creation and destruction ebb and flow in a harmonic (chaotic?) cycle.

But this is not the order we embrace as humans; we fight it constantly. We fight it, when we find “protection” and create “cures”, and attempt at lengthening our impermanent state. We fight it when we foster relationships and nurture children or when we clutch the hands of our dying elders. Our heads informs us of this order, but our hearts remain unsatisfied. This is why I don’t believe in evolution or nature, because the science is SO correct. This internal struggle clues me towards the idea that perhaps I wasn’t made to fall alongside this order; that perhaps there is something more?

This is not a proof or argument for the existence for God. But, I am not convinced the redemption or perfection of mankind is answered by subtle mutations over the course of history. Not when its success remains rooted in self-centeredness. Not when its success is contingent on destruction. Not when death is the final state. Call it naive, but its not that I don’t believe evolution, I do; its just that I can’t.

Genesis 3:19

Thanks Dohyun

Advertisements
Categories: Faith Tags: ,
  1. ayechamnah
    February 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Instinctive nature vs Attempts to resist “Instinctive nature” Interesting…something else for me to ponder….

  2. longley
    February 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I think you’ve made a very good point here – one doesn’t “believe” in science the same way one “believes” in God. That is because your belief in God has absolutely nothing to do with rationality or logic – and that is not a critique of religion or spirituality. In fact I find great value in the Kierkegaardian leap of faith that religion requires. But religion and science are not – and should not – be on the same playing field. And I think that is why we liberals generally give creationists so much shit – science belongs in school, and to try and argue that some alternative theory of natural development should trump the prevailing science of the day is offensive to education (and all those who don’t “believe” in God).

    Notice how I even gave deference to the fact that scientific winds change, and what we currently know about the world could be completely wrong in 100 or 1000 years. That is no argument against teaching evolution. Not only is it the reality of our world as we know it now, but the teaching of science is a huge booster of cognitive development. Reading stories about a really really busy week a few thousand years ago does not.

  3. Perley
    February 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Science is no longer something we can believe.
    Science was considered to be fact and we now
    realize it is only theory.
    Must scientific claims of old earth and evolution
    have been disproved as longley notes in his comment.
    Liberals will not take their blinders off and see
    anything other than Darwin.

  4. February 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Longley, great comment. I wonder though about a few things. These aren’t really rebuttals but more just ideas I want to throw out there.

    1) I do find my belief in God a rational one. If you notice the bottom of my post, its the very logic of nature and its destructiveness that I find maddening. Rationality is the very thing that fuels my belief in a God.

    2) I understand your sentiments about how people can be rather anti-intellectual about their reading of the Bible. Nonetheless, I would argue that Biblical exegesis conducted by Reformed scholars are the epitome of literary analysis. I know for one, good exegesis in sermons has helped me greatly in my own ability to analyze both classical literature and tough GMAT/LSAT passages.

  5. CYKJ
    February 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I see no problem with those who consider evolution to be the leading theory (or absolute established truth). The problem is that I find many of the hardcore Darwinists literally brand the “non-believers” in the degenerate category.

    In response to Longley, the question of teaching alternatives to evolution is not antithetical to teaching science, so long as neither viewpoint is obscured. In addition, the matter’s in an entirely different field of state rights. If California sees fit to teach fifth grade girls to put condoms on dildos and use taxpayer money to pay transsexuals and prostitutes to give demonstrations as part of the wonderful world of diversity, I see no reason why Kansas can’t decide they want to add creationism to the curriculum.

    Besides, you can’t change stupid; you just need to live with it.
    In my own cul-de-sac I have a Korean War vet who believes that fossils were buried by the Jews. Not too logical, since Jews believe in the Old Testament as much as he does. Another neighbor of mine refuses to vaccinate her kids because she believes it causes autism. She even carries around fliers loaded with conspiracy theories. Of course, she also accuses non-Vegans of genocide and annoys her immediate neighbors to no end by having a compost heap in her back yard. Did I mention that she apparently dropped out of Golden Gate University (of San Francisco)?

  6. February 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    BDK,

    An excellent post about a difficult topic. For a man of faith, reconciling stereotypes of virulent anti-evolution activists with your own grounded rationality is a trying task, and one that you articulated superbly.

    I suppose I am one of those pals who teases you about your reluctance to fully embrace the theory of evolution. This is good spirited joking, and I’m glad you accepted it as such.

    But like all humor, my chastising does have a grain of truth in it. So let’s start where you ended.

    I agree that something about the evolutionary, natural selected deterministic trajectory of mankind is wholly unsatisfying. Am I really to cynically believe that our friendship is merely an expression of my rational attempt to survive and perpetuate my genes? This type of thinking – rooted in the inductive reasoning of evolutionary psychologists – fails to satisfy a the overarching human desire to believe that there is some just ordering principle in this world other than genetic randomness and determinism.

    You choose to fill this void with faith. I do too, but to a lesser degree. I accept that evolution is the likely process by which man came into its current being.

    I view your religiosity as your attempt to explain the unknown in life. And that’s okay for most people. But for a hyperrationalist who likes to lecture his friends and, often, his enemies on the virtues of the marketplace – based on deductive reasoning and simple logical precepts, I find your visceral aversion to the theory of evolution to be inconsistent with your overall worldview. It’s as though you earmarked this special topic, because it challenges your religion, as safe ground to be skeptical.

    I think that evolutionary psychology and the theory of evolution in general as tools to explain man’s origins. I will take science with a few holes than one large hole filled with faith. This is why I accept evolution, and why I believe that you should too.

    Best,

    Neil

  7. February 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    The fundamentalist/Evangelical commitment to “right thought” is rooted in a misunderstanding of the heart/goal/purpose of religion. Fundamentalist Christians (mostly Protestants) are convinced that having the correct dogma (regarding God, creation, sexuality, politics, etc.) is the primary goal of religion. However, in her seminal work, Karen Armstrong reminds us that the Founders and Fathers of our Faith were primarily concerned with right action, not right “belief” (Excerpt below taken from The Case for God):

    “We do not find this preoccupation with “belief” in the other major traditions. Why did Jesus set such store by it? The simple answer is that he did not. The word translated as “faith” in the New Testament is the Greek pistis (verbal form: pisteuo), which means “trust; loyalty; engagement; commitment.” Jesus was not asking people to “believe” in his divinity, because he was making no such claim. He was asking for commitment. He wanted disciples who would engage with his mission, give all they had to the poor, feed the hungry, refuse to be hampered by family ties, abandon their pride, lay aside their self-importance and sense of entitlement, live like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and trust in the God who was their father…When the New Testament was translated from Greek into Latin by Saint Jerome, pistis became fides (“loyalty”). Fides has no verbal form, so for pisteuo Jerome used the Latin verb credo, a word that derived from cor do, “I give my heart.” He did not think of using opinor (“I hold an opinion”). When the Bible was translated into English, credo and pisteuo became “I believe” in the King James Version (1911). But the word “Belief” has since changed its meaning. In middle English, bileven meant “to prize; to value; to hold dear.” It was related to the German belieben (“to love”), liebe (“beloved”), and the Latin libido. So “belief” originally meant loyalty to a person to whom one is bound in promise or duty… (pg. 87)”

    I sympathize with the fundamentalists, recognizing that it is far easier to develop “right” dogmas at a distance, instead of becoming personally immersed and involved with the people and issues themselves.

    As for the Left, people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins make an equally egregious mistake in their assault of religion and faith because they demonstrate the same narrow-mindedness and reductionism in thought that they critique in their Fundamentalist counterparts. Moreover, both failure to recognize the role “faith” (e.g. believing in what cannot be proven) plays within the realm of science.

    I find it paradoxical and amusing that opposing foes have fallen pray to the same error, namely, publically asserting claims and criticisms on issues areas that lie fall far outside their ken.

    Great blog and equally informative responses

  8. tim
    February 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I come from and still work within the realm of science. I see the merits of its presuppositions: explanations of the world must come via inductive reasoning built from preferably infinitely large quantities of observed evidence.

    i’ll let that statement sink in before i continue.

    i respect these presuppositions and i use them to develop stronger arguments for my work. i am also a christian. how can that be? i think, historically, religious thought tends to hew closer to a deductive line of reasoning. does that mean it requires less thought, or a “leap of faith” as you will, to believe and follow? why do people arrogantly assume that the inductive presuppositions from science have greater credibility than religion, when the trust in “evidence-derived reasoning” is faith in of itself? it’s a trust that, by nature, has no proof to be more true. that’s why scientists–the good ones, anyhow–will always call ideas from their findings theories, not truths. they acknowledge the theory of evolution, not the truth of evolution, because although it’s the only theory the best fits the intellectual standards of reasoning concerning the body of evidence, it can eventually bow to a possibly greater theory.

    correct me if i’m building straw men here, but i think that a problem with this particular debate stems from the secularist notion that the only explanation for life must come from mechanistic, materialist inquiry. this notion seems to be the de rigueur belief these days amongst the “liberal, educated and enlightened elite” i meet and read. but the real world, as we know, can’t be reduced to theory; science is built off of statistically satisfactory explanations that, in the end, meet mostly statistical standards that fit within our frame of thought. So what? well, we may have great potential, but we have limits. calculus and physics depend upon approximations to reach their theories because it’s too difficult to understand and explain true reality. all these assumptions and approximations based upon standards that by nature approximates reality indicate that we don’t really know that much about reality to begin with.

    i humorously find many people don’t realize that modern secular tenets of science came from thousands (two? three?) years’ worth of contributions from religious traditions–but i digress. i’m saying overall that secularists and believers are not as different by nature as they think they are – we all put our faiths in something. the nature of a proper education doesn’t just bank upon knowing a theory, it should teach people different ways to think and how those ways result in different bodies of knowledge. that, i believe, results in more discerning and civil students; ID advocates understand this point slightly more than the secularist side. well, i emphasize the word “slightly”. I wish they realized what they’re actually arguing to do.

    (for the record – i think the theory of evolution has many merits. ID doesn’t adhere to the same academic tradition or explain the same exact thing, so i’m not exactly sure why advocates try to present ID as an alternative theory of mechanism!)

  9. longley
    February 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm
  10. Fatmir
    February 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I’ve thought about this topic a lot and have several thoughts:

    1) Firstly, to counter the quote by Alan Jacobs, I don’t think it’s that confusing as to why selfishness and violence are generally seen as negative ideas. The theory of evolution does imply survival of the fittest, but the fittest is not necessarily the strongest and the one who is capable of stealing all that he wants. Humans can clearly propagate much better when functioning as a group. The fittest people when people were evolving (assuming that evolution is truth) are the ones who could work together. They could have selfish tendencies as a group (current reference: nations and the idea of nationality and borders), but it could be easy to imagine that a group working together could survive much more easily than one man working alone. There are many examples of social and pack animals. There is of course some individualistic selfishness, but I think feelings of guilt and angst about those actions evolved to temper those individualistic desires. However, one notices there is not much guilt in group selfishness (e.g., we won’t open our borders to Mexico and most people don’t feel that bad about it).

    2) I have made this argument before with regards to religion, but I think I’ll put it into words. Let’s take the hypothetical example of a rational person who has no knowledge of religion. They come to a society and are interested in learning about what options are available. Different people approach this person and give him their ideas. Let’s also assume that this man’s goal is to find some truth as opposed to finding a general sense of happiness. I see no possible way that this person, with no predisposition towards any religion, would make his decision. What metrics will he use to judge? He cannot go by which religion he agrees with most. Agreement does not indicate truth, rather, often our intuition and notions are incorrect. If he were to approach it historically, he might find some more possible than others, but without the assumption that of the religions presented, the true one is not necessarily there, I presume he would not be able to make a decision. (I would love a counter argument to this).

    I believe when a person of rationality approaches the existence of humanity and explores the evidence, it is possible to reach the same conclusions as Darwin without any specific bias, only being presented with the facts. This is where I see the distinction.

    3) Like with everything, the idea of evolution has both pros and cons. The idea of selfishness is a precarious one. I don’t believe in truly altruistic acts. For example, people often make sacrifices because they will feel guilty if they don’t or, more positively, that they will feel good about themselves if they do. I think you could probably dissect almost every action as being driven by one of those motives. Regardless of religion or evolution, I believe this to be true. Where you and I differ, is that I don’t necessarily find this appalling or hard to accept. We all live within our minds and it is natural that certain actions reward us with certain emotions. Frankly, I find it a beautiful thing that one of the things that makes most people happy is being kind and nice to others. There is also beauty in the chaos that you describe as nature. Why is it not beautiful that this flash of life and consciousness that we represent came from a universe that we might describe as inanimate. I think that fact alone is mind blowing and awe inspiring, moreso than if it could be easily explained by the hand of someone more powerful than us.

    I would challenge you to think about the world different. Beauty and disorder are a matter of perception and one could be trained to appreciate different things. I think I could raise a child who hates the idea of having a creator, someone more powerful than themselves who stands in judgment of them. You must separate your reaction to an idea from the idea itself. Reactions are subject to the extreme bias of having existed and experienced certain things.

    4) I have no idea if I made any sense or sound like a crackhead

  11. February 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I’m having a lot of trouble following you here. Would you summarize your article in a paragraph?

  1. February 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm
  2. April 13, 2010 at 8:14 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: