Evolution vs. Creation: Why Limit the Debate to Western Models?
Genesis, the Biblical story of creation, tells us God created the universe in six days. He made Adam, the first man, the Bible tells us, from the dust of the earth, an event many Christians believe took place in the Garden of Eden 6,000 years ago. Scientists and religious scholars call this scenario “creationism.”
In 1859, Charles Darwin came up with another idea. He said man’s existence could be explained within the context of material creation alone, through evolution and natural selection, the survival of the fittest. According to Darwin, man and apes evolved from a common ancestor, an idea distinctly at odds with the Biblical scenario. The debate over human origins has raged ever since.
Recent studies show that adherents to either side of this debate would do well to rethink their positions. A reexamination of old and new research reveals that the creationism versus Darwinism debate may be missing the mark entirely.
Human footprints next to dinosaur tracks
An NBC documentary, The Mysterious Origins of Man, that aired in the late 1990s, discusses a body of evidence gathered by archeologists and other experts* that testifies to the existence of modern man millions of years before his supposed emergence, according to evolutionary theory, from southern Africa 100,000 years ago. Narrated by Charlton Heston and drawing on evidence largely ignored by the scientific establishment, the NBC documentary stepped outside the usual Bible versus Darwin debate. At issue were human footprints discovered in Texas side by side with dinosaur tracks, stone tools dating back 55 million years, sophisticated maps of unknown antiquity, and evidence of advanced civilization in prehistory.
This and other evidence suggests man neither evolved from apes nor rose from the dust of the earth just 4,000 years before the time of Christ. The implications are profound and are causing many to reevaluate the entire issue of human origins.
Based on research assembled as Darwin began to dominate scientific thought at the turn of the century, and upon more recent archaeological discoveries, Mysterious Origins also reveals a common occurrence in the history of science — a bias that favors conventional theory, in this instance Darwinism, and a tendency to ignore or reject contrary evidence. This may explain why fossil evidence indicating man is far more ancient than conventional theory allows, and that he did not evolve from an ape-like ancestor, has gathered dust for over a century.
The 120-year effort to prove Darwin’s theory
This scientific bias explains why certain evidence has been overlooked or possibly ignored, and also why the search for “the missing link” in human evolution, the long-sought-after ancestor of both man and apes, has dominated the scientific community. Even so, the 120-year quest to prove Darwin’s theory has yielded very little, according to one science investigator, other than “speculative leaps” by researchers eager to find confirming evidence.
In the case of so-called Pithecanthropus Ape man (a.k.a. Java Man), anthropologist Eugene Dubois found a human thigh bone and the skull cap of an ape, in Indonesia, separated by a distance of forty feet. The year was 1891. He pieced the two together, creating the famous Java Man. But many experts say the thigh bone and skull cap are unrelated. Shortly before his death, Dubois himself said the skull cap belonged to a large monkey, and the thigh bone to a man. Yet Java Man remains to this day, to many, evidence of man’s descent from a primitive anthropoid.
In the case of Piltdown Man, another presumed missing link found in England in 1910, the find proved to be a sophisticated fraud. And even the crown jewel of alleged human ancestral fossils, the famous Lucy, found in Ethiopia in 1974, is indistinguishable from a monkey or extinct ape, according to many anthropologists.
Unanswered questions in Darwin’s theory
In recent years, an emerging group of scientists have drawn a picture of human evolution radically at odds with the conventional theory. Physical anthropologist Charles Oxnard, for example, has placed the genus Homo, to which man belongs, in a far more ancient time period than standard evolutionary theory allows, bringing into question the underpinnings of Darwin’s theory. Oxnard states, “The conventional notion of human evolution must now be heavily modified or even rejected … new concepts must be explored.”*
What troubles other opponents of standard evolutionary theory is its inability to account for how new species and features originate — the supposition that the innumerable aspects of biological life, down to the pores in human skin, a beetle’s legs, the protective pads on a camel’s knees, and on and on, came about accidentally through natural selection. The notion of intent, or inherent purpose, within creation does not fit into the Darwinian version of reality.
Life, to a Darwinist, can only exist in the context of absolute materialism, a series of accidental events and chemical reactions responsible for everything in the universe. Yet even common sense suggests otherwise. In the case of the human brain, for instance, its advanced capacities (the ability to perform calculus, play the violin, consciousness itself) cannot be explained by the survival of the fittest doctrine alone. And perhaps the most telling example of all is the biological cell itself, the genetic complexities and inherent abilities of which rival the most complex computer software.
What about sudden catastrophes?
The search for evidence for extremely ancient human origins has led some to investigate the possibility of sudden rather than gradual evolutionary change. Once looked upon with raised eyebrows, and still facing dogged opposition, the “catastrophist” point of view has made headway of late in the scientific community. This theory holds that sudden disruptions in the continuity of planetary life have taken place, altering the course of evolution. “Gradualism,” a Darwinist tenet that assumes all life evolved slowly and without interruption, has fallen out of favor in some circles.
Indeed, it has become clear that all sorts of catastrophes have taken place on the globe, and in the universe at large. A well known catastrophist theory proposes that the extinction of the dinosaurs resulted from a huge meteor crashing into the planet with the force of thousands of hydrogen bombs. Other catastrophist theories have to do with drastic changes in climate, seismic upheavals and fluctuations, and even reversals in the Earth’s magnetic field.
“Intelligent design” – creationism without the dogma
The creationist argument derives from orthodox religious doctrine, which rejects allegorical interpretations of the Book of Genesis. It is a belief system many Christians do not accept literally and which the Bible itself may not support. It also lacks scientific support, in that fossil records reveal man has existed on Earth for far longer than 6,000 years. The six days of creation scenario, moreover, taken literally, bears no resemblance to the time it took for the universe to be born.
The more common-sense notion of “intelligent design,” however, (creationism without the dogma) strikes a more palatable note, even among some scientists, who find it hard to deny that an inherent intelligence exists within the universe. The problem with creationism lies, then, not in the idea of intelligent design, but in literal interpretations of the Bible with regard to the debate over human origins.
Why limit the debate to Western models?
The conventional debate over our origins, as we find it characterized in the major media, ignores concepts of human and cosmic origins shared by a large portion of the world’s population, those of the mystic East. Einstein himself entertained such ideas, because they supported his belief in a universal intelligence. More recently, physicist and Nobel Laureate, Brian Josephson, and others, have drawn parallels between Eastern mysticism and modern physics.
The Vedas, in fact, present a scenario similar to that of the expanding and contracting universe of modern physics. Using the allegory of the “Great In breath and Out breath” of creation, the Vedas describe how Brahman, the omnipresent consciousness, projected its consciousness into the material universe, and how that omnipresent consciousness, existing beyond creation, remains intrinsic to all things as creation evolves.
To Einstein, especially in his later years, the idea of consciousness-based reality became naturally apparent — an awareness of a universal, conscious presence inseparable from each of us individually and from creation itself. “As I grow older,” Einstein said, “the identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels dissolved, merged into nature.” Others in the field of physics, philosophy, and religion are also embracing this viewpoint.
The greatest minds, then, of our time and of antiquity, reject Darwin’s often unstated premise, his belief in absolute materialism, which says that all life evolved from primitive matter, accidentally, without purpose or design. At the same time, the concept of a consciousness-based creation offers an alternative to strict Biblical interpretations and the concept of an anthropomorphic creator separate from man and nature.
Can science study consciousness?
Establishment science, however, has taken a hands-off approach to consciousness, never daring to explore what by definition cannot be explained by matter-based beliefs about the origin of life. An article by David Chalmers, The Puzzle of Conscious Experience, emphasizes the point.
“For many years,” Chalmers says, “consciousness was shunned by researchers…The prevailing view was that science, which depends on objectivity, could not accommodate something as subjective as consciousness.” Chalmers, however, goes on to say that neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers have recently begun to reject the idea that consciousness cannot be studied. He proposes that consciousness “might be explained by a new kind of theory …. [with] startling consequences for our view of the universe and of ourselves.”
The eminent physicist, Steven Weinberg, in his book Dream of a Final Theory, sounds a more skeptical note. He says the goal of physics is to develop a “theory of everything” that will tell us all there is to know about the universe — a law or principle from which the universe derives. But the real problem in developing such a theory, he admits, is consciousness, because consciousness could not have derived from material processes alone.
Darwinism, therefore, which depends upon the assumption that all existence is matter-based, cannot account for the most human characteristic of all, consciousness, which cannot derive from the process of natural selection in a random, mechanistic creation — the capacity of the human mind being far beyond what is necessary for mere survival.
The goal of science and religion: “a theory of everything”
To understand human origins, then, and to develop a “theory of everything,” a true scientist must not only evaluate the tangible evidence gathered by archeologists and other experts,** he must also study consciousness, without which he neglects the most basic capacity of human beings — the ability to think creatively and aspire spiritually.
He would have to experiment in the internal, subjective world, delving into what the scientific establishment considers a forbidden realm. He would have to devote himself, independent of any dogma, to the exploration of the essence of his own conscious existence, as well as to the study of material creation. Like Einstein, he would see this pursuit as the essential goal of both science and religion, the search for knowledge in its purest sense. By so doing, science might arrive at a theory of everything.
The above article was excerpted from a longer article that appeared in Atlantis Rising (Winter 1996), and Forbidden History, edited by J. Douglas Kenyon, Bear & Company, a division of Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT (2005) www.InnerTradions.com Certain discussions have been edited slightly.
David Lewis, publisher of The Montana Pioneer, lives and writes in Livingston, Montana. His worldview is shaped by his affinity for the indwelling spirit combined with a measure of intellectual study, common sense, and a fascination with the mystery we are all involved with as human beings.
* Richard Thompson and Michael Cremo, Forbidden Archeology, and condensed version, The Hidden History of the Human Race.
** Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization, and Forbidden Archeology.
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