Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Second Talk

Some misunderstandings about Evolution came my way yesterday courtesy of my wife and mom. My wife asked me why we still see monkeys today if we evolved from them. Of course, there are still monkeys today because Chimpanzees and humans branched off from a common ancestor—on the tree of life— some five to seven million years ago. Obviously, homo didn’t look like the people we see walking around today at the point of speciation. There have been many intermediates along the way —Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis to name a few. Archaic Homo sapiens evolved 400,000 to 250,000 years ago according to modern sciences best estimates.

My wife also claimed that humans can trace their ancestry all the way back to the beginning of time. I explained that the earth has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years and the most primitive life forms hit the scene around 3.5 billion years ago. She didn’t believe that the earth was nearly that old and quickly dismissed my claim. Needless to say, the practice of writing out a family tree was not prevalent, or even existent, some 400,000 years ago.

My mom made it clear that I would go to hell for believing in Evolution. I've made it clear that there are people who call themselves Christians and believers of Evolution simultaneously (although, I'm not one of them). This is a marriage of views that my mom refuses to accept. Theistic Evolutionist's tend to believe that god simply intervenes in the process of evolution by helping the species with micro-evolutionary changes. Or, they may contend that evolution was initially implemented by god but each species took its own course from there. I tried to tell her that the best scientific minds of our time have looked at the evidence and come to the identical conclusion that Evolution is not falsifiable, but she was quick to assume that these scientists must be under the control of Satan. Besides, who are we going to trust here? In her mind, the obvious answer is god and all the preachers who teach that Evolution is a lie straight from the pits of hell. God’s word has always trumped science's when it comes to a strict literalistic interpretation of the Bible. On the other side, some evangelicals will make the whimsical interpretation that these bogus claims about the earth being flat, for example, are just metaphorical. I don’t really buy that notion any more than I buy the notion of Progressive Revelation or taking things that are obviously literal “out of context”.

The literalist claims that every verse is the infallible word of god. God says the earth is a flat circle then the earth must be flat. God says that the earth is stationary then the earth must be fixed upon pillars. The Bible also teaches that god was concerned with the people who were building the Tower of Babel. He was so concerned that he had to confuse their speech and scatter them about the earth so that they wouldn’t succeed in building a tower that made it to god’s kingdom. I suppose that heaven is just a few miles above us according to the writers of O.T. lore.

Of course, most Christians become absolutely giddy when science seems to support something in the Bible. For instance, Christians are thrilled with the notion that god created humans from the dust of the ground and science confirmed that every element found in the body exists in the earth’s soil. Or, they are quite appeased when archeology finds evidence of a city or person that was also mentioned in the Biblical text. They will happily take science's word for it in the previous examples but they become positively hostile when science contradicts the Bible. Evolution has been continuously assaulted by Intelligent Design supporters because it explains the development of species without aid from any kind of outside agency. Unfortunately for them, the IDers don’t have any real scientific rebuttals to the theory of Evolution.

As I have admitted in the past, I’m no expert when it comes to science and am still learning many things on a rudimentary level. At the same time, I have no reason to believe that science has this mass conspiracy agenda to ignore creationist evidence while deviously “making up” research of their own--atleast not when there isn't any evidence to support that claim. I know that science would be happy to go along with the Bible wholeheartedly if the Bible was accurate about how the earth, universe and life actually operate. Time and time again, this has not been the case and blind literalist Christians—like my own family— continue to mark everything off as a satanic influence, or the promotion of some hidden agenda, when it disconfirms the Bible.


  1. Oy. You're moms mind is the product of a lifetime of delusion and deception. That's gonna be a tough nut to crack. I don't know that engaging in debates about science is going to get you anywhere, because she'll always just think that the pastors and preachers have the right arguments.

    I say hit her where it hurts: Biblical contradictions, theological conundrums, the paucity of evidence that being religion makes your life any better. The biggest hammer that wakes up the devout is when they realize they haven't ever really thought for themselves.

  2. Also, ugh, grammar whore: "Your mom's mind".

  3. I think the best place to start might be comparing the gospels side by side--particularly post resurrection. We have differing opinions of who was at the tomb and who was found in the tomb. Was it two men or an angel?? Also, I believe that Mark adds a bunch of post-resurrection stuff that wasn't originally there hundreds of years later. My mom has been a life long "Christian" but she definitely continues to do things that make you wonder. I think she is just in love with the mysticism and spectical of it all. The notion of miracles, healings and prosperity are particularly compelling to my mom.

  4. Even if you could come to the conclusion that there aren't contradictions (which you can't), you still have to conclude that the creator of the universe has very inadequate communication skills that don't remind us of anything that a deity would have inspired man to write.

  5. Bone up on Bart Erhman. Read "Jesus, Interrupted". Here's a start (you'll want to skip to the 4:00 mark where his talk begins):

  6. Yeah, I actually just listened to his talk the other day. That's where I got the idea to use the post-resurrection comparatively. I found a site that goes into all the contradictions as well.