Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sunday Comment: Get Evolution out of the Spotlight

Many Christians have Evolution on the brain.

Bush's support of "Intelligent Design" and Kansas's recent adoption of pro-Intelligent Design curricula standards, among other things, have thrown it into the spotlight. I heard a fanatical sermon this morning blaming Evolution for Nazism, Freudianism, Behaviorism, Communism and Atheism. So I've got it on the brain too.

According to a recent Harris poll, only 38% of Americans believe that "human beings developed from earlier species." This is down from 44% in 1994. The proponents of Intelligent Design have certainly created the public perception of an intellectual dispute. Although I would answer the Harris poll question "yes" if put to it, I have not personally investigated the evidence for or against Evolution. The reason is that its validity or invalidity is just not that important to me.

I think the fact that Evolution is such a controversy within our churches illustrates a broader problem within mainstream Christianity today. It is a prime example of concerns about orthodoxy prevailing over concerns about orthopraxy. Where is the thundering from the pulpit about the lack of charitable giving?

As Christians, we must start concerning ourselves more with what we do and less about what we believe. We must start recognizing concrete human suffering as more critical than the Origin of the Species, the origin of the universe, or any other abstract controversy.


At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Lyrad said...

In the last paragraph you say that we must start caring about what we do and less about what we believe, but I think they go hand in hand, especially with the question of evolution. The system that your beliefs operate on will determine the actions that you do.

Evolution, with or without intelligent design implies an imperfect system that continually modifies itself to try to cope with new or even chronic stressors and move towards an end goal of survival.

If you believe that humanities origin was influenced by other factors than just appearing then you must believe that humanity is also influencing the future. This means that your actions have much greater meaning. You must take control of your life and try to shift humanity in the direction you see fit so that your way of living survives the adaptation that the system makes. If you want the world to be more moral, then you have to define that morality, live that morality, and spread that morality in order for it to survive and thrive in a system of constant change.

If you believe that we just appeared and there we will only influence whether we go to heaven and just need to live above a certain threshold of “good” to accomplish that, then you in turn are likely live a passive and short sighted life.

I am sure that some people still hold these beliefs about spreading morality and trying to make the world a “better” place and also firmly disbelieve evolution. So my argument is not to say evolution is right or wrong or true or false. I am saying that humanity’s belief system about the origin of species does matter because it has huge implications on the direction that humanity takes.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Infission said...

I of course believe that what we believe influences what we do. What I mean is that modern Christianity is overly concerned with the minutiae, with abstractions.

If people don't believe that their lives drastically affect the world and -- and that they have a moral responsibility to leave it better than they found it, then why not argue that point directly? Is it necessary to trace, in a psuedo-Freudian way, our beliefs about social change back to our beliefs about the origins of the universe? Practically, I think we're all much more likely to come to moral consensus on some other point than that.

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