Tag Archives: God

Evolution, and The God Question

Once again today, I found myself  struggling to discuss with Indira a vast subject that I know only a very little about, but that she is naturally curious to understand.

It all started with a picture of  homo erectus on a page of her French grammar book.  The picture  is there to illustrate a sentence containing a particular verb but it sent us off in a whole different direction, with evolution rather than conjugation becoming the subject of discussion.

She asked why/how people have changed as they do from prehistoric times to then the in-between times to now and I explained that this was called evolution, a process of adaptation to the environment. We then ended up talking about how humans spread to other parts of the world from Africa, that they once had as much body hair as chimps and monkeys (“eeew!”); why giraffes are said to have long necks; the reason that melanin levels – and therefore skin darkness – varies among say Indians and whiter skinned Europeans; the fact that humans were once animals that walked on all fours and gradually began to stand – and thus the name homo erectus; etc. This last part though she seemed to know already, having seen pictures of that progression in some book.

After a while though I told her we ought to get back to the grammar homework, since evolution would take a lot longer to get our heads around !

It was quite a coincidence then, to come across this set of two essays on the evolution v/s divine creation debate

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574405030643556324.html

fascinating ….

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A Journey of Discovery

The questions come so fast, and from so many different angles, I find it tough to keep up with them. Not that I could anyway, by way of answers.

What an experience this is, to see Indira trying to figure the world out.

Every time I start to tell them a little bit about anything, it quickly becomes a conversation I find myself struggling to cope with !

When we were in Mercantour last week, I forget how it started but I began to tell them once again (as I had first done when we saw the shroud – or to be accurate, the replica of it, since the original is locked away  – in Turin earlier this year) the parts I know of the story of Christianity, that some people say Jesus was the son of God, that he was killed (and that the use of the cross was a common method of the time) by some who thought he was becoming too powerful because his followers were growing in number, etc.

That and other conversations see them, especially Indira, asking the most pertinent questions, but ones that I am so ill-equipped to answer.

So where does God live?Does he really know everything?  Has anyone seen him? Can anyone see him?

She has never questioned that different people pray to different Gods – I like it that she accepts this as a given – but she does seem to wonder if there is a God at all.

Who makes the trees and the animals? How were the stars and the sun and the earth created? Was it God?

I said some people think so yes- for even if if there was something that the earth and the sun are formed out of, as scientists say happened, then who created that which came before, some people ask? So maybe that was God’s work, but then there are others who are not so sure.

At which point Shri arrived with the car so I was relieved to end by saying that they would have to wait to be older, to read about these things since I only knew as much as I had told them, though Noor seemed keen to pursue the conversation about Jesus and how come he was so wise.

Then tonight, at dinner, as Indira watched Shri and me add some sea salt to the soup  (the girls , bless them, seem not to have noticed that I added too little while cooking the soup) –

so how come there’s salt mixed up in the water in the sea? where does it come from? how do they take the salt out of the water? There is so much else that is mixed up in sea water ( not all of it clean, is her concern) so how come the salt is finally white?

Later, since she wanted to read “La Nature”  at bedtime, once again there was this flurry of questions, because she wanted to read the part that talks about how the earth came in to being.  To make things difficult for me, the book mentions the Big Bang and how things were in a molten state for millions of years after that , before cooling down to form rocks that then fused together to form larger bodies such as planets.  I have asked Indira to not worry about that bit  for now, but to  keep reading about these things so  that eventually when she is older she will be able to understand some part of this very complex theory.

But then –

How hot is 6000 degrees C( the temperature, according to the book, at the centre of the earth), exactly? So we talked about how the temperature of boiling water is already high enough to burn a person and the centre of the earth is 60 times that. But I struggle to convey the magnitude of such numbers, or indeed wrap my own head around them….

Also –

If there are all these other planets in our and other galaxies, then how come no one lives on them?

And – this is the one that I simply loved , because it seems such a logical question to ask – if they can’t be lived on, then why are all these planets there?

Wonder how creationists/intelligent design types would answer that one !

So I told her yes there are scientists who believe there are bound to be other planets in space, with earth-like conditions that perhaps support some form of life.

She then moved on to  –

Who decided that continents will be called continents and that they are made up of countries?

Why’s a lamp called a lamp and not some other word?

So how come there are so many different languages? Why do some people speak French, some English and some Japanese?

I have explained a little about how there are several different fields of science that study each of her questions, including how mankind developed speech and language, the growth of different languages and the connections between them (language is a subject that seems to really exercise her mind these days). She nodded knowledgeably as I  listed again the different areas of study – biology, archaeology, linguistics, chemistry etc; she seems to know that there are people whose job involves digging up dinosaur bones from the ground.

I can’t say I remember wondering about the world like this when I was their age, so it is quite fascinating to witness  their journey of discovery.

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