33rd Martin Luther King Jr. Day; Tyler, TX 2019: “Living Together as Brothers.” By J.D. Meyer

The 33rd MLK Day celebration in Tyler once again began with meeting at the Downtown Square and marching to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral at Broadway AV & Front ST for a program with many speakers. At the Square, someone quoted MLK with, “No individual or nation can live alone. We can live together as brothers or die together as fools. Someone carried a cool sign with the following MLK quote, “We may have come in on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” The sound system wasn’t working downtown, so that part of the program was cut short, and the crowd marched down Broadway Avenue—Tyler’s major street—to the cathedral. There were at least a couple of drum corps marching with us: Texas College and Grace Community HS.
In the introduction, the speaker noted that scientific progress has made the world a neighborhood. Once again, someone asserted that a person or nation can’t live alone. That reminded of the current American president’s desire to withdraw from NATO—a military alliance between the USA & Western Europe since 1945 for protection versus Russia, formerly the Soviet Union.
Somebody wore a cool T-shirt declaring, “Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran, so our children could fly.” #LegacyMatters.
Joanne Hampton began by noting that we need to be mindful of our giving. Lift each other up by being aware. Local business success promotes sustainability. Yet we can stimulate global culture.
Mayor Martin Heines asked, “What are we doing for others?” Service to one another strengthens the community. To build a more perfect union, we all have a role through building with our service. This leads to more abundant opportunities for our children.
Next were four charming little kids with “Kids Aspiring to Dream (KATD) with their theatrical performance, culminating with Jonathan Martin’s dramatic soliloquy. The theme was “The Dream Lives on “It is Me.”
George Faber played, “Take the A Train (1941)” before a statement highlighting the term, “propel.” Through our roles in life, we encourage and propel equality by coming together often. Sometimes we don’t have the answers. We encourage our kids; something will propel them too.
The Keynote Speaker was Peggy Llewellyn, a History-Making NHRA Pro Stock Motorcyclist. She was the first minority woman to win an NHRA event. The speaker’s mom rode motorcycles too, and her dad was a motorcycle and car mechanic. Ms. Llewellyn likes to research new cities that she visits—noting that Tyler is the Rose City and home of actress Sandy Duncan, Keke Shepherd, and the HGTV Dream House.
Ms. Llewellyn’s Dad is Jamaican and he moved here in 1967—just three years after the Civil Rights Act. Racial tension was still strong. She noted that her family could have played it safe for Jamaica is a beautiful island with great cuisine. Nevertheless, the USA is a land of opportunity—in spite of struggles with racism. They settled in San Antonio, Texas. By 1977, her dad owned his own business. Nevertheless, some customers wouldn’t deal with him when they found him to be Black. Other customers wanted him to succeed, for they lived together as brothers.
Young Peggy didn’t grow up with dolls; she raced her brother on motorcycles. She liked the smell of burning rubber and reached speeds of 190 mph. They raced at Alamo Dragway. Color was not a measuring tool for herself. Novelty was something different for the team.
Sometimes her ability was questioned because she’s small, Black, and Jamaican. Ms. Llewellyn was determined to look past the negativity and going to race and win. We should love one another regardless of race or religion. Hate is too much burden; love is actually simpler, according to Ms. Llewellyn. Recall that saying, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Have faith so we work together, play together, and struggle together. She quoted Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong of good courage. God goes with you and won’t leave or forsake you.” All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. We must fight discrimination on basis of sex or whatever. In closing, Peggy’s Dad knew she had talent, and he prepared her for obstacles. Look past and above the negative. Love and respect helps one’s perspective. It’s a topic and attitude.

Here’s a photo of me at the MLK march; it was taken by Sarah Miller, the main photojournalist for the Tyler Paper. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10107171117769518&set=pcb.10218140711931630&type=3&theater

The Liberal Islam of Indonesia–Jaringan, by J.D. Meyer, mainly based on Ulil Abshar-Abdalla

Now it’s time to look at the liberal Islam of Indonesia at http://www.islamlib.com, also known as Jaringan Islam. What could be a better religious antidote to fanatic Muslim extremism than a faction of Islam that values reason?

Ulil Abshar-Abdalla read, “Upheaval in Islamic Thinking,” the journal of Ahmad Wahib, another Indonesian. Ahmad stated, “God is not a land forbidden to thought. God exists not in order for his existence to be un-thought. God takes shape not in order to hide from the light of the critique. He doesn’t want to be fixed in one place.” “Religion is a living organism that makes us feel enthusiasm.” Doesn’t that remind you of process theology? The Sufi go as far as to say that God created humans so he could be recognized.

The Mu’tazilah is a branch of Islam as major as the vastly better-known Sunni and Shiite. The Mu’tazilah asserts that through reason we can determine the limits of good and evil , undertake our own evolution and grow to be mature. Human reason is an active participant in interpreting the divine notions. We don’t have a brutish world; furthermore, revelation is not cruel but life-restoring.

A liberal Islam woman named Nong read the works of Fatima Mernissi, a Moroccan Muslim feminist. Fatima believed the wearing of the veil nowadays simply serves the political interests of men. But long ago, the tradition was necessary because Muslim women were harassed just to both Mohammed himself. Fatima and Nong feel that this veil tradition is outdated. Fatima feels that Moslem women should simply wear modest clothes that don’t attract attention. Turkey’s founder, Attaturk, forbade the veil tradition as he wanted some distance between religion and state.

A physicist, Imanuddin Abdurrahim, asserted, “If Moslems want to progress, they can’t depend only on religious texts produced in a certain social and historical context. Social law is not static.” If you don’t install lightning rods on a mosque, natural law could hurt you.

Ulil sees the roots of Moslem fundamentalism as born from a sense of desperation and disappointment. Muslims once knew a golden age, and now they feel degraded. Political fragmentation has hurt; they’ve been left behind in science and economics. They’re spectators of injustice by the West. The Muslim fundamentalist question can be, “Has God left us out?” A pretty shocking theory, but haven’t we seen people behave in a fashion that reminds us of the football proverb, “The best defense is a strong offense”? There’s no religion for those without reason, according to Ulil.

What is a Liberal Muslim description of sin? Sin incites the twitchy and turmoil in your heart, and you don’t like other people see you do it.
So what can religion do for us when our civilization has declined? It should uplift the humanitarian dignity more than worship of a fixed object.

This paragraph comes from Muhammad Ali, not the boxer. Extremists want to see a clash, so religious leaders ordained and lay need to build dialogue. The interrelatedness of sacred texts in the three Abrahamaic religions forms a starting point. Unequal power relations make it difficult. The West appears insensitive and arrogant while the Muslim world seems insecure and defensive. Constructive criticism leads to accountability. Yet the boundary leaders, those who operate on the borders of their community by reaching out to others, need support since it’s psychologically taxing. Ali warns of biblioidolatry, when one worships a religious text taken out of its historical context.

“Ulil’s (Abshar-Abdalla) Controversial Article in English”
We’ll close our survey of the Liberal Islam of Indonesia with a summary of Ulil Abshar-Abdalla’s article in English. Ulil begins by declaring, “Islam is first and foremost a living organism, a religion that evolves in accordance with the pulse of humankind’s development. The tendency to make an unchanging monument of Islam is very prominent at present and the time has come to combat this tendency.”

Ulil fashions a very structured article, starting with four key points: (1) Islam shouldn’t be literalistic; it needs to stay in step with an ever-changing civilization. (2) Local culture must be separate from values; we’re not obligated to follow Arab culture. (3) Muslims shouldn’t view themselves as cut off from other groups. The Quran never banned interreligious marriage. People are on the same level regardless of religion. (4) Social structure needs to distinguish between political power and religious power. Religion is a private matter while the ordering of public life is through the community reaching agreement through democratic deliberation. Now isn’t it refreshing to hear a statement in favor of democracy from a Moslem thinker?

Islamic law should protect the values of “religious freedom, reason, property, the family and honor.” “How these are translated into any given historical and social context is something the Muslims must work out for themselves through “ijtihad” (intellectual endeavor).

Muhammad (Peace be unto Him.) is “a historical figure that should be the object of critical study” and “not just an always-admired mythological figure by ignoring his human qualities and possible weaknesses.” Yet still he must be a model to be followed. Muhammad’s success at Medina was a negotiation between universal values and the social constraints at Medina.

Yet all works of human creativity regardless of religion have something to offer Moslems. Value can be concealed behind the form, according to Ulil. That reminds me of problems with office politics or the tension between the establishment and avant-garde. The enemy of all religions is injustice. Justice is not just a sermon but must be realized in the rules of the game, law, and deeds, according to Ulil.
Moslems must develop the capacity to face problems rationally. Muhammad said whoever wants to overcome the problems of the world and attain happiness should do it with science. Each field has its own principles and rules, but justice is paramount. Claiming the law of God appears as laziness and a form of escapism to Ulil, as well as the reason for the decline of Islam.

Dogmatism is the most dangerous enemy of Islam because it ignores civilization as an “accumulation of achievements supported by all nations.” Dogmatism builds a wall between them and us. The truth of God is greater than the Quran. Islam is better regarded as process more than institution. The prime criteria of goodness in religion should be the benefit of humankind.

J.C. Watts: Coming to God like a Child to a Parent: 2005 Founders’ Day Convocation Address at Texas College

Takeaways
• Being an unforgiving enemy is when God has lost us. Sophistication results from growing maturity. “Aha” experiences.

J.C. Watts has achieved remarkable success in a wide variety of high-profile activities. Watts was the quarterback of Big 8 Champion, the University of Oklahoma in their wishbone days and Canadian Football League quarterback. Then he became a multi-term Republican congressman from Oklahoma, ordained Baptist minister, and now economic development specialist and beyond.
In our 2005 Founder’s Day Convocation, J.C. Watts showed the value of child-like spontaneity through several examples that reinforced the famous statement in the gospels about how being like a little child towards God is how the relationship is supposed to be. Initially, Mr. Watts found this imagery to be surprising, even confusing, because as a family man, Mr. Watts has seen his children do some embarrassing things in public but out of innocence.
Then Mr. Watts recalled times like when his son pretended to be scoring a touchdown, a heart-warming spontaneous joy. Through such reflections on things near at hand, Mr. Watts saw the meaning of being like a little child-often described as being born again.
Furthermore, one time one of Mr. Watts’s kids asked him to fix a burst balloon! Small children believe that daddy can do everything. And since there are parts of our lives that need mending, we should ask God for help in the same way.
Thus, careful analysis by Mr. Watts deepened his faith rather than reducing it. When skeptical people become cynical, they find less to believe in and probably become more arrogant.
This brings up another point by Mr. Watts. God wants us to be the best we can be in such areas as work, sports, grooming, etc. Sophistication results from growing maturity with time; however, sophisticated adults can be unforgiving enemies too. They can lose the ability to say that they’re sorry to others and God as well-something little children still have the ability to do. Mr. Watts defined this state of being an unforgiving enemy as when God has lost us.
Therefore, Mr. Watts had an epiphany of understanding, or what the Buddhists call a satori, and the creativity researchers term an “aha” experience about the essential nature of how to be spiritual.
To conclude, despite all of Mr. Watts’s stellar achievements, his faith and experience as a family man served as the source of his address. Mr. Watts tackled one of the more important and difficult concepts in the Bible-being as a little child/the meaning of being born again. Moreover, Mr. Watts connected the value of humility with sophistication

Evolution: Integrator of the Sciences and Spiritual Inspiration

October 3, 2004/Edited in November-December 2007

Introduction
Evolution seems to be one of the ultimate battlegrounds between science and religion, despite its overwhelming support from the scientific community, science itself, and acceptance of by most religious denominations—with the glaring exception of fundamentalism. In ancient times, when people needed explanations, religion offered something far more often than science. Too often, religious explanations either took the style of the horrible monarchs that ruled their countries and broke their own laws or simply gave fanciful myths or miracles. Unfortunately, the benign early chapters of Genesis gave way to doctrines of humans as fallen creatures in need of atonement and rescue.
However, the reader could accept evolution and still believe in a Savior God rescuing the world from the sin. Religious evolutionists still admit that humans are quite selfish, if not fallen, the result of being big-time winners in the evolutionary struggle. I want this revised Evolution service to be accessible to more faiths than Unitarians, liberal Christians and whatnot. So there are three issues here: the start and continuation of life together with the events surrounding the first people, and the nature of mankind. Even that first australopithecine couple may have really gotten God mad. I doubt it, but there’s a lot of cultural baggage that threatens us into believing it. The fall of Adam and Eve may remind me of the North Korean policy of imprisoning the grandchildren and children of political prisoners, but so what?
Today, many can throw out radioactive dating or that stars have a life and death as if these weren’t part of natural law. Others feel that they’re too good to have cavemen as distant ancestors but cling to original sin beliefs while the war machine and terrorists grind on with torture coming out of our closet.
I hope we can proclaim evolution as more than the integrator of the sciences but as a glorious account of what has really happened on Planet Earth. However, evolution offers a model of reality that’s value-free; we still need a system of ethics. Certainly we don’t need to praise “survival of the fittest” like the Social Darwinists of old. Yet we can praise God as that spark of life—moving creation onward. Getting away from the special creation in Genesis doesn’t mean renouncing God whatsoever. In fact, through an acceptance and understanding of evolution, we should be able to praise God in a more coherent and up-to-date fashion.
Let’s remember two key facts: (1) Theory in science is far more conclusive than the use of the term “theory” in everyday life, (2) Evolution refers to changes in populations not individuals; furthermore, this change is inheritable through genetic material. Unfortunately, some dictionaries even offer faulty definitions of evolution. No wonder the layman often has a confused notion of evolution. Indeed, I’m going to gamble later on discussing evolution in language and food, despite that these can’t be genetic changes but do explain culture changes in populations.
When biologists say that humans and chimpanzees evolved from the same common ancestor, it means that “heritable changes in the two separated populations have occurred since they became isolated, according to an article at http://www.talkorigins.org. But evolution is like a branching bush, not a ladder. Only one of the nineteen three-toed horses evolved into Equus, the one-toed horse of today.

First Reading: Keynote Statement for Religious Naturalism
“We find our sources of meaning within the natural world, where humans are understood to be emergent from and hence a part of nature. Our religious quest is informed and guided by the deepening and evolving understandings fostered by scientific inquiry. It is also informed and guided by mindful understandings inherent in our human traditions, including art, literature, philosophy, and the religions of the world.
The natural world and its emergent manifestations in human creativity ad community are the focus of our immersion, wonder, and reverence. We may describe our religious sensibilities using various words that have various connotations—like the sacred, or the source, or god—but it is our common naturalistic orientation that generates our shared sense of place, gratitude, and joy.
We acknowledge as well a shared set of values and concerns pertaining to peace, justice, dignity, cultural and ecological diversity, and planetary sustainability. We may differ on how these concerns are best addressed, but we re committed to participating in their resolution.” http://www.religiousnaturalism.org This statement doesn’t have to be a call to praise the creation instead of the creator but a call that acknowledges we’re reminded of the Divine when we see the creation.

Exploring, Part One: Evidence for Evolution
Charles Darwin and Archaeopteryx
Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, was jolted into developing the theory by way of a trip to South America and the Galapagos Islands—off the coast of Ecuador. Darwin, a naturalist, noticed that the animals on the mainland differed from related animals on the islands. Moreover, there were even different species on the different islands of the Galapagos: finches, tortoises, and iguanas to name a few. Finally, Darwin asked himself, “Why did recent fossils like glyptodonts and ground sloths resemble current species, but still were different? Darwin realized that life must have evolved and wasn’t created all at once. Darwin wrote his Origin of the Species in 1859.
Just two years later, the first missing link was discovered: Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx was half bird and half small theropod dinosaur, a creature like Velociraptor of fame from the Jurassic Park movie. And it too lived during the Jurassic Period, roughly 140 million years ago. Since 1861, seven more Archaeopteryx have been discovered. Furthermore, paleontologists discovered seven more dinosaur-like birds that are 30-40 million years more recent than Archaeopteryx.

More Missing Links
Missing link abounds in the fossil record. The path from fish to amphibian is the route of coelacanths like Eusthenopteron to a strong-tailed amphibian named Ichthyostega. How about the path from amphibian to reptile? We got Seymouria, discovered right near Wichita Falls, Texas. How about reptile to mammal? We have quite a fossil record there. Pelycosaurs, like the famous finback, Dimetrodon, were followed by therapsids, like the husky Moschops, and finally cynodonts, or mammal-like reptiles, like Cynognathus.
What skeletal changes do we see from reptile to mammal? The five-piece reptilian jaw streamlines to a one-piece mammalian jaw bone. Meanwhile, reptiles only have one simple ear bone, but that evolved to three ear bones in mammals.

Radioactive Dating
Certain elements like Uranium 238, Potassium/Argon, and Carbon 14 are radioactive. Uranium changes to lead, potassium changes to argon, and carbon 14 changes to carbon 12. These three isotopes can be found in rock of varying ages with uranium good for dating the oldest and carbon 14 best for dating the youngest.
It “takes a certain length of time for half of the atoms to decay, and it will take the same amount of time for half of the remaining atoms, or a fourth of the original total, to decay. In the next interval, with only a fourth remaining only one eighth of the original total will decay” and so forth. Moreover, these rates of radioactive decay don’t vary even
when subjected to extreme heat, cold and pressure. Are we ready to accept that formulas in math and science are as much a part of God’s laws as not lying or stealing? How about shouting a “Praise God!” for radioactive formulas?

Stratigraphy
Younger layers of rock are deposited on top of older layers of rock. Old fossils are never found with younger fossils. The only way an older rock formation can be found on top is through an occurrence like the Llano Uplift near Austin, Texas. Forces pushing from below made the older rocks go to the earth’s surface. Really famous fossils are called index fossils because you can use the fossil to date the rock in which it was found.

DNA and RNA
Since 1960, we’ve had another scientific proof for evolution: DNA and RNA, the degree of difference between proteins is proportional to the time since they split apart. Thus all living things on earth, from viruses to people, share this DNA code of life, protein synthesis machinery, and the ATP system of energy transfer.
Andrew Peacock, a biochemist and Anglican priest, pioneered the early DNA research. Peacock sees the remarkable sharing of all life forms in DNA sequencing and proteins as strong evidence for a “common origin of all living organisms and evolution.” Reverend Peacock hails the epic of evolution from the “Hot Big Bang” to Homo sapiens as an illumination of how the creator God has really been creating. “We witness an increase in complexity and a capacity to be self-conscious and relate the Creator,” according to the theistic naturalism of Reverend Peacock.

Evolution as a Model in Language Development
I will conclude offering evidence for evolution from science through using evolution as a model in cultural change: language and national cuisines. Thus this is certainly not evolution in a genetic change sense, but we can see a change in populations beyond the individual. In addition, these changes take place in a historical perspective not the millions of years to see something like fish evolve to amphibian.
First, I’m going to start with a linguistics professor from Zaire (now Congo again) who teaches at the University of Chicago, Salikoko Mufwene. Dr. Mufwene speaks the king’s English, French, and whatever African languages, and he does it while analyzing the evolution of language, whether standard or somewhat slang. “Competition and Selection in Language Evolution” is one of his many scholarly articles.
An easy way to understand language evolution is to see that Latin evolved into the Romance languages: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Romanian. Language splintering follows colonization. Before the evolution of Latin, we had the splintering of the Indo-European languages from a common proto-Indo-European language. Bantu languages in southern Africa diversified too.
Importantly for evolutionist, language is like a species, a construct extrapolated by individual idiolects. Each language learner integrates what (s) he has heard in a manner like gene recombination. Languages change simply through the efforts of speakers to accommodate each other, “Watchale Border Spanish” changed from “Mirale el espanol de la frontera.”
As mainly a teacher of English writing and grammar, I want to get to the bottom of the reasons for the mutilated subject-verb agreement and irregular verb usage that I live with daily. Importantly, many a scholarly black speaker will deliberately use the dialect vernacular on occasion for aesthetic preference as well as a persuasive rhetorical tool. Dialect in this instance has to be verbal, not visual. How can you have an Ebonics run-on sentence?
When I heard that Black English is rooted in African language grammar rules, I answered, “Which one?” There are roughly one hundred languages spoken in each of the three regions of the Sudan alone. So some Internet surfing revealed that Dr. Mufwene found that the Niger-Congo language family had somehow surpassed the other African languages as a viable cluster of grammar rules for the creolization process of English.
I finally communicated with Dr. Mufwene by email in Summer 2007, and he told me that a full-blown Black English couldn’t have developed before 1877 until the end of Reconstruction when segregation was strictly enforced. Paradoxically, a Black English couldn’t have evolved during slavery since southern blacks and whites still interacted, albeit in a tragic way. Creole languages, like the Gullah, evolved on the islands off South Carolina in a way that reminds me of those Galapagos species much earlier.

Evolution of Cuisines (added in 2007)
Did you know that Soul Food is basically British food jazzed up with black and Native American spices, along with extra vegetables like okra and yams? Hmmm.
We could look at changes in food over the centuries as a type of evolution in cultures that we can see historically. It may not produce changes in one’s genetic code, but it surely produces change in populations. The Spanish Conquest of Latin America brought tomatoes to Italy, potatoes to Ireland, and more. Later those potatoes were made into vodka in Russia. The Americas got rice and wheat out of the deal. All of this happened after 1520.
The French conquered Southeast Asia in the mid 1800’s. The French bread roll is the start of the Vietnamese sandwich; moreover, the word for bread in Vietnamese, banh, is almost the same as the Spanish and French word—pan. Pate, French goose liver, is spread on the bread, and the Vietnamese like the French vegetable trilogy of celery, carrots, and onions too. We could go on-and-on about food, but I bet that you watch the Food Channel anyway.
Agriculture produces change in all kinds of domestic animals and plants; moreover, we witness that type of evolution historically—a real genetic change seen in populations.

Evolution Sermon: Part 2
John Shelby Spong
Let’s start the more religious component of this service with some thoughts from John Shelby Spong, a famous retired Episcopal bishop. Spong writes “The Bishop’s Voice.” (e-publication) and at least once, he wrote about his strong support for evolution.
First, Spong defines anthropology as “the study of human nature, human institutions and the interpretative myths of human beings.” Spong’s thesis asserts that Christian anthropology is very negative in describing humans as wicked and fallen from perfection. The human race even supposedly inherits the first sin of Adam eating a fruit because Eve tempted him after the Devil as Snake tempted her. Importantly, Spong observes that no parental training could produce healthy children with such rhetoric. “Original sin is pre-modern mythology and post-modern nonsense,” declares Spong. Spong clearly represents the extreme revisionist side concerning evolution. Like I wrote earlier, you can believe in evolution and a need for humans to be saved from sin through choosing the right theological belief.
But Darwin’s evolution implies God isn’t finished with us yet notes Spong. The intense struggle to survive has led to victory for human but admittedly as radically self-centered. Spong defines salvation as a “call to go beyond our limits” and enter a new spirituality.”Spong doesn’t see Jesus as the one who died for our sins but still as “Christ
and a defining God presence.” Thus Spong offers a positive theology that still accounts for human evil’s real root.

PBS: Scientists who are Christian and Pro-Evolution
Francisco Ayala cites Pope John Paul II (1996) who observed that the “conclusions reached by scientific disciplines can’t be in contradiction with divine revelation,” thereby accepting the scientific conclusion that evolution is a well-established theory. Religious scientists are quick to assert that neither science nor religion is the only way to know about God’s laws or reality.
Mark Noll expresses his belief as God speaking to us through two books—Scripture and Nature. The Bible isn’t threatened by responsible scientific investigation. Don’t read early Genesis as if it “were written by a fact-checker at the New York Times,” jests Noll. Already I inserted the section by DNA researcher/Anglican priest, Arthur Peacock in the first half of this service in that biochemistry section.

Notes from Seven Great Post-Biblical Revelations
I bet this service subtitle would appear as an oxymoron to most fundamentalists. It’s sad that old biblical story-telling can be viewed as a substitute for science anymore than someone attempt to rationalize coveting, stealing, or killing—whether it’s from evolutionary science, politics, or psychology. Survival of the fittest was twisted in Social Darwinism and its justification for racism. But evolution can reconcile science and religion in a positive way—clearly the opposite of evolution posing a threat. Moreover, evolution can serve as a bridge to other religions not a prelude to ideological invasion. This worldview should inspire us to “ensure a good future by co-creating evolution (God’s) next adventure in cooperation and complexity.” Humans can live in symbiosis with nature and technology too. Is this positive or what?
Meaning changes over time and there is never only one right interpretation of anything. Meanings vary according to being useful, inspiring, and empowering. Traditional religious values still remain at the heart of individuals maturing and fulfilling our evolutionary potential. Sure nobody has a chance of becoming perfect, but we can make a comeback after a setback. Beliefs like the level of oxygen gas needed for life on earth evolve with time. Vital, life-giving beliefs can become counterproductive and stifling later.
As a species, we’re expanding in communication, thought processes, and technologies of discovery like n God can be viewed as the largest nesting doll—transcendent yet including the other levels of reality. In contrast, the devil personifies entropy: violent, chaotic, and destructive. The cosmos tends toward greater differentiation, complexity, and self-awareness.
Evolution, as a cultural phenomenon, leads to cooperation at an ever-increasing scale. But the fundamental barrier to cooperation is self-interest, often revealed through freeloading and cheating.
Come to think of it; not all cooperation is good when we examine warfare. Warfare seems to look unfair to the previous age. The terrorists blow up civilians and themselves without warning, which goes beyond kamikaze pilots blowing up fellow warriors and themselves. Likewise, the Japanese had to get used to the 13th century Mongols not introducing themselves before combat. Our American revolutionaries wore camouflage and hid among the trees rather than marching into the prairie to battle the British redcoats.
Yet we have leaders like Norman Schwarzkopf do research on friendly fire, soldiers accidentally shooting their own comrades, so it won’t happen again. We try to restrain chemical and atomic warfare. Therefore, all that expanding and differentiation can lead to good or evil.

Connie Barlow: Is This Not Divine?—a UU and missionary for evolution
The death of stars leads to its recycling, so new stars are born. This would have been impossible to witness before advanced telescopes. Belief that stars have a life and death mysteriously can interfere with some folks’ religious doctrines. Copernicus got in trouble for the transition phase of replacing the earth as the center of the universe with the sun. Religious figures just didn’t mind their own business.
Let’s examine the thought of Connie Barlow, a UU who focuses on the divinity of evolution. One of her services notes various facts found during the modern age. We know that the squirrel buries the acorn, leading to more oak and hickory trees. Gymnosperms used to be the dominant trees. We know that plants give off oxygen and animals breathe oxygen. Meanwhile animals exhale carbon dioxide while plants take it in. Finally, Barlow concludes that our notions of the self must expand, or evolve, to include other creatures and our planet—a religious value shift that is under way for many of us.

Conclusion
We started our service on Evolution as Integrator of the Sciences and Spiritual Inspiration through the scientific evidence together with the cultural and spiritual ramifications. The range of back-up from science ties so many disciplines together that evolution literally unifies the sciences. We have chemistry tell us about radioactive dating; biochemistry tells us about DNA and proteins; stratigraphy explains that older rocks are deposited before younger rocks; paleontology shows us transitional species, and so forth. Much of agriculture is based on making evolution happen through manipulating the genetics of domesticated animals and plants for food. Evolution works as a cultural model also. Languages evolve with time as does cuisine.
And a belief in a divinely guided evolution is spiritually inspiring through offering a grounding—a blueprint– for respecting creation and leads to ethical thought on a larger, less tribal scale. We’re making progress even though sometimes it seems like two steps forward and one step back. Above all, don’t make a false idol out of survival of the fittest. We shouldn’t bully those, physically or psychologically, that aren’t as strong as us nor given to bad-hearted schemes.
Consider stop looking at divine law as humans inheriting a fallen nature requiring saving from damnation through belief in one creed., but you don’t have to leave orthodox Christianity to believe in evolution. We’re inclined to be selfish but generally are pretty good creatures.
In fact, good humans are probably getting better at praising God through more denominations from which to choose and improved technology to transmit the message. Moreover, a divinely guided acceptance of evolution gives us a more coherent way to view God’s creation as well as God too.