Mike Kueber's Blog

April 6, 2012

Evolution and fundamentalist Christians; does it matter whether God exists?

Filed under: Religion — Mike Kueber @ 8:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I was at the gym today, a guy struck up a conversation with me because I was wearing Longhorn colors and he lived in Austin.  Midway through the conversation, after we learned a little about each other’s history, he suggested that I should consider moving from San Antonio to Austin because the life is so much more vibrant there (and the beautiful, single women are so much more plentiful).  Of course, I am familiar with the lifestyle and scenery in Austin, having lived there for five years a while back and through occasional visits since then, and I promised to give it some thought. 

Later in the conversation, this guy started talking about how modern men (and women) were beginning to be so helpless because, instead of relying upon themselves, they were becoming accustomed to relying on the government or law for protection.  He gave the example of the multitude of warnings that are provided to tell people to not to do obviously stupid things – like using a screwdriver to clean your teeth.  I responded with my oft-used line that there are weaklings today who are able to survive and even thrive even though their weakness and lack of common sense would have doomed them if they had been on a wagon train in the olden days or lived on a remote farm. 

My newfound Austin friend readily agreed, and then gave some other examples of people becoming helpless.  But he also started making some references to all of this being part of God’s plan.  I commented that his thinking reflects how believers in Christ can accept the teaching of evolution, just as Mitt Romney recently said that he believes in the science of evolution and that God is working his will through evolution.

“Whoa,” said my Austin friend.  “who said anything about believing in evolution?”  I told him that the essence of his story was a description of natural selection at work, but he resisted.  He said he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and anything that he said that conflicted with the Bible was a misstatement on his part.

Wow.  Imagine going through life and resorting to the Bible to tell you what and how to think.  But that is not an uncommon position to take.  A recent blog posting in the New York Times explored whether a religious person needed to believe in God as opposed to merely seek a fulfilling life.  The posting presented the following from philosopher John Gray:

  • He points out that in many cases — for instance, “polytheism, Hinduism and Buddhism, Daoism and Shinto, many strands of Judaism and some Christian and Muslim traditions” — belief is of little or no importance. Rather, “practice — ritual, meditation, a way of life — is what counts.” He goes on to say that “it’s only religious fundamentalists and ignorant rationalists who think the myths we live by are literal truths” and that “what we believe doesn’t in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.”

 

  • The obvious response to Gray is that it all depends on what you hope to find in a religion. If your hope is simply for guidance and assistance in leading a fulfilling life here on earth, a “way of living” without firm beliefs in any supernatural being may well be all you need. But many religions, including mainline versions of Christianity and Islam, promise much more. They promise ultimate salvation. If we are faithful to their teachings, they say, we will be safe from final annihilation when we die and will be happy eternally in our life after death.

I find philosophical discussions about religion and the meaning of life fascinating, but obviously the subject can quickly become too complicated to comprehend.  The simplest philosophy is what the blog posting describes as “blind faith,” and I suspect that most people, like my Austin friend, gravitate toward that position.  Others, like me, like to think our way through things even though, as the blog posting suggests, it is arrogant to think that our reasoning has some connection or resemblance to God’s reasoning.  That is ultimately why I am satisfied with a good-faith attempt to live a fulfilling life and then let the chips fall where they may.

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4 Comments »

  1. i believe in God and I believe in evolution… not sure where that puts me in your eyes.

    q

    Comment by q — April 6, 2012 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

    • That puts you in a camp with Mitt Romney; not the Ricks – Perry and Santorum.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — April 7, 2012 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  2. Great writing! I believe in evolution and am an atheist…

    Comment by Mrs. Van Dyke — April 7, 2012 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

    • Danke, Marlene. btw – I saw Jasper the movie two nights ago. Didn’t think it was very interesting. In your opinion, was it accurate. It seemed to suggest that Jasper was pretty decent, with a few bad apples.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — April 7, 2012 @ 5:20 pm | Reply


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