Monday, July 1, 2013

Creationists, Evolution, and Aliens

I have always found it difficult to understand why Creationists (and Intelligent Design proponents) are so against evolution. Even if evolution is true, it says nothing about the existence of God one way or the other. In the same way that physics may explain the development of the universe, evolution may explain the development of life on earth. Evolution is no more against God than quantum mechanics or the Big Bang Theory. God can be viewed as having created the universe with all of its laws, including the law of evolution.

So what is at the heart of the antagonism to evolution? One commonly held explanation is the Biblical reference to God having creating Man in His own image. If evolution depends on random mutations and natural selection, the thinking goes, it has no predetermined outcome and, therefore, it goes against the Bible. The human race could have evolved in myriad other ways. This thinking obviously follows a literal reading of the Bible rather than a metaphorical one.

According to one rough estimate, the Milky Way contains about 100 billion earth-like planets. Since the known universe contains about 500 billion galaxies that we know of, there are roughly 5x10^22 habitable planets in the universe. Even if that estimate is off by several orders of magnitude, it is clear that intelligent life must exist elsewhere in the universe. Do Creationists believe that this intelligent life looks exactly like us, Homo sapiens? From their point of view, are these intelligent beings any less “God’s creatures” than we are? Or do they really believe that we are the only intelligent beings in this vast universe?

But we don’t have to point to aliens on other planets. One simply has to look at the diversity of life on earth. There are millions of species of life on this planet with varying degrees of intelligence. The dog supposedly has the intelligence of a two-year-old human. If we propose that a human has a soul, do we say that a creature with the intelligence of a two-year-old human does not have one? What about a chimp? What about a human with brain damage who has the intelligence of a two-year-old? Does it depend on intelligence at all?

Let’s assume an alien lands on earth tomorrow, an alien who is much more advanced than we are (as it would have to be). Let’s say it is so advanced that we, humans, have the intelligence of the alien’s two-year-old. How would our view of God change in that case? How should the alien view us?

Creationists’ view of evolution and God says less about God and more about human hubris. In the same way that we couldn’t accept that the earth is not the center of the universe, some of us can’t seem to accept that humans are not created in the literal image of God. How could that be true, anyway? Does God need arms and legs and an alimentary tract in the spiritual world? How intelligent is that line of thinking? I think it’s high time we start being more intelligent both about science and about God. If there is a God, He certainly has no resemblance to the limited deity we have created in our puny minds.

1 comment:

  1. //So what is at the heart of the antagonism to evolution?//

    I think the answer is that evolution tries to answer the question of life with out the necessity of God. Many creationists believe evolution is demonic since that (Lucifer, fallen angel, devil, your choice) was what caused the fall of mankind and all of creation in the first place. If we are created in God's image and created as mankind purposefully,then there cannot be an evolving from primates. There cannot be billions of years involved to fit with a literal reading of the bible.

    On the other hand, if mankind is fallen and not perfect anymore, then the random (or as I believe, as a direct result of sin which means death)mutations can still fit in the with creation account. Minus the billions of years of course.


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