Darwin Didn't Kill God, He REALized God

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Darwin didn’t kill God. To the contrary, he and Alfred Russel Wallace offered the first glimpse of the real creator behind and beyond the world’s myriad mythic portrayals of the divine.

The concepts of theism and atheism came into use long before we had an evidential understanding of how the world, in fact, came into being, and before we learned that the Universe itself is creative. Given what we now know about big history (the 14-billion-year epic of evolution), the theist-atheist dichotomy no longer makes sense. Both presuppose a trivial, unnatural God and a Cosmos that is not itself divinely creative. Thus, I am neither a theist, nor an atheist; I'm an evidentialist, an emergentist—a religious naturalist. (In my book I introduce the bridge-building term "creatheist", which can be pronounced "cree-uh-theist" or "cree-atheist").

An evidential approach starts with the fact that our brains are hardwired for relationships. An emergentist approach arises from the recognition that we evolved—and so have our ways of thinking and speaking about reality. Not only are we programmed for empathy and compassion toward those we identify as our "in-group", we also attribute agency to non-animate, non-conscious realities all the time. (Think of Tom Hanks and "Wilson," the soccer ball, in the movie Cast Away.) It’s what our brains do naturally, instinctually. People in every culture have relationalized or personified their world—especially those forces and aspects of their world that were obviously more powerful than they were. We know of no culture in the world that has not personified reality as a whole or certain significant aspects of reality.

"God" is a personification, not a person. If we miss this, we miss everything.

(Given the fact that most religious people do not realize this, however, the New Atheists can hardly be faulted for failing to appreciate it as well.)

Evidence from a wide range of disciplines, from cognitive neuroscience to anthropology to cross-cultural study of the world’s myths and religions, all support the claim that God is a divine personification, not a person. More, there is no counter-evidence. (This fact alone makes sense of the hundreds of competing stories around the world with respect to what God supposedly said or did.) "God" is a mythic name for Reality in all it's sublime fullness. Any so-called God that is imagined as less than this (it's impossible to be more than this) is unworthy of our devotion and deserves to be mocked, as the New Atheists do so brilliantly. (See here, here, herehere, here, and here.)

Contrary to the picture painted in the Bible and Qur'an, God is not a supernatural terrorist ("Do/believe as I say or you will be tortured forever.") Whenever any story, any culture, or any scriptural passage claims "God said this" or "God did that," what follows is always, necessarily, an interpretation. It's an interpretation of what some person or group of people thought or felt or sensed or wished reality was saying or doing, and almost always as justification after the fact or to make a theological point. Such subjectively meaningful claims are never objective, measurable truth. In other words, had CNN or ABC News been there to record the moment of "divine revelation," there would have been nothing out of the ordinary (nothing miraculous) to report on the evening news—nothing other than what was coming out of someone's mouth, or pen, or whatever folks wrote with back then. If we fail to grasp this, not only will we trivialize the divine but, more tragically still, we will surely miss what God (reality) is saying and doing today.

Ours is a time of space telescopes, electron microscopes, supercomputers, and the worldwide web. It is also a time of smart bombs, collapsing economies, and exploding oil platforms. This is not a time for parsing the lessons given to a few goatherds, tentmakers, and camel drivers.

In the 21st century, our most dependable guidance are facts interpreted meaningfully. Historical, scientific, and cross-cultural evidence is the main way that reality (God) is communicating to humanity today. Recognizing and celebrating this will transform religion and culture. Failing to do so will lead to our demise.

We're all in this together. So let's roll up our sleeves and get to it. There's lots of good work to be done!



The Salvation of Religion: From Beliefs to Knowledge

Religion Is About Right Relationship With Reality, Not the Supernatural

Idolotry of the Written Word

Evolutionary Spirituality: Coming Home to Reality

God Is a Divine Personification, Not a Person

The Big Integrity Movement

Thank God for the New Atheists

Evolutionary Christianity

Supernatural Is Unnatural Is Uninspiring (When You Think About It) - blog post

Supernatural Is Unnatural Is Uninspiring (When You Think About It) - podcast

"What Reality in Human Experience Do We Point to with the Word, 'God'?", a pdf of a short essay by evolutionary theologian and bioregionalist, Gene Marshall. This chapter from one of Gene's books is foundational to an evidential understanding of the divine. (The pdf shows up sideways, so you'll need to open it with Adobe Reader and, under the "View" menu, rotate it clockwise. Otherwise you'll need to print it out. It's only 10 pages and well worth it!)