Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Evolution, Satan, and Deviousness

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]1400scale)

The recent discoveries regarding Neanderthal DNA prompted me to give the “evolution vs. creation / Genesis as literal history vs. Genesis as allegory” issue some thought recently, and something occurred to me that might be useful in engaging a Biblical literalist in dialogue regarding the subject (assuming they’ll listen and are capable of reason, and yes, contrary to popular belief, individuals like that do exist).

One of the main obstacles for literalists and semi-literalists in accepting Darwinian evolution (besides a belief in a 6000-year-old Earth, and acceptance of the Pauline/Augustinian doctrine of “Original Sin”, wherein Jesus’ Ransom was intended to literally cancel out Adam’s Fall) is the belief that Satan and his demons have permeated all aspects of art, culture, AND PARTICULARLY SCIENCE in a very successful campaign to mislead people into believing that God doesn’t really exist (never happen, of course; no one can “prove” or “disprove” the existence of God, no matter how much they may want to, and that is as it should be). Their basis for this belief is the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the Devil is the “god of this world”, among other scriptures.

This is an error in perception, IMO (either intentional or otherwise); the percentage of academics across the scientific spectrum who believe in the existence of God, INCLUDING EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGISTS, basically mirrors the overall percentage of theistically-inclined individuals within the entire population of the planet.

In fact, it may come as a surprise to many (me included), that a number of academics in the biological sciences have arrived at the personal conclusion that God exists AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THEIR STUDIES IN EVOLUTIONARY THEORY (there’s a bombshell and a half); they do not consider Natural Selection to be crude or clumsy at all, but have come to regard the process as extremely elegant, predictable, and sophisticated (qualities that, I might add, many individuals find compatible with their perception of God).

In addition, many find very little in it that’s random or “chancy”, which is another one of the main objections to it, although a compelling argument could be made that random chance allows for tremendous variety and a fun and exiting “surprise!” factor; few Christian parents could ever honestly say that they dislike the surprises their OWN little creations give them.

Basically, though, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists are NOT trying to stop the world from believing in God.

If a conservative-but-non-ultra-right-radical Christian who has literalist leanings shows a willingness to accept that statement (a willingness to regard the Creative “Days” as colloquialisms that could very easily be used to describe hundreds of millions of years isn't neccesarily vital, but it helps), you can continue (if not, don’t bother).

At this juncture, one might ask “what does this have to do with a belief in the existence of Satan?

Remember, as Sara Robinson said, NEVER try to “prove the Bible wrong” when attempting to lead a conservative Christian to challenge his own assumptions, or the whole thing will be over before it begins. Therefore, we’ll assume, for the sake of argument and as a display of respect for the beliefs of the potential target audience, that Satan is REAL (as it happens, no one can “prove” or “disprove” his existence, either, anyway). As a matter of fact, and in an interesting twist, the argument actually hinges on it.

According to Church tradition, what is the Devil’s ultimate goal?
Is it to steal the Souls of Mankind?
Is it to challenge God’s authority?
Is it to persecute faithful believers?
Is it to decieve Mankind into abandoning “True” worship?

The answers to all four, and a great deal of others, are of course, “Yes”. But a better answer could theoretically be summed up even more concisely: TO DESTROY MANKIND’S FAITH, because that would accomplish all of the above and much, much more.

An interesting thing pointed out to me by a fairly moderate Evangelical I know is that Satan does not operate in an overt manner; that would simply terrify people away from him and towards Christ. Assuming Satan is real, I would tend to agree; that would not be a particularly effective strategy. Instead, he acts subtly, seducing one away from True worship by sounding logical and persuasive (once again, the irony of using logic and persuasion is not lost on me).

In short, he acts DEVIOUSLY.

So here’s a scenario for the subject’s consideration:

It’s over 150 years ago; the Devil knows full well that the vast majority of Christians subscribe to the Pauline/Augustinian doctrine of “Original Sin”, and more importantly, the literal interpretation of Earth having been created in six 24-hour days and Adam and Eve created directly by God’s Hand.

He observes a small coalition of astronomers, paleontologists, and geologists begin to doubt as a result of honest observations and a desire to find the truth. In fact, they sit down together, collate all the information they have, and work out the physical Ages of the Earth as best they can using the mass extinctions in the fossil record, cyclic variations in the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and cold hard math (this is more or less how it actually happened, BTW).

A few decades later Charles Darwin writes The Origin of the Species, resulting in a firestorm among the religious community. “How dare he suggest Man is descended from apes? How dare science suggest the Earth is old?”, they scream. “Blasphemy!” However, for some who are already inclined to doubt the Bible (or more accurately, the CHURCHES), this is all they need, and promptly leave orthodox faith behind. Well, that’s fine by Satan, he doesn’t mind at all.

Then Satan has an idea (remember, this is a hypothetical scenario).

Plenty of conservative Christians still believe in a young Earth and that Man was created directly by God’s Hand. Why not simply sit back and LET THEM CONTINUE BELIEVING IT?

Well, what on Earth could that do, one might ask?

Nothing, except create THE theological controversy of the 20th Century, as far as conservative Christians are concerned.

Let them continue to fight the teaching of evolution in schools. Let them attempt to sway the courts and legislature in their efforts to bring creationism and public prayer back into the school system. Let men like Richard Dawkins spout anti-religious rhetoric and justify their declarations of persecution. Let them concoct all kinds of Rube-Goldberg-type intellectual devices in attempts to explain away the increasingly apparent contradictions and anomalies in Young-Earth theology. Let them home-school their kids using curriculum approved by men like James Dobson, and then follow his abusive child-rearing techniques. In fact, ENCOURAGE it through falsely pious religious hypocrites on television and other forms of the media.

What an effective way to undermine observers’ potential faith in God.

Then he sits back and let biologists compile more and more paleontological, geological, and most importantly, GENETIC evidence in support of so-called “Darwinism”.

God would not interfere. According to the Bible (specifically, the account of Job), He allows the strength of Man’s faith to be tested by the Devil, since Satan challenges that Man is only obedient and loyal to God for what he can get out of it. AND GOD WOULD CERTAINLY NOT ALLOW SCIENCE TO "PROVE" SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT TRUE; that would be cheating on Satan’s part, and I can’t imagine God would stand for that sort of thing.

Then, as more and more compelling and undeniable GENETIC evidence was discovered and revealed, Satan could simply sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch the faith and, more importantly, SALVATION of hundreds of millions of Biblical literalists catastrophically self-destruct in the face of that evidence, all accomplished by simply allowing the truth to destroy their “truth”.

A masterstroke.

And utterly DEVIOUS.

One could conclude the scenario by posing the following question to the literally-inclined individual: “Which technique would Satan use to have the maximum LONG-TERM effect in his campaign to destroy people’s faith; tricking people into believing evolution, or tricking people into NOT believing it?”