Evolution vs. "Creationism"
The Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, is a marvelous collection of religious texts that contain a lot of universal truths and some amazing prophecies. However, it also contains much symbolism, allegory and metaphor, and much of it was not meant to be taken literally. Therefore, to try to take every word literally is not merely presumptuous, it is a misguided way to view the Bible. It can lead not only to missing the real message, it can lead to absurd superstitious beliefs.
A case in point is the claim of "Creationism" that God actually created the world in six "days." That is as unreasonable as the claim that the earth was created only some seven thousand years ago "according to biblical history." And to claim that is true and that it is true because the Bible is the "literal, absolute Word of God" is not merely nonsense. It reveals ignorance of what the real message and meaning of the Bible is, and ignorance of what the real "Word" of God is.
See, the "six day creation" story in the Bible in the book of Genesis is a very short allegorical explanation of how the world was created, and it was meant to acknowledge God as the Creator.
However, because we call God the Creator, or "Nature's God," as the Founders of the United States of America called the Deity, that does not mean that God is an Almighty Superman-Magician. Indeed, a modern concept of God is as the Divine Light-Energy-Source or our existence, the Essence of all life and form, and the primordial vibration or "Word" that was in the beginning and is made flesh in all of us.
The story of "Adam and Eve" was meant to convey what scientists have now determined, that all human beings have common ancestry, and it was meant to demonstrate how man disobeys God when he indulges in judgmental egotism and exalts himself as a wise judge of what is good and what is evil — when he ignores God and tries to play god.
Of course, there are some historical aspects to the book of Genesis as well. But, with respect to the creation story, it is much like the creation stories of many other religions and cultures, containing great wisdom and great advice, and yet portraying magical events that are the stuff of myth and fable. They were not meant to be taken literally, but to give us some kind of concept of how humanity began, and an idea of divine will and intent.
Furthermore, some of the allegorical or mythological stories in the Torah and Tanakh (Old Testament of the Christian Bible) are not original, but were borrowed from other traditions. One was the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian story detailing the creation of the universe that predates the writings of Genesis by centuries, and it tells a flood story that is almost identical to the story of Noah in Genesis.
Now, considering what modern scholarship, history and science tells us, it is curious that the biblical literalists on the American Christian Right insist on reviving the old argument for "biblical creationism," against the scientific theory of evolution, especially since the scientific evidence of evolution has steadily grown and is much stronger now than it was in 1925 when it was first legally challenged by biblical literalists in America in the famous Scopes trial.
In the final analysis, the "Creationism" argument has failed to provide an alternative explanation for the vast majority of evidence explained by the ever-increasing and ever-advancing scientific theory of evolution. Even a growing number of Evangelical Christian scholars have been brave enough to admit the Creation story in Genesis is an allegory (click here to read about it).
Educated, knowledgeable people can see that "Creationsim" has failed to explain: 1) Why birds still carry genes to make teeth, whales to make legs, and humans to make tails; 2) Why the fossil record reveals simple organisms in the deepest rocks and more complex ones toward the surface; and 3) How the genetic diversity of human beings could have arisen in merely seven thousand years (as biblical literalists claim).
Therefore, we have to ask why the leaders of the Christian Right push biblical "Creationism" or "Intelligent Design" so hard, and even insist that it be taught in public schools even though that violates the U.S. Constitution and the intent of the Founders?
They deny they are trying to create a Theocracy, but clearly they are trying to rule in violation of the First Amendment, and to the detriment of other religions. But perhaps they feel they must assert their religious beliefs because if they were to admit the creation story is just and allegory, it would threaten many of the beliefs to which they cling.
The irony of it is that while the Theocrats who push "Creationsm" and have God on their lips, they know not God. After all, they simply ignore the golden rule. But perhaps they think that if they thump their Bible long enough and hard enough, their "godless"opponents will be vanquished and "God’s Word" will prevail. But they are wrong about "Creationism" and Evolution, and they are wrong about God and the Word of God.
They are unaware of the true meaning of the Bible, and unaware of God. God is Great Spirit-Parent, the Divine Light Energy Source of out existence, the Eternal Omnipresent Universal Consciousness, and the Essence of all life and form. It is what gives consciousness and vibratory life to every thing, from the smallest nano-particles and parts of the smallest atoms, to atomic elements, all the way to the planets, the galaxy, the universe, and the cosmos. From the most minuscule microcosm to the largest macrocosm.
The miracle and marvel of all living things is proof that there is a Universal Consciousness and Divine Intelligence of God at play here. However, God is not a man, nor a son of man, as Moses also wrote. God is not some Superman who waves a magic wand to make things appear, or to make things happen according to some whim. God’s method of creation is in fact evolution, and according to the immutable laws of Nature, of cause and effect, and of reciprocity.
The trouble is, theocratic, right-wing evangelical Christians do not know that the true Word of God is not a word written by men, nor a word that can be spoken, but that which is made manifest in all life and form.
It would not be so bad they merely believed otherwise, but, in pushing their misguided beliefs upon us all, the leaders of the Christian Right do tremendous harm to religion, because they focus on man-made doctrines and dogma which forces a biblical allegory to compete with common sense and be compared to science.
That just makes no sense and it is entirely inappropriate, not only because it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and not only because there should be religious freedom and "a wall of separation between church and state," as Thomas Jefferson put it, but also because real biblical truths are actually universal and compatible with science, and the allegorical "creation" story was never meant to be taken literally.
That’s why the argument of the theocratic Christian Right is so feeble — even more feeble today than when it was shot down in 1925 in court during the Scopes "Monkey Trial" (read the play or see the movie "Inherit the Wind").
In that trial the prosecution argued for "biblical creationism" against the scientific theory of evolution. But it was as foolish then as it is now. After all, the biblical literalist idea of creationism was sufficiently exposed as allegory long before that by scientific facts, and at that trial the defense attorney for the teacher of evolution made a fool out of the bible-thumping prosecuting attorney. And since then scientific evidence of evolution has steadily grown.
Of course, back in 1925 a very conservative and biased "Bible-belt" judge and jury heavily favored the "biblical creationism" argument, and they decided in its favor in spite of its being ridiculed and thoroughly discredited in court. But the "legal" decision and the judge and jury’s stubborn denial did not reflect real religious devotion, and justice was not served by it. Indeed, the moral victory in that trial was won by the argument for evolution and against the absurdity of inappropriate and misguided biblical literalism.
A similar trial held today in most places would result in a resounding victory for evolution. In fact, most educated and reasonable people now realize that evolution is "how God created the world," if you will, because it did not magically appear but manifested and evolved gradually.
Surveys have shown that 83 percent of the American population say Darwin’s theory of evolution belongs in the nation’s science classes, and 70 percent don’t see any conflict between the Bible and evolution. Most Americans see evolution as science-based theory and biblical creation as a matter of faith and belief. They believe that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that evolution is indeed God’s method of creation.
That is self-evident and born out by clear and undeniable scientific evidence, which has been coming to light, especially in the 20th Century and even more recently. Advances in genetics, the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the discovery of hominid fossils in East Africa, the sequencing of the human genome showing human beings and chimpanzees descended from common ancestry, among other discoveries, have supported Darwin’s theories. And young, modern scientists have been adding more genetic, biological, paleontological and behavioral evidence, showing that while Charles Darwin guessed about some things, his genius has been proven, and the scientific evidence to support his theory is undeniable. (For example, the National Geographic magazine had two great articles about it in their February 2009 issue.)
More recent findings were detailed in eleven research papers published on October 1, 2009, by the journal Science. They reveal that assumptions made some time ago about the famous skeleton called "Lucy," were not accurate. A more recently discovered skeleton called Ardi, who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia, has led scientists to see that humans did not evolve from an ancient chimp-like creature, but that both chimps and humans evolved from a ancient common ancestor, and each evolved and changed separately along the way. So now scientists believe that human beings and living apes probably shared a common ancestor about six or seven million years ago.
The evidence is very clear now. And, even though there may still be some good Christians and Jews who sincerely believe in the story of creation in the book of Genesis as literal, the presumptuous political argument for so-called "biblical creationism" pushed by the Christian Right is a blatant demonstration of self-righteous arrogance and religious bigotry. They can believe whatever they want, but in trying to force their beliefs upon everyone else (including trying to force changes in public school curriculum), they are betraying the principles their religion was founded upon, and again, they are going against the very Constitution of the United States.
Consider Other Facts
In addition to all that, let’s look at some other facts. The Christian Right’s so-called "science of biblical creationism" is based on the literal notion that God’s "six-day act of creation" told in the book of Genesis took place around six or maybe even as many as ten thousand years ago according to the Bible’s "historical and genealogical records." They insist that the earth cannot possibly be any older than that.
However, scientists have estimated the age of the earth using a wide variety of measurements, including radio carbon dating, accelerator mass spectrometry, and the measurement of radioactive nuclides and levels of Beryllium-10 and aluminum-26. They also take into account the layers of sedimentary rock, the layers of coral buildup in the ocean, and even the measurement of dust on the moon. In fact, the moon dust measurement and radio carbon dating of moon rocks both indicate the same thing. And taking all these and many other things into account, scientists have been able to determine that the earth is some 4.5 billion years old, at the very least.
Of course, the Christian Right has an "explanation" to dismiss all the scientific evidence, but it usually amounts to the basic claim that "God is so powerful that He could have created the earth to look as if it had been in existence for millions of years." They stubbornly refuse to even consider that there are any words in the Bible that are not absolutely and literally the true word of God, or that any of the Bible’s language is symbolic or allegorical. But that is not mere ignorance. It’s arrogant, foolish stubbornness and self-righteousness.
The earth and life on it obviously evolved and nothing appeared by magic, unless you consider the natural creative processes to be magic. It took billions of years to develop and evolve into what it is today. And that’s not just scientific fact. It is common sense.
After all, who could seriously take it literally and believe that there were originally only one man and one woman (Adam and Eve); that the man was actually created instantly out of thin air; that the woman was actually created instantly from the man’s "rib," magically plucked from out of the man’s body, and that from those two sprung all of humanity? Surely we were not expected to take that seriously as a literal event. Who would? And why?
If one does take it seriously and literally, the biblical creation story raises a whole lot of very serious questions.
For instance, where did the second woman ("Cain’s wife") come from? Considering that Cain’s mother and father (Adam and Eve) had displeased God, and considering that Cain had especially displeased God when he slew his brother Abel, would God have created a wife for Cain like he "created Eve" for Adam? Probably not. And if not, where did Cain’s wife come from? Where did their children’s mates come from? Why and when and how were there different types and races of people created in different parts of the world? Aren’t all the different types and races of people from different parts of the world obvious proof of evolution? And why are there archeological artifacts that are hundreds of millions of years old?
Furthermore, as if that weren’t enough, ask yourself this question: If God has the capability to intervene and create living and material things and magical events in the world, why does God not perform that magic now?
The answer to that is that God does not have that capability. God is very real, but God is not a superman-magician. God is a good, merciful, loving Great Spirit-Parent, but, if God were a "Super Almighty Magician," this world would be a far different place right now.
Indeed, if God could have created and maintained a world and a paradise like the original "Eden," that is what would exist right now — because God loves the world and all humanity, and would not purposely allow the suffering that exists in the world. God is merciful, loving and forgiving, like any good parent who loves their children — and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Despite that, misguided religious zealots claim that God wants humanity to suffer as "payment for the disobedience of Adam and Eve" (the so-called "original sin"), but that is a ridiculous and absurd statement that only reveals total ignorance of God.
What kind of parent would want their children to suffer harm? What kind of God would hold a grudge against humanity for so many thousands of years for something that the symbolic "Adam and Eve" did? And what kind of God would let humanity suffer if it had the power and capability to prevent and stop that suffering?
Granted, the Bible contains more than one story that depicts God’s "magical power." But those stories were not meant literally either, and they were not meant to be taken literally. Most of them, like the creation story, are allegorical and contain symbolic and metaphorical language and depictions.
The same is true of the stories of Moses using God’s power to "part the sea" or bring down plagues upon his enemies. Those things were not magical stunts that were conjured up because Moses waved his "magic wand," as Hollywood movies portrayed in the 1950s. They were actually natural events that happened just like natural events happen today, caused by plagues, pestilence, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., which even today are often erroneously called "acts of God." But they are not acts of God.
Natural disasters random acts of physical Nature, and they are not caused by God. Most are caused by stormy weather, geological changes and climate changes, including those caused by global warming. In fact, many disasters are really the indirect result of man's greed, carelessness, iniquity, and even negative emotions, because this world and all life on this planet are one interdependent ecosystem. When significant parts of it are badly damaged or in disharmony or out of balance, or there is widespread human pain or suffering, it causes many different kinds of harmful effects on, around and within this planet. It is as if our whole world is like us, and when our body, mind and spirit-soul are not in harmony and well, we are troubled and suffer in certain ways. Consequently, the Earth and humanity suffers.
As the Bible says, the sun shines on the good and the bad alike, and earthquakes, floods, droughts, diseases and other plagues have their impact on both good and bad people alike. Nature does not discriminate or favor.
But even so, certain natural events were written down in the Bible to sound magical, as if God was performing great feats of magic (on behalf of Moses and the Israelites, for example). They were written as such because men (prophets and scribes) either exaggerated or embellished upon what actually happened, to make their God seem greater and more powerful to the reader. They were human, after all, and that’s what humans tend to do.
Anyway, all that is to show why the Christian Right’s argument that the creation story in the Bible should be taken as literal fact is simply wrong. And it is utterly ludicrous for them to argue that we should teach their so-called "biblical creationism" as scientific fact in our school classrooms to "disprove" and negate the scientific theory of evolution.
Even if it were not ludicrous, it is simply unfair and illegal. In a democratic society with freedom of religion, every religion must be treated as equal. No particular religion or religious scripture or religious denomination can be favored or be dominant, even if it is predominant in the society.
Furthermore, the only proper place to teach the Bible or any other religious scripture is in the church or synagogue or mosque or temple or ashram, or in the home — not in public school. In school, children should learn that every religion, like every race and nation and culture, is equal in the sight of God, and/or equal under the law of the land.
“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it would read ‘A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion," the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Muslim, the Hindu and Infidel of every denomination.” -Thomas Jefferson's Autobiography, in reference to his Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
The Founding Fathers realized that we cannot have freedom of religion unless government is neutral regarding religion, without favoritism. That's why the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution use terms like "Creator" and "Divine Providence" and "Nature's God," and purposely do not use terms of names specific to any particular religion.
This truth should be self-evident, just as surely as the truth that every person is equal in the sight of God. So the Christian Right is simply wrong for trying to force and impose their beliefs on everyone else, especially when their beliefs are so misguided, unconstitutional, and out of touch with reality.