When I was a child I sat by the gorilla cage at the National Zoo in Washington, DC for a very long time staring at the strangely human like qualities of those beautiful animals. There was something so familiar in the look of their eyes.
As you may already know, we share 96% of the same DNA with Chimps. Even more incredible, 99% of DNA bases in the genome are a total match. We would think there would be more variation among human races than this small 1% modification to our genetics.
So what does this mean? Very simply from an evolutionary standpoint, it seems to promote evolution as being correct. I would agree with that. But I also would agree that there is still something very special about being human.
As I am a recovering former Evangelical, I have a many years of hearing about how terrible and evil Evolution is. I have sat through more than enough sermons by unqualified pastors on the topic to last a lifetime. I was told over and over again by traveling “creation scientists”, most with little more than a remedial science background, that though science (spoken with true disdain) seemed to think they had all the answers, they in reality had very little proof for their claims. The real proof, that Creationism and its awkward twin, Intelligent Design, was correct was being manipulated before our very eyes. If you were rational and thinking, I was told, you couldn’t possibly believe in evolution!
I wrestled with this thought for many years. I took a historical geology course; ready Darwin’s Origin of the Species; and shared my time between other books on evolution, genetics, and biology. In my searching I found those proud evangelists to be completely inaccurate on many accounts. But more than anything they did not care. They believed what they wanted and looked for facts to back that faith up – the very thing they were accusing the scientists of.
What now do I believe about Evolution?
I believe in micro evolution wholeheartedly. Anyone with a schitzu or a poodle or tasted a decent wine would have to agree. As for macro evolution, I do with a caveat. There are currently two major fields of thought that are as bipolarizing as they really are much the same: deistic intelligent design and atheistic “the world is completely chance” evolutionist.
The rest of us are in the middle. The concept of Biblical creationism and evolution are similar, only different in the name of the creative force being Natural Selection or God. The universe comes and develops magically out of nearly nothing or complete nothing – darkness in both. The difference boils down to how objects such as ourselves came about.
While I don’t believe we are purely chance, aspects of our shape and nature certainly are or are left over from previous versions. Why evangelical Christianity can be deeply offended by the notion that we came from apes but be thrilled by the idea of coming from dust is beyond me. Both circumstances involve being filled with the breath of G*d (or the universe) and majesty of life.
I truly believe in a higher power that I most respectfully due to the limitations of my association with the word “God” refer to simply as an object or ability of unlimited possibility. That this object or ability caused all that is in 7 literal days with pre-developed beings or by means of a few cells reproducing and becoming what we are now or even an inconceivable explosion of all matter to me is no different. In both, and in proper Old Testament terms, the Majesty of this creation remains the same and bears witness to the creative force that is. As Leonard Cohen wrote, “there’s a flash of light in every word. It doesn’t matter what you heard.”
In both the Genesis story and the one of evolution, life and consciousness is breathed into matter. This is no more miraculous in either story.
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”