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Essays on Evolution Versus Creation:

Religion, Biology and God


All essays and pages on this website are declared to be in the public domain and may be freely printed and distributed. They may also be translated into other languages . Translations may be published on any website, but please include a link to the original essay page on this site.
- Sean Robsville

Darwinism
'The theological objection is that evolution states that there is a continuum between ape and man, ie human and animal.. This is not a problem for Buddhists,  who believe that both humans and animals possess sentient minds which survive death. However it is a major problem for theologians. The church has always taught that only humans have immortal souls, whereas animals are automata whose minds cease at death
'

God
'For in Him we live, and move, and have our being'

Dharma and dogma
'Buddha Shakyamuni never claimed to have any higher authority for his teachings than his own experience.'

Evolution
'Evolutionists believe that species arose by gradual change from simpler forms. Strawberry plants, cherry trees, blackberries, raspberries, hawthorns and apples all have a family likeness because they all arose from a common ancestor, which resembled a primitive rose. Hence botanists call this plant family the ROSACEAE.'

Arguments against Buddhism
' People get spiritual experiences under the influence of electromagnetic fields such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS),   and from psychedelic drugs such as mescalin, LSD, Psilocybe semilanceata and Amanita muscaria. All these transpersonal experiences are simply delusions caused by disruption of the normal electrochemical activity of the neurones.'

' ...Yes and No. There's no doubt that people experience other realms of reality under the influence of TMS  or psychoactive drugs. In these conditions the functioning of the brain is indeed abnormal.  But - you've got to ask yourself - what is the purpose of the normal functioning of the brain? The brain is a device which has evolved by selection of the fittest (not the most truthful) to project the delusion of the inherently-existing self onto the mind. This delusion of a permanent, unchanging self is 'imputed' over the ever-changing transitory collection of biochemical building blocks that makes up the physical aspects of a sentient being. Disruption .... by biochemical or biophysical agents, enables the mind to temporarily push the doors of perception ajar and peek beyond mundane biologically-determined appearances. '

Mind - experiencing its non-physical nature
One of the quickest ways to convince yourself that the root mind is not physical, (and is not therefore limited by one birth and one death), is to meditate on the formless nature of the mind.

Christianity and  Buddhism, Genesis and Science
.
Christian Fundamentalists still hanker after the truth of Genesis, whereas Buddhists are happy to accept scientific explanations for the origin of the species

Computationalism  - computers and minds
'Buddhism views a sentient being, human or animal, and its mind, as a totally different kind of thing from a machine or automaton.'

Creationism
'Bible-believing creationists claim that the world and all its species were created in six days of a single week around 4004 BC . In contrast, Buddhist philosophy is evolutionary. Buddha taught that all things are impermanent, constantly arising, becoming, changing and fading.'


Dukkha
'Dukkha is sometimes translated as suffering but in actual fact encompasses all senses of unsatisfactoriness,  even including pleasure (which evolution has contrived  will always be a transient sensation - lest it detract too much from the grim business of survival).'

Feud between Science and Religion
'Many (most?) scientists believe religions to be irrational, obscurantist and anti-scientific  The problem goes back to Galileo, who discovered that the earth goes round the sun, rather than vice-versa as stated in the Bible.'

Teaching religion in schools
'....the formation of coal deposits over millions of years, was totally at variance with what my teachers taught about the age of the earth in Religious Instruction.'

Evolutionary Psychology
'Our genes drive us along paths of action which appear to minimise suffering, but in many cases increase it. Greed and acquisitiveness are natural reactions designed to increase the survival of our genes, and decrease the chances of our competitors. After a certain point, the more you've got the more you've got to lose, and so the more you've got to worry about.'


Formless mind
'The description of the root mind as 'formless' doesn't just refer to its non-material nature, but it emphasises that it is unlimited, non-mechanistic and totally free from any structure or topology. . In Buddhist psychology the root mind is non-physical and non-algorithmic.  The mind cannot be understood in terms of circuit diagrams and flowcharts. It is pure awareness.'

God and Gender
' When you put maleness in plain biological terms, (DNA, chromosomes, sperm, eggs and all that stuff) there seems to be something nonsensical about a male God in the absence of a female
...God is defined in terms of superlatives. He's the greatest in all respects. Omnipotent, omniscient, almighty, eternal, highest in the highest, supremely good. All these are definitions of exalted status - high versus low - powerful versus weak - wise versus stupid - permanent versus temporary - good versus evil, and of course male versus female...'


Laws of physics - were they determined by biology?
'Both quantum theory and Buddhist teachings on sunyata suggest that as soon as an observer's mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities collapse into one actuality. At some instant one of these possible alternative universes produced an observing lifeform. The first act of observation by this mind caused the entire superposed multiverse to collapse immediately into one of its numerous alternatives'

Materialism
'...The version of materialism prevalent nowadays is more accurately known as physicalism. Physicalism has grown out of advances during the second half of the twentieth century in the fields of genetics, evolution and computer technology. Modern physicalism takes as its subject matter DNA codes, computer instruction sets and data structures, rather than the bouncing billiard balls of the nineteenth and early twentieth century materialists..'

Mathematics - Its unreasonable effectiveness in science and engineering
So we are left with something of a mystery. According to the physicalist worldview, the mind (including mathematicians' minds) is an epiphenomenon of matter which has evolved solely to ensure the survival of the selfish genes which code for it. Why should this 'top-level' phenomenon have such intimate access to the 'bottom level' phenomena such as quantum physics? After all, the two levels are supposedly separated by less well-understood (in some cases) explanatory layers such as evolutionary psychology,   neurology, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and chemistry.

Mind over matter
Can the mind directly affect sensitive machines?

Obscurantism
'At present the creationist/young earth view is winning within the US educational system, as more and more boards of education outlaw the teaching of evolution. The creationists' victory is being won not by the strength of their arguments, but by imposition of censorship. It is likely that soon many young Americans will simply never come into contact with the concepts of evolution either in their lessons or libraries.'

Original Sin - the evolutionary argument against
'The Buddhist concept of innate delusions is totally different to that of 'original sin'  found in some other belief systems. Innate delusions and their imprints are seen as an inevitable consequence of where we've come from over millions of years of evolution. There is no actual 'blame' or 'guilt' to them, though of course the practitioner strives to understand them in order to overcome them.'

Parietal Lobe and Mystical Experience
To the average Westerner, deliberately cultivating the idea that your ego doesn't exist as a fixed entity may seem weird and scary, but in fact it can be immensely liberating.   As one of the researcher/meditators taking part in the study said "It feels like a loss of boundary. It's as if the film of your life broke and you were seeing the light that allowed the film to be projected"

Qualia
'The Buddhist does not doubt that the brain does some very sophisticated ordering of its incoming nerve impulses into the data structures which are the objects of knowledge.   But when all is said and done, those data structures remain as objects. They are not themselves knowledge, neither are they that which performs the function of knowing.'

Quantum sunyata
Whenever and wherever there is no mind there is no meaning and no reality. This is a similar conclusion to the Mahayana Buddhist teachings on sunyata.

Science of the mind?

Science will never be able to analyse such phenomena... because these 'things' do not have any structure - they do not have any nuts and bolts for the dismantling tools of science to get a grip on. 
The phrase 'Science of Consciousness' is thus a self-contradiction.

Sentient beings
What make a sentient being different from an automaton?

Spooky action at a distance (EPR Paradox)
'One of the most vivid illustrations of the interactions of the mind of the observer with a quantum system is given by EPR - the 'Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox', or 'Spooky action at a distance' as it is sometimes known. The experimental evidence seems to show that the observer's mind goes to its object unobstructedly and instantaneously.'

Symbiotic mind
Animals above a certain level of development require more than automatic reflexes in order to survive. Advanced organisms need motivation and intention in order to function in complex environments. Motivation and intention are chiefly driven by dukkha - the need to avoid suffering or unsatisfactoriness and the restless but futile search for lasting happiness. It is the suffering and grasping of their minds - the need to avoid pain and seek pleasure - that provides the driving force for survival and reproduction of complex animals.

The Three Poisons
Hatred, Ignorance and Attachment

Transpersonal Psychology
Transpersonal Psychology grew out of the rejection of the mechanistic or behaviorist model of the mind which was the orthodoxy of the mid-twentieth century academic establishment .   Charles T. Tart refers to this orthodoxy when describing his college experience in the 1960's: 'As to things like mystical experiences, if they were mentioned at all, which was rare, they were relegated to the fringes of psychiatry as being undoubtedly schizophrenic in nature and just showed how sick religions were to be associated with superstitious nonsense like that'

Young Earth
'The 'young-earth' viewpoint is similar to creationism. The theological motivation is identical -  to defend Biblical chronology by proving that the world is only a few thousand years old. The challenge facing the 'young-earthers' is that all dating mechanisms which use the decay of naturally radioactive atoms in minerals agree that many of the earth's rocks were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. To get round this objection  the 'young earthers' have either to invoke more conspiracy theories, or postulate that somehow the rate of radioactive decay was very much faster on the early earth than it is now. '

 

RATIONAL BUDDHISM
If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?

 

Christian versus Buddhist worldviews

 

Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation