Without God, evolution is not just indifferent — it’s torture
A Reflection for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Life comes with storms. That much we know. We can only imagine a world without tempests, though our ability to do just that, to dream of a better life, positions us between our Creator and all other creatures of earth. God knows no storms; other creatures cannot even envision their absence.
So, our place in the middle is worth a ponder. Sometimes people say, “If God took away the following scourges...I’d believe.” But that would not prove the existence of God. It would mean that we were God. There would be no gap between our visions of what could be, what should be and what is. So, on the question of God’s existence, there is at least one point of agreement. None of us is God. We all suffer storms.
Sometimes people say, “If God took away the following scourges...I’d believe.” But that would not prove the existence of God. It would mean that we were God.
Prospero, Shakespeare’s exiled duke-turned-wizard, while watching his world be swept away, defined us as dreamers:
Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself
Yea, all which it inherit—shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep (“The Tempest,”4.1.148-158).
If there is no God, whence comes this dream of a better future? For each of us while we live and for our species as a whole? Who of us stops yearning for better days, even when they never come? Why can we not let the dreams die? Put another way, if we are not children of God, those who come from a loving Father—if we are only forms of evolved life—why does evolution create desires within us it cannot satisfy? Why did we evolve to be dreamers?
We weather each new storm, always knowing that one will eventually sweep us away. Yet still we struggle. If, as some argue, evolution controls every facet of our lives and those lives are clearly under the curse of consciousness, why not be frank and admit that we were ushered into life only to be tortured by a despot? Because for us, dreamers that we are, evolution is not simply indifferent; it’s malign. It devours dreams.
If we are not children of God, those who come from a loving Father—if we are only forms of evolved life—why does evolution create desires within us it cannot satisfy?
Life comes with storms. That much we know. In pure nature, storms break open the old to make way for the new. If we were nothing more than nature, we would neither lament our fate nor fear the future. We would gladly deliver over our dreams to make way for what is coming. But if nature is all there is, would we even have dreams to surrender?
Our faith is rooted in our experience of one who comes from beyond this world of winds. What will we not weather, searching for the one who can say to the squall,
Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled! (Jb 38:11)?
We can even surrender to the storm, let it do as it will, if we believe we have been found by one who alone rebukes the winds and says to the sea,
Quiet. Be still (Mk 4:39).
We can endure the storm, even surrender to it, if we believe that our dreams will somehow survive, be sifted, emerge more spirited than they were before. But if it is “storms all the way down,” why do we struggle?