God Tries to Clean Up Its Mess

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Atheism, Science
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by Marie Alena Castle, author of Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom

Evolution is basically an evil process, although not without a major redeeming feature—after all, we’re here. Its major defect is that it works off of high birth and death rates, a method guaranteed to maximize misery. Its profligacy and random genetic tinkering managed to produce a biosphere filled to every last nook and cranny. A lot of those fillers we could do without . . . do we really need ticks, mosquitoes and cockroaches? Most life forms inflict incredible torment on each other. They cause disease. They sting, poison, claw, bite, club and shoot each other. Some eat other sentient life forms alive, slowly.

The system also has serious quality control problems, some of which hit where it really counts—us. When an offshoot of the primates evolved an upright posture sufficient for improved survival, the adjustments needed to prevent back problems and sinuses that drain the wrong way were left out. When it evolved a brain large enough to give a truly major survival advantage, its pelvic structure barely kept up with the cranial size, making birth difficult, painful and dangerous. Par for the evolutionary course.

At some point, this primate offshoot’s brain became complex enough to produce self-awareness, and the optimistically named homo sapiens arrived on the scene.

For better or worse it could, unlike all other life forms, contemplate the mindlessly sadistic mess evolution had created. Homo sapiens was sapiens enough to see that nature’s idea of life—nasty, brutish and short—was a poor one and start thinking up ways to introduce a few upgrades. An impressive breakthrough! A brain that could learn to take nature’s power for its own!

Nature had created its own god!

As is typical of the evolutionary process, it was a barely adequate god, not much deserving of evolution’s Best of Show award, although it certainly thought it was.

Its brain, for all the advantages it offered, had an ongoing problem—a tendency to think that what it imagined was real. While its imagination could be enormously useful in practical ways such as making fire and discovering DNA, it kept getting sidetracked by imagining the world is controlled by a capricious spirit realm of gods, ghosts, angels, demons and whatnot.

Against overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it even imagined that life continued after death and dreamed up all manner of happy-ever-after scenarios, along with some miserable ones to keep in line those who might have a few doubts about all this.

Over the millennia it wasted an awful lot of time and resources catering to, defending and promoting the supernatural products of its imagination. In a total failure of the sapiens part of homo, it managed to inflict more human misery over the course of history with this spirit-world idea than with any other.

Despite this, progress was made as nature’s newly evolved god set to work trying to fix a few million years’ accumulation of design deficiencies.

• It redesigned plants and animals to improve its food supply and even created some nice dogs and cats for companions.

• It redesigned biology to help control diseases, birth defects, and procreation (although this last one may be too late to prevent an overpopulation disaster of apocalyptic proportions).

• It redesigned chemicals to create materials of better quality than evolution supplied. Now it is working at redesigning life itself through genetic manipulation.

• In a growing part of the world, nature’s assorted torments are kept at bay with an impressive array of medical, industrial and chemical technology.

Not that all of this has always and everywhere turned out as well as expected. The law of unintended consequences remains in full force and homo sapiens seems determined to move at least one step backward for every two steps forward. And it doesn’t always know which way is forward.

Whether nature’s god can improve on itself in terms of its erratic mental functioning remains to be seen. It clearly needs a lot of work. It is still driven by primitive impulses that once had survival value but now cause it to do incredibly cruel and stupid things. Supernatural imaginings still get in the way of making improvements. Magical thinking, though notoriously ineffective, is still popular. The more dedicated promoters of the supernatural still continue their long history of doing everything possible to prevent the inhumane evolutionary process (“natural law”) from being tampered with.

We need to get a grip on reality if we are to succeed in making nature our benefactor instead of our tormentor. Imaginary deities are at best useless and at worst destructive. Besides, they all disagree with each other (just ask their followers). The only god available is good ol’ homo sapiens, warts and all. We just have to make the best of it.

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