Amy (Jaded) (amyheartssiroc) wrote in christianity,
Amy (Jaded)

Finding Darwin's God

I recently read the book Finding Darwin’s God, in which the author points out that creationists and what he calls “extreme materialists” are actually in agreement—they both believe that modern science and God are incompatible—and explains why he feels that this is not the case. The book makes a very strong argument for a compatibilist viewpoint, and has helped me put into words some of the things that I believe about God and His creation.

To open up discussion, here’s a passage that I found particularly compelling:

In obvious ways, the various objections to evolution take a narrow view of the capabilities of life—but they take an even narrower view of the capabilities of the Creator. They hobble His genius by demanding that the material of His creation ought not to be capable of generating complexity. They demean the breadth of His vision by ridiculing the notion that the materials of His world could have evolved into beings with intelligence and self-awareness. And they compel Him to descend from heaven onto the factory floor by conscripting His labor into the design of each detail of each organism that graces the surface of our living planet.

Sadly, none of this is necessary. If we can accept that the day-to-day actions of living organisms are direct consequences of the molecules that make them up, why should it be any more difficult to see that similar principles are behind the evolution of these organisms. If the Creator uses physics and chemistry to run the universe of life, why wouldn’t He have used physics and chemistry to produce it, too?

The discovery that naturalistic explanations can account for the workings of living things neither confirms nor denies the idea that a Creator is responsible for them. To believers, however, it does signify something important. It shows that their God created not a creaky little machine requiring consistent and visible attention, but a true, genuine, independent world in which our existence is the product of material forces. Those who choose to reject God already know (and so do we) that they need not live in fear of His hand reaching into the sandbox to check our childish actions. God loves us, but He is perfectly willing to allow us to make our own mistakes, commit our own sins, make war on ourselves, and ravage the planet that is our home.

To some, the murderous reality of human nature is proof that God is absent or dead. The same reasoning would find God missing from the unpredictable fits and turns of an evolutionary tree. But the truth is deeper. In each case, a Deity determined to establish a world that was truly independent of His whims, a world in which intelligent creatures would face authentic choices between good and evil, would have to fashion a distinct, material reality and then let His creation run. Neither the self-sufficiency of nature nor the reality of evil in the world mean God is absent. To a religious person, both signify something quite different—the strength of God’s love and the reality of our freedom as His creatures. (pp. 268-269)

For those of you who haven’t read this book yet, I strongly recommend that you buy a copy, read it, and lend it out to your creationist friends. On a personal note, I was raised in an Evangelical household, and until I went to college I honestly did not know that one could be a Christian without reading the creation story literally. All I needed was to get to know intelligent people who were committed Christians and believed in evolution to realize that not the case, and I suspect that the same holds true for many creationists.
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