View Point

By Wendell Davenport

Saturday, September 18, 1999

Creationists need their
Biblical beliefs

CREATIONISM advocates, those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, represent a small but highly vocal minority. In their view, the world and all life was created substantially in its present form about 5,000 years ago.

What is it about this rigidity of belief that flies in the face of scientific knowledge? In large part, it is fear.

Fear of the unknown has plagued us since the beginning of time. Early in our prehistory, when we became thinking animals, we created gods to placate the capricious forces of nature. Later, religions from Christianity to Buddhism were created to assuage our fear of the unknown.

Creationist beliefs prior to the dawn of science were widely held among Christians. As science began to shed light on our beginnings and the world around us, creationist belief gave way to a less literal interpretation of the Bible.

However, as in most religions, there remains a cadre of conservatives who muddy the waters of rationality.

Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species," with its theory of natural selection, was a landmark in man's history. It opened the door to who we are, where we come from, and how life has evolved and continues to evolve.

Evolutionary theory was arrived at with the most demanding scientific discipline and, as a result, has withstood rigorous assault for the past 150 years.

There is little question among scientists today of the validity of Darwin's theory of natural selection. The accumulated scientific evidence is overwhelming.

Science, however, while well equipped to answer the question of HOW things happen, is ill-equipped, as are the creationists, to answer the question of WHY things happen. This underlying mystery is the provocateur of the human imperative to know.

When science asks the question, "What was there before the Big Bang?" or in an expanding universe, "What is it expanding into?" our minds hit a dead end.

Ever since the dawn of science, our knowledge of the world has continued to expand, allowing for scientific discoveries that have changed our lives. It has also brought us to that cul de sac of scientific inquiry that asks the question, "What was there before the Big Bang?"

Many theoretical physicists insist that, at some point, science will be able to answer this. The siren of science continues to seduce them into believing that, if we can just collect more data or build a larger telescope, the answers will be forthcoming.

But for every question answered, more take their place. For every mind-bending theory posted, groups of mathematicians work doggedly to prove or disprove the theory. If proved, as in Einstein's theory of relativity, it becomes a part of the known scientific landscape.

But the perennial question remains unanswered, "How came existence?" And the mystery continues.s

THE old saying "nature abhors a vacuum" could be said of man's apparent need to fill the void of the unknown with something, even if he fills it with belief.

The most serious impediment to man's understanding is his abiding trust in his own belief. I saw a bumper sticker not long ago that said, "Don't believe everything you think."

Putting all our faith in belief is the fly in the ointment. By its very nature belief is personal and, as such, is subject to the vagaries of our own biases.

One of our most persistent beliefs is that there is life after death. We desperately want to perpetuate this. The fear behind the inability to accept the mystery that underlies all existence creates an impenetrable wall, cutting off all attempt at objectivity and knowing at a deeper level.

A saying goes: "Life is thus, death is thus, so what's the fuss?" Maybe the ultimate answer to our existence will remain larger than our ideas about it. Vive la mystery!

Wendell Davenport is a retired commercial artist
and former owner of Davenport Design.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin