God and Evolution

I studied biology in college, where I learned about evolution and Darwin’s theories. I was also raised in a religious household and went to church almost every Sunday. When I became a young adult I pretty much left the church and its trappings far behind and didn’t look back for many years. About 10 years ago, I started attending church again, and one day had an epiphany that God really did exist, at least in my life. Of course it helped that I was attending Washington National Cathedral where, in such a grand edifice, it’s difficult not to feel the presence of God.

Coming to terms with my belief in both evolution and God came, surprisingly, rather easily. Both require faith. One can’t see or feel or touch evolution, although we can discern its existence through archeology and paleontology. Nor can one see or touch God in a corporeal sense. But let me go out on a limb here: I can feel God. I feel God’s presence in the sky, the wind, the sea, in other people, and in myself.

Both the science of evolution and the spirituality of knowing that God exists both take faith. Faith is fidelity—a quality or state of being faithful. It’s a belief in traditions and tenets that one cannot prove or disprove. Faith is trust in something. I trust that both evolution and God exist.

I am a docent at the Smithsonian Institution. I used to give tours of the National Museum of Natural History. On my tours I spoke about evolution and how we know that it exists. But I was also honest with visitors in saying that I also believed in God. After all, as a good scientist, if I closed myself off to the possible existence of God, then I wouldn’t be a very good scientist because scientists are supposed to keep an open mind about everything.

The wonderful author Agatha Christie gave interesting words to her character Sherlock Holmes when he said (paraphrasing here): “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

It is nearly impossible not to believe in evolution, so what remains—the existence of God, however improbable, must be the truth. By the same token, it is nearly impossible not to believe in God, so what remains—the existence of evolution, however improbable, must also be the truth.

I’m not naïve. I usually reject offers that are too good to be true. But I have to believe in something, and for me, a belief in the existence of both God and evolution are not mutually exclusive. I believe that both exist. I can’t touch or see or feel either one, but I know they both exist.