The Society is an interested bystander to a debate that
seems to occupy much time and attention among those who presently hold positions of
influence in the world. The crux of that debate, and the issue which generates the
passion with which it is pursued, is; were we created or did we emerge from some process
of nature? Much is held to depend on the outcome of this clash of opinion. Indeed,
each side to this debate includes people who are prepared to embark on an indiscriminate
massacre of their opponents, and to risk the destruction of our environment in so doing,
in order to ensure victory for their view of our nature and origins.
Those who rightly understand the teachings of the Society
will recognise immediately that it has no interest in entering this fray, and will
certainly have no sympathy whatever with any participants willing to risk the survival
of humankind rather than accept defeat. The reason for that view is quite simple.
This question has no priority or importance for the Society, since a resolution of it
will have no impact, one way or the other, on its Aim,
Duty or Responsibility
. Nevertheless, it would appear that the issue of whether we
were created or evolved generates sufficient heat to pose a threat to our infinite survival,
as well as to the present health, safety and well-being of large numbers of our kind.
In those circumstances some detached observations by the Society seem to be justifiable;
may be pertinent, and might even be helpful. This Comment is offered in that spirit.
From its position of the uncertainty of all human
the Society can properly quote Oliver Cromwell’s impassioned plea, made
in a letter to the Church of Scotland in August, 1650; ‘I beseech you, in the bowels
of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken’. Like Cromwell, the Society finds
it difficult to accept that the beliefs and understandings on which the proponents of
the opposing views on this issue base their views and conclusions are such that they
leave no room for human error or doubt. In short, the Society will feel entitled to
argue that neither our understanding of religion nor our confidence in the findings of
science are sufficiently secure or proven to justify the extreme conclusions some people
seem to want to draw from them.
More pertinently perhaps, its stance of indifference
to the outcome of this debate enables the Society to identify an odd and somewhat
anomalous feature of it. Creationists of all religious persuasion seem able to
accept that, whatever form their creative power may take, it first produced an environment
for humankind and only then introduced its (His) creatures into it. So, for example,
first there was the world, and only then was there Adam and Eve. Hence, the religious
commonly allow, and indeed often insist, that humankind was created to live in an
environment specifically designed and fitted for it. Yet that, of course, is precisely
the order of events which the evolutionist propose, and in which they firmly believe.
Evolutionist begin from the world and the forces of nature that shape and change it,
to argue that we have subsequently emerged as a species only because we are well fitted
to survive and prosper in the environment in which we find ourselves.
Creationists and evolutionist may disagree about the
processes involved, and especially about the source and form of the power or force
that drives them, but these are also matters of dispute, not just between the
camps involved, but within each of them. The religious endlessly debate the nature
and extent of the ongoing involvement of their creator in the lives of humankind,
while scientists probe ever deeper, and ever more expensively, into the forces that
drive the universe. Neither side shows any sign of ever being able to claim any
final certainty in their search for their respective truths, so no resolution of
their dispute is likely to emerge from that direction.
From that perspective the Society can helpfully identify
a reason both for the vehemence, and for the ultimate insolubility, of the creation
versus evolution debate. All the evidence and argument creationists or evolutionists
have, or can reasonably ever hope to discover and deploy as the result of their
efforts to discover their ultimate truths, is and is always likely to be, consistent
with, and supportive of, both explanations of our presence in the universe. In
those circumstances the Society must conclude that a reconciliation or accommodation
between the opposing factions engaged in this debate must surely be possible.
Beyond that, all the Society can properly do, if it is to
abide by its own proscriptions against
, is to draw attention to its ability to provide all the comforts
and benefits of organised religion, as well as practical and effective solutions
to all our social, political and moral questions, without any need to consider, let
alone settle, the issue which is the subject of this Comment. That is so because
the Society is principally and primarily concerned with where we are going rather
than where we came from, and with the salvation of humanity rather than how it came