The Evolution of God

The Evolution of God

David Workman

Guest blog by David Workman David is a veteran of the Video Broadcast industry with over 25 years experience.  Mr. Workman worked at Microsoft Corporation for the last nine years of his career, managing various teams in the Windows Media division.  Recently, he has  been a speaker for various humanist organizations.  His blog can be found at (http://HalfBakedLunatic.com)

I love evolution.

Just as biological evolution creates new species, information and knowledge and technologies also evolve – and in a very similar manner. Take the microprocessor that is running the computer on which I’m writing this article, for example.  The electronic microprocessor isn’t the brainchild of a single brilliant engineer who just created it one day, without any prior information or knowledge. All modern processors are evolutionary offshoots of the Intel 4004, introduced in 1971. It was a huge breakthrough, but that milestone could never have come about without the invention of the transistor and the many simpler integrated circuits before it; and the core processing logic is built upon the mechanical and vacuum tube computers which evolved over the fifty years before that. None of these would have been possible without a working knowledge of electricity, magnetism, chemistry, and physics – the secrets of which have been slowly uncovered, bit by bit, for hundreds (thousands!) of years.

Evolution tends to go in fits and starts, especially in the early stages.  There are the agonizingly slow changes that take millennia – the spinoff of one species to another for example, or the adaptation to environmental changes that all early life went through as the Earth cooled; for almost half of the 3.5 billion years that life has existed on Earth, there was nothing more complex than single cell organisms.

But then, occasionally, some big event comes around which mixes everything up; the first creature to successfully crawl out of the sea and make its home on land spawned thousands of other new species in a very short period of time, and the impact of an asteroid drove almost as many into extinction, sending the course of evolution off in a completely different direction.

The microprocessor, along with its various offshoot technologies, is a recent “big event” with global consequences.  If you don’t think that technological and biological evolution is intertwined, consider this: Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and “fish finders” have made commercial fishing boats more efficient, which has changed the migration routes of many species of fish – and some species are on the brink of extinction due to overfishing with this technology. This has a direct impact on the evolution of all life on the planet.

How about humans?  Are we the end all/be all of intelligent life, or just a stepping stone on the way to something better?

I have news for you: we are still evolving.  Just as a school of sharks that leaves the historic breeding grounds in the Atlantic Ocean to find a new life in the Pacific will adapt to the new environment and soon become a different breed of shark, the first humans that made their way out of Africa changed as well.  Early Homo Sapiens who went north, to Europe, developed paler skin and more facial hair in males, and became taller on average.  The tribes that migrated into Asia developed a pigmentation more suited to their environment. And then some really adventurous folks made it all the way across the Bering Sea, traversing the Aleutian Islands, into what’s currently known as North and South America, where they developed a reddish hue to their skin (* see note).  Over time, the population in the north-eastern part of Asia lost almost all body hair, a trait which carried over to the Eskimos and the rest of the Native Americans. Not all evolutionary changes result in a new, genetically incompatible, species – but it is evolution just the same.

With our advanced reasoning abilities, evolution has created a delineation which separates humans from all other life. But it’s not that big of a difference.  Almost all animals, in their own way, have a good memory and even problem solving skills. We had our dog with us when we went back to visit the old neighborhood where we lived over a year ago; she ran down the block, went right up to our old front door and scratched to get in! We’ve all seen examples of animals that have figured out ingenious ways to get out of cages, or solve relatively intricate puzzles.  Animals show affection and compassion to each other and they teach their young how to catch food, clean themselves, and fend off predators. These traits are not mimicking human behavior; they are the evolutionary stepping stones that make human accomplishments possible.

As with all animals that develop what is needed for survival – better hearing, strength, eyesight, or the ability to camouflage themselves – Humans developed the capacity for advanced thinking and reasoning. The path we’ve taken to create the high tech world we now live in, however, has been a painfully slow process; but once we started developing written languages and passing reliable information from one generation to the next, a kind of “snowball effect” kicked in, which has been gathering speed since then.  In a mere 30,000 years or so, we’ve gone from scratching stick drawings on a cave wall to watching South Park in glorious High Definition video.

Every fact that we know today, we’ve learned from developing theories, making discoveries, and painful trial and error – and handing down the knowledge to our offspring, for them to build upon.  An exciting discovery of one generation becomes commonplace knowledge for the next.

Amazingly, we can encapsulate the important parts of all the knowledge we’ve learned since the start of human history, and pass it down our children via a structured education process – a process which has also evolved over time.  Just as developing spoken and written languages were a critically important step in early humans, we now teach our children how to speak – and then read – at an early age, as these are the fundamental skills required for absorbing all the other information we need to pass along to our kids.

By utilizing the evolution of information, we can now go up in a plane and see more of the world in a day than any single human ever saw 500 years ago. We can teach mathematical concepts, some of which hadn’t even been thought of 100 years ago, to ten year old kids. We can cure diseases that would have been fatal just 50 years ago. And we can post a blog on a website, instantly viewable to anyone in the world – an idea that was just a geeky novelty ten years ago.

Not all of our informational evolution has been in a straight line.  As with the Dodo Bird, which was one of many an evolutionary branch that turned out to be a dead end, we’ve often come up with incorrect theories to describe ‘how things work’ which we’ve passed along from generation to generation.  At one time, humans believed in the idea of a homunculus (miniature men inside of a women’s uterus) because we did not know about sperm, ova and reproduction. At another time, we made up stories about a supernatural being (or beings) that controlled the weather, created the land and the sea and the sky, and even life itself! It’s kind of ironic if you think about it: god can easily be characterized as a by-product of the evolution of Man!

To be fair, the idea of a god wasn’t all that much of a stretch for a creative human to come up with. We didn’t know that the world revolved around the sun, creating days and nights. We didn’t know about the Earth’s axis tilt that created the seasons, or the gravitational effects that the moon has on weather patterns.  We didn’t know about tectonic plates that would occasionally shift, sending everyone in the area scrambling for cover. We just knew that these were powerful and sometimes scary things that we didn’t have any control over. Rather than wait to discover the real answers, we got impatient and made one up: god.  It was a ‘one size fits all’ answer to everything!

As the idea of a ‘god’ spread across the land, people found that they could instill great fear in others by claiming to be able to communicate with god, and religions were born. Religion, it was found, is a powerful way to exert control over a large group of people, get them to behave in a certain way (no matter how immoral it may be), and cough up some money along the way.  As ‘god’ is a convenient response to any question that doesn’t have an answer, religion is the improper promotion of god for political power, corruption, and personal benefit.

Ironically, religions evolve as well. In every religion on Earth, there has been some person, or a group of people, who disagrees with the way their leaders are running things. They want to be in charge.  They want the power and glory, so they convince a bunch of people that they have had a intimate conversation with this god of theirs, they write a bunch of mystical sounding verses, present it as a new sacred text (or a new interpretation of some old text), and a new religion is born.

Fortunately, not everyone has fallen into the trap of god and religion.  The natural evolution of information and knowledge has provided answers, many times unwittingly, to many of the questions that religious leaders have said that only god knows the answers to.  And once in a while, as with any evolutionary process, some amazing discovery is made which answers some really big questions – like an influential scientist who defies the rulers of the day and claims that the Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around; or a restless biologist who turns the world upside down by revealing the simple fact that all life on Earth came from a common ancestry; or a lone patent clerk who realizes that there is a relationship between energy and mass.

There are still many outstanding questions of course – and many answers spawn new questions. But every day, humans diligently work to find the solution to whatever puzzle intrigues them. Physicists in Geneva are looking for the Higgs-Boson particle. Paleontologists in Peru are digging up missing links between species that went extinct millions of years ago. Engineers in Beijing are building faster supercomputers which can run more accurate simulations of the big bang. String theorists at Princeton have done phenomenal work on bridging quantum mechanics with relativity.  Genome mapping has provided many clues about why our brain is so similar, yet so different, from Chimps.

Some of the current areas of research may well turn into dead ends. But as other discoveries are made, details continue to emerge. Through this non-stop evolutionary process, we are learning how the universe was formed, how life emerged on this rock we call home, and how we developed the self awareness which allows us to ask all these troubling questions in the first place.  Bit by bit, like a portrait done with mosaic tiles, the picture is becoming clearer; it’s a very complex picture – beautiful, elegant, and intriguing.

And I love it!

* Note:

1. For many years, there was controversy about whether Native Americans came across the Bering Strait, or across the Atlantic Ocean directly from Africa. Genetic tests have shown that Native Americans are more closely related to Asians than any other race, and a recent study shows a “single ancestry” for all Eskimos and Native Americans.

http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9101

2. I am using skin color as a simple example of the differences between races, but there are other – more genetically significant – differences.

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10 thoughts on “The Evolution of God

  1. Hi David:

    I’m interested in dialogue – always – and specifically about some of the points in your blog.

    You rightly – in my opinion – talk about the importance of evolutionary thought and its role in the development of ideas about education. (If you are interested in how these ideas emerged from northern European religious thought, I recommend a fascinating new book called “German Genius” by Peter Watson.)

    Briefly, and mainly to get a dialogue going, I would like to review some critical religious ideas relevant to the idea of evolution – the logos, or the creative word and progressive revelation (the last outlined fully in the Baha’i writings. )

    The idea of the logos – or creative word – originated in Greek thought with connotations of order and knowledge, discourse and reasoning together, and the divine creative principle. It was incorporated into first Jewish and then Christian thought, where it became a central intellectual concept and even a label for Jesus. Central to the concept was the idea of change and growth due to the influence of the logos, now a concept given different “clothes” under the rubric of evolution.

    The other concept is progress revelation – the idea most fully developed in the Baha’i Faith, but also present in all the great monotheism as well as the religions of the east (although sometimes mixed with cyclic thought). The idea here is that humankind evolves through successive outpourings of divine grace and that the outpourings work much as the teachings of a most excellent teacher to help humanity evolve. In this context, there certainly will be evolutionary dead ends in religious thought, but evolutionary processes weed out the unproductive strands.

    Eventually, the old religions loose their power to affect positive change and a new outpouring of divine guidance takes their place.

    Basically, you seem to view religion as one single strand of thought – perhaps European or American – am I right?

    Warmly,
    Stephen Friberg

  2. You raise some interesting points. My curiosity was piqued by this comment: To be fair, the idea of a god wasn’t all that much of a stretch for a creative human to come up with.

    Which leads me to ask: Why not? Or to put the question positively: Why do human beings, alone of all lifeforms on Earth, have creative minds for which the concept of God is not a stretch? Why didn’t a creative chimp or a creative porpoise or octopus come up with the idea? The answers to those questions are, to me, the fulcrum on which the balance between man the material and man the spiritual rests. 

    I also found interesting your suggestion that a manmade God is a “one size fits all” answer (a Grand Unified Theory?) to life, the universe and everything. It’s an attractive theory. But, evolutionarily speaking, is it true? I’ve thought for some time that our penchant for theorizing gods to explain natural interactions has evolved into a penchant for theorizing particles for the same purpose, and I think the comparison—at least thematically—is apt.

    As with particles, we didn’t just make up a one-size-fits-all god—we made up a gaggle of gods and assigned them to a variety of processes (crop yield, womens’ cycles, the movement of the observable universe, meteorological events, different elements in nature, etc). This seems a very logical process, given our knowledge of the universe at the time we began it, but it didn’t yield one god, it yielded a plethora of separate, competing gods. And understandably so, for we conceived of all these processes as being separate.

    Every once in a while, though, someone would pop up (a Krishna, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, etc.) to propose that there was really only one God and that we were just seeing the varied applications of His intelligence. They met with varying degrees of success, obviously, because there are millions of people who still believe in a multi-god paradigm, even within religions whose Emissaries insisted there was only one.

    You explained that: As the idea of a ‘god’ spread across the land, people found that they could instill great fear in others by claiming to be able to communicate with god, and religions were born. …. Ironically, religions evolve as well. In every religion on Earth, there has been some person, or a group of people, who disagrees with the way their leaders are running things. They want to be in charge.  They want the power and glory, so they convince a bunch of people that they have had a intimate conversation with this god of theirs, they write a bunch of mystical sounding verses, present it as a new sacred text (or a new interpretation of some old text), and a new religion is born.

    This may be one way in which religions (or at least sects thereof) are born (though I’ve never seen a religious scripture that was written by a committee), but I think it’s worth noting that in the case of revealed religions (such as Hinduism, Christianity, and the Bahá’í Faith), the person claiming to be God’s Emissary got neither power nor glory out of the exercise nor did He seem to expect it. Nor, when I read the words attributed to these individuals, does there seem to be an attempt to instill fear, exert power, or cause people to behave immorally toward each other.

    Is it possible that, as there are different ways of “doing” science, there are different ways of “doing” religion?

    I suppose the $64,000 question is: how do we get from the sort of statements these alleged Emissaries made (“Blessed are the peacemakers…”, “Hatred does not cease by hatred…hatred ceases by love”, “…the greatest of instrumentalities for achieving the advancement and the glory of man … is love and fellowship and unity among all the members of the human race.”) to the “improper promotion of god for political power, corruption and personal benefit.” I think you are correct in attributing it to the need of some human beings to exert power over others. History provides ample evidence that some of us will use any tools at our disposal to create and maintain power structures. 

    Actually, I have a question about your statement that: …religion is the improper promotion of god for political power, corruption, and personal benefit.  Were you offering this as a definition of religion? If so, may I ask what you would call a faith philosophy that does not fit that definition? Clearly not all do. In the interests of clear communication, can we agree that either 1) we adopt a new term to refer to those systems or 2) that we instead use a more neutral definition of the word “religion?” My concern is, of course, that if we’re trying to communicate using two different meanings for the same word, our chances of success diminish greatly.

    Thank you, by the way, for making the point that evolution is a non-stop process. We are still evolving, which means that our knowledge about ourselves and the universe has a long way to go along a path with at least as many twists and turns as we have already taken.  Often I find that people speak of our journey here as if we have attained some lofty pinnacle from which we are now looking back with 20/20 wisdom. It’s refreshing to encounter someone who understands that this is not the case.

    By the way, I don’t find it at all ironic that religion evolves. I find it more ironic that we would suppose it wouldn’t when every other form of knowledge we acquire does.

  3. Good comments and questions. Maya – you have posed this same question about humans being the only animal with the “creative spark and logical reasoning ability” in other emails and articles. I don’t think it’s that great of a leap forward from other primates. Also, other animals have developed “unique” abilities that seem magical to us – the ability of salmon to migrate back to their spawning grounds, etc.

    Regarding my comments of “religion is the improper promotion of god for political power, corruption, and personal benefit” and “get them to behave in a certain way (no matter how immoral it may be)” – I was being slightly facetious. Religions have tried to improve their “morals” over time, but there are still fundamentalist sects of many religions where people would (and do) gladly kill if requested by their clergy.

    You are absolutely correct that man has created many ‘gods’ to serve different purposes. However, the modern concept of god as a strictly spiritual being, with no physical form, is relatively new. The early gods that were proposed were human forms or mountain creatures (especially believable if there was a volcano nearby). When no one could find these beings, then they were said to be in the sky – but in most stories the god or gods were still physical forms. After the telescope was invented and we scanned the skies and couldn’t find any hint of a god up there, the story changed to be a spiritual being that’s always just out of reach of our physical form. It’s like getting caught in a lie and having to make up more outrageous lies to get out of it.

    Also, I know this subject has been bashed to death, but there really is absolutely no evidence that “jesus” ever existed either. Many of the stories attributed to jesus were floating around as folklore for many years, sometimes hundreds of years. All these various, random stories and fables were collected together hundreds of years after the supposed death of this “son of god”, along with some newly written material, and foisted on a gullible public. I just found this website this morning and haven’t even read all of it myself yet, but it looks like a good overview of the subject: http://nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

  4. Hi David:

    You wrote:

    … there really is absolutely no evidence that “Jesus” ever existed either. Many of the stories attributed to Jesus were floating around as folklore for many years, sometimes hundreds of years. All these various, random stories and fables were collected together hundreds of years after the supposed death of this “son of god”, along with some newly written material, and foisted on a gullible public.

    Best be careful of making claims like this, as the evidence is quite different and there is little informed support for what you say. Wikipedia has good summaries: see Historicity_of_Jesus and Historical_Jesus for overviews.

    Perhaps a quick summary is in order. There is no direct record in the histories of the time, and the gospels offer conflicting timelines, so modern scholarship can’t say things like “Jesus is buried here.” However, the circumstantial evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus is quite strong, as can readily be seen in the existence of a growing movement claiming his name.

    Are the teachings attributed to Jesus from Jesus? Certainly, by the time that Gospels were written down, or perhaps more accurately, the ones that survived were written down because the evidence is that Mathew, Mark, Luke John all are variations on a common source, they had been embellished, probably mainly to conform to Jewish scripture and Messianic expectations. Christ died as did a criminal, and the question of why had to be answered.

    So the debates are really not about a historical Jesus, but rather how Jesus changed from being considered a Jewish reformer similar to many others to someone with a unique, new message that became the driver for substantial parts of two thousand years of history.

    But, suppose that the nay-sayers are right, and that it was all made up out of whole cloth. There is substantial evidence historically for the Buddha and incontrovertible evidence for both Muhammad and Baha’u’llah. So, overall, the existence of people with the status of “messengers of God” is a fact, much as the existence of Newton or of Einstein is a fact.

    So, a further caution is to be careful not to dismiss historical facts so that you don’t undermine your arguments.

    Stephen

  5. Hi, David,

    Thanks for replying. I have to say, though, that it’s not just that we’re the only life form with the creative spark (though this is true—I know no other primates who have created fictional characters or put them into fictional situations on worlds they have never visited). We are the only lifeform that is super-natural in the true sense of the word—having capacities that allow us to function above or beyond our natural, physical limitations.

    I’ve had people argue that birds can fly and we can’t, or that cheetahs can run faster or salmon can find their way home and that this is no different than our ability to do higher math, write symphonies, or calculate how many light years it will take to reach Alpha Centauri. But to me, those protests seem unreasonable to the point of being absurd because the differences are so vast and are not merely quantitative leaps along the same continuum (muscular control or navigational ability or whatever) they are qualitatively different.

    Yes, I’ve heard arguments that it IS merely quantitative, but the problem I have with that analysis is that it seems to miss the obvious—we are the only creatures having a discussion about it … or anything else. If this were a case of a quantitative leap in evolution, I would expect to see other creatures somewhere in our vicinity with regard to the ability to not only have abstract thoughts, but articulate them, share them and bring them to fruition in the physical world. I would expect that our nearest kin on the tree of evolution would at least have rudimentary language by which they could discuss what they’re going to eat for lunch, perhaps theorize about what that big, hot light in the sky is, or write a Dick and Jane story (see Bonzo run).

    I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be discussing the existence of God, but the point is, they’re not discussing anything. Throwing a rock to bring down prey is not nascent rocket science no matter how similar the two things may seem on the surface.

    You wrote that: “Religions have tried to improve their “morals” over time, but there are still fundamentalist sects of many religions where people would (and do) gladly kill if requested by their clergy.”

    Historically, though, that’s backwards. The teachings of Christ, for example, call on His followers to be loving, charitable, and helpful even to people they conceive of as enemies. It took several hundred years for Christianity to develop a “fundamentalist” agenda that placed doctrinal and political formulas above the recorded teachings of Christ. The same is true of every other faith whose teachings I’ve explored. Besides, my point was really that your statement was rather sweeping and failed to distinguish between religion that is the pawn of human greed and lust for power and religion that is not that.

    Re the concept of the non-corporeal God: It far, far predates the invention of the telescope. The God of Hinduism—an ancient belief system—is described as a “spirit which is mind and life, light and truth and vast spaces. He contains all works, and all desires, and all perfumes, and all tastes. He enfolds the whole Universe, and in silence is loving to all. This is the Spirit that is in my heart, smaller than a grain of rice, or a grain of barley, or a grain of mustard seed, or a kernel of a grain of mustard seed. This is the Spirit that is in my heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than Heaven itself, greater than all these worlds. This is the Spirit that is in my heart. This is Brahman.” (Chandogya Upanishad)

    God is described as an invisible spirit in Zoroastrian texts as well. The God of the Torah is also an unknowable essence. We anthropomorphize God after the fact, I think, in an effort to try to make Him more like us and therefore, presumably, easier to understand. In the end, I think we only make Him ludicrous.

    I have seen no compelling evidence to counter the written record with regard to Jesus. In fact, I read some of the commentary in the works of Flavius Josephus years ago that speaks directly to the existence of Jesus and those that followed him. They weren’t particularly flattering, so I have no reason to suspect that Joe made them up to promote an imaginary belief system. The records of the early Christian movement both within and beyond the Bible have been a subject of study for centuries. In any event, I’m curious as to why so much emphasis is placed on saying that Jesus didn’t exist when Jesus is not unique in His role as prophet and teacher. Certainly beliefs about who and what Jesus was diverge wildly in some cases, but that’s to be expected, isn’t it?

    In fact, if Jesus were an imaginary person made up out of whole cloth by Paul or a committee of reformist Jews, that would be unique. I can’t think of another instance of that having happened. But, hey, maybe in fifty years or so, someone will advance the claim that Muhammad didn’t exist or in a hundred or so, that Bahá’u’lláh didn’t exist.

  6. As I stated in the article, all the data that we have says that for almost half of the 3.5 billion years that life has existed on Earth, there was nothing more complex than single cell organisms. So it took over a billion years for the right molecules to come together to form DNA. It’s possible that might have happened in a few hundred million years, but it didn’t. And it’s not inconceivable that it could have taken much longer – in which case the entire earth would still to this day have only single cell microbes in the oceans with no life at all on dry land.

    Likewise, for the some-odd 200,000 years that “homo sapiens” have existed as a separate species, we didn’t have ANY spoken language for at least 100,000 years – just grunts and gestures – and “fully formed” languages didn’t come about till some 10,000 years ago.

    We see this same recurring pattern in many areas of evolution. So if god “tweaked” evolution to give humans this creative advantage, why would it still take 190,000 years for us to develop spoken languages?

    Recently, we’ve observed that many monkey species make different sounds as warnings if there is a different predator in the sky (a hawk) versus on the ground (a leopard). It is quite possible that monkeys are on their way to developing spoken languages, but because their intelligence is not quite up to par with humans, it’s just taking a lot longer.

    Also, if god does indeed have the power to interfere and “tweak” evolution, why not make humans more “perfect”?

    I read a genetics paper a few years ago which said that something like 85% of all human sperm cells are “malformed” in some way – missing tails, two tails, irregular heads, etc. Typically, these aren’t the ones that make it first to the finish line to fertilize an egg, but it can happen sometimes – and that could help explain why 30% of all pregnancies result in miscarriages. Other issues are genetic in nature, which result in defects like Down Syndrome.

    The point of all this is that reproduction does not create perfect copies. Sometimes the “malformations” are actually improvements, and if they become dominant traits, that’s evolution. This happens in all life, including humans. We may be genetically compatible with humans from 200,000 years ago, but we have become far more intelligent through our continual evolution – just as selective breeding has created cows that produce over twice as much milk as they did 100 years ago.

    If there were a god who wanted us to be the end-all intelligence on the planet, why not also “fix” our reproduction process to stop further changes? Why not go back to the fundamentalist view that life was created in 7 days, dinosaur bones and all?

    Maya – you keep invoking Occam’s Razor on this issue. But the simplest explanation – by far – is that we’ve evolved to be the creatures we are today with no external influence.

    Stephen – I stand by my statements regarding the improbability that the person described as “jesus” in the bible really existed. If someone today took a bunch of folk tales about person who lived 200 years ago, and wrote down all the things that this person supposedly said, based on stories handed down from generation to generation, the author would be completely ridiculed. Again, it’s quite understandable that people believed these stories at the time – the gullible public – but I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that anyone would still believe these stories today. The data we have just doesn’t support the story.

  7. “Also, if god does indeed have the power to interfere and “tweak” evolution, why not make humans more “perfect”?”

    (scratches head) Why would He? To me the answer seems obvious. Sure, I might be tempted to “make” my kids more perfect, but that would hardly result in children that were independent and unique and whole. I’d be no better than a mechanic with a droid at the end of the day.

    Baha’u’llah says the purpose of life here is to grow in virtues like love, compassion, justice, courage, wisdom, etc. There’s no growth, no change, if you start out perfect. I’ve heard atheists disparage the idea of heaven (as some believe in it) as drop dead boring. No striving, no growth, no learning. If we wouldn’t want a heaven like that, why the heck would we want a physical existence like that? The thought of being somewhere where I’m not taking in any new information and processing it sounds more like hell than heaven.

    And think about it—you have kids. Which would you prefer: that they love and obey you because you force them to or that they seek you out, love you as they come to know you, and obey you because they love you?

    I don’t know why God’s been so patient in creating us. I know that sometimes when I write a book, it takes me months to put the ideas together and let them germinate. Weeks or months more to design the world. I’ve had about six months in which I could have been writing the novel I’m working on now. But I only just started writing it around Baha’u’llah’s birthday, actually. I spent the time before preparing myself to write, loving the characters and learning who they were. Maybe something like that happens with God. I don’t know. And I don’t need to know.

    With regard to Occam’s razor, when I look at all the premises upon which theories about the genesis of the Universe are based, I see so many “ifs” (inferences and theories) and moving parts that are sketchy at best and black boxes at worst that I’m amazed we can call it science. To me, the single agency of an uber-intelligence that acts upon the Universe(s) and is continually creating seems much more reasonable than the scads of inferred entities invoked in some of the science articles I’ve read.

    Re: Jesus—I think it’s interesting that when I communicate with my atheist friends about Him, they focus on the miracles He allegedly did while all I’m interested in is the teachings He brought. Which are consistent with the teachings brought by Krishna and Buddha and Baha’u’llah, among others. I know Stephen isn’t arguing for a literal reading of every miracle the Gospel Jesus is to have done. It is in our nature to find ways of insisting that “my god is bigger than your god,” but rather I think his point is that there was an historical Jesus at the heart of the Gospels whose life may very well have paralleled the Bab’s.

    From my reading of new atheist literature and participation on atheist forums, there seems to be a sense that if Jesus’ existence can be undone, then all religion everywhere unravels. What’s your sense of that?

  8. When people say the universe is tweaked so perfectly that it must mean that God exists, I always wonder why the orbits of the planets are so imperfect, why comets and rocks from outer space keep smashing into planets, why does the sun have spurts and why are the suns rays harmful to humans, why is the weather so cold in the winter and so humid and hot in the summer, why do I only have eyes in front of my head and none in the back, why are my sexual organs in such a bad place. God seems like a lousy designer, I can design better.

  9. But as Maya pointed out, there’s no humility in the statement above “I can design better”.

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