Monday, April 30, 2007

Existentialism

A writer colleague of mine and I had an email discussion over my book concept - making peace between evolution and Christianity.

He wrote, "I survive through a concept of existentialism and a belief in God’s holy mystery" followed by a great explanation of existentialism... and then "Such as it is with my view of scientific explanations evolution, young earth creationists, the Gnostic Gospels, or the place of Mary Magdalene in the rank of the original apostles. My “existentialist belief” is that each subject is interesting, a worthwhile exercise of human intelligence, but ultimately irrelevant to the Holy Mystery of Creation and Its Creator — the Unknowable Concept existing outside of what we perceive as the universe."

He also blogged the whole discussion at http://www.garypresley.net/ in the 4/30/07 entry.

My response is that I mostly agree. I agree that evolution is not ultimately directly relevant to the Holy Mystery of Creation which will always be on some level unknowable in terms of the role God played - or didn't. But I believe that in current affairs, the issue of evolution is vastly more important, though, than the place of Mary Magdalene as an apostle or the Gnostic gospels, etc.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, from Nov 2005, (the panel includes several Nobel Laureates) states:

"Having reviewed trends in the United States and abroad, the committee is deeply concerned that the scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength. … We fear the abruptness with which a lead in science and technology can be lost- and the difficulty of recovering a lead once lost-if indeed if can be regained at all."

In many respects, science education is floundering in the U.S.. The latest polls show between 45-53% of the U.S. public reject evolution. Many studies show a lack of critical thinking skills among the public, including the college educated. I've met several teachers that shy away from teaching evolution for fear of being called "spawn of the devil" among other things.

Evolution is not just a hypothesis, or "just a theory," it is foundational to biology. There are dozens of university "departments of ecology and evolutionary biology," and hundreds of thousands of scientific peer-reviewed studies published over the past 200 years on various aspects of evolution. You don't have whole departments about "the Gnostic gospels" or "Mary Magdalene." So even if evolution's role in the Holy Mystery of Creation falls into this same general category of a Holy Mystery, I still believe that the situation with evolution elevates it to a higher level of importance in today's world, for practical purposes.

4 comments:

Melody S. said...

Unfortunately this country is filled with small-minded people, too lazy to think about things critically. They want their pastor to spoon-feed them an opinion, instead of exercising their minds enough to allow the possibility that there could be a combined explanation to it all. It will always be a mystery to us humans, who can't completely understand God's abilities & role in all of this, and the span of years it takes to accomplish these things. Instead of enjoying the debate and the opportunity to learn from eachother, many people feel threatened and so become judgmental and angry about it, which is ludicrous and perpetuates ignorance generation after generation.

Wendee Holtcamp said...

The funny thing is that precisely one of the Christians Melody said become threatened, judgmental and angry posted a comment, which I refuse to post, because I refuse to post mean and angry emails directed AT someone. It's one thing to criticize a general group of people or a sin or phenomenon we find "ugly" and it's quite another to direct an attack directly at a person (which this anonymous person did). He used words like superficial faith, not trying hard enough, do you speak in tongues, and and life reflecting darkness. LOL! I mean, first of all, I think that is the pot calling the kettle black? he also asked if you spoke in tongues which are a real phenomenon and I'd say that I agree that they are a real phenomenon but they're not limited to Christians either as there are many spiritual writings about people in other cultures having a similar spiritual experience. And I don't think any single outside characteristic can define whether one is or is not a Christian, "saved", etc.

Only God knows the heart of each person throughout the world, and we humans are sent here to love one another and teach one another and help one another. Loving one another sometimes requires addressing and redressing grievous wrongs in society, which can make some people uncomfortable. But I'm confident that God works through all the seeds we plant - seeds of love, kindness, joy, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. And I am confident the best way to effect change is to be kind to one another. After all the greatest commandment after Loving God - and essentially equal to it - is Love our neighbor as yourself.

Gary said...

The evolution of the discussion continues here ...

http://tinyurl.com/ysq8pk

~ Gary http://garypresley.net/

Melody S. said...

Wow, did we touch a nerve with someone? Interesting.....