The Science Myth: The Humanity Experiment

At the beginning of the essay “The Capitalism Myth,” I considered the question of whether science can be considered as a sort of myth. Most people would argue that, on the contrary, science has dispelled many formerly accepted myths; and it has done so by establishing precise scientific laws, theories, and facts about the world we live in. In this essay, I wish to consider this widely-held view about science and myth, for, as we shall see, the demarcation between these two seemingly disparate things is not as clear as many people believe.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume made the important observation that what we call causation is merely a case of constant contiguity. In more plain language, this means that whenever we say that “A causes B,” all we have observed is that “A is invariably followed by B;” but as to why this should be the case, we do not know any more than this. In many cases, scientists have been able to delve further into the matter and provide a more detailed account of what is actually transpiring. For example, in the case of sexual reproduction, we know that sexual intercourse is a necessary prerequisite for a baby to be born. But science has made more exact what is happening by specifying that, first of all, the female must produce an ovum or ova which can be fertilized by the insemination of the male. Then the fertilized egg must be kept at a certain temperature for it to produce a living offspring, whether this incubation takes place within or without the mother’s body.[1] From a single cell, the fertilized ovum multiplies and also differentiates itself into an astonishing number of different kinds of cells, to produce all the various living organisms that exist. The details of sexual reproduction have been studied extensively by biologists, so that now they are more or less common knowledge.

As a result, the formerly miraculous nature of the creation of life, which previously was attributed to God’s direct intervention each time a new organism was born, is now regarded as being the result of entirely mechanical and behavioural processes. But what many people fail to realize is that, in spite of science’s success in explaining, in precise detail, the steps involved and the conditions in which life is conceived and later develops, science is still not able to explain why life exists in the first place: how it is that life, or animate matter, is able to fashion itself out of inanimate materials like carbon, oxygen, water, and other chemical elements. And this is a mystery that science cannot explain, no matter how successful it is in explaining the myriad processes that underlie life and make its continued existence possible.

By the Science Myth, I mean the belief that all these marvellous living creations, as well as the features of the rest of the Universe and everything it contains, arose entirely by chance, accident, or some sort of fortuitous happenstance. This belief is the fundamental tenet of scientific theology. By calling it theology, I wish to make clear the important fact that there is no more evidence for this belief than there is for many of the beliefs that are claimed to be true by all the different religions of the world, such as, for example, the account of the world’s creation contained in the Book of Genesis.

Science has been so highly successful, in no small part precisely because it has excluded questions of ultimate ends and purposes from its studies, and instead has limited itself to studying the regularities that are observable in the world. Many people believe that, when a previously mysterious or inexplicable phenomenon is successfully explained by scientists, it has been placed on a scientific foundation, and therefore it can no longer be used to buttress the claims of religion in support of its beliefs, whether about God’s existence, divine intervention in the world, or other supernatural, meaning non-scientific, phenomena. For example, before the natural causes of thunder and lightning were understood, many people believed that these phenomena were manifestations of God’s anger. Natural disasters or occurrences such as drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, violent storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, strange birth defects, and eclipses were often believed to result from some human misdeed, or to portend such a calamitous event. Before the mechanics of reproduction were understood, it was believed that God personally blessed loving and pious parents by making them fruitful with children. But as I have argued in “God is Not Dead,” God does not intervene in the world in this highly personal, specific, and continual manner. Rather, what God has done is to fashion the particular details, mechanisms, and laws of the world so that it will continue operating and developing without Its constant attention or intervention.

According to this viewpoint, what scientists have done is to study and make manifest the numerous regularities that have been fashioned by God in order to create the Universe, as well as the manner in which it develops, and the Life that exists on Earth, and perhaps in other places in the Universe where Life also exists. Thus, far from disproving God’s existence, each scientific discovery further illustrates God’s extraordinary ingenuity in fashioning the Universe, as well as in creating and sustaining Life on Earth. In other words, contrary to what many people believe, science and the belief in God are not at all incompatible.

In his essay “Of Atheism,” Francis Bacon famously declared, “a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about [back] to religion.” In the time that he lived, the term “philosophy” also included all the disciplines that we now call science. It is important to remember that the many scientific discoveries about the operations of the Universe in which we live were nowhere near as fully developed in his time as they are today. For example, Bacon had no idea how large the Universe is, and that our Sun is merely one of a vast number of stars in the Milky Way, which itself is merely one of a vast number of galaxies in the Universe. It is useful to quote the passage from which this sentence is taken, for it neatly summarizes the argument of this essay.

I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further [which is what science does]; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.

In the past, and even today, it was generally believed that science and religion were incompatible because the claims made by religion were directly contradicted by scientific discoveries. But many scientific believers have failed to realize that science’s numerous discoveries actually show that, although these particular religious claims about the world are wrong, the basic tenet of most religions – that there is a God that created the world – is in fact true. Many people who have studied science have mistakenly concluded from its success in explaining the workings of the Universe that this means there is no God. But this conclusion about God’s non-existence does not follow from science’s numerous successes in explaining the operations of the Universe.

If we consider the development of Life on Earth, what we observe is a gradual progression from the simple to the complex, from simple uniformity to an astonishing diversity. For example, the first kind of reproduction was identical reproduction, which is misleadingly called asexual reproduction.[2] This is the kind of reproduction that is employed by the simplest and earliest forms of life such as bacteria – to make identical copies of oneself, over and over again. But clearly this kind of reproduction is limited in the range of organisms it can give rise to. For example, by this method, a single-celled organism can never give rise to a multicellular organism with differentiated body parts.[3] If this form of reproduction was perfectly identical each and every time, then clearly it would be extremely limited in the kinds of life it could give rise to, since it would not allow for any variation in the living organism. Hence, God may have made a modification in identical reproduction so that it admitted the possibility of variation. But this variation had to be very narrowly confined, otherwise if the reproduction were sufficiently imperfect, that is, if the variation were too great, it would impair the proper functioning of the replicated organism, which would lead to its malfunction and possibly its death.

For a long time, organisms that reproduced identically were the only kind that existed on Earth. Because we are so familiar with organisms that reproduce sexually, as well as the details of how it occurs, it is extremely difficult for us to imagine, prior to its existence, how difficult it was to come up with this radically new and different form of reproduction. In other words, because of the present ubiquity of organisms that reproduce sexually, we believe that the development of this reproductive process was inevitable. However, the belief that sexual reproduction arose entirely by chance from identical reproduction is completely absurd. For between these two kinds of reproduction – identical, with very slight modifications, and sexual, with more significant modifications, or variations – lies a gap in conception and complexity that is so great that it took even God, the master Creator and Designer, a very long time to progress from the one to the other. Identical reproduction results in the creation of two organisms from a single organism, while sexual reproduction requires the union of two organisms in order to produce one or more offspring.

Once God conceived and perfected sexual reproduction, which process of perfection probably took a long time, God employed it in many different forms, both plant and animal. Why? Because it enabled an astonishingly wide variety of organisms to develop over the course of time. Moreover, it allowed for the development of new species without God’s intervention. For the Creator of Life, this surely must have been a highly gratifying development – to see the creatures that It had created develop and modify themselves on their own into new forms that It had previously not conceived. Henceforth, the development of Life was no longer narrowly limited to making identical copies of itself with only minute variations.

If one believes, as true scientific believers like Richard Dawkins and others believe, that a principle such as natural selection operates in the world without exception, then one will attempt to fit everything that exists and occurs in the world within its narrow confines. Moreover, the belief in these supposedly inviolable principles renders their adherents completely blind to the many real-world instances that contradict them. In other words, these kinds of beliefs act as filters or prisms that distort the way we perceive the world. But why must a principle be globally or universally valid in order to be true? Where did this common but frequently erroneous belief about the world come from? The answer is that it came from the brain of a human being, which belief was then imitated by many others because of our very strong, innate human tendency to imitate those persons we admire, including the things they say and believe. Considering how many of the fancies, beliefs, ideas, theories, and convictions that have originated in human brains have turned out to be false, it is entirely possible that many principles which are believed to be true without exception are not as globally or universally valid as their adherents believe.

If we limit our discussion to the Creation of Life, in the beginning there was no life anywhere in the Universe. After many billions of years following the creation of the Universe, God may have conceived the idea of creating a different category of objects than stars, planets, asteroids, and so forth. This idea I will call the Life Project. Even today, with all of science’s numerous discoveries about the processes that underlie the existence and development of Life on Earth, we still are no closer to understanding how Life first arose, or how a living creature is able to fashion itself out of inanimate matter.[4] Another important point that is often overlooked is that, besides creating Life, God also had to create and maintain the numerous and extremely complex conditions that are necessary for Life to exist and flourish on the Earth, since Life cannot exist without these hospitable conditions, Many people, including even religious people, overlook or take these conditions for granted, assuming that they simply arose and are maintained by chance.

The naive creation story contained in the Book of Genesis completely overlooks, because those who formulated it did not understand, the very great difficulties that God had to solve in order to create and preserve Life. Among the very first creatures that God was able to create were probably single-celled bacteria. It was only gradually, over the course of hundreds of millions of years, that, as God’s expertise in creating and preserving new life forms increased, It was able to create more complex life forms. The belief that God was able to create the sorts of complex creatures that presently abound at the beginning of the Life Project is mistaken. Moreover, it is contradicted by the evidence that has been unearthed by geologists, paleontologists, and other scientists who study the early development of Life on Earth, as well as the physical conditions that existed during those distant epochs. Both the Universe and terrestrial Life were indeed created by God; but it took God a much, much longer time than a mere six Earth-days to create them.[5]

During the course of the billions of years that Life has existed on Earth, God has witnessed an enormous variety of different species that have flourished and then disappeared. But I think it accurate to say that, of all those species, there has not been a single species whose members have been able to appreciate,[6] in all its complexity, variety, size, and longevity, the astonishing grandeur and magnificence of God’s Creation. Hence, at some point during Life’s progression, it may have occurred to God to create such a species. This project or experiment I will call the Humanity Experiment. It is possible that, prior to selecting humans – and, moreover, a particular species of humans, since the fossil remains of several other human species have been discovered, all of which became extinct[7] – God considered other species as potential subjects in Its quest to create an intelligent species that could appreciate, in its entirety and detailed complexity, the grand magnificence of God’s Creation.[8]

What this means is that the belief that we human beings are made in God’s image may in fact be true. In what sense is it true? Certainly not in the sense that we are immortal or omnipotent, since we possess neither of these divine characteristics. Rather, it is in the sense that we are able to create, just as God creates, and that we, alone of all living creatures, are able to understand, in precise, complex detail, the wonders of God’s Creation. There are numerous similarities between God’s Creation and our human creations, such as the fact that both living and human creations are derived or influenced by previously existing creations, and there are many creations, both living and human, that share a family resemblance with each other. Another important similarity is that, just as human creators are very different from their creations, God is also very different from the things that It creates. In other words, one must not make the mistake of confounding the creations of the Creator with the Creator, or seek to deduce certain characteristics of the Creator solely from an examination of one or more of Its creations. However, our creations are on a much, much smaller scale than the scale at which God creates, which encompasses the vast Universe.

I think it true to say that, prior to our existence, there has never been a species that is capable of creating the wide variety of complex and highly developed things that we are able to create – things, moreover, that do not in any way contribute to our survival, and hence, cannot be explained from a narrow evolutionary perspective. Other organisms produce many things that we are incapable of producing – plants produce beautiful leaves, flowers, and fruits, crustaceans produce intricate protective shells, vertebrates produce sturdy skeletons, some mammals produce soft, furry, insulating coats, oysters produce, besides their hard protective shells, shiny, spherical pearls, spiders and other insects produce silky webs or threads with which they catch their prey or use for other purposes, birds build nests in which they lay their eggs and raise their young, social insects like bees, ants, termites, and wasps build elaborate hives, colonies, or mounds in which they live and raise their young, and so on – but all of these creations are involuntary and are the result of their hereditary nature, and furthermore, all of them contribute in some way to their survival, something that is not true of many of our human creations.

But even with our extraordinary and unprecedented ability to create, there exists the key difference that, whereas God is able to create living things, we humans are limited to creating and manipulating dead things, although some of our creations may have the semblance of life. Just as it is completely absurd to suggest that evolution, or more specifically, natural selection, was able to produce sexual reproduction from identical reproduction, I believe it is equally absurd to suggest that evolution was able to produce the astonishing creativity that humanity has exhibited during the course of the past few millennia.[9]

Even in the case of human languages, there is an extraordinary variety of different languages that have been developed and continue to exist: some have alphabets while others do not, some are tonal while others are not, some languages lack the verb “to be,” and so on. Moreover, languages are able to adapt to changing environments in a manner and at a speed that a species’ genes cannot adapt. Although related languages like the Latin languages show numerous similarities in their structure and sounds, as well as the meanings of some of those sounds, disparate languages like Chinese, English, Arabic, and Inuit have almost nothing in common with each other, whether in their structure or the sounds of the language. If all the different languages were compared to organisms, then these disparate languages would belong to separate families. How is it possible that a single species is able to produce such a wide variety of different, complex, and adaptive symbolic systems that enable their members to communicate with each other about various aspects of the world they live in? For there exists no other species of organisms that possesses this extraordinary ability.

Besides our creativity, there is another feature that makes us significantly different from other creatures: of all living creatures, we alone are capable of appreciating the complexity, ingenuity, and genius of God’s Creation. Again, it is completely absurd to suggest that evolution, or chance, was able to produce a species, namely us, that possesses the ability to formulate the complex scientific theories and mathematical equations that correctly explain the workings of the Universe. There is a parallel between the very slow development of Life and the slow acquisition of knowledge about the workings of the Universe by our ancestors. In neither case did this occur instantaneously by God’s will, as many religious people believe God could have done, since they attribute omnipotence to God. However, the reality of the historical record suggests that this widespread belief is wrong.

There exist no other living creatures that come remotely close to understanding the complexity of God’s truly incredible and astonishing achievement. To consider an example, chimpanzees are said to be our nearest animal relatives. And yet, when a chimpanzee stares at the night-time sky full of stars, does it understand that each tiny point of light represents a star that is comparable in size to our Sun? Does it have any idea how far away these stars are from our planet, or how far away the Sun and Moon are from the Earth? Can a chimpanzee be made to understand how large the Sun and the Earth really are, and that the Earth is spherical in shape? If a chimpanzee were shown a photograph of the Earth taken from space, can it understand that it shows the planet on which we live? Can it be made to understand how old the Earth and Universe are, or even the much younger age of some ancient trees that have existed for thousands of years? Is it possible for a chimpanzee to understand that it is related to all the other groups of chimpanzees in the world, and that they are also related, more distantly, to gorillas, orangutans, monkeys, bonobos, baboons, lemurs, and human beings? Or see if you can teach a primate other than humans the mechanics of reproduction – that the act of sexual intercourse, if it is successful, leads to the birth of an offspring some months later. Although some chimpanzees have successfully learned the rudiments of human language, if we were to try to teach them these and other things, I do not believe they would be capable of understanding any of them, most of which can be understood by almost all human children by the time they reach adolescence.

I suspect there is another reason why we are able to manipulate our environment and create things that didn’t exist prior to their creation, for this ability has enabled us to fashion the many different scientific tools and instruments, such as telescopes, microscopes, and spectrometers, as well as recording devices like cameras, that aid us in our incessant efforts to understand God’s extraordinary accomplishments in all their intricate details.

Besides these two important differentiating traits, we humans possess several other traits that very clearly distinguish us from all other living creatures. There are many writers who have remarked on our extraordinary human capacity for curiosity. Again, there exists no other species whose members exhibit the strong curiosity to know and understand how various aspects of the Universe function. And what is more, coupled with this curiosity is the truly astonishing fact that we are able to answer the questions which we ask ourselves, in detailed, mathematical complexity, while we delve further and further into the mysteries of the Universe. I think that most people would agree that, even if birds could ask themselves why they should possess the marvellous ability to fly, they most certainly would not be able to discover, nor even understand if we tried to explain to them, the complex principles of aerodynamics, or what is happening in mathematical terms when they fly through the air. Why should these two abilities – the ability to ask questions about the world we live in, and the ability to answer them – only have been given to – or developed in, if one prefers to use more evolutionarily correct language – human beings, alone of all the many millions and millions of species that exist, and have existed, on the planet?

The fact that we become strongly attached to things, and in particular to the things that we create, is essential for the creation, development, and preservation of human culture. Many human beings are as strongly attached to their possessions as mothers are to their children. Most people do not understand how rare this trait is among other species. As I have written elsewhere, male deer do not become attached to the magnificent and heavy antlers which they produce each year – although human hunters proudly preserve them, along with the stag’s head, as a trophy – shedding and abandoning them when the mating season is over; crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans do not become sentimentally attached to the series of shells which they manufacture, and which protect them from being attacked or eaten; once they have finished molting, which they must do each time they outgrow their protective casing, they show not the slightest interest in this chitinous body armour; birds do not become attached to the nests they build, even though this act of construction may take considerable time and effort. The attachment that other animals have to the things they produce, or to things in general, is entirely practical. This is why, for example, you would never be able to sell a kennel to a dog, or even be able to make the dog understand the value of money, even though dogs are said to be fairly intelligent creatures.

Imagine if human beings were as indifferent to their creations as other animals are to the things they create. In that case, a painter, writer, or musician would abandon one’s artistic creation as soon as it was completed, or once it no longer served any practical purpose. But without the retention of these things, so that other people besides their creators can study and appreciate them, then the cultural development that characterizes human societies would not be possible.[10] Hence, our strong attachment to things, which many persons and religions have criticized as a flaw, is what makes possible our species’ cumulative and, in recent times, extremely rapid cultural, artistic, scientific, and technological development.

It is obvious that we humans have been endowed with certain abilities that are not possessed by any other living creatures. In other words, as I have argued, God very clearly intervened during the course of our species’ evolution in order to fashion us in a certain way, so that we alone among all living creatures could appreciate God’s spectacular creative accomplishment in creating the Universe and everything it contains. Although I do not deny that natural selection is capable of creating a wide variety of different creatures, unless one is a scientific rationalist who dogmatically assumes that a principle like the Law of Natural Selection must be invariably true without any exceptions, there is no reason for believing that, on its own, it has produced all the different organisms that presently exist, and have existed in the past, on our planet.

Throughout history, we humans have selected certain plants and animals to beget species that have traits which are either useful or pleasing to us. Dogs, corn, cows, roses, tulips, and wheat are a few examples of human selection. Once God devised sexual reproduction, which allows for a much greater range of variability than identical reproduction, this provided God with a wider variety of living materials with which to proceed with the Life Project. There is no reason why God could not have intervened periodically in order to produce certain kinds of organisms, such as, for instance, whales[11] and elephants. Just as, in the case of human selection, there is a gradual, traceable evolution in the development of species that have been selected by humans, complete with animal skeletons or dried, preserved plants, in the case of divine selection, there is likewise a gradual development of these divinely-selected species, whose evolution is recorded in the fossil record.

When Darwin presented his Theory of Evolution, many people mistakenly concluded that this meant that all the organisms that have ever existed on the Earth arose entirely by natural selection. But what Darwin’s theory actually shows is that the account contained in the Book of Genesis, according to which each species was created uniquely by God from nothing, or by divine fiat, is wrong. However, it does not follow from the Theory of Evolution by national selection that God has never intervened in the course of this or that species’ evolution in order to produce a certain outcome, in this case meaning a certain kind of organism with certain characteristics or abilities. Of course, in many cases, it is not possible to tell which species, or which of its characteristics and abilities, resulted from natural selection, and which species or abilities from divine selection, since God has not felt the need, as many human artists and creators do, of leaving a divine signature on all the things that It has created or modified, or whose development it has guided and directed.

So how does the Universe and Life on Earth proceed? God ordains rules which regulate their unfolding – which rules have been discovered by the efforts of scientists and formulated as scientific laws – but God is free to intervene at any time and in any place to modify the course of events, for whatever reason. Moreover, God can, because It is the Creator of these rules, temporarily suspend them or make exceptions to them when It sees fit. In a similar way, a computer programmer can make modifications to a program’s code in order to fix problems or make alterations in how the program operates and what it can do.

Hence, according to this picture of the operations of the Universe, God does not intervene in, or directly cause, every single event that occurs in the Universe in order to produce a particular result, as many religious people wrongly believe. But neither must God obey these rules which It has fashioned, as naive scientific rationalists like Stephen Hawking mistakenly declare. In other words, it is only by uniting these two seemingly contradictory accounts of the Universe’s creation – the one contained in religious works like the Bible, and the other provided by scientific discoveries – that we can finally arrive at the truth about the world we live in: there is indeed a God that created the Universe and everything in it, including Life on Earth; but it is science, and not the Bible or some other purportedly sacred work, meaning a record of the Word of God, that correctly explains how God created it.

If human beings were invisible, as God is invisible to us – unless, of course, It chooses to manifest Itself to us – so that a group of primitive humans, or the members of another species, could only observe humanity’s numerous clever inventions and creations – clothes, cars, planes, machines, electronic devices, computers, artworks, buildings, and so forth – but without being able to observe their creators, then these observers would be led to believe that these inventions and creations somehow arose and produce, replicate, and modify themselves, animated by some invisible force or principle which determines their development. In the course of time, they would observe a gradual evolution-like improvement in these inventions, which might lead observers to formulate a natural law or theory to account for both their existence and their continual modification and development. This is more or less the relationship that exists between God’s many creations and our human perceptions of them, as well as our numerous scientific efforts to explain their existence, development, and workings.

But like many a human science project that goes awry, by producing unforeseen and undesirable consequences, the Humanity Experiment has likewise gone terribly awry. For by endowing the members of our species with these extraordinary and unprecedented abilities – the ability to create as God creates, and the ability to understand, in minute detail, the workings of God’s Creation – God has inadvertently placed the rest of Its Living Creation on Earth in very grave peril. For it is possible, and in my opinion, highly probable, that God did not foresee that giving humans these abilities would lead us to manipulate and radically alter the things that God had created, rather than being content merely to understand and appreciate them in all their intricate details. Today, in almost all places where Life exists, we can see the many harmful effects which humanity is having on the great majority of other living creatures.

My belief is that God expected that, if we humans were able to understand the extraordinary complexity, size, and grandeur of God’s Creation, including the living part of Its Creation, we would be filled with awe and reverence at God’s accomplishment, and thus become more, rather than less, respectful towards it. But what God almost certainly did not foresee is that science, which accurately reveals how God created the Universe and everything in it, would lead a great many people to believe that God does not exist, and therefore the Universe arose entirely by chance.

Did God intend for this to happen? I do not believe so. In other words, in my opinion, the widespread belief that God is omniscient, which belief includes being able to foresee the future in all its details, is wrong. Because religious people believe that God is perfect, they naively conclude from this belief that God must know everything, including knowing the events of the future, since, according to them, a perfect being would possess the attribute of omniscience. But the truth of the matter is that we really have no evidence for this common belief about God’s ability to foresee the future. This is merely another example of how we extremely fallible and frequently foolish human beings have mistakenly attributed to God an ability that God may not actually possess.

The philosophizing fool known as René Descartes argued that God must possess these and other attributes because God is perfect, and, by definition, there can be no creature that is more perfect than God. Hence, if God does not possess omniscience and other qualities that Descartes and others associate with their idea of perfection, then it follows that God is not perfect, meaning that there exists another being that is more perfect than God, which clearly is a contradiction. But the world is as it is, and not as silly philosophers or theologians like Descartes believe it to be. And this includes the attributes of God: God is as It is, and not as reasoning fools like Descartes believe God to be. In other words, whether or not God is able to foresee future events is not something that is determined or influenced in the slightest by people’s beliefs about God, such as their conception of God’s perfection. This example shows the great folly of attempting to reason one’s way to the truth about the world we live in, in particular about God, and believing that these conclusions, which are derived from the strict application of the rules of human logic to the phenomena of the world, must necessarily be true.

So where does this leave us? There is, I think, good reason to believe that God is fond of our kind, considering the efforts It has made to fashion us in very particular ways, which includes endowing us with abilities that no other creatures have possessed before us. Moreover, it is possible that God is interested in our creations, such as our many artistic and technological creations, since they are things that it would never have occurred to God to create. But at the same time, I also believe that God is greatly distressed about the many harmful effects that we are having on the rest of Its Living Earthly Creation. And it would be a very great mistake to assume that, if we do not act to reduce our destructive impact on the Earth and its many other living creatures, God will not act to protect Its Creation from our depredations – including, if necessary, by eradicating our species from the face of the Earth, for having demonstrated that we are not capable of living in harmony with, while exhibiting the deserved respect for, the rest of God’s Great and Glorious Creation.

 

[1] However, this rule applies primarily to mammals and birds, and not to other species that lay eggs, such as fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, many of which simply deposit their eggs in the water, bury them in the ground, or attach them to a plant or other structure above water, where they may be subject to the daily vicissitudes in temperature and other conditions that occur in those places.

[2] To call identical reproduction “asexual” suggests that it is merely a variation of sexual reproduction. But this conception is clearly wrong, since these two reproductive processes are completely different from each other. It is a strange manner of naming something by saying what it is not, especially, as in this case, when it predates the other kind by a very long period of time. For the fact is that identical, or asexual, reproduction predated sexual reproduction probably by hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions, of years. This is comparable to renaming the Romantic period in Western art the non-Impressionistic period, since the latter came after the former; it would be like renaming the ordinary wired telephone the awireless or non-wireless telephone, after the invention of mobile phones; or, to give another example, it would be like renaming the bicycle the non-motorcycle, or amotorcycle, since motorcycles were invented after bicycles, but both have many similar features, since they are both transport vehicles that operate on two wheels.

This illogical development occurred because, since we humans reproduce sexually, and since many of the mammals and birds that we have domesticated as food or companions also reproduce sexually, this was the first kind of reproduction that our ancestors were aware of. It was only after the invention of microscopes that humans became aware of identical reproduction, which is more common at the microscopic scale of life. Hence, the fact that identical reproduction was misleadingly called “asexual,” or non-sexual, reproduction is due to the fact that our ancestors became aware of it only after they already knew about sexual reproduction, which is the inverse of the order in which these two very different kinds of reproduction arose.

[3] It is necessary to make this qualification because there are some multicellular organisms, such as sponges and algae, that reproduce identically. However, these creatures are not differentiated, meaning that they are colonies of more or less identical cells that have attached themselves together, perhaps as a survival mechanism, rather than floating around in the water separately.

[4] I am well aware of experiments in which proteins or other organic molecules have been created by applying electricity to basic chemical compounds which are thought to have existed on the Earth around the time that Life first appeared. However, it is important to understand that, although they form important parts of most or all living creatures, by themselves, proteins are not alive. If one cuts off one’s hair, removes a fingernail, or scrapes off the skin on a part of one’s body, although all of these consist of proteins in different forms, the detached parts of one’s body are not alive. This is shown by the fact that they cease growing after they are separated from our body, while they continue to grow as long as they remain attached to it. The same is true if one removes or cuts off a more essential body part such as a hand, arm, foot, leg, eye, or ear. Although the organism from which it was removed can continue to live, provided the wound heals properly, the part that is detached is no longer alive. This is the eternal mystery of life – what it is that animates living creatures, which mystery has frequently been attributed to the existence of a non-material substance that has variously been called spirit, soul, psyche, animating force, and so on.

[5] According to science, the Earth did not exist at the beginning of the Universe. Hence, the measure of time that we call a “day” did not yet exist, since this is the time that it takes the Earth to make one full rotation on its axis. Other planets in our solar system take varying amounts of time to complete one rotation. For instance, it takes Mercury more than 58 Earth-days, Venus more than 116 Earth-days, and the larger gaseous planets less than one Earth-day to make a full rotation. Interestingly, Mars’ period of rotation is almost identical to that of the Earth. Thus, the account found in the Book of Genesis that everything in the Universe was created in six days is almost certainly wrong, since it imposes on the Universe an Earth-specific measure of time. Of course, back then, the Biblical writers had no idea of how large, and how old, the Universe really is, and that the Earth only came into existence long after the Universe began, and so it is understandable that they would have made the mistake of using an Earth-day as a measure of universal time in describing how long it took God to create the Universe.

[6] I believe it is a mistake to assume that only humans are able to appreciate the beauty and wonder of Nature. What does a deer, monkey, whale, horse, or bird think about when it is not preoccupied with finding food, being alert for possible predators, finding a mate, or caring for its young? The honest answer is that we really have no idea. Of course, I am not saying that these other animals do experience wonder at Nature’s marvels, only that they may experience it.

[7] A possible reason why these other human-like species became extinct is because they were trial species on which God experimented, by trying different things to see what effects they had, in Its quest to produce a species that is capable of understanding the Grandeur and Magnificence of Its Creation. The first models produced by humans of anything have numerous flaws that are only corrected through trial and error, by trying different things and seeing what effects they produce, what works and what doesn’t work, guided by human ingenuity and experience in similar past situations. Moreover, these early models are usually quite simple, ungainly, and inefficient, lacking the complexity, additional features, compactness, and elegance that are found in later models. For example, the first submarines had many problems, such as leaks, exploding or malfunctioning engines, poor manoeuvrability, insufficient or noxious air for the crew to breathe, which sometimes poisoned them, an inability to descend to significant depths, and so forth. Contrary to the common belief that God knows how to create things perfectly from the beginning, I believe that God learns how to create, and can improve Its ability to create through experience, in a manner similar to human trial and error. This is clearly exemplified in the very gradual evolution of Life over billions of years, which proceeded from the simple to the complex, from microscopic organisms to much larger macroscopic species, and from a very narrow uniformity to the astonishing living variety that exists today. Even though God’s Humanity Experiment did succeed, our species possesses numerous design flaws that, in my opinion, are indications that God’s ability to create can improve through experience and with further trials. For example, God made the serious error of endowing our species with the ability to manipulate and radically alter the natural environment, but without the innate ability to foresee or care about the harmful effects of this ability.

[8] This may explain why the dinosaurs became extinct. Perhaps God considered endowing them with the unique abilities that only we humans possess, namely, to understand the operations of the Universe and to create a wide variety of different things that did not exist prior to their creation; but for whatever reason, God evidently decided against this course. Moreover, the dinosaurs’ dominance made it difficult for other smaller species to thrive, and so God may have decided to eradicate them to make way for other, more promising species. Interestingly, the class of animals to which dinosaurs belonged, namely reptiles, continues to exist and thrive in today’s world; but they are all, without exception, much smaller than their ancient, more massive cousins.

To those who would object to this proposal because they believe that God would never wipe out so many species in such a violent and permanent manner, let us not forget that all living creatures eventually die, and so to God, it cannot be of such great consequence whether the members of a species die one at a time or whether they die all at once.

[9] Even evolutionary biologists, who should know better, sometimes make the mistake of confounding natural selection and the generator of the things that natural selection selects. This is manifested whenever they say things like “as a result of natural selection, the species acquired the ability to…” or “due to the pressures of natural selection, the species developed the ability to…” or “through time, natural selection has produced an astonishing variety of different species.” However, it is important to understand that natural selection does not produce the abilities or physical features of an organism which it selects and preserves. Similarly, in the human realm, such as in artistic or sporting competitions, judges do not produce the things which they judge. If one abandons God as a possible cause for these abilities and features, then one is left with mutation and the variations that are due to sexual reproduction as the primary generators of these abilities. In other words, that these biological characteristics and abilities arose purely by chance. But as I have argued in “The Many Things that Chance Cannot Beget,” there are a great many features of the world and Universe that cannot have arisen by chance.

[10] This is what happened during the period in European history known, somewhat misleadingly, as the Dark Ages, when various barbaric, meaning non-cultured, tribes overran the civilized centres of Europe. Because they scorned their conquered adversaries, they consequently rejected, abandoned, or destroyed their cultural achievements, so that little or no progress, whether scientific, technological, artistic, or cultural, was made for many centuries.

[11] In my opinion, whales are a massive living contradiction. Those of our ancestors who lived in coastal areas or ventured on the oceans thought they were sea monsters. At the time, people did not understand that these sea creatures are in fact mammals and not fish. Because they are mammals, they have lungs instead of gills, as all fish do. Hence, these creatures should be constantly at risk of drowning, as most non-marine mammals are; and yet, this fate seems to be a very rare occurrence among whales and other marine mammals like dolphins and porpoises that also have the shapes of fish and spend their whole lives in the water. The greater buoyancy of water in comparison to air means that an animal can reach a greater size living in the water than it can living on land. The blue whale, which is believed to be the largest animal ever to exist on the Earth, is significantly larger than even the largest dinosaur, which is the largest terrestrial animal to inhabit the Earth. Hence, whales may have been the result of God’s efforts to create the largest and heaviest creature possible, given all the many natural and physical constraints that exist on the Earth.

There is probably a limit to the size that a fishlike creature, which breathes with gills instead of lungs, can attain, since the concentration of oxygen contained in water is not high enough to supply the oxygen it requires to survive. This explains why larger fish such as sharks and tuna swim constantly, in order to maintain a steady flow of oxygen-rich water through their gills.