3. SOME IMPORTANT PREPARATORY POINTS
Arising out of the communication referred to in the introduction, particularly the communication with the television channel director, i reached a number of conclusions regarding the manner in which the subject of creation versus evolution is debated that it seems important to me to share at this point.
These are as follows:
3.1. JUDGEMENTAL LANGUAGE
I realised that i had used language in my emails that was judgmental and imputed intentional negative motive to people who consider evolution to be valid.
I also realised that people who subscribe to creation seem to be particularly prone to this. This is despite the fact that the religious disciplines to which many of these people claim to subscribe specifically forbid judging others.
At the same time, in my research, i observed that those who subscribe to evolution seem to be prone to other language which, when closely analyzed, seems to me also to be judgmental and dismissive.
I concluded that the use of judgmental language, name calling, insinuation, etc is a barrier to another person receiving a message, whatever that message may be.
Accordingly, it seems to me that an important step in resolving the debate with regard to evolution versus creation is that people who sincerely are seeking the truth choose to avoid such language.
This seems to me to be particularly important if one is willing to accept that in the final analysis there can only be one comprehensive explanation for any specific event or development.
In other words, it seems clear to me that whether one subscribes to evolution, creation or something else, it would be helpful to admit that there is only one correct answer.
This does NOT mean that i am suggesting that either "evolution" is correct or "creation" is correct. I am suggesting that there is a correct answer which may lie between these two themes.
I am also suggesting that "evolution" and "creation" are very broad and very loose terms that are understood differently by different people and, as such, they are not necessarily particularly useful descriptors.
I am also suggesting that the truth may lie somewhere between what a simplistic interpretation of "creation" or "evolution" suggests.
In fact, it seems to me that some of what evolution says is probably more or less accurate and some of what creation says is more or less accurate.
It therefore seems to me that between these two labels exists the possibility of a reality which could include what has been referred to previously as "an evolutionary process of creation".
Accordingly, what i am motivating in this point is that both sides stop judging the other and start considering whether it is possible that some of what others have to say has validity.
I am also suggesting that this entire subject is too complex to call ANY specific interpretation "correct" or "incorrect". It seems clear to me that in interpreting almost any piece of evidence there is a continuum on a scale of zero to ten between complete error and complete truth. In other words, it seems to me that there are many interpretations that may be partially accurate at some level and partially inaccurate at some level.
As i see it, the challenge thus becomes to determine what portion of any specific interpretation or opinion is valid or invalid rather than to attach total accuracy or total inaccuracy as the only possible "judgments".
3.2. CONSPIRACY IMPUTED
I also realised that in the correspondence referred to, my choice of words at least at some level, imputed that there is a conspiracy to deny creation and support evolution.
From personal experience i conclude that some or other form of "conspiracy theory" is quite common amongst those who subscribe to creation. I do not have significant evidence to support a view that this possibly happens amongst those who subscribe to evolution.
In the light of the previous point, i concluded that any form of "conspiracy" theory is a form of judgment and therefore not compatible with the values and disciplines that i claim to subscribe to.
In response to this i examined what i believe regarding "conspiracy" in some detail and concluded that i do NOT believe that there is any form of conspiracy.
I DO believe that people who support evolution do so sincerely on the basis of the data they have at their disposal and on the basis of their confidence and trust in others who support evolution.
I cannot find any possible reason why people would actively champion something that they know to be in error.
I do NOT think that people make errors deliberately nor do i think that people hold views and opinions that they consciously know are in error.
I hold that this applies just as much to those who support evolution as it applies to those who support creation.
It seems clear to me that none of these people are consciously in error.
This does not say that people do not have "blind spots" things that we are unable to see for whatever reason. In my personal life i have regularly found things life that i could not recognise i was doing but which i eventually came to "own".
By my own life evidence, i drastically changed what i believe relative to evolution versus creation in 1993 and, since then, i have drastically changed what i believe on any number of matters pertaining to religion and life generally.
It seems clear to me that the opportunity is there for every human being to make such shifts and to discover that what they have held to be true is not true.
It also seems clear to me that everyone of us filters what we see and hear through social, religious and other filters in terms of which we SUBCONSCIOUSLY hold to be true or not true.
Thus, it seems to me, that if one has a strongly held belief that the entire universe and all forms of plant and animal life including human kind were literally created in six periods of twenty four hours, one is going to find it difficult to comprehend the view point of someone who holds that this process took hundreds of millions or even billions of years.
The paradigms are so extremely opposed that reconciliation SEEMS impossible and labels that impute lack of integrity or lack of intellect or conspiracy or other negative therefore appear to me to be very widely applied.
This does not seem to me to be helpful in the context of mankind establishing what is true about these things. Whatever that truth may be.
3.3. ABSOLUTE POSITIONING
In reviewing the emails referred to earlier, i also noticed that the manner in which i presented my view was consistently in absolute terms.
In other words, i took a position that what i wrote was absolutely correct and left no space for disagreement or discussion.
In the introspection that this observation occasioned, i came to acknowledge that:
1) I do NOT have ALL truth.
2) That i do hold many of my opinions firmly and with deep conviction.
3) That there ARE opinions that i have changed at various times in my life and it is therefore possible that others have data that i lack which could cause me to change my opinions further.
Accordingly, i concluded that this form of positioning was NOT helpful and apologised accordingly.
This point is, in a sense, an extension of the previous point.
On reflecting on these findings i have also concluded that my training as an engineer at least at some level encouraged me to seek to come to a place of absolute certainty with regard to opinions regarding data that i had validated.
I have also concluded that the tendency for society to encourage us to move to absolute positions is widespread.
"I don't know" and "i am not sure" are not phrases that i read frequently in any form of publication or hear in any form of communication.
I read the articles on the web site referred to previously as consistently presenting statements which i experienced as absolute and positional.
I realised that this did not leave much margin for discussion.
It seems to me that taking an absolute position inherently creates a situation where there is almost no room for another party with a different viewpoint to do anything but respond in a manner that is judgmental and confrontational or, at least, will be experienced this way.
In the days after i made this observation and apologised to the person who had received my emails, i have given much thought to this subject. I have concluded that positioning is something i have done through most of my life and that it is something that i have experienced from others throughout of my life. I have also concluded that it seems to be endemic and that it is not serving me particularly well, nor, it seems to me, is this serving humankind particularly well.
I offer this for your consideration.
It seems to me that, in the context of evolution versus creation, that if significant players on both sides were to depart from absolute positions, the possibility of finding a middle ground which accommodates what is really true about both positions would be a possibility.
I have also found in the last few days that "i don't know", applied to many things that i had previous held that i "did know" has been an interesting and freeing experience.
The truth is that in many areas of my life, including my religious beliefs and beliefs regarding creation and evolution, i simply do NOT know. I have deep convictions and strongly held beliefs, but MOST of them are based on what other people have said or written and which i cannot verify at all or can only verify at enormous cost in time and finances.
I have also realised that there are many conclusions that i have drawn from my own experiences that it now seems to me are not nearly as absolute as i thought they were.
In fact, notwithstanding an honours degree in Civil Engineering with distinction, a PhD in Civil Engineering, listing in "Who's Who in the World" and various other international accolades, presentations at technical and business conferences internationally and publishing a professional book on "The Critical Factors For Information Technology Investment Success", there is MUCH that i don't know, much that i think i know and not a lot that i can demonstrably prove absolutely to be true!
It seems to me that this conclusion applies to every person on the planet if we are willing to confront such an unsettling reality.
It seems to me that if we are able to depart from absolute positioning we will find a basis for resolving "creation" versus "evolution" and also a basis for revolving conflict on earth.
This may be idealistic, i still think it is worth raising for consideration.
3.4. DEBATES ABOUT WORDS
In much of my research into this subject, it seemed to me that the debate was often about the meaning of words used by others rather than about the substance or essence of the subject.
There also seemed to be a lot of debate that was directed at refuting some other person's point rather than addressing what seemed to me to be the fundamental principles behind the other person's point of view.
I don't see how proving another person wrong really moves this debate forward. It is easy to do at some debating level, i think it is more challenging and more productive to try and see what IS true about what another person says and then to try and integrate this into one's own thinking.
I have tried to do this in this document. I am not sure that i have succeeded particularly well.
To the extent that i have not accomplished this i ask you to do what you can to focus on the essence of what i am trying to communicate rather on the details where i may be in error.