Saturday, May 10, 2008

Blind Faith

Somehow I got into a discussion a while back with my physical therapist about the cold or flu that was "going around." I don't remember the details exactly, but I'm going to say that she wondered why there wasn't a cure or vaccine for the common cold. I replied along the lines of "the cold virus evolves frequently to counteract the medication and therefore it's difficult to design a drug or vaccine for." She replied "I don't believe in that." I didn't get it immediately. You don't believe in what? If it had been "I don't believe it," then there is no question. She doesn't believe the virus has the ability to adapt. Ok. I guess. Suspecting that wasn't what she meant, I asked "You don't believe in what, evolution?" She replied "No." End of conversation. Apparently evolution is a touchy topic for her for religious reasons.

Religion is a central point in the lives of billions worldwide. Most major religions are devoted to the teachings, if not a direct following of an omnipotent or exceptionally enlightened individual. We follow without truly, unarguable manifested proof. That is faith. Religious doctrine forms the basis for many laws. It lays a foundation for moral life, regardless of religion. I feel organized religion has many benefits for humanity. Unfortunately, truly blind faith harbors ignorance in certain circumstances. Evolution is a terrible topic for Christians (and probably many other religions). The notion that God didn't "just say go" and presto, the universe as we know it, is uncomfortable for those with blind faith. Even harder is the possibility that modern life was founded on the building blocks of the more primitive.

Science has shown glaring evidence that evolution is real, that it still exists, and that it will continue after the time of humans comes to an end. Who are we to state as fact that God's methods don't include evolution? 7 days in the bible could be a metaphor for 7 billion years. It seems reasonable since science shows records predating the timeframe of the bible as calculated with standard time references. For you literalists out there, let me ask you: "What is a day?" A day is based on the time it takes Earth to rotate on its axis. Earth! A day is subjective as to what planet you're on. In an infinite universe, the probability of life in some form on another planet is 100%. Therefore, our "day" is completely meaningless beyond our own planet. Maybe God created the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea from the primordial goo, as according to His plan. And maybe when Genesis was transcribed by Moses some of the facts became inspirational metaphor. After all, God the omnipotent is a bit more inspirational and poetic than God the chemist or God the physicist. Who knows? Does it really matter since a literal believer and a metaphorical believer follow the same moral code? If every word of the bible is absolutely true, then Alabama's math curriculum would have certainly been enlightened (see for the joke and for a nonreligious laugh at ignorance followed by a reply that is a perfect example that blind faith begets ignorance).

After all, I'm not arguing God's existence, His influence, or the importance of religion in general. I'm not really even talking about evolution in the sense that it becomes controversial in schools. I'm talking about the ability for a life form to foster selective mutation as a mechanism to adapt. It is basic science. It is not controversial. It is verifiable and repeatable over a very short time. There should be no opposing religious stance. So many of the differences in humans, too often described as beautiful, are a good example of adaptation on a genetic level. We are all "unique snowflakes" but snowflakes with a purpose. Dark skin comes from sun exposure. Thick hair is beneficial in cold climates. Baldness is actually considered as a modern example of evolution because the need to stop heat loss through the top of your head is lessened with the comfort of sophisticated shelter and clothing. We must take an objective stance when observing our existence. We must weigh the proven facts and the non-secular interpretations and find a balance that puts perspective in both worlds.

It is a responsibility of all humans to make decisions, both moral and common, on logic and reason. Rational and informed thinking is the only way to understand fundamental perspectives. So often, religious zealots put their fingers in their ears when a scientific finding (not to mention a religious difference) contradicts their one-dimensional perception of the world. They are hindering human social and intellectual progress. It is their fault because it is their choice.

And now a deep thought…

Extreme ignorance and extreme knowledge of the world and the universe are the only two places that can truly sustain blind faith.


Kate8210 said...

It's interesting that the lady reacted that way. It's very difficult to talk to people that disagree with evolution because many think the word "evolution" in it's entirety means humans evolved from monkeys. I mean, I understand that can be touchy, but it's hard to argue that evolution jsut doesn't exist. Antibiotic resistance is a blaring example of the harsh reality of evolution. When people don't complete courses of antibiotics as prescribed and don't clear infections, the bugs that are the toughest are the survivors. The survivors have more tough babies and the cycle goes on until you end up with a superbug like MRSA. Evolution. It's just that simple. Anyways...I like you guys' blog! -Kate B.

Anonymous said...

Hey Josh! Just signed on to my myspace for the first time in months & was checking out updates on my 'friends' and came across your blog. I really like it. :)
Ive read both of your blind faith articles, and even as a Christ Follower I have to agree with much of what you are saying. It sounds like you have not spoken with very well educated Christians. Anyone who denies evolution as seen on the micro level has probably never taken (or at least not understood) a simple biology course. Even social sciences show signs of evolution on the micro level. What is much more debatable, and harder to prove is macro-evolution.
I would also be interested to hear the discussion you had with the evangelist boys... It bothers me when people who only understand their faith from a theological perspective (as opposed to a theological, philosophical, & scientific perspective) attempt to start a debate. It just makes Christians look like fools & hypocrites. Im glad you are keeping an open mind though. ;)