Friday, October 22, 2010

Thoughts on Evolution and Religion

Recently I have participated in a number of discussions/arguments over religion, evolution, and the idea of God. Because I feel like it, I've decided to construct my thoughts on these matters in this blog post, recreating the argument from my perspective in order to try and assess holes in my own point of view on religion and life along with possibly encouraging discussion on the matter for a wider audience.

Adaptation and Evolution

As most people know, evolution is a concept indicating that humans arose from lesser animal species over a process of hundreds of thousands of years. The key to this idea is adaptation. If you stick a human in a cave for a dozen years and then let him out, he will be visibly ill and hurt by the light of the sun; his body has changed to adapt to dark cavern conditions. Similarly, humans today are, on average, physically weaker than people who lived in ancient Rome or the Middle Ages. We no longer need to hunt or farm for food. We also don't have to walk or ride horses over vast distances; transportation no longer requires physical effort. These are examples of human adaptation, changes in our bodies over time to fit in and survive or regress when the changes are no longer needed. Evolution is merely adaptation over a much longer and greater scale.

For evolution is the concept that we are the grand result of our very distant ancestors. Essentially, it is the idea that we, originally, all came from single-celled organisms that evolved over time into fish and then into amphibians and then into bipeds, etc. While my examples may not be entirely accurate there, the core concept remains; that we are products of evolutionary changes on lesser, other species.

But this does not mean that evolution does not have holes to its logic. After all, even if all else is true, where did the single-celled organisms come from that we are shaped from? Perhaps they were created by God. Perhaps they were brought into being by some sort of Big Bang. Or maybe they were created by a pantheon of all-powerful entities whom we cannot comprehend.

Religion and God

When I've entered into discussions about religion, those who are religious bring up a number of reasons behind why they believe in God, Jesus, Allah, etc. They state that the universe is full of things that are marvelous that we cannot comprehend. By simple virtue of the fact that we don't know why we are here or how we came into being in the first place, many of those whom I argued with believed that this was proof of God's existence. But I am dubious.

The reason I talked about evolution was because, out of all the explanations of how we got here, it makes the most rational sense. That is not to say it doesn't have a couple glaring holes, but I find it a good framework explanation for most questions on human origins. And I don't believe that evolution and the Big Bang theory are the explanation for everything; there are too many complicating factors for that; the concepts are not bulletproof facts. But they are a start, and it is from this foundation that I question others' beliefs in God.

This is not because I like to be a nosy prick, but because I seek a rational explanation for why people believe in him (and because it is fun to talk about). If it becomes logical to believe that God exists, then that will be that. If I hear evidence of him, then I will be converted. But the fact, for me, remains that there is too much uncertainty.

The Space Hippo Theory

The problem that arises in these discussions is the fact that religious people have this unwavering faith in something specific that there is no proof behind. I concede that there is much that cannot be explained and that it is entirely likely that something greater than ourselves created the universe. Things are too complex and too multifaceted for there to be another reason. What keeps me agnostic is the fact that there is no specific indicator showing that it is the Christian God that created this universe. There is nothing to make the Big Bang theory any more or less valid than the idea of Zeus and the Greek pantheon having created humans as divine playthings. Odin and Thor could be out there participating in drinking challenges that drain distant planetary oceans. Perhaps we are experiencing global warming because an all-powerful immortal space hippo farted in our general direction; there are endless possibilities behind what created the universe, be it mundane or not.

And this is why I try to understand those who believe in God and try to assess why. Why is it that they choose to put all their belief into this God instead of another? What makes the Christian God any more valid or believable than the Big Bang Theory? Why can't they see the possibility of gassy space hippoes?


Consequently, whenever someone says they believe absolutely in God just because they know it to be true, I worry a little. While I understand that belief in something greater than yourself induces a modicum of psychological comfort, I find it to be almost self-delusional to put that belief into something that, in all probability and given the infinite possibilities, does not exist. Citing the Bible or Q'uran or Torah as divine evidence does not work because it is just as likely that those were written by smart, well-meaning men and women who wanted to write a grand book that provided fictional stories on how to live life with purpose and morality. Because that possibility exists, complete belief in it is irrational.

But I do understand why people believe in these things, and I have no intention or desire to press my own beliefs on others. I merely seek to raise the question of why do you believe it? Is there any truth in that belief that I can learn from? Or, maybe, are you placing faith into something completely imaginary? Who knows? And that is why I can't believe in it. For now, I will look to evolution as a rational, if incomplete, explanation of my existence. Perhaps in time I will find someone or something that can convince me different.


  1. - More focuses on the indoctrination, but still valid.

  2. I just want to start off by saying, I'm glad your not just one sided about this complicated thought. And i want to end by saying i unquestionably believe we are experiencing global warming because an all-powerful immortal space hippo farted in our general direction.. lol more thoughts on that? haha Anyways, i agree with you on your opinions, but i guess i just choose to believe in god.

  3. I'm happy I succeeded in avoiding being offensive. As for more info on deific space hippos... Can't help you there. I am merely an emissary, not a prophet. =)

  4. I don't know if you remember me. But I'm topopoz of the ffshrine forums...

    I loved this article personally.

    I can't personally say that I'm a complete believer of science or religion or any other form of logic or mystical thought.

    But all I can tell you that in my opinion, the mystical belief comes when the logic mind can't find an explanation for it.
    That's why I'm the kind of person that likes to merge both trends and form a more "equal?" thought.

    Anyway I can't fully express my thoughts on this so I won't keep talking gibberish. xD

    Cheers for this blog. I like it.

  5. I do remember you, though now I feel a tad guilty for not posting or visiting those forums at all for the past few months!

    But I am glad that you came over to the blog and are liking it so far. It means a lot to get feedback, particularly from people who I know from other places.

    I hope you continue to like the blog! I will have to swing by ffshrine every so often now, so I don't feel like a complete opportunist!

  6. Hi there,

    I have to tell you that I really love your blog. You have a great sense of life and I feel kind of uplifted, for want of a better word, when I read your stuff.

    I must say however, that as a rational human being, that I believe I myself to be, I do believe in a God which of course is a contradiction.

    I live in a patriarchal society and my deceased mother's brother and an armed security guard in a kevlar vest removed me from my place of business and is now squeezing me out of every asset belonging to my mother.

    South Africa has a legal system in place but there is no justice for me.
    So what do I do? I pray.

    I know that talking to someone that is not there, is one step away from
    the asylem, but if you're alone and isolated, you need to believe that someone is listening, that someone cares. It keeps me from doing something desparate and stupid, so, I pray.

    I believe in God because I need to.

  7. Thank you; I'm glad you like my blog. I tend to try and put an optimistic/uplifting spirit in everything that I write, so I'm truly glad that you detected that.

    And, by the way, you definitely convinced me as to when God is necessary. I sincerely hope that things improve for you soon.

    May God watch over you.

  8. Couldn't have said it better myself and I'm totally going to explore this space hippo stuff! :)