Over the last few weeks the BBC has been paying homage to Darwin as if he was the only person from the Victorian era who had an impact on the world. He wasn’t – indeed, his idea probably had less real impact than that of many others, but he is, quite probably, the only one whose idea progressives feel they can support.
They feel that way because it gives them a chance to rubbish the thing that they believe holds back their cause; religion - specifically, Christianity.
The trouble is, I don’t believe Darwin’s ideas do rubbish Christianity. If anything, his idea supports the Bible version of creation. It just depends on how you interpret it.
The first thing you have to consider is that The Bible version of creation was written some 3-5000 years before Darwin came along. As very few people even a hundred and fifty years ago had the slightest inkling of the concept of evolution it’s not surprising to find that those who wrote the Bible had even less – and yet they manage to describe it in surprising detail though within the context of the times.
It starts off with the basic idea that God created light. Well, we now think that the universe started with a “Big Bang” – but given the absence of anything for sound to travel through there would not have been a bang – just an awful lot of light. Am I the only one who thinks that for someone to have predicted that 5000 years ago was quite a remarkable achievement?
Perhaps they just got lucky. OK – well, next they say that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Impossible? Of course – if you think of “days” as earthly days. I don’t – instead I believe the “six days” were actually the six major eras which ended with mass extinctions. The seventh day is the modern era which will end with mans extinction – Armageddon. During this “day” God leaves us to our own devices until the time comes when we either blow ourselves to kingdom come or die out naturally.
Again, considering that there is no way that those who wrote the Bible could know about the six major eras and mass extinctions isn’t it natural that they would have put it into a context they understood? And it remains a remarkably accurate overview of the development of the universe and earth.
Still not convinced? Ok – how about the fact that the Bible claims that every living thing came out of the sea – including the birds and insects? We now believe that life did indeed first evolve in the sea and that even the birds and insects evolved from creatures that emerged from the oceans and took some first tentative steps on land for some reason. How did those who wrote the Bible know this?
What about the idea of Adam and Eve being the first man and woman? The Bible doesn’t say they were. Indeed, it clearly says they weren’t. What it does say is that Adam was the first man who God endowed with a “soul” – the first self-conscious, rational thinking human animal. Long before we get to the story of Adam and Eve we hear how God gave man “dominion” over the other creatures – and we know that humans were indeed exploiting animals for their own progression long before the Bible was written. The Bible also tells us that Cain – the surviving son of Adam and Eve – goes out and takes a wife. Where do you think this wife came from if there weren’t any other humans around?
Finally, there is the story of the apple and the “Tree of Knowledge”. You don’t have to be a scientist to work out that the “Tree Of Knowledge” is science. What the Bible is saying is that before we started to use science for advancement of the human race, God “provided” everything we needed – food, shelter and so on. As long as we didn’t use science we would be able to exist quite happily – but by no means as successfully.
As soon as Eve takes a “bite” out of the apple – she starts getting ideas. This is the point at which God says – OK, you don’t need me any more – you’re on your own son. The Bible suggests this was a reproach – but I believe that this was always what God intended. Much like a parent will care for a child, but always intends that that child will, eventually, make their own way in life without their parent.
The Bible gets it right on the “Big Bang”, the six “days” of the major eras ending with mass extinction and life originating in the sea. It also explains how the birth of science – starting with clothing – was the point at which God took a bow and left us to it – he rests on the seventh day and we are living in that day.
Sure, he makes a couple of other appearances to other people – basically to try and keep us on the right path just like any parent would – and when things get real bad he sends his son to remind us of what he is all about, but other than that God lets us pretty much get on with what we want.
Darwin’s dangerous idea? I don’t think he was the first to think of it.