Creationism and other Bedtime Stories

Over the years I have watched – somewhat bemused, I must admit – the ongoing debate between the proponents of the theory of evolution and those who hold that everything that exists today is the instantaneous product of an act of creation by something or another, typically a super natural being of sorts (I have no idea what that means – and those that believe this don’t know what that means either, although they would say that they do – but as they are unable to demonstrate in any form shape or fashion what it is that they are talking about, it comes down to a leap of faith in the end, and that seems to be the full extent of it. )

This debate is really about the distinction between theory and fantasy – between a descriptive account attempting to relate certain aspects of our observations of the physical world in some coherent and logical fashion, and a fantastic tale pulled out of a hat, a superstition gone rampant, folklore of the most primitive kind, and at best a childish belief and bedtime story for the simple minded.

The premise of evolution is that it – as a process – can be applied consistently to give an account of a range of observations related to such things as the fossil record and the development of species. It describes the development of organic life over time, and draws conclusion about the process that underlies it in a compelling manner. It follows observation, not faith, and as such it is – as a theory – subject to continuous revision and refinement, and has stood up well over time. It is plausible account of some intrinsic biological process that brought us here as a distinct species, regardless of the question as to why we are here. Those are different issues. Evolution does not explain itself – why it is present in the first place – what motivates it – or what its aims are. But just because it cannot account for itself in these terms does not invalidate its application to the observable world – it simply is, like the world is – and everything in it. As such it does not remove the mystery of the world – that is not the function of the theory of evolution, and it can no more account for that aspect of existence than the pitiful claims of creationism.

If creationism can be accused of anything – other than making up stories – it is intellectual dishonesty. Someone might well be a creationist while basing their entire lives on the principles of scientific methodology – that is to say, everything they do or say is a function of astute observation and sound reasoning, of reaching conclusions based on cause and effect, and the subsequent predictability of events. This is how they plan their daily routines, their vacations, their economic decision, their careers, their lives.

In that context, they are thoughtful, reasonable people. Yet, creationists abandon all of that when it comes to considering the larger context for this.  Instead, they accept some naive and childish fairy-tale about the origin of the cosmos that is entirely without merit as opposed to examining the process that brought us here with the same intellectual tools that they apply to their daily lives.  To adopt the latter approach makes one look at the world with eyes wide open in absolute wonder and – to my mind – this enhances the miracle of the universe infinitely more than reducing it to some magical act by mystical beings.

So, time to grow up, ditch religion and the other bedtime stories and – instead – celebrate the fact that the entire mystery of the universe is contained within you. It is in every cell of your body; you cannot be separated from it! Your task in life  is to make some sense of it, for yourself and – by extension – for everyone else.

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