As a naturally inquisitive species, the human race has questioned where we came from for thousands of years. Dating back to years even before antiquity, for example, an all-powerful force was utilized to explain all information (or lack thereof) that the naked eye could not extrapolate into concrete answers. The sun, for example, rose, because the Greek God Zeus pushed it up into the sky each morning; now, with advancements in science by devoted researchers and engineers, we know that the sun appears to rise because of the earths rotation on it’s axis, and consequently there is not only no longer a need for “god”, there is no room for one. This also gives us an important piece of information that we can use to predict the downfall of fallacious beliefs, and a rise in a belief in science based on volumes of proof and data: that science and religion are inversely related, and the more we are able to explain with science, the less humans have a necessity for religion.
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To support my claims, an English ethnologist, evolutionary biologist, and author, Richard Dawkins, interprets the purpose of humanity and the meaning of life from a scientific and evolutionary perspective. In an effort to remain open-minded, Dawkins explores a myriad of religious ideologies in their attempt to assign purpose to human existence. Dawkins presents that, while religion may have been applicable for less advanced societies of the past, religious mythologies utterly fail in the context of modern civilization due to their contradiction with rationality and contemporary mores. (c.d.) Dawkins goes on to entertain various religious allegations against evolutionary theory, particularly the belief that evolution suggests human beings are not unique or special, and thus life is as simple as a meaningless struggle for survival; in other words making the previous statement a rather nihilistic claim to the meaning of life. Dawkins goes on to refute this opinion, contending that it is the advancement of our species, as well as our avid ability to form abstract ideas inherently gives meaning to our lives in a way that eclipses the mere survival value implied by strict evolutionary theory. For Dawkins, the awe-inspiring nature of scientific improvement proves that we are indeed a “special animal”, even without the metaphysical implications that are endorsed by various religions. Dawkins, Richard. “Why Are We Here? What Is the Purpose of Life – Richard Dawkins.” Youtube, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT4EWCRfdUg.In a sense the theory of creation sets boundaries, while evolution allows free range. Evolution is directed by effectiveness while creation is directed by the theoretician’s values.
The difference is not necessarily boundaries being set on beliefs but boundaries being set on what you can do with them. Evolution, The Big Bang and adaptation, for example, are essentially the building blocks of science. People can simply observe these theories in the universe around us in both living and non-living objects. We can observe suns that are of the same or similar composure but are in a different point in their life cycle than ours; and of course, we can also observe it in, as many know, species of animals/humans. Without embracing ideological beliefs like evolution the human race cannot advance in science and utilize the information and knowledge it’s gathered to better the world around us. Meaning, evolution can potentially proceed in an infinitely better adapted direction, but creationist theory is driven by a creator and therefore the values of that creator. And since a conscious creator is a man made concept, the creator’s values are really just man’s values projected onto a fabricated deity and woven into the religious man’s explanation for science. In a similar fashion, one can use religion to form a sense of fulfilling community, a sense of comfort, etc. for individuals that need it that may not be satisfied or may be fearful of constructs of science that point to answers that are uncomfortable.
This documentary by physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking goes into whether there is a need for a supernatural being to create and control the universe in order for it to exist today. Humans, like the Vikings, have invented deities to explain natural phenomena when scientific explanations weren’t available. These misinterpretations may provide insight into the question of needing a god to have created the universe. Another point to consider includes the set of physical laws that govern the way the universe works. These natural laws cannot be changed and are therefore very powerful. Hawking inquires that since these laws are fixed. Finally, what were the vital “ingredients” needed to bring up the universe? Answering this question may explain if these components could have created the universe without the necessity of a supernatural being. Is There a God? Stephen Hawking (Documentary). Perf. Stephen Hawking. N.d. Web. The Vikings, as well as several other groups of peoples, invented gods and legends to describe how their world was functioning. It is now reasonable to believe that the majority of these tales were false, as they were created for the lack of scientific explanation of natural events. For instance, the Vikings’ god who lived in the sky was the cause of solar eclipses, as described to sometimes “eat the sun”. In 300 B.C., Aristarchus studied the heavens and discovered that a lunar eclipse is formed when the shadow of the earth passes over the moon. This lead to the discovery that the solar system functions; heliocentrically rather than geocentrically, as the common belief was. Understanding that the earth revolves around the sun is key to knowing how all eclipses are possible.
A solar eclipse is then defined as the shadow of the moon passing over the earth. Therefore, the Vikings were wrong about their god being the reason for solar eclipses. This example shows how the universe is not as supernatural as it may seem to be. If science can explain natural phenomena such as eclipses, then perhaps the universe can also be explained without the involvement of god(s). Hawking says that the understanding of natural laws is humankind’s greatest achievement. Physical laws describe how things work in the past, present, and future. This is why the laws are so powerful, as well as because they are unexceptionally unchangeable. In a game of tennis, natural laws are responsible for how the ball reacts when it is hit. The motion of the ball is determined by the force and angle of the strike of the racket and physical laws control the rest.
The importance of these governing laws is that they not only apply to earthly events, but to everything else in the universe. Is There a God? Stephen Hawking (Documentary). Perf. Stephen Hawking. N.d. Web. With that being said, what role is there for God? Is There a God? Stephen Hawking (Documentary). Perf. Stephen Hawking. N.d. Web. The answer is simple; there is no role for a god to play, there is simply only evolution. This comes back to what I touched on before, that science and religion are inversely related. As the grasp on physiological properties of the universe grows, the need for explanation through divine deity lessens. The role of god was simply to explain the unexplainable-with limited technology and therefore inability to form an explanation through information (or lack thereof) observed with the naked eye, human kind filled those gaps with a greater power. As technology advanced and the gaps became filled with reasonable and tested explanations, people no longer had room for god.
Evolution has an extremely well understood mechanism of action. If anything, it is limited by the direction in which it progresses. Creationism is unlimited and therefore completely random and arbitrary. Additionally, evolution contradicts not only the creationist theory, but also renders the theory of intelligent design useless by suggesting that all of this beautiful overwhelming complexity and diversity of life has occurred in a natural progression without the assistance of a god or gods. Creationism is unlimited because the idea it is based off of is unlimited. However, what creationists can do with it becomes limited as they deny basic constructs of science that do not coincide with their beliefs. Religion is limited in what it can achieve in the sense that yes, people can form a sense of overwhelming community and comfort, however creating new technology and deepening our understanding of the mechanisms of the universe around us falls short in a realistic sense.
Kenneth Alfred Ham is an Australian-born Christian fundamentalist and young Earth creationist living in the United States. He is best known for being the current president of Answers in Genesis, a creationist apologetics organization that operates the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. A rather popular statement of his includes, “The word evolution has been hijacked at the center of Ken Ham’s argument was that there is a big difference between observational and experimental sciences compared to what Mr. Ham called “historical science”. Historical science, Mr. Ham argues, is where you interpret data about an event that you did not directly observe. The comparison would be between seeing a crime happen, compared to piecing together what happened by examining the evidence afterwards. If you see something happen, you know exactly what you saw. But looking at evidence afterwards means there are multiple possible versions of events. With more evidence, the number of possible versions decreases, but Mr. Ham insists that the version of events he supports is still possible with current scientific data. One particularly implausible element in the realm of Christianity that Ham supports is the widespread myth of Noah’s Ark.
The idea that the entire earth was under water for an entire year, while a single boat made up of wood built by 8 unskilled men sailed on open ocean carrying two of each living land and sea mammal, insect, and reptile on it is inconceivable. There is a multitudinous amount of transgressions within this idea; one should focus on just a few. First and foremost, the Grand Canyon is a wonderful, remarkable place, where there is a high concentration of fossils. These fossils are found in layers, due to the process of stratification. Each layer represents a different time, and the type of animals that lived there. In the entirety of the Grand Canyon, there is not a single place where the fossils from one time period are found crossing over into another; if there was a large flood over the entire earth, one might expect drowning animas to try and swim up to another layer and therefore die and be trapped with fossils of much older times in that different layer. Genesis, Answers in. “Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham – HD (Official).” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI.
There is no evidence of this. Now, one should take a look at an extraordinary mammal, the kangaroo. The kangaroo is found exclusively in Australia, and for as far back as we can research, has only been native to that single continent. The idea of Noah’s Ark states that Noah’s Ark landed safely aground in India. In other words, the kangaroo would have had to somehow safely traveled 4,182 miles from India to Australia-however, no one has ever found kangaroo fossils between India and Australia, no kangaroo fossils in India, and no evidence of a land bridge ever connecting these two continents. Genesis, Answers in. “Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham – HD (Official).” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI.
Another remarkable thing I would like for everyone to consider is a ship that goes by the name The Wyoming. The Wyoming is the largest wooden ship ever built. It was built by a large group of very skilled shipwrights. This boat is about 1/3 the size that Noah’s Ark is assumed to be. The problem with The Wyoming, however, is that because of the physiological properties of wood, the ship would twist in open ocean. The sailors could not keep water out of the boat, until eventually the boat capsized in open ocean, a loss of all 14 crewmembers maintaining the ship. “Ships Named Wyoming From Wyoming Tales and Trails.” Wounded Knee — Wyoming Tales and Trails, The Schooners Wyoming, the Governor Brooks and the Washakie; General Kabis’ Ashes., 19 Aug. 1999, www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/sswyoming.html. Based on this information, is it reasonable to say that 8 common people could have built a significantly larger boat made solely out of wood, and maintained the boat, something that the most skilled shipmen in the world equipped with cutting edge technology for their time could not do? This is simply not a plausible claim to suggest. Genesis, Answers in. “Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham – HD (Official).” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI.
To summarize, religion itself is limitless. The utilization of religion for advancement, however, has significant limitations. I think this scale also begs for an understanding of the definition of god in this context. The popular belief of creationism stems from basic human instinct that is something I believe is commonly overlooked in this conversation. We as living beings do not want to die. Couple a strong instinct of fear of death with an inquisitive brain found exclusively in human species and an impregnable desire for comfort, and you have a consummate recipe for creation of religion to fortify and bolster a need for eternal life. We see something very similar happen in terminally ill patients who have not come to grips with the nebulous idea that their life is going to come to an end: everybody knows it, however they are in a sense of denial. That is the exact same sense of denial found in billions of individuals of the human species who spoon feed themselves the improbable idea that there is something after: because humans have a desire for comfort and a fear of death.
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