Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We are Wired for God: Does the Evolutionist Explanation Work?

Is it wise or profitable to regard our intuitions, emotions, and the belief in God as merely the result of evolutionary processes? Evolutionists see no problem in this. One wrote:

  • “Our conscience always sends us a signal that there is supernatural world - not because there actually is one, but because of evolutionary mechanisms.”
I don’t think that it is expedient to relativise – to write them off as mere chemical reactions - all of our inner states and perceptions. For instance, what I see (my chemical experiences, I take as reality, and it serves me well, especially as I ride my bike through NYC traffic.

I’ve found that our inner experiences, although requiring a little more interpretation, are little different. They inform me about the nature of reality and relationships. I know what others need because I know what I need and desire.

Likewise, when I feel guilty or when I notice the intense inner struggle to try to justify myself, I have learned that it is profitable to closely examine these feelings, because they too reflect objective truth. Feeling guilty often means that I am guilty and must do something about it, like humbling myself to admit my sin. Amazingly, when I do this, I find relief and even the restoration of my relationships. What a fortuitous and elegant resolution!

While the evolutionist will acknowledge that these feelings confer a survival advantage, they encounter a great problem when they try to explain the belief in a God. They acknowledge that we are hard-wired for this belief, but they are adamant that this intuition does not confer a survival advantage. Instead, they claim that God is a delusion, and it prevents humanity from making a positive adjustment to the environment.

However, if evolutionary change takes place because it confers a survival advantage and the belief in God represents a disadvantage, they cannot explain an evolutionary origin of this belief.

Besides, the belief in God is associated with many widely acknowledged benefits. If the evolutionist is willing to accept other intuitions – justice, guilt, shame - as beneficial, why not also adopt the belief in God!

Meanwhile, my evolutionist friend claims that:

  • “It is only in your brain, it does not exist. And I am relieved and happy that there is no supernatural bloodthirsty dictator up in heaven.”
 If God is “only in [our] brain,” then too are compassion, right and wrong, justice, guilt, and altruism. If you dismiss God as a chemical reaction, then you should also dismiss and reject all of our intuitions as mere chemical reactions.

While denying the existence of a punitive God might afford some temporary relief and a sense of liberation, I would counsel you to closely observe how “relieved and happy” you are with the passing of years. Ice cream tastes great, but our assessment might change when we look at the long term effects.

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