Yesterday I was in a doctors office and I noticed the February 2009 issue of Smithsonian magazine. Abe Lincoln and Charles Darwin were on the cover; this year being the 200 anniversary of the birth of both men, who were actually born on the same day. I had quite a wait and got through two fairly long articles. The article on Darwin got me thinking about the whole Science vs. Religion thing, particularly as it has played out over the subject of Darwin's so called "Theory of Evolution".
Many people think this is a simple "science in one corner, religion in the other" type of debate. While this is how it plays out in many circles there are notable exceptions. One of the most fascinating and instructive is the case of Teilhard De Chardin. He was a Roman Catholic priest who wrote convincingly in the first half of the 20th century on the subject of the compatabilty of Evolution with his Christian faith. He was both a scientist (Geologist and Paleontologist) and a member of a religious order (The Jesuits). In nutshell, Teilhard believed that Evolution was the one theory to which all others must bow. Science had taught him this fact. And it was indeed a fact, with a capital F, and thus could not be ignored. (note: the Smithsonian article, while not mentioning Teilhard, or even the subject of religion, did point out that although there were "gaps" in Darwin's theory, which Darwin himself readily acknowledged, that all science since, and I mean ALL science since, has only proven Darwin's initial theory utterly correct).
So then, how does a priest, whose "traditional" religious inheritance is obviously challenged by this Theory of Evolution, deal with what appears to be (on the surface at least) two incompatable world views? Well here, in a slightly oversimplified form, is how Teilhard answered this question. In the physical world, before a species "evolves" there are what Teilhard called "progenitors" or "sports". These are freaks of nature so to speak who have jumped out ahead of the pack and evolved before the rest of the species. He believed that there was also, humanly speaking, an evolutionary component on the spirtiual plane. Christ was an example of this type of"progenitor". He was a human who had made this leap ahead of the existing consciousness. He was a freak. So far ahead in fact that people came to use words like "Divine" when describing him. The Buddha would be an obvious second example of this type of individual. Think about this for minute...okay now take another minute...
Pretty good news I'd say.
Now go and look yourself in the mirror and say "Hello you cute little future Buddha" or something like that.