EVOLUTION AND GOD AND GREED

When I was a young man I belonged to a conservative Protestant religion. My minister believed that evolutionary theory was a violation of a literal translation of the bible. Therefore, you were expected to reject evolution and the science that it was founded upon. When I went off to college and studied evolutionary theory, and as I gained in my understanding of religion, I felt that the two could easily be reconciled. All you had to believe was that IF evolutionary theory was valid, then all it proved was HOW God decided to create humans. (See the film or play Inherit the Wind and study the position Clarence Darrow takes in the Scopes trial.)

This was unacceptable to the fundamentalist way of viewing the Bible and what God was up to and so I had to choose between my religious beliefs and my growing and evolving understanding of science. I walked away from the church. This was an unfortunate loss for me because I needed the church more than the church needed me. It took many years before I would once again be comfortable with any religion.

Not all religions are as dogmatic as most fundamentalists. The Catholic church, in modern times, is a fairly good example of a combination of dogma and flexibility---at least in certain areas. Pope John Paul II recently proclaimed that: "Consideration of the method used in diverse orders of knowledge allows for the concordance of two points of view which seem irreconcilable.. The sciences of observation describe and measure with ever greater precision the multiple manifestations of life...while theology extracts...the final meaning according to the Creator's designs" (TIME, November 4, 1996, p. 85). This statement by the Pope reflects the Catholic church's acceptance of evolution. Since the 1950s the theory of evolution has been taught in Catholic schools. The Catholic teachings on the bible have long been moving away from a literal reading of the entire Bible. When asked about the recent statement of the Pope, Father Peter Stravinskas, editor of the 1991 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, said, "It's essentially what Augustine was writing. He tells us that we should not interpret GENESIS literally, and that it is poetic and theological language."

What is important to the Pope, is the evolution of our soul, how our physical body evolved is not all that important spiritually.

What is important to dogmatic fundamentalist Protestants, is a literal interpretation of the Bible.

What is important to me, is that the way that the body has evolved over the millennia is supportive of spiritual beliefs. If you follow the Golden Rule, if you reach out and love your fellow humans, if you follow a path in life that is consistent with the teachings of ALL the great world faiths, then your body responds chemically in very positive ways. You are happier, healthier, and live a longer and better life biologically when you are living consistent with God's messages. The way evolution has created humans is totally consistent with the way God has told us we should live our lives. That to me is the important concept and to battle over literal interpretations of the Bible is to miss the big picture.

An examination of just how the body and the soul connect was recently revealed in a study of the impact of discrimination.

"African Americans who must suffer discrimination in silence have higher blood pressure than those who can afford to challenge racist treatment. The finding may explain why blacks as a group have such high rates of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure" (TIME, November 4, 1996, p. 20 from an article in THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH). The conclusions I reach from the above study are: (1) God is against discrimination, (2) God does not want us to suffer discrimination in silence.

Social workers have long believed that all forms of injustice are immoral and should be fought, not tolerated stoically in silence. What are you doing about the continuing negative impact of discrimination and other injustices in our society?

Some of us would contend that ALL injustices have, to some degree, a foundation in greed, that money is the root of all evil, and that you can best understand discrimination and other forms of social injustice in terms of economics and how big business operates in the world. A good example of just how big corporations operate was revealed with the ADM price fixing case. ADM, Archer-Daniels-Midland, the company that touts how it is "Supermarket to the World" was found to also be the "Price Fixer to the World." The government proved that they were involved in price fixing, which is illegal, and they were fined $100 million in a plea bargain with the Justice Department. This was the largest fine ever levied in a criminal antitrust case. But, what is more important, is that, ADM did not suffer from this deal that they made with the Justice Department. "For the company, last week's penalty represented little more than peanuts---or soybeans---and was a good deal, considering that ADM benefited financially in the form of higher prices. The company has $1.3 billion on hand to pay inconveniences like a $100 million fine. ADM's stock even rose $1.13 a share, to $21.75, on news of the penalty---which Wall Street had expected to be much higher---and finished the week at $21.50, raising the company's market value some $500 million. By that accounting, it can't be said that crime doesn't pay, only that it is a cost of doing business" (TIME, October 28, 1996, p. 64).

Part of the problem is that corporations like ADM are so powerful that the government really is unwilling to stop them from continuing their greed-directed activities. And, ultimately, you and I and our children are the ones that will pay the price. And, the price is not just tallied in dollars and cents. Yes, you and I really paid the $100 million in higher food costs thanks to ADM. You and I also will pay the $500 million in stock increase, as that will ultimately be passed on to us through higher food costs. What is even worse is that big corporations also are damaging our health with their illegal and immoral practices, practices that continue with little or no effective control by government. A good example of just how endangered we are by the pollution of big corporations relates to the recent case of the frogs in America.

We have recently been finding a lot of unusual-looking frogs with abnormalities such as a frog with three eyes, one of them in its throat. "Because frogs spend much of their life in water, pesticides or toxic metals (are) prime suspects (along with) acid rain, global warming and increased ultraviolet light...What some scientists fear is that the frogs, like a miner's canary, could be a sign that something is very wrong with the environment...If frogs are not able to handle whatever it is that is causing this, it may turn out that people can't either" (TIME, October 28, 1996, p. 87).

What I am trying to encourage you to do is to see how the information you are being fed on a regular basis is synergistically connected. To become an informed and intelligent professional, you have to holistically put together all the bits and pieces of information that come your way in the course of a day, week, month and year. Otherwise these bits of information fail to inform you effectively as to just what is going on in your world.

God wants us to live happy and joyful lives. God has designed our bodies to respond joyfully and healthily when we practice the Golden Rule. When we fail to do so we suffer. When corporations fail to do so we suffer. It is your responsibility to yourself, to your children, and to all humans around the world, to resist the lure of greed in your personal life, and in the political and corporate worlds. By so doing, you limit the influence of greed and increase the influence of God in the world.