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Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Pain of Death

I understand why many Christians embrace some form of evolution.
There's a push for neutrality and tolerance that isn't all bad, as much as conservatives yell about it with their shoes superglued to the marble floors of their ancient temples. We're trying to make sense of a confusing world, accept people without judgment, and fit together theory and faith. All good motivations.

Popular as it was, I felt that the Nye/Ham debate last year was not productive at all, but only served to further misconceptions and raise the tensions of both Christians and Naturalists everywhere. Unlike Ham, my objections to evolution have much more to do with human hearts and logic than any scientific evidence. I do believe there is scientific evidence for Intelligent Design, but I also know that we interpret evidence based on our already-held beliefs.

What is more compelling to me is the universal pain of death.

If we define death as separation (from each other, from physical existence, from all we love), we can connect all pain back to it. Bad breakups are a death of sorts. So are broken families and abandoned children and murders and poverty and disease. Of course, the grief of an actual death bears psychological and spiritual damage for those left behind. All of these deaths are part of Death itself. And I find it interesting that no one likes or desires Death, unless they are categorically psychopathic or else pretending for the sake of hipster counterculturalism. And most people try to avoid it in all of its forms unless they have lost all hope. Death grates on our souls and strikes fear into us. We have the sense that we were not supposed to experience it. It feels so wrong.

We have to wonder where this hatred of Death comes from. If, as evolution theory asserts, death is part of the natural process and has always been part of our world in the blind effort to improve, then why do we hate it? From where do we get the audacity to assert an individuality that wants us (as individuals) to survive even if it's better for the species for us to die? Shouldn't our instincts, trained to value the survival of the species, destroy that tendency? And at what point in the epochal history of time did our ancestral primates begin to value life instead? Especially when all they knew was death? Why do we still fear being forgotten and alone? Why do we spend our lives seeking connection with each other and weep when we are separated?

Naturalistic Evolution has attempted answers to (or avoidance of) these questions without God being part of the picture. These arguments I find to be most unsatisfactory, but are beyond the scope of this post. The problem I have with Theistic Evolution is a refusal to recognize that death is an integral part of the evolutionary process. Whether God started that process going or it started by chance, you still have millions of years without a rational human able to sin thereby bringing death into the world. You still have death as a natural, normal thing, and I suspect we would not feel its effects in the same way that we do if this were so.

Essentially, evolution in all its forms reverses the order. Death is a result of sin, and sin couldn't happen until Adam and Eve had formed into full human beings and could disobey. If evolution formed them, you have a lot of death happening before sin. And it just doesn't work that way. What's more, we would probably feel comfortable here. The fact that we don't says something about what we are and what we were made to be. The sense of trying to escape should give us cause to question from what and why.

Death is wrong. Not in a moral sense, but in a fitness sense. We feel it to be inappropriate. Unbelievable. Shocking. Tragic. Raw. And I think we only feel this way because we know we were never meant to experience it.

Respected scientist Carl Sagan made a revealing statement in his book Cosmos (p.4),
"Our feeblest contemplations of the cosmos stir us--there is is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height." 

Why would humanity as a general whole feel this memory if it were not in some way true? From what height was there to fall if we evolved through a process of deaths before sin brought the separation we find so repulsive?

This is also why Christianity is not ultimately about morality or ethics. Hebrews chapter 2 tells us that Jesus came to reverse Death (which inherently means dealing with the sin problem since Death results from sin.)
"...he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15
There is no measurable, objective way to prove my point other than the affirmation felt strongly in the soul of a person who has just lost someone dear to them. But it is for me another signpost to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. It is not an argument to convince anybody because it assumes the reality of God's love which not all are willing to receive. In the end, I guess the strongest evidence I have is subjective: the fact that it seems to me inconsistent with the character of the God I know to allow a blind process to produce humans made in His Image, loved relentlessly, and meant to reflect the glory of His grace.

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