I am aware that the conclusions arrived at in this work will be denounced by some as highly irreligious; but he who denounces them is bound to show why it is more irreligious to explain the origin of man as a distinct species by descent from some lower form, through the laws of variation and natural selection, than to explain the birth of the individual through the laws of ordinary reproduction. The birth both of the species and of the individual are equally parts of that grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to accept as the result of blind chance. . . .
A celebrated author . . . has written to me that "he has gradually learned to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws." . . .
When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled. . . .
Probably all organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed. There is grandeur in this view of life that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. —Charles Darwin
In order to understand ourselves, we must understand our history as living creatures and so we turn to our only "scientific theory of creation," the theory of evolution.
[T]he man who can deny the operation of [the] process of natural selection ... must be either ignorant of the elementary facts of life or incapable of ordinary thought.
~ H. G. Wells, A Short History of the World, 1922
Other traditional creation stories are, at best, myths, and, at worst, dangerously misleading fairy tales. In contrast,
The evolutionary epic is probably the best myth we will ever have ...
The true evolutionary epic, retold as poetry, is as intrinsically ennobling as any religious epic. (Edward O. Wilson
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E. O. Wilson (interviewed by Steve Paulson)
To read our creation story as it was "written" by Yo, we study our long evolutionary history. For within that history, Yo has placed the key to understanding our creation, and hence the key to understanding ourselves.
Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
, Jesuit priest and paleontologist)
Any attempt to create a better world must be founded on a solid and accurate understanding of ourselves, otherwise it is doomed to failure. To be successful, we must understand Yos "message" about who we are, hence we must strive to achieve a clear view of how our evolutionary history shaped and molded us.
A humanist evolution-centered religion too needs divinity, but divinity without God. It must strip the divine of the theistic qualities which man has anthropomorphically projected into it… The central religion hypothesis will certainly be evolution, which by now has been checked against objective fact and has become firmly established as a principle...
There is no separate supernatural realm: all phenomena are part of one natural process of evolution. There is no basic cleavage between science and religion;... I believe that [a] drastic reorganization of our pattern of religious thought is now becoming necessary, from a god-centered to an evolutionary-centered pattern. (Julian Huxley)
Four examples of how an evolutionary understanding can guide us in our spiritual and practical understanding:
- Understanding the implications of the limits of the design of the human psyche
- Using evolutionary theory to revise our assumptions about human nature (with direct consequences for our understanding of human politics)
- The Adaptive Design of the Human Psyche: Psychoanalysis, Evolutionary Biology, and the Therapeutic Process
How evolutionary biology can help us find our way through a morass of competing visions of human nature.
- An evolutionary understanding of the human propensity to form religions and pseudo-religious identity groups
- Using evolutionary logic to distinguish between valid science (or sensed, empirical reality) and non-science ("nonsense" or non-sensed reality): Evolution vs Creationism (aka Intelligent Design)
It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life ...; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. (Saint Charles)