Tag: lgbtqi+ issues

Reconciling evolution and intelligent design.

Reconciling evolution and intelligent design.

Fair warning, this post is about religion. I’m not a religious person–but I’m fascinated by the structure and influence it has. I admire those who have the strength of faith to believe in what cannot be proven, and those who take these ancient teachings and utilise them to be generous and kind. I hope that my thoughts below carry my respect for others’ belief. However, if you find religious discussion confronting or uncomfortable, you may wish to skip reading this blog.

If you are religious and find your way through my thoughts–I would love to know your view.

Why is a twit like me thinking about religion so much?

I was raised to believe in what I chose to believe in, so for the most part that was the hidden magic of the universe that you see in books and movies. I hoped every day desperately that I would catch my toys interacting in the dead of night, a tiny world that nested within my own. I attended a church with my grandparents and siblings on the weekend, their way of giving my parents some much-needed peace, but the miracles of the Bible just never grabbed me in the way it does others.

I liked the stories, and I loved the massive lunch they held once a month. I got enough familiarity with the routine and structure of church that I eventually decided it wasn’t for me, and I would have to find another activity with free food.

Simply put, I couldn’t suspend my belief enough to accept the Bible as a historical source. I still can’t, and I think it’s downright amazing for those who can.

I do think about it a lot, though, especially with the influence that religion has on society. Trying to reconcile happenings in the world with oft-quoted Bible verses keeps me occupied.

Genesis vs The Big Bang

One thing I never really ‘got’ about Genesis was the concept of the world being created in seven days. This makes very little sense if you consider that prior to there being light, there was likely no way to measure day and night. But then, who are we to assume that a God’s concept of day and night is the same length as our own?

The magic-wand approach of ‘intelligent design’ just doesn’t seem right. Why magic a universe from the depths of nowhere, when you could grow one? Why go for instant gratification when you could pull cosmic forces from hither and thither, smashing them all into one ‘big bang’ and forming the beginnings of a baby universe?

I don’t see how the Bible and scientific theories of universe creation are incompatible.

Remember too, that when these tales were initially formed, society didn’t have the deep scientific understanding that we do now. You could assume we were told a story we would understand, one of magic and wonder. Much like a child’s fairy tale before the child is old enough to comprehend that these things (allegedly) don’t exist.

God as a scientist.

So if we assume then that God is the instigator of the ‘big bang’ and our universe is His pet project, we then begin to see God not as an almighty magician, but as something better. A scientist!

This does mean putting aside the idea that God’s way always is and always was perfect. Perhaps in days of Eden it might have been, but whether you believe that sin and corruption changed the course of the world–or that God allowed nature to grow as it would–you can’t deny that the world has been evolving and adapting.

A close friend advised me that God gave man free will, that man could choose to love Him independently. The concept of the unknown element, ‘free will’ ties in nicely with the idea of us as an ongoing project. Another teaching claims that after the original sin, man was given the freedom to seek his own salvation in goodness and worship. In other words–God let us loose upon the earth to see what we would do.

Choose him? Better ourselves? Tear the world apart? In giving that free will, God himself was unable to know the outcome of the universe. Sounds like a pretty awesome project to me!

Evolution vs Intelligent design

With me so far? This one can be tricky. Once again, we’re going to assume that Genesis is a story told to man based upon how they understood themselves at the time. That is, a race that could stand, walk, and communicate.

Evolution suggests we weren’t always like that. Evolution suggests that we evolved, like all other organisms, from the smallest building blocks in the universe. The Bible states that we were made in God’s image. The fight over what view is correct has been raging since the theory of evolution first arose.

They’re not incompatible. We assume that the Bible means our current shape and form, because that is what we know. We don’t know what God’s image is. God, as is commonly accepted, is an all-knowing presence with no corporeal form. There’s no evidence that contradicts the idea that God Himself is able to change forms, and plenty of evidence that humans have evolved over time.

We were created in his image, and molded further to suit the changing planet, perhaps?

The universe as an ongoing project.

I’ve said a bit about this already, but the idea of our universe being seven day’s work and then sitting back to see what happens? Doesn’t sound much fun for God. I think evolution tells us that if He is the driving force behind all creation, he is still creating.

The world is changing and reacting in ways that He may not have predicted. Adjustments are needed, punishments are delivered and rewards are given. Over centuries organisms grow or lose tails, shed or grow fur to suit new climates, breed and diversify into the complex kingdom we live in.

What if we’re not just discovering new species of animals, but he is creating them for us to find?

Could you imagine the pure joy that God must feel as we explore and discover these creations? Pride when we broke our world down into building blocks, atoms and cells. Excitement at our discoveries, like a parent for a child. This is why I especially can’t get behind the Religion vs Science idea. God is science, and science is God’s magic.

On developments since the time of writing.

I can accept that the Bible may (in places) suggest that homosexual relationships are not acceptable. But remember, in this time and age, there was a great need for people to populate the earth. If men lay with men, and women with women, the progress of man would have been hobbled. We were not in the fortunate position we are now, where so many brilliant minds carry society forward.

We no longer need the reproductive power we did in Biblical times. ‘Go forth and multiply’ is no longer feasible when the world is bowing under the strain of overpopulation.

There’s a study done with rats by John Calhoun (1962) that I think illustrates this nicely. A number of rats put in an enclosure of a certain size will grow the population to a point–and then it plateaus. Put those same rats in a larger enclosure and the population will grow again, until the optimum population is reached and once again the numbers plateau. For any size ‘world’, there is an ideal number of inhabitants.

The rats controlled their own population by becoming bisexual, homosexual or asexual. As the rats were unable to flee the situation, the end result in most cases was a pretty scary dystopia–and there are plenty of counters to Calhoun’s research that suggest human society is less likely to follow that exact path.

However. If God works in mysterious was, and we must assume He does, how is homosexuality not a perfect solution to overpopulation? He’s not taken away the ability to love, but broadened the acceptance of other options and the idea that not all relationships must create children. We no longer need to multiply, but we do need to love and care for each other. There are children without families and families that cannot have children–it may be a literal match made in Heaven.

There are many verses in the Bible that speak to social contexts that no longer apply. Clinging to the words on the page may be inhibiting society’s ability to move forward with His grander plan.

The vast difference between Old and New Testaments illustrate how God adapts from guiding man with lessons built on fear, to the gentler acceptance and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Society changed, and God’s method of guidance did as well. Not everything that was acceptable before is acceptable now–not everything that was unacceptable then is still unacceptable now.

Basically? The truth is bigger than the Bible.

If I had the faith, that is what I would believe. The Bible was a guide book for centuries ago, one that can inform us of where we came from–but has limited use in our current social context. In accepting that the world is changing around us, and that this is by God’s doing, it also needs to be recognised that Gods plan is also changing.

Therefore, a thick volume of preserved words can only tell us so much. For the rest we need to take the spirit of God’s message (be kind, be generous, and love one another) and ask ourselves how it applies to the world as it is today. And from then, trust that if we act with that message and with God in our hearts, that we are acting in accordance with his plan.

I may not have God in my heart, but I do wholly believe in the message–insofar as it teaches love and acceptance. I see churches turning closer to this, and it makes me happy. Religion is a very powerful tool in society, and it should be used to bring people together–not tear them apart.

Especially not over ancient, difficult-to-translate text.

Marriage equality plebiscite: expensive and expected to fail?

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‘This plebiscite is being set up to fail. We’re being played.’ article by Matt Akersten inspired the following comments.

How the plebiscite will be counted, and what determines a ‘win’ is incredibly important information. It will determine the type and level of campaigning needed.

Why campaigning? Isn’t this an issue of personal beliefs?

Well, yes. It is. No one wants to see campaigning on this issue, because it’s going to get ugly. It’s going to get personal. It’s most likely going to damage some of the most vulnerable citizens in Australia: those who already struggle with being accepted by the wider community.

Think if someone took a core aspect of yourself, and aggressively campaigned against your right to be that way.

This doesn’t just apply to votes against marriage equality, either. Voters for can be just as aggressive in their tactics, attacking religion (another closely held part of some people) as being wrong and influencing ‘wrong attitudes’. Whatever you believe on the issues of homosexuality or religion, I think we can all agree that no one deserves to be attacked in that way.

But it will happen, and depending on how the plebiscite is counted, it will need to happen. Why? Because the outcome will be decided by the vast majority: people who are absolutely indifferent to whether marriage equality is a thing or not. It doesn’t carry any weight in their lives, and they will vote in accordance with how they feel on the day.

Unless they are brought over to one side or another. It will be the voting equivalent of Hungry Hungry Hippos, with both sides trying to snap up as many indifferent voters as they can before the poll.

And like Hungry Hungry Hippos with my siblings, it is going to get extremely ugly.

What do you mean, ‘how it’s counted matters’?

Plebiscites can be counted in a number of different ways, and the rules will be decided by the governing party (if the Coalition retains government, the plebiscite will go ahead and they will make the rules).

It may follow the rules of a constitutional referendum, and if it does—the pro-marriage equality movement is dead in the water.

To succeed, a referendum is determined by the majority of citizens in an electorate, the majority of electorates in a state, and then a majority of states in the country.

That means that even if 40% of electorates in Victoria get a 95% ‘yes’ vote, because 60% were determined ‘no’, the state votes ‘no’.

But—if only Queensland and Victoria are determined as ‘no’ votes, the referendum can still pass as the majority of states in the country have voted ‘yes’. Referendums almost always fail.

Referendums are also legally binding, meaning the government -must- act on the outcome of the vote. Plebiscites are not, and are meant to serve as guidance for members of parliament in how they should proceed in the way that best reflects their electorate.

Situation: Risky.

How the plebiscite will be counted hasn’t been revealed yet. Either it hasn’t been decided, or the Coalition is staying tight-lipped for a reason. An outcome of ‘no’ could see marriage equality shelved for years or more, and we may see an outcome of ‘no’ simply due to the number of people who don’t really care, and don’t understand why anything needs to change.

A conscience vote in parliament is an equally risky move. It would allow MPs to vote based on what they feel to be right, whether that’s a personal belief or one based on what they feel their electorate wants (which you’d hope they consider at all times). It allows MPs to vote against party lines if they need to.

Whichever path we take, it will be a risk. It may prove expensive. Marriage equality is inevitable in the future, but at what rate Australia catches up to the rest of the world is unfortunately for the government to decide.

If you don’t care, just vote ‘yes’.

In the mean time, if you have a view and you know people who don’t care—share it with them. Encourage them to research and find their own position on the matter, because if the plebiscite goes ahead, their vote will have an impact.

And if they aren’t motivated to find their own opinion, ask them to vote yes. It won’t change their own lives, but it could make someone else’s life complete.

If it doesn’t matter to you, vote yes for someone it does matter to.