Sunday, February 6, 2005

God vs Evolution

I don’t really see this as an either/or proposition.

The no-God people say evolution and natural processes explain everything about how our universe is today. Okay, then let’s imagine running the timeline of our universe backwards and see what happens:
  • The current age of mammals (and insects) starts when an asteroid hits the earth and wipes out the bulk of the large lizard population. Before that...
  • Dinosaurs are the result of a continuous cycle of mutation and evolution which begins with the first living and reproducing cells emerging in the primordial sea. Before that...
  • The earth coalesces from matter circling our young star, the Sun. While there were still big pieces of stuff flying around the solar system, perhaps one of them hit the soft earth and tossed off a chunk that became our Moon. Or maybe the Moon coalesced independently. Other planets formed. Too bad for Mercury and Venus – they’re too close and too hot and it doesn’t look like any life emerged (I’m still holding out hope for Venus as the sun cools). The gas giants weren’t quite big enough to fuse into stars, and not warm enough to support anything we understand as life. Mars may have had its “time in the sun” (sorry) as the sun was cooling, but when its core temperature dropped and the magnetic field was lost, the atmosphere was swept away, all the water froze, and whatever life was there died. Or maybe they migrated to next warmer planet, Earth. Before that...
  • The Big Bang occurs, and matter is sprayed from a single mother particle into the void, creating our universe and everything in it. Before that?

There are still a few unanswered questions, don’t you think?

  • What caused the Big Bang to occur?
  • Has it only happened once, or has our universe exploded, contracted, and exploded again many times?
  • Are there other mother particles out there? Do they all explode at the same time, or are explosions and implosions going on all the time?
  • Is there a higher realm of existence where entities ‘live’ which can control these Big Bangs?
  • When we smash atoms in a linear accelerator (or a nuclear bomb), are we causing big bangs for the entities which live in a universe where quarks are planets and neutrinos are suns?

I don’t pretend to have answers to any of those questions, nor do I believe does anyone else. So I’m willing to leave room for the existence of beings of another realm that have a direct impact on our world. Not in minute detail (“your every hair has a number”), but close enough to step in with a broad brush as they desire.

Imagine a universe with only two dimensions and whose inhabitants were simple geometric shapes. Circles and squares and triangles wander around interacting with each other, completely unaware that their 2D universe coexists with universes of different numbers of dimensions. One day, a 3D universe intersects their 2D universe, and a sphere passes through right in front of a square and a star. What would they see? Perhaps first a point would appear which then turned into an expanding circle. Just as quickly, the circle contracted back to a point then disappeared. They would never say “hey, I bet that was a sphere” because they have no way of imagining a 3D object. They would probably say, "wasn't that a strangle circle?"

But maybe this wasn’t the first time a 3D object had passed through their 2D universe. Maybe it happened a few times before and a few of the more mystical 2D creatures began to suspect that the sphere wasn’t just a funny circle, but maybe something ‘supernatural.’ Over time, all kinds of mythology might develop as to the composition and purpose of the ethereal visitors.

And maybe the 3D creatures figured out how to communicate with the 2D creatures when the intersection occurred. The first communications would be simple. As the 3D’ers learned how to cause physical events in the 2D world, they might try to help them, or maybe exploit them. Later, as the 3D creatures got better at communications, they would learn to be more helpful (or manipulative). The physical interactions could get more sophisticated, even to the point to a sustained presence in the 2D world, appearing as a 2D creature.

So I’m not sure what God is. Neither is anyone else. But one working model for me is that God is an entity (or class of entities) of a universe which has dominion over ours. He knows how to interact with our universe. In the early days of Man, the interactions were crude. We were simple, and maybe God was just learning how to work the levers on his space/time machine. So we got lots of rules and extreme punishment. The interactions were like a parent talking to a toddler.

But then at least once, He made a projection into our space/time to interact with us in a more peer-to-peer manner, just like our sphere visiting the 2D universe. The advice we got then was more sophisticated, like a wise old sage talking to a young adult.

Personally, I think it was great advice.

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