Hints that God Exists: Evolution

Yeah, you heard me: evolution. Darwin didn’t use the word ‘evolution’ (he called it Natural Selection), but it is very interesting how anyone ever found out about it in the first place. Chapter one of The Origin of Species is titled “Variation Under Domestication,” a chapter where Darwin shows how human beings can manipulate nature according to their own wants. For example, imagine I’m a cat breeder. I breed only those cats that have a tan paws; the rest are not allowed to breed. Eventually, perhaps even in my life time, I end up with a race of cats that all have tan paws! That’s a kind of selection. Call this human selection, because humans are selecting what they want from nature. Darwin uses human selection as a good analogy for, and transition into, natural selection. Rightly so. Natural selection, however, takes longer and is much more efficient and has different rules and standards. Instead of selecting tan paws (vanity), nature “selects” those traits that help to propagate a species for survival (a very basic explanation).

Charles Darwin in 1881
Charles Darwin

This leaves us with the question: how close is the analogy between human selection and natural selection? Clearly there is intelligence behind human selection, because we are directly aware that we are doing the selecting. But in the case of nature, who or what is doing it? There are two options: a) nobody is doing it. This is a purely unintelligent, unconscious, blind process. There is no ‘who,’ and the ‘what’ is evolution, via the mechanism natural selection. To be fair, many science author interpret evolution in this way. But there’s a clear second interpretation: b) Just like human selection, there is an intelligence behind evolution. God decides the laws of variation and selection; God is the “selector,” the architect of the system, the author of nature.

To me, the analogy carries, and there is no reason for me to think that it doesn’t. I choose the analogy because I see no compelling reason not to. And yes faith has something to do with it, no doubt.

Indeed, it seems that the natural starting position would be option #2, and only a further argument, proving that the analogy doesn’t hold, should bring us to #1. To me, there is no further argument besides the one that, in the case of natural selection, we are not directly aware of a God-like mind controlling it – it’s fine all by itself, thank you very much. And Okhams Razor too!

Well, I’ll just respond by saying we are never directly aware of God, by definition. So I wouldn’t expect to “see” God in evolution or anything else. Analogy is the best we got. Leaves room for faith. I’ll take it.

Hints that God Exists: Evolution

Hints that God Exists: a Book’s Meaning

What is a book, and why do books have meaning? Think about timeless literature, like War and Peace. Looked at one way, a book is nothing but a story about things happening to characters, and characters saying and doing things to other characters. This is true, but why do books like War and Peace have such tremendous meaning? What is the meaning of a book, and where does it come from?

A book’s meaning has everything to do with the author. The author wants to get a point across, or wants to express something meaningful, and so the author uses characters and events to portray that meaning. The author, in a way, hides her meaning inside the book, and our job is to find it, or grasp it, the best we can.

w and p

The world is a lot like a book. Our life is a lot like a story. It is filled with things and events and people, all interacting to create a giant story. It has a plot, a setting, characters, conflict, resolution, falling action, even foreshadowing. But does the world have meaning? It seems like it does. We are certainly looking for meaning all the time. If it does, where does that meaning come from? A possible response could be that it comes from me. My life story has meaning because I give it meaning. This seems to be an acceptable response, but doesn’t it sound like a character in a book jumping out of the book and giving his own character meaning? Also, this response doesn’t account for other people’s lives, or animals, or nature itself, or the universe. I can try to be the author of my own life, and therefore give it meaning, but I cannot give meaning to the whole world. For that, another author is needed: God.

Hints that God Exists: a Book’s Meaning

Hints that God Exists: Other Invisible Minds

Think of your best friend and what really makes a person a person. Of course, you know that your best friend exists, but how do you really, actually know that?

“That’s easy,” you say, “I know that my best friend exists because I see her walking towards me.”

I agree that you see a body that looks exactly like your best friend, and that you identify that body with her, and that’s not a bad reason. But does seeing a body fully support the conclusion that your best friend exists? I think not. A body alone doesn’t make a person. For example, what if that person walking towards you was actually a robot made to look like your best friend. I don’t think the robot would fool you just based on looks. For example, if the robot didn’t have the same non-verbal communication as your best friend, or the same thoughts, feelings, mannerism, actions, or beliefs, then you might begin to wonder. That is because your best friend is not a body; rather, she is a person with thoughts, feelings, intentions, and patterns of action. In a word, she is an invisible center of thought, a center that produces all sorts of visible effects (e.g. speech, action, writing, building).

So…back to the original question: how do you know that your best friend exists? If the answer is not that you see her, then it must be that we experience intelligible effects that are characteristic of her center of thought. We do not see the center of thought, but we do see the effects, the output, the sigs. Again, the body is certainly part of your friend, but not necessary. When you are chatting on the internet with her, you don’t need to see her body to know that you are communicating with your best friend.

Now, by analogy, look at the natural world. You don’t have to look far to see that nature has its own storehouse of visible, intelligible effects. For example, everything happens in an orderly fashion according to the laws of nature. Who is responsible for these effects? Should we not make the same inference that we did in the case of your best friend? Why not? Many people naturally do, and say that God is the cause behind all the effects that we see in nature, the invisible person or thought.

If it troubles you that you cannot see God, it shouldn’t: strictly speaking, you cannot see your best friend either.

Hints that God Exists: Other Invisible Minds