so what is a christian evolutionist?

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at bcm.tmc.edu
Thu Aug 29 20:45:30 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.A32.3.92a.960828231017.141832B-100000 at homer23.u.washington.edu>
Sarah Boomer, sarai at u.washington.edu writes:
>league.  But, man - my partner is a hard-core objective-thinking
>evolutionary biologist who denies all faith on scientific grounds (can't
>prove it) and we just have a large gap in our perspective on the world. 
I
>consider myself fundamentally "subjective" because I do think there are
>things I take on faith or attribute to higher, spiritual things (not
>christian per se - I don't practice any organized religion).
>
>Where do your lines overlap?  Where does faith come in?  How do you deal
>with it (or have you ever had to) with family, friends, colleagues,
>partners?
>
>Seeking enlightenment,  Sarah

I have thought a whole lot about this so I'll try not to make this too
long.  I am a thoughtful atheist, not an agnostic.  I don't have a
problem with people thinking differently than I do as long as they don't
try to force their beliefs on me.  But honestly, I don't understand how
there really could be some guy in the sky that sees everything we do and
is responsible for the creation of everything.  If someone came up to you
and told you that story would you believe it?  What seems much more
likely to me is that early humans were afraid of the unknown, and of
death, and so they made up comforting stories to explain scary phenomena
(Heck, I tell my toddler that thunder is Thor's hammer, so he will think
it is cool and not scary) and to provide an afterlife so you and your
loved ones don't really have to be apart forever.  The Greeks had some
pretty interesting explanations for why the sun moved across the sky
which seems quaint to us now, but they believed it as much as some people
now believe in the Adam and Eve story.  Each civilization probably had a
creation story as well as a story about what happens to us after we die.  

What makes the Judeo-Christian version of creation somehow closer to the
truth in some people's minds?  Why not Hindu, or Pueblo, or whatever? 
The fundies would say this country was created as a Christian nation and
so that viewpoint must prevail.  I don't agree.  It was based on freedom
from religious persecution, and I definitely feel persecuted by the
Religious Right.  My viewpoint is that religion likes to explain things
we don't understand or are afraid of, but science will eventually uncover
logical explanations for these things.  And death is reality.  When
you're dead you're dead.  Fini.  End of story.

There are religions with more inclusive viewpoints, such as Unitarianism,
which does not insist on belief in a deity, or Baha'i, which teaches that
there have been many prophets throughout the ages (Muhammad, Jesus,
Buddha, Confucious) which all have the same basic teaching of love,
community and altruism.  These teachings in some form are necessary to
the functioning of society, and religion is just the most popular way to
get them across.

If I have to try and reconcile my beliefs with thoughtful and
intelligient believers, I do it by stepping back from a literal
interpretation of the Scriptures.  I can think of God as a force of
goodwill, so God is not a being but the power of love and altruistic
acts, which can indeed be very powerful in changing people's lives.  The
afterlife can boil down to decomposition- in a sense we live on after
death because the molecules in our bodies will give nourishment to the
Earth, or the worms, or whatever.  The Creation story can be revised as
others have suggested by translating the texts differently from the way
the fundies do it, but it still requires an omnipotent being, so I can't
deal with that very easily.  I am grateful for believers who do good
works in the name of their god, but religion is not required for altruism
to operate in society.  I don't know if the good works done by Christians
are outweighed by the bad ones, such as the Inquisition, etc.  (of course
tribes would find some other reason to kill each other, I don't mean to
imply that religion is the cause of murderous intent).  I have had
several people tell me that without their faith they don't see what would
keep them from committing heinous crimes for personal gain, as if fear of
God is the only thing that keeps them on the straight and narrow.  Have
others encountered this attitude?

I don't know if this is useful to anyone or if I have explained myself
very well, but it is a subject I enjoy exploring.  I didn't expect to do
so on bionet, but why not?

Another Sarah (Pallas)



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