In honor of Curt Schilling, I’m going to ramble on about theology for a bit. I’m just noodling; the below is speculation, not to be construed as a statement of everything I believe and certainly not an attempt to convince others. But I do believe that if you’re going to espouse a faith, then you ought to examine it and yourself, and make sure that what you say you believe is consistent with what you do believe.
Also, it’s pretty clear that Schilling doesn’t have the faintest understanding of evolution, since he’s made comments about “missing the intermediate stages between monkey and man”. No one ever claimed that humans were descended from monkeys; the fossils of stages between the earliest hominids and later ones like us certainly do exist, as well as the fossils of stages between those hominids and their ancestors, from primates on back to microfauna.
Anyway, those disclaimers aside, what bothers me is that Schilling espouses an almighty God but seems to actually believe in one created in his own image, who populated the earth in the same way as I might create a diorama – first drawing the background, then putting in little figures here and there. I don’t need a God who’s just a slightly bigger version of me. If I’m going to believe in a deity I want one who contains cosmoi. It’s been understood since Darwin’s day that evolution isn’t inconsistent with religion; the preacher Henry Ward Beecher said “Who designed this mighty machine, created matter, gave to it its laws, and impressed upon it that tendency which has brought forth the almost infinite results on the globe, and wrought them into a perfect system? Design by wholesale is grander than design by retail.” For that matter, it’s been understood since at least St. Augustine of Hippo that science in general isn’t incompatible with belief and that ignorance is not next to godliness.
If I’m going to believe in a God who is worth believing in, I want one who set the universes in motion, who laid out the physical laws that allowed drifts of primordial dust to develop into suns and comets, black holes and galaxies, amoebae and fungi and plantlife, other animals and us, and for all we know other forms of life that are currently beyond our ken.
I want a God who is beyond my understanding; I don’t need one who looks like me. Still, I have to think even a transcendental and omniscient deity would want me to use my brain, whether it’s personally marked with the Shekhina’s “thumbprint” or the outcome of a million infinitely complex processes, to understand the universe in which I exist and to delight in its beauty and intricacy. However they developed, intelligence and free will are gifts, the best we’ve been given, and I have to believe that the best I can give in return is to use mine to make the best choices I can and to try to understand, within the limits of my mortal comprehension, where I am and how we got here.
Literal Bible believers dislike the idea of evolution because it doesn’t match the Bible’s precise words. But even if you believe in the Bible’s inerrancy, the stories in Genesis are a few thousand years old. They weren’t even written down for the first part of their existence; they had to speak to the people of that time in order to be remembered. When you tell a three-year-old about where babies come from, you don’t tell her about gametes and zygotes or the growth stages of an embryo and fetus; you tell her some variant of “the Daddy puts the seed into the Mommy and it grows into a baby”. (I don’t have a kid; maybe those discussions are slightly more accurate these days, but I bet they’re just as simplified.) What you tell the three-year-old is true, but it’s only a platform for her to build more understanding as she grows up. You’d be a bit appalled if her understanding hasn’t progressed beyond that when she’s twenty-three. One of my less favorite Biblical quotes is “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I’d prefer “when I grew up, I saw childish things in a new light,”; either way it applies here. Like the average twenty-three-year-old, we’re far from knowing all there is to know about our world, but hopefully we’ve learned a few things since our species’ early childhood.
Mostly, I just want people to stop telling me I should follow their God, when all they can offer is a version of themself, just with better toys.