Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Faith and Technology in the Evolutionary Process

Philocrites point us to a book out on the Evolution debate. There's an interesting quote about how the likes of Richard Dawkins are making unnecessary enemies of religous people. The point being that he has far more allies on the evolutionary front among religious people than he realizes. Here's the quote:

Ruse asserts that popular contemporary biologists like Edward O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins have also exacerbated the divisions between evolutionists and creationists by directly challenging the validity of religious belief - Dawkins by repeatedly declaring his atheism ("faith," he once wrote, "is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate"),

I'm not sure where I want to go with this, so I may ramble a bit.

Religion is natural product of human beings.

Transcendence is a natural part of who we are as human. I'm not sure what I mean by transcendence. I think that I'm refering to that self reflective sense that enables us to contextualize "the whole." This contextualization of the whole leads to wonder and wonder leads to philosophy and religion: basically, sets us on a search in response to wonder. "Who are we?" "Why are we here?" etc These questions are transcendence in action, we're trying to answer questions about "the whole." This process is natural.

Our search for answers to the quesiton of the whole mixes with our existential problem of finiteness and this inspires explicit religious seeking. When we as humans encounter the unknown, we combine our ignorance with our sense of wonder and thus fill in the blanks with religious symbolism.

What I'm getting at here is that I don't understand why secular evolutionary biologist and their allies get away with deciding that religion is some unnatural force that is destructive to humans. Why is technology okay and religion bad?

Technology, like religion, is a transcendent production. Technology is an extension of the human person or an alteration of nature to enhance our human situation. Technology is a natural outgrowth of the human situation. It is a deliberate outgrowth of human nature, i.e, we engage in a self analysis and determine what is desired, how to achieve it and replicate a process for achieving what we desire. Spears were made because they were an improvement over our hands: clothes accomplish what our skin may not, i.e, keep us dry or warm, etc (although clothes in the Bible were a response to shame and not the elements).

Transcendence is human and even the most ardent secular evolutionary biologist or scientist has to account for this idea of transcendence. How was it introduced into the evolutionary process? How could it have developed in the first place? This are questions they must grapple with because it is a fact of existence.

Both religion and technology require transcendence. They both seek to understand the whole and the constituent parts and how the whole and parts relate to each other. They both require self reflection and analysis. The problem is that it is in the nature of transcendence to seek control rather than be controlled. So while in times past we were selected in and out of existence by the unrelenting process of evolution, we have evolved to the point that we have say in the process. Our techonological abilities can make up for the lack of Darwinian "fitness."

It seems to me that if one criticizes religion negatively in terms of evolution, then technology must be equally castigated, because both do similar things and have similar effects on the human situation.

Faith/religion is not unnatural and for the evolutionary biologist to condemn it as a "virus" is counter-sensical. If anything, they should know that it is "nature" who does the selecting and if the religious are not a "fit" then we'd be selected out of existence.


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