It’s amazing how indelible ideas etched on us while we were kids really are. Childhood is an age of innocence, ignorance and gullibility. Religious faith is forced upon us even before we develop cognizance to corroborate or refute its tall claims. Often, years or even decades of disciplined study of reality (an art we call science) aren’t enough to purge flawed assumptions. A healthy debate to deal with glaring contradictions is seldom or never encouraged.
Humans are innately resistant to change. Ideas of spirituality and self-preservation as promulgated by religion are immensely gladdening to the self not comfortable with the obliteration of conscience. The proverbial carrot dangled by all religions (Christians are promised a halo and a harp, Hindus are exempt from the birth-death cycle and Muslims are assured infinite libido and unending promiscuity) is all too much to resist even in the face of glaring discrepancies.
However, it’s hard to entirely dismiss contrarian evidence. Religion puts up a brave fight in many ways, ranging from the absolute denial of reality and repression of dissent (epitomized by the Taliban) to treading the middle path and hoping the believers will continue with their patronage. The crusade to salvage religion has been through several rounds of evolution itself, an ironical cycle of versioning that morphs according to need.
The BioLogos Foundation is a case in point. Founded by Dr.Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, the foundation’s mission is euphemistically put as promoting the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms, and seeking to harmonize these different perspectives. The real agenda, in layman’s terms, is to prove that science and religion can amicably coexist without necessarily contradicting each other. It’s hard for Dr.Collins to bend the laws of science to meet this end. After all, he’s the former director of the Human Genome Project. Instead, he’s chosen to implore the faithful to not take religious manuscripts literally. We’ve heard that before, but Dr.Collins has cleverly put his years of scientific training and insight to good use by evolving ideas that promise more mileage to antediluvian notions, albeit not without ceding some ground to science. This ingenuity has won him a fan following, mostly from less evolved Evangelicals desperately seeing reconciliation between scriptural teaching and scientific evidence.
The ingenuity is commendable. Dr.Collins contends that evolution is right after all and that this was how God chose to create life on Earth. Regarding how did Cain (son of Adam and Eve) manage to get a wife, Dr.Collins conveniently latches on to scientific evidence suggesting a larger population at this point in history. He contends “human-like creatures had evolved to the point where they had the mental capacity to reason; God then endowed them to distinguish between good and evil, and in that way they became ‘in the image of God.’" To me, all this is convoluted and essentially flawed thinking. You can’t really pluck arbitrary ideas from fundamentally incompatible models hoping to erect the perfect sanctuary for the faithful.
The mileage of this latest caravan of faux wisdom remains to be seen. What’s a foregone conclusion, however, is its inevitable faltering. The faithful will then have to scamper to a nimbler postulate.