An Evolutionary View of Religion

Considering that most of the opposition to evolution is based on religious bias, it is ironic that evolutionary concepts are most useful for explaining the history of religion. It is common knowledge, for example, that Christianity evolved from Judaism, Buddhism evolved from Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith evolved from Islam, and that Christianity has diversified into hundreds of sects including Roman Catholicism, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thus religions themselves illustrate the concepts of common ancestry, mutation, and adaptive radiation as well as mass extinctions (many pagan religions died out as Christianity and Islam expanded, leaving behind “fossils” in the form of published records that are today dismissed as “myths”).

And now I wish to dispel one of the most common misconceptions about evolution: That because humans evolved from ape-like animals, that humans are by nature superior to their ape cousins. And that evolution is a ladder of progress in which all decendants are by nature superior to their ancestors. It is ludicrious to suggest that fish are inferior to mammals. Both fish and mammals are animals well adapted to their environments. If they were not, they’d become extinct. Most fish cannot breath air and thus cannot survive out of water, but the reverse is true of most mammals, which would die if they could not breath air. So from a fish’s point of view, a mammal must seem inferior, even the whales, which must also rely on their lungs to breath, not gills. Evolution is all about change, not progress. A fish is merely different from a mammal, period.

Likewise, Judaism is different from Christianity. There is no reason for Christians to think themselves or their faith superior to the Jewish faith, except by their own arrogance. Judaism has been in existence longer than Christianity, but it has also evolved just as Christianity has. For a Christian to convert to Judaism is not to take a “backward step”, merely to adopt a different set of teachings.

Thus, I totally reject the Baha’i concept of “Progressive Revelation” that implies that the Baha’i Faith is the supreme religion because it came after all the others, and that other religions are valid but destined to be replaced by the Baha’i Faith. Must we assume that because mammals came later than fish, they are destined to replace all fish? NO, that is nonsense! In my view all religions must be seen as equal because all of them have evolved and adapted to their environment. Until this is understood by nearly everyone, wars and discrimination based on religious bigotry will remain a serious threat.

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2 thoughts on “An Evolutionary View of Religion

  1. The Bahá’í concept of Progressive Revelation says more about the progressive development and receptivity of the human race than it does about the relative merits of the individual revelations. What use would Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on atmospheric contamination, or global collective security or space travel and life on other planets, have been if given by Moses or Jesus? It is useful information for this day and age. Bahá’u’lláh assures us that previous Messengers could have given those teachings (and others that were given later) but the knowledge would have been of no use to the human race. Jesus is even recorded as saying, “I have more to tell you, but you could not bear it now.”

    It is the same as the levels of education received in school: first grade, second grade, etc. Different information is taught at each level, not because the teachers are inferior, but how could a first grader understand calculus? Gradually the foundation is laid and eventually, as the students mature and learn, they will be able to understand and do calculus.

    Bahá’u’lláh has said that the human race has been growing up. As a spieces we were once like children and needed simple information. We are now on the verge of maturity. It is now technologically possible for the world to work together as one unit or we can alternatively destroy all life on earth. God did not create us to self-destruct, so Bahá’u’lláh was sent with teachings to help us learn how to function together on a global scale.

    That’s the only difference, and it has nothing to do with one religion being inferior to another.

  2. If your arguments were valid (and I heard the exact same things when I was a Baha’i), then there would be indeed no need for any other religion in the present day. The coming of Christianity should have resulted in the gradual assimulation of the Jewish people into the Christian community, the coming of Islam should have resulted in the gradual conversion of all Christians to Islam, and the coming of the Baha’i Faith should have resulted in most Muslims converting to that set of teachings within a century or two. The simple reason why that has not happened is that ALL religions, including yours, duanelherrmann, contain fatal logical flaws that impede its ability to be accepted by humanity as a whole, except by brute force. So unless you are willing to resort to persecution or armed insurrection eventually, the Baha’i Faith will NEVER become the world’s dominant religion. Christianity is the faith that has come the closest to that….and it is dying.

    Who is to say that Jews, Christians, and Muslims cannot absorb advanced concepts considered to be “Baha’i” into their own teachings? Many of them already have. Thus they need not convert to the Baha’i Faith. Ironically, Baha’is today reject progressive ideas such as gay rights and their teachings on sex are exactly the same as the traditional ones of the earlier monotheistic faiths. Thus while the Baha’i Faith could claim to be progressive in the 19th Century, that is no longer the case now. The social changes and movements fostered by secular Humanism have passed the Baha’i ideals behind. Therefore, the Baha’i Faith has actually become USELESS!

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