Having been raised as an atheist by scientist parents, and spent most of my life in and around scientific research institutes, I’ve always taken the theory of evolution for granted, although I’ve never read Darwin’s book The Origin of Species. Mark Twain’s definition of classics as “something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read” is spot on in that regard. However, the recent widespread debate on the relationship between religion and science, more specifically, creation and evolution, has awakened in me the desire to rethink evolution.
There are three perspectives from which one can examine the idea of evolution: First, the scientific perspective, where diverse disciplines, such as physics, cosmology, biology, geology and palaeontology, converge and contribute to our study of the origin and history of the universe, of life forms on earth and of mankind; Second, the philosophical perspective, where diverse schools of thought stimulate our understanding of the nature of mind and matter, time and space, being and existence, potentiality and actuality, cause and effect, freedom and necessity; Third, the Christian theological perspective, where human beings, both communally and individually, wrestle with the problem of evil and of suffering, the meaning of Incarnation and Sacrifice, the nature of love and justice, the relationship between man and God, and the ultimate purpose of the creation.
Needless to say, every one of these subjects is immensely vast and deep, and beyond the depth of any individual. I’m overwhelmed by a sense of my own ignorance and smallness when I ponder these things. What do I know? Who am I to speak?
Truth be told, like quite a few prominent Christians who have spoken out in public, I’ve been troubled by the emotional and militant stance taken by many atheists against religion, including some of my atheist friends, who, ironically, have taken a page from Christianity — they love the religious, but hate the religion. They do not acknowledge the possibility of being wrong, and assert that logic and reason are on their side, and that people on the other side are either ignorant or dishonest. I used to have such an attitude, but now I see it as nothing but pride arising from ignorance. The plain fact is that logical and rational arguments can be and have been made to support the other side equally well, if not better.
With much fear and trembling, therefore, I’m planning to publish a series of posts on subjects related to evolution, for three reasons: First, for my own education. I gain clarity and insights by formulating and articulating my thoughts. Second, for public discourse. Having lived half of my life as an atheist and the other half as a theist, I can relate to both sides, and believe it is possible to have constructive dialogues. “Come, let us reason together”. Third, for mutual benefit. I hope that I might learn from others who are willing to evaluate and criticize ideas in a civic and rational manner, and that these discourses might help those who are also struggling with these issues.