There are times when a writer has a spot of trouble beginning an article. In this instance, it has nothing to do with writer's block. Rather, it has to do with the silliness of a subject that needs serious rebuttal. And, a rebuttal far weightier than I can muster. But to sooth my fevered brow, into the breach I go! The subject that is in need of serious rebuttal is known as creationism. Take note of my lack of capitalization; that's how silly I believe the subject to be. But then, this is coming from an infidel.
The short story as told by the creationists: evolution is a scam perpetrated by modern science. According to creationist doctrine, god (their version of god) created the Earth and all in it just a mere 6,000 years ago. Dinosaurs were Adam and Eve's pets and the huge teeth on those beasts were used to crack open melons. Creationists, while having no use for modern science and its practitioners, have their very own "scientists" who claim that all fossils are forged. Fossils, according to them, have been forged to dupe the general public into believing that evolution is a fact. This is all a part of Satan's plan to take people away from god (again, their god) and the bible. And, if you should visit one of their creation parks (think an extreme, biblical oriented Disney-type land for the mentally challenged) that have popped up, they will be more than happy to show you how modern science has forged fossils in a strenuous effort to make you a "true believer." Also, they have published several books on this subject (the creationist viewpoint) and a few of these books, unfortunately, found their way into schools. This happens when creationists are elected to your local school board. Also, creationism seems to get a lot of media attention and not all of it is negative. Given all this, one might think that creationism has a large following; some elected officials, more than just elected school board members, are creationists. And, does a question about politicians pushing personal agendas need to be asked? I digress. When compared to the Roman Catholic Church, the creationist population is small. And, the Catholic Church's position on evolution is damned near opposite that of creationism.
Decades after Darwin published his On the Origins of Species in 1859, the Church played "footsy" with the idea of evolution; various members of the Church clergy penned articles for and against the subject. But in 1950, the fate of evolution as part of Church doctrine, dogma, and instruction was sealed.
Pope Pius XII issued his papal encyclical, Humani generis. This encyclical stated that there is no conflict between the Church and evolution provided the person believes that the human soul comes from and is/was created by god and not the material Earth. Over the next few decades, the Church refined its position on evolution into what is now known as Theistic Evolution: god kicked off creation, evolution happened, it is ongoing, and god made the human soul. Pope John Paul II hammered home this point in 1996. This is all good stuff, but in the tapestry of time, the Church's teaching/revelations about evolution are fairly recent. There are texts far more ancient than the Church's recent pronouncements that speak of creation and evolution. These texts are known as the Voluspa and the Rigspula.
The Voluspa is the Germanic/Norse story of a seeress's prophecy that was requested by the Aesir high god Odin/Wodan. It deals, in part, with the creation and destruction of the world and a few things in between. At one point, the story focus's on Odin/Wodan and his two brothers (the three creator gods) as they walk through Midgard (Earth). They come upon two beings, known as Ask and Embla, who are often referred to as trees. The pair are described as having not much more than a vegetative existence. Obviously, Ask and Embla did not look like anything remotely human. Then, according to the Voluspa, something remarkable happened. The three gods blessed the duo with soul, the breath of life, and more. These gifts put this particular species on an evolutionary path to become human. The gods, for whatever their reason, tweaked evolution.
The Rigspula is, in my opinion, often misunderstood; Dumezil and his caste system of thralls, farmers, and rulers is wrong. I think this opinion about caste comes up when the story is read and it is assumed that the visits of the god Rig (probably Odin/Wodan) happened one right after the other.
As the story goes, the god visits the first couple, who according to the text, are really ugly. And, their situation is very primitive. When night falls, the good is invited to sleep between the man and woman. The god impregnates the woman and a child is born (the thralls).
Later, the god visits the second couple. They are much better looking and their situation is much improved over that of the first couple. The nighttime bed sharing happens again and another child is born (farmers, freemen).
Finally, the god visits the third couple who just happen to be downright handsome and their situation is the best of the three. Once more, nighttime activity produces a child (rulers, warriors). Now is a good time to pause and mention a few things.
For folks not familiar with mythology in general, the storyteller uses simple and rather folksy ways to get his message across to his listeners (or readers). The couples mentioned in the Voluspa and the Rigspula represent the existing humanoid/human population of the particular time. The god sleeping with the couples and the resulting children are folksy ways of telling us that the god spent time among people and gave them significant gifts. Those two god-gifted beings in the Voluspa started the human evolutionary ball rolling. In my opinion, the Rigspula tells us more of the same.
In the Rigspula, when the god visits the first couple, they are more evolved (but still in a primitive condition of appearance and way of life) then the couple Ask and Embla in the Voluspa. The visiting god gifts them with an evolutionary booster shot and they (the population) evolve and become the couple of the second visit.
When the god appears for his second visit, he sees that the "couple" is more evolved than the first. They are more attractive to the eye and their means of providing for themselves is far better than couple number one. Another booster shot is administered, and couple number two become couple number three.
The god is obviously pleased with human evolution on his third visit. The people are very handsome and their lives are superior to those "couples" of the past multi-millennia. The god is so pleased that a third evolutionary shot is given. That third couple evolved into.....us, modern man. At this point it is tempting, after considering that humans may have received various evolutionary tweaks from some sort of divinity, to make certain assumptions; I will not.
In my opinion, for a caste system to be the message of the Rigspula, the story would have started with the rulers/warriors first, the farmers/freemen second, and the thralls last, and not as it is written. In that method, the couples would have devolved, not evolved. I am convinced that the Rigspula is a mythical story describing human evolution from the beginning up to at least the pre-viking age, with the possibility of some divine intervention. Also, I am convinced that the Voluspa holds many truths, yet to be discovered. But this is an opinion, mine. Sadly, the Voluspa and the Rigspula are incomplete; both are missing whole sections. Hopefully one day, the missing will be found. For those who have reached this point, do not be to quick to draw similarities between the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution and the Voluspa/Rigspula. The latter are very old, while the ink on the Church document is still wet. And, it is doubtful that the Church would consider ancient heathen works to form its opinion. Or maybe not. But, what about the creationists?
It should be obvious that if the creationists reject rock solid science, they also reject the Roman Catholic Theistic Evolution doctrine. There are two reasons for this: the creationists despise anything Roman Catholic (a tool of Satan). And, the doctrine, in its own way, validates evolution, something they swear is a complete falsehood. Of course, anything written by a heathen, an infidel, now or two thousand years ago would be rejected without any due consideration with the exception, possibly, for toilet paper. But really, what is sillier; the possibility that divinity tweaked evolution or that Adam and Eve had dinosaurs as house pets?
Copyright @2013 Terry Unger