The Evolution of God: When Evolution is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve


By Larry Moffitt

Larry_Moffitt_edited-1I don’t approve of the way the argument over evolution has evolved. Darwin thoroughly yanked the chain of collective Christianity regarding natural selection.

And suddenly, by the standards of Christianity at that time, it became mandatory that an evolutionist also be an atheist.

However, Darwin was also a gnarly racist, claiming superiority of white over black. And he was a sexist, writing in his autobiography, “the average mental power in man must be above that of women.” Oddly, these two notions didn’t bother the Christian establishment one bit in 1859. That’s the part of Darwin they liked. Robber barons like J. D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, along with Karl Marx and Hitler, liked those parts as well, in addition to natural selection. Bummer.

Today, most religious people accept that a faster wolf will catch more bunnies and give birth to better bunny hunters, and that Leonardo Da Vinci’s kid was probably a good artist too. The original burr under the saddle of Christianity is a non-issue these days

There is still a problem when seemingly entire new species are apparently created out of whole cloth. Was it a case of random spontaneous creation or were God and the helper angels busting their chops to build a better water bug?

Can randomness result in order? What about the idea that billions of chimps flailing away at typewriters would eventually write “Hamlet?”

Or even the lyrics to “Teen Angel,” the stupidest song on the planet.

This urban myth always assumes the monkeys would type in English. If we’re going for “Hamlet,” I think we should insist on Danish. It would be just as likely for them to randomly type the melancholy Dane’s “to be or not to be” in his own language.

That a gazillion chimps could do this is one of those “cocktail party truths” I used to unpack to try to impress girls with thick glasses. I figured girls with thick glasses were smarter, and therefore better suited for survival and reproduction. But as it turns out they’re mostly just regular girls who don’t see well. The actual smart ones never let me get within a mile.

Shakespeare and monkey

I stumbled through post-adolescence as a walking study in failed social theories. Darwin would have had fun with me.

But I digress. The “infinite monkey theorem” (cool name, huh?) has been shot in the head pretty thoroughly by real scientists. The odds of chimps typing even one clean limerick are some fraction of a googolplex (a number so big the universe doesn’t have enough room for all the zeroes).

Statistically, it approaches never. They wouldn’t even come up with “Häagen-Dazs,” a nonsensical word invented to sell ice cream by sounding Danish.

So how does a new species suddenly appear? How would I know? They just do. But I have some thoughts as to why, although I can’t prove it. Intuitively it comes down to my understanding that God is both a parent (of humanity) and a creator. From there, I extrapolate based on people I know who are also parents and creative. The creative urge in people is hardwired to the creative urge in God.

I would never call the creation process random, because that’s not how artists work. That doesn’t mean the artist is never surprised by the results. At last count there were 10 quintillion insects alive on Earth (1 with 19 zeros behind it). They represent around a million-and-a-half species, and is only somewhere between 20 and 80 percent of the bugs we think we know about. That’s science’s way of saying we don’t have a clue how many.

I’ve never thought of God as a control freak, and the insect situation tells my intuition that God is okay with happy accidents.

I think God’s loving heart is the blueprint for evolution.

Until Moses, man related to God with burnt offerings. Simple, but kind of hard to know where one stood, grace-wise. At one point, God gets a bellyful of our shenanigans and floods the whole place. After it’s over, God has regrets and promises not to do that again.

When Moses came, God put it in writing and we had ten clear laws. The Ten Commandments helped, but it was a hard world and there didn’t seem to be a lot of mercy to go around. All these eons, God is learning and growing as a parent. At the same time we are learning and growing as children. Everyone is evolving.

It took Jesus to finally call God “Father.” Jesus also popularized the idea of forgiveness. This was huge. Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Baha’u’llah, Zoroaster, Sun Myung Moon, and others added pieces to the picture puzzle. We no longer burn people at the stake for saying God is both male and female. Or that men and women are co-equal, or that science and religion are essentially the same. Some are okay with all this; others hate it. But the conversation is happening.

This is evolution of the heart, and I think it is a much more important level of evolution than even bugs and apes.

I also think the environmental world of critters emulates the evolution going on within God’s creative soul. Sometimes progress happens in increments and sometimes in big, inexplicable leaps.

Consider your own children. As they grew, didn’t you also grow as well? As the parent of a young adult, you are emotionally more evolved than you were when they were in diapers. Their world is more intricate than it was before, and your love became more multifaceted to accommodate that.

I don’t think God was born finished. What parent is?

Therefore, I believe God walks a continual road of self-discovery and continues to create, learn and grow as we do. This implies that God is not only deeply attached to us, but that God’s happiness desperately requires unrestrained love from human beings to a degree much more deeply-felt and intense than we ever imagined. We’re a lot more important to God than we thought

I get my understanding of this from how my heart reaches out to my own children.

I think we really have no idea how bottomless and ardent is God’s longing for us.♦

Larry Moffitt is Vice President of the Washington Times Foundation. Mile markers along his life’s path include: husband and father, farmer and beekeeper, fiction writer, editor, blogadero, amateur chef, stand-up comedian, and so-so poet.

This article appears courtesy of the Faith Fusion blog, where it originally appeared on Dec. 4, 2013.

Painting at top: “Evolution vs. Creation,” by Justin Fitzwater. Illustration of “Monkeys and Shakespeare?” by Linda Silvestri.

4 thoughts on “The Evolution of God: When Evolution is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve

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  1. Larry, thanks for the wonderful essay.

    My thinking also leads me to see that God does in fact “evolve.” Our Creator likely had to discover the significance and value of love and then identify with it. It was not automatic. That impulse to give and receive love only grew as it was pursued. Every created item along the way had a portion of that impulse and that is why all things, humans above all, desire life and pursue creative paths to its fulfillment.

    God is more than S/He was when I started this sentence. Deeper, wiser, more loving, never the same as we once thought.

    Again, thanks for your word-crafting on this topic.

  2. Thanks, Larry. The title is very catchy. Does God evolve, and is God’s evolution random? Was Darwin a racist because of his science or because of the culture in which he was raised?

    I studied engineering, which included some computer programming, and worked for a while as an engineer making devices called an extensometers. They are devices to test the strength of materials. Each model was based on new things we imagined we could add or change, or customized for a specific purpose (e.g., whether it would it be used in a lab bench, on a furnace to test materials at high temperature, or under the sea water). Whether you look at mousetraps, watches, automobiles, or software code you see that “evolution” in the human world works this way.

    If you study nature it is very easy to conclude that “evolution” in the universe and the natural world proceeds similarly and that some kind of intelligence is involved behind what Darwin was observing. I think such a view, and it is one consistent with Unificationism as I understand it, is what we can call a post-modern view of God, perhaps even a post-modern God.

    Paragon House recently published a book on God from the viewpoint of science by an author who taught both astronomy and genetics — a real scientist. He is not a “science writer” or “philosopher of science” who has no experience with hard science like most of the famous atheist writers who wrote their polemics against Christianity. Like Reverend Moon, who studied both nature and engineering, he talks about a God who is personally involved in our lives that can be better understood because of the observations of modern science.

    I’d encourage anyone interested in this topic to read Destiny of the Universe: In Pursuit of the Great Unknown.

    1. Thank you for the book recommendation.

      I especially like the description of it (quoted): “This book is not a religious apologetic, speaking to those inside the fold of any church, but to those living in its Diaspora, who are conversant with the latest science and critical philosophy.” Food for thought, definitely.

      As for the “evolution of God,” generally, it might benefit the dialogue all around if those so engaged could simply agree (somehow) that both God and man “evolve” or “grow” (or at least have so far) together. In other words, neither can be rationally (or intuitively) truly qualified as free and fully loving/loved without the full knowledge and/or embrace of the other. Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, etc.

      And might a “post-modern [view of] God” be another way of saying a “post-primitive [view of] God,” just as well?

      It would seem to me that many have yet to grasp the “supra-denominational” and “supra-religious” aspects of the founder’s vision.

      And what of the “liberation of God” and His/Her heart (of hearts)?

      In my view of the universe (personal/eccentric, given) it seems the only hope (briefly glanced within the framework of convocations and “worship” sessions) is to become nothing within the context of everything; for in truth (scientific as well as religious) we know nothing.

  3. David and Gordon, thank you for your comments. Gordon, I also tend to cut Darwin some slack on racism and sexism precisely because of the times he lived in. My essay comes down on him harsher than I meant for it to. I was trying to cast in relief, the idea that his notions of women and race vs. random creation have been somewhat reversed today in the eyes of “evolving” Christianity. Sort of anyway, minus the idea that embracing evolution seems to require people to also be atheist, which I find ridiculous.

    A tangent: Percy Shelley was kicked out of Oxford for coming out in favor of atheism. Today Oxford is atheist and they have enshrined his “drowned rat” statue in their hallowed halls. The times they are a-changin’.

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