Mr Joseph Vempeny
Posted on : 19/09/2009 05:47:10
Creation and Evolution
“Evolution is the continuing act of creation.”
By way of introduction I may state that I firmly believe that God created this universe and all that is seen and unseen and that nothing ever happens anywhere without His knowledge or against His design. I also believe that there was and still is cosmic evolution, chemical evolution as well as biological evolution and that evolution is a continuing act of creation guided and directed by God and not masterminded by Darwin, Einstein or any scientist. But I do not believe that the human being is another type of monkey, that man evolved from the chimpanzee nor the dog from the cat. The being from which a certain plant or animal evolved does not exist anymore. It has changed into the new one.
The first step towards a better understanding of creation and evolution is self- realization – understanding who I am, understanding the difference between the human being and other animals, the difference between living organisms and non-living matter. Towards this end let me invite you to join me on this imaginary picnic site by the side of a pool. Here we have before us many interesting objects. But let us focus our attention on the following four items.
a child a chimpanzee A frog a stone
Scientifically speaking, there is very little difference between the child and the chimp, and a very big difference between the chimp and the frog. This is so because the first two belong to the same family, that of primates in the highest class of animal kingdom, namely, mammals whereas the frog belongs to a much lower class of vertebrates- the amphibians- lower than all mammals like dog, lower than birds and even reptiles. But to me, a believer there is only a very small difference between the chimp and the frog but a great difference between the child and the chimp. This is so because the frog and the ape are both animals but the child is human and not an animal at all. I do not think of myself as an animal. That is the first step in self-realization.
For arguments sake I may say that the frog and the piece of stone are very similar as they both are made of the same elementary particles – protons, neutrons and electrons - and nothing else, that they are both made of matter. But we all know that the frog has something that the stone does not have – life. This makes the gulf between the frog and the stone very wide. In the same way the child or human has something that the chimp or any other animal does not have. And that is the immortal soul. This soul is not one of our organs like heart or brain. Nor is the soul one of our faculties, like mind, intellect or consciousness. The soul or spirit is not something that I possess but that is what I am. It is even wrong to say ‘I have a soul’, rather one should say ‘I have a body’. Now we are getting closer to self-realization.
Nor is this soul a product of evolution. Evolution has endowed man with a proportionately larger brain, an erect posture or bi-pedalism, even linguistic skills. But evolution cannot and did not supply us with a soul. By the process of mutation or otherwise, evolution can produce changes in existing structures or organs but cannot produce something that did not exist before. This calls for creation, and only God can create something out of nothing. Chemical evolution starting from quarks and gluons, fermions and bosons, evolved into the elementary particles, protons, neutrons and electrons during the initial stage of cosmic evolution – inflation. Later nuclei of elements were made in the stellar furnaces and molecules of compounds were made probably in the cold outer space. We can believe that even complex organic molecules were formed as a result of chemical evolution. But, if you have some idea of the composition of the DNA molecule or the complexity of life, we cannot for once believe that life evolved from inanimate matter by pure chance. Sir Arthur C Clarke wrote in an article in the Times magazine that the probability of the various organic particles joining together to form DNA molecule and become ‘alive’ is less than the probability of a tornado passing through a junk yard making all the junk in the yard to combine to form a jumbo jet ready to take off. What I am trying to state here is that life did not just appear on earth or anywhere else in the universe by mere chance but was the product of a deliberate act of creation by God. I believe the same thing about the creation of the human being - not the material body but the spiritual self.
At the peak of biological evolution, when one of the branches of primates went through comparatively rapid stages of evolution and finally reached the stage of Homo sapiens, God created the human soul, which is the human being and made the homo body as a vehicle to carry this being of spirit. In the first chapter of genesis the creation of man is given special treatment as distinguished from the rest of the creation. Compared to verses like - “Let there be light. And there was light” or “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of animals.”- the creation of man was preceded by the words, “Let us create humans in Our image and likeness” The fact that the human being is made in the likeness of God and not as one of the animals is brought out by special emphasis of repetition: “Thus God created humans in His image and likeness. In the likeness of God He created them. He created them as male and female.” What was created in the likeness of God was obviously not this physical body of ours with a head, trunk and limbs. Apes and other animals also have similar bodies. What is in the likeness of God is the soul or spirit, the real self of the human being. It is in this respect that we resemble God and that is why we can call ourselves the ‘children of God’, a title that cannot be applied to any other animal.
Many Biblical scholars consider the creation story especially the story of Adam and Eve as myth and suggest that we must look for the message in them and not literal meaning. I agree that we cannot take literally much of the creation story especially the fact that the whole creation from the beginning to that of humans took six days of twenty four hours each. But I do think there is much in the story of Adam and Eve that we cannot discount as mere myth or fiction. The analysis of Mitochondrial DNA of people from all the races of the world have shown that we all have descended from one single female whom the scientists have dubbed the Mitochondrial Eve. This shows that it is possible to have a common mother or parents for all of us humans - a Biblical Adam and Eve. How should we take the story of the original sin? Surely that is a myth? I do not think so. Before the creation of the human soul our ancestors - let me call them Adam and Eve - were animals, like Chimp or Gorilla. Once God had “breathed the breath of life into his nostrils” they became ‘alive’ in spirit and ceased to be animals. They were now divine - children of God. One of the faculties of this spiritual being was conscience, the ability to distinguish between good and evil and the free will to do what you wish - the ability to give selfless love, to be selfish in love, to be indifferent or to hate. The first act of exercising this free will was the act of ‘eating the forbidden fruit’. Evil or sin is not connected with sex as some moralists think but arises out of the absence of true, selfless love. Adam and eve were in ‘paradise’ as long as they lived in love. When that love become selfish or turned to indifference or hatred they were “turned out of the paradise” and they became fully human.
Creation of the universe, of the state of singularity where matter existed at infinite density, is supposed to have taken place some 12.5 to 15 billion years back. Science cannot say where this came from. But we believers can say that this was created by God. Cosmic and chemical evolution took some 10 billion years before life was created. Biological evolution has gone on for about 3 billion years before the human being was created. The ancestors of the humans, the hominids, branched of from the rest of primates and started on the new journey of evolution about 7 million years ago. And the Homo sapiens came on the scene around a hundred thousand years ago. To believe that all this took place in 6 days or 144 hours is rather difficult. The October, 2002, issue of the Scientific American had an article by an eminent scientist entitled ‘Fifteen answers to Creationist nonsense’. Worried by the title, I read the article with apprehension to find that the author was questioning the views of the fundamentalists, the view that there is no evolution and that creation was done in six days. He was not at all questioning my faith. There are many Christian churches and groups that are totally against the idea of evolution and believe in the seven days of creation. A friend of mine once told me that God created the world with fossils in it. These are the people mentioned in the article as creationists.