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Evolutionary Monkey Business

By Jean-Claude Koven

Those of us sitting on the sidelines watching the heralded "origin of the species" debate between creationists (God's team) and evolutionists (Darwin's theory of natural selection) might be excused if we've failed to understand the significance of the large stack of chips each side has in the pot. The ongoing mud slinging and legal wrangling dished out by both sides have obscured their real agendas and turned this otherwise innocuous issue into a major political hot potato.

The latest argument countering the "random causes of change" and "survival of the fittest" tenets of Darwinism is Intelligent Design (ID), the concept that nothing in creation is incidental, and that the existence of much of the universe and all living things is best explained by an intelligent cause. Creationists attribute everything in the universe to God as the supreme architect, from whose hand all things are wrought. Those holding this view see science merely as the bastion of little men endeavoring to rediscover the inner workings of the divine plan. Further, they argue that ID is not only a valid scientific theory; it stands on equal or superior footing to current scientific thinking regarding the origin of life.

Science, on the other hand, dismisses religion as the realm of faith providing solace to those who lack the desire, intelligence, or disciplined curiosity to hypothesize and investigate. The majority of scientists contend that ID is no more than a pseudoscience, not meriting the serious consideration of peer review in scientific journals. Richard Dawkins, author of 'The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design,' summed up their position: "To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like 'God was always there,' and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say 'DNA was always there,' or 'Life was always there,' and be done with it."

To religion, science is Godless; to science, religion is burdened by a predetermined agenda that precludes unbiased thought. It's faith versus science, pure and simple. Each side is not only defending its territory but fighting for supremacy as the link between humankind and the mysteries of the cosmos. There is respectful detente between the two opposing forces except when the topic turns to the origin and development of life. Here the stakes are so high that the combatants openly engage with both fists bared. How can one not fight to the bitter end in defense of his God, whether he sits on a throne in heaven or is the perceived champion of objective reasoning?

How might a Zen master resolve this seemingly insoluble dilemma? Perhaps he would employ a koan - one of those paradoxical questions such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" used in Zen Buddhism to train monks to recognize the futility of dependence on reason and move them into the realm of sudden, intuitive enlightenment.

Imagine if the creationists and the evolutionists alike were made to sit in extended silent meditation alongside the monks and ponder the koan, "What was your face, before your parents were born?" In time, they each would very likely begin to see a small crack in the shells encasing their convictions. And if a flash of sudden intuitive enlightenment shone through that crack, in that magical, transcendent moment they might just burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

With elevated awareness, both sides would soon see that they had been in complete agreement all along. The debate continued only because each was blind to the one critical factor that would have united them from the start. In the state of enlightenment, boundaries dissipate as everything dissolves into the One. There is no separation - even between God and the creation. There is only One - a vast field of consciousness from which every galaxy, every star, mountain, tree, and insect arises. Each aspect of creation is a unique point of that consciousness through which the Oneness explores the ever-changing possibilities of its infinite existence.

By adding the element of an all-pervasive and self-directing consciousness, the two previously rigid arguments soften and intertwine like the two halves of DNA's double helix. Every species is now perceived as an integral part of the Oneness, mutating neither by random chance governed by the survival of the fittest, nor by God's mandate, but by the self-directed impetus of its own curiosity. Is this creation? Of course. Is this evolution? Absolutely. How else could one possibly explain the existence of the Australian duckbilled platypus, a curious egg-laying mammal that looks like a beaver sporting the webbed feet and bill of a duck? I submit that this delightfully unique creature is the product of a whimsical curiosity that fiddled and tweaked until, combining the best of creation and evolution, it found its own perfection, as we all have, in a process we may as well call crevolution.

Copyright © 2006 Jean-Claude Koven. All Rights Reserved.
Jean-Claude Koven is a writer and speaker based in Rancho Mirage, CA. He is a featured weekly columnist for United Press International's Religion & Spirituality Forum and the author of 'Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense' judged the best metaphysical book of the year by both Allbooks Reviews and USABookNews.com. For more information, please visit: Going Deeper.
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