Theism and Atheism: As Adaptations

I am reminded of a story I heard in science class ages ago about a forest of birch trees in England.  There was in that forest a kind of moth which was usually white, but sometimes grey.  It seemed the white moth was naturally camouflaged against the white birch bark and the birds could more easily see and eat the grey ones.  Then along came the industrial revolution.

When the nearby factories began spewing out billows of smoke and ash, the birch trees became coated in a kind of grey dust that never really went away.  It was not long before the grey moths far outnumbered the white.  But then came the environmental movement and the clean-up.  I understand now, with the white birch bark restored, the white moths have once again increased their numbers and the grey are becoming rare.

Not every story of adaptation is as easy to follow as that, but the lesson is simple enough.  Within every species there are variables.  Under certain conditions one set of variables comes to the fore, and in other conditions a different set may be needed.  This is an important consideration in the fight for survival.  Of course, humanity is no different, and clearly this relates not only to physical characteristic, but to our perceptions as well—our worldview if you will. 

I believe theism and atheism may be adaptation regarding how we are able to see and relate to life, the universe and everything.  Follow:  (What follows are generalizations.  I know reality may be different in your case or that other particular case so don’t write me a note, because what follows is “generally” true).

There is no doubt that the human race has been advanced because of the dreamers—those who believe that in a reasonable, well designed universe all things are possible.  Both art and science would be nothing without the dreamers, believers if you will.  Believers are able to face the unknown, indeed they are drawn to it and precisely because with God all things are possible.  These are risk takers, believing that God is at their back. 

When faced with the inexplicable disaster that falls upon us all—some natural disaster, or worse, the death of a child, for example—believers take comfort in the notion that nothing is out of control.  Hard as it may be, believers move forward.  Not only that, but because God is watching, they are urged to respond to such disasters first with compassion and then with a drive to find a solution so it does not happen again, to anyone.   

There is equally no doubt that the human race has been advanced by those who have sought to remove all the dreaminess from their lives.  Instead of seeing a universe of possibilities, these more practical minded people see the universe in probabilities.  These unbelievers, if you will, are not content to leave the answer with God (Miracle, God’s will, whatever), but are driven to try and discern a completely natural explanation quite apart from any reference to God. 

To be sure, unbelievers are (generally) not risk takers.  When God is removed from the center there is only self-interest to take its place.  (No, I do not want to debate about it.  Self-interest is the only option unless you are following instincts like an animal or are some zombie disciple of a person, government or philosophy).  Let’s call it enlightened self-interest, but it is self-interest all the same.  And it is a great survival technique.  When that disaster strikes and the “God-fearing” believer is drawn aside to help another, they do so at great risk.  Sometimes “Let’s just get the Hell out of here!” works out much better.

Now, where the dreamer (believer) says, “See this?”  Hopefully the unbeliever says, “Yeah, let’s see if we can figure it out.”  The believer should then respond.  “Yes, let’s.”  Though certainly the believer will be seeking to understand the workings of God’s awesome creation and the unbeliever will be looking for strictly natural causes that don’t require any reference to God, they can still work together.  If the believer stops with “It is God’s will,” they have missed the boat.  If the unbeliever says only, “It was accidental, a matter of random chance,” they have missed the same boat.

There is so much more to say about this, but I have run so over long I need to get to the hypothesis… Next time

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