Until recently, it never occurred to me that believers believed that religion came first. Well, that’s worded incorrectly. What I mean is, I recently discovered that believers believe that science “copies” from religion. “One of the main concerns,” states my friend, the Lizard King, “is how we arrived at this place? Science attempts to explain the same (though in another way, but though that isn’t scientific (though it labels itself as such) but just as” fantastical” as Christianity’s creationism).”
I’m usually floored by such accusations that science is at the same level as the pseudo-sciences such as intelligent design and creationism. Now, two things bother me here. First of all, his indication that religion came up with the our curiosity of how we came into being and that science just copied the question, and I’ll address that in a moment. The thing that nags at me is that I don’t know what he’s going on about. What’s he talking about when he states that science does the answering differently though it’s not actually scientific?
How is it that the religious can strut around claiming something isn’t scientific, but a scientist can’t go around and claim something isn’t religious? I’m always met with the same reply—I’ve misinterpreted and misquoted a cut-and-dried (though archaic) scripture. And it’s always because I lack faith, or I’m going into it with a political agenda (though, even if you don’t want to admit it, so are you), I’m taking things out of context , I don’t have the religious knowledge, etc. With the exception of faith, the same can go to disprove all arguments believers use against science—they just don’t understand, they lack the knowledge, they take things out of context, they’re going into with a political and dogmatic agenda. The common misconception of science and those who chose to empirical data over fairy tales is that theories are infallible—or we think they’re infallible. Or they’ll use the word theory against it—as in, “Evolution is just a theory.” I find it strange that a creationist never makes the same argument with the theory of gravity.
Yes, the theory of evolution is just that, a theory. But it’s a pretty good theory (the best one we’ve had to explain how we came from single cell organisms) and it has an outstanding amount of evidence to support it. Creationists are certain that those who choose science believe in evolution, and that’s just not accurate. We accept the evidence for evolution. Perhaps it’s syntax that I’m using (abusing?) here, and you’re probably wondering how I can say that when I’ve said that I believed in evolution and science in the past. And that’s where we differ. You’re mind cannot fathom a person without faith/belief because you have altered science into a religion/cult institution and evolution as its doctrine. Beliefs are usually never altered and they are damning (I’ll get to that in another post) and they can lead people do to some crazy shit (like killing abortionists doctors, suicide bombing, and drinking cyanide laced Kool-Aid). Acceptance of a theory, however, can change through observation, through evidence that may debunk the theory.
Evolution isn’t fantastical; creationism is as it is driven out of fantasy. Fantastical is believing that some father in the sky created the entire universe in just six days, resting on the seventh. Fantastical is believing that the same father created animals out of thin air and man out of dirt and woman from man’s rib (that’s the take two if you want to add in the female prototype known as Lilith). Fantastical is believing in a great flood, a talking snake, a talking burning bush, a techicolor dream coat, a virgin birth, etc. (I can almost hear him already). Evolution takes time. A lot of time.
And unscientific example, we wouldn’t say we “evolve” in a day to the person we will become. No we’re usually met with, “Wow, you’ve really evolved as a person since we met.” Character development would suck if we just gave it all in the first three pages, wouldn’t it? Well, evolution wouldn’t be evolution if it took place from a grain of dirt to adult human male. It’s climbing a mountain, not shooting a grappling hook to zip up to the top. Adaption and natural selection are key for evolution to work, are they not? Nature favors what pushes a species forward and gets rid of what is wasteful. And nature allows for animals (and people) to adapt to their surroundings.
A while ago, I happened upon a documentary about these snow monkeys from Japan that were transported to southern Texas. Back in Japan, the snow monkeys dipped in the hot springs to keep warm. In Texas, that was no longer necessary. Instead, they began to sweat. Now, that may not seem like a lot to you because you’re thinking it’s hot in Texas and we all swear here. But these monkeys had never perspired before. And the naysayer will just shrug and say, so what? That doesn’t prove anything. But the monkeys encountered something in Texas they never did in Japan—snakes and scorpions. During observation, the people who kept the habitat noticed something peculiar. Whenever a threat came near, the monkeys would make a distinctive call (one for scorpions and one for snakes). The sound was recorded and the recording was played for the snow monkeys in Japan (monkeys that had never been to Texas), and not one of them stirred or prepared for trouble. The calls were new. And all the adaptations made in the Texas bunch was passed on to their offspring and will continue to be passed on.
Now if the “fantastical” idea is the big bang theory, then it’s understandable why you find it as such. Psychics contains too much math, and it usually leaves me befuddled, too.
Returning to the matter at hand, though. The important part of this post (and probably the shortest) is the assumption that religion somehow is responsible for creating the question, “How did we get here?”
The question existed before science and before religion. It’s not a part of them, it’s what caused them. And it is sheer arrogance to lay claim on the question when science and religion are merely institutions that seek the answer—one through empirical data and observations, and the other through myth and legend. Let’s face it, when humanity became self-aware enough to ponder the question, we weren’t the brightest bunch. One day we did a dance and the next it rained. We then accepted the dance as the causation of the rain—the old post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. And from that belief, we began to form religions and those religions began to create our mythical origins. Then someone decided to figure out how the world really works. Sure, the myths lingered but it didn’t take long before theories disproved that the dance had anything to do with the rain.
So I reject your notion that science “copies” religion because neither hold claim to the rights to the question. Because this isn’t a chicken-or-the-egg type of question. Religion didn’t event the question, nor did science. Instead, the question birthed both institutions. For better or for worse.
Side note for anyone who isn’t the Lizard King: I am not a science major. I majored in English. Most of my knowledge on science and evolution stem from my reading of books and articles online. This is not to disprove my argument, but to explain if I should have used the wrong term or jacked up an example (and I tried hard as hell not to use any examples that may have soared above my head—see my physics joke).