My Conversation With A Creationist
By Melody Fletcher, published on March 26, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking at the Hay House Ignite Event in London. On my way to the Heathrow airport, the Universe orchestrated an amazing opportunity for me: to have an open, authentic conversation with someone who views the world in a drastically different way to the way I do. My London cabbie, a wonderful Nigerian gentleman with an easy and infectious smile, did not believe in the theory of evolution. During the conversation, he called it “scientific mumbo jumbo”, while adding the disclaimer that many religious people believe a lot of “ridiculous stuff”, too. I cherished this conversation, because creationists, in general, don’t really come into my reality. From what I gather, they’re not often open to the perspective that I offer, so this was a unique and wonderful experience for me and one I’m thrilled to be able to share with you in today’s blog post.
One of the elements that made this conversation so enjoyable and, in fact, even possible, is that neither one of us was trying to convince the other of our point of view. We weren’t arguing with each other, trying to be right and prove the other wrong. We were gently and respectfully debating the issue. With that in mind, I want to make it clear that I’m not writing this post in order to change anyone’s mind or to make the case that creationists, or scientists for that matter, have it wrong. I’m not trying to give you ammunition to go out into the world and convert the non-believers. All I’m doing is sharing an experience of two people with vastly different views engaging in a conversation in a truly authentic way (yes, it’s possible!), and finding common ground on a topic that’s about as controversial as it gets.
It all started with Elton John
The conversation started innocently enough. The cabbie asked if I’d heard about Dolce and Gabbana’s comments on IVF babies being “synthetic”, prompting Elton John to fire off a tweet: “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’?” In my naiveté, I assumed that the driver was in support of Camp Elton, and I replied that it seemed strange that two gay designers would issue a public statement that would alienate a large part of their clientele. As we drove through the streets of London, however, it became clear that he was actually siding with Team D&G, and was grappling with the question of whether or not IVF and indeed, homosexuality, were “natural”.
I’ve always found the word “natural” fascinating, and said so. After all, what is natural? Do we look to the animal kingdom? If so, homosexuality is rampant in the animal kingdom. I asked him what he felt were the dangers of IVF and particularly gay couples having babies in this manner. He offered up this view: to him, natural reproduction happens between a man and a woman, through the traditional method of doing the horizontal mambo (my words, not his). Anything other than that, is simply not in line with the design of the human race. If people begin to reproduce in unnatural ways and then raise their children to believe this is “normal”, soon there will be no more “natural” families left. At this point, I began to feel the underling fear behind his comments, and asked him if he was afraid that the human race would die out. He replied “yes”. I found this incredibly interesting. He wasn’t worried that we’d die out due to the destruction of the planet, because of environmental impact or war, he was afraid that our degradation of values would so change the population that we would essentially bring about our own destruction.
When I asked him if this dying out process wouldn’t, in fact, be mitigated by more couples taking care of more babies, by opening up the possibility for having children to not only “traditional” couples, but anyone with love to give, it became clear that he wasn’t so much afraid of humans dying out, as humanity as we know it changing so drastically that it might as well be considered dead.
The underlying fear
He told me that just a few days prior, he’d told his children that if he found an environment that was dirty, he’d want to clean it up. And if he found a clean environment, he’d want to do his best to keep it clean. From his point of view, he was stating his belief that we should keep things the way they are, that we shouldn’t “dirty” anything up with new views and deviant (deviating from the “norm”) behavior. But through my own filters, what I heard was this: he wanted very much to leave the world in a better state than he found it. And this is where we found our common ground, because that’s really all I’m doing with my work. We may be coming from vastly different places on this – his view was that the world was in danger of getting worse (MUCH worse), while I’m all about focusing on what’s getting better. In fact, I believe we are on the cusp of a huge evolutionary shift, crossing the threshold, with humanity waking up to its true power. But the underlying principle – a wish to make things better, was present in both of us.
It was clear to me that this wonderful gentleman so wanted to bring about positive change (or in his view, keep bad changes from happening), but simply didn’t trust humanity to do so. This is a pretty pervasive belief system in our society. In short, he feared change, believing that change brought about by other people would invariably be bad. If he could control the rate of change (a need to control others or our environment always stems from fear), he might be able to mitigate the damage. In other words, change brought about by others is dangerous, change brought about by ourselves (since we are the ones with the “correct” view) is good. When change is dangerous, “no change” is safer.
This belief system rests on the notion that we’re all basically degenerate animals who will bring about our own destruction if not kept in line with morals, laws and societal shaming. Of course, I don’t share this view, but it was infinitely fascinating to see it in action.
What is “natural”?
Let’s get back to the idea of what is “natural”. Like I said, I find the whole concept intriguing, especially since so many people use it as a basis for excusing prejudice. While talking to the taxi driver, I explored the idea of what natural child rearing “should” look like. Was adoption ok? Well, yes (if done by a man and a woman). I then brought up a story of some piglets who lost their mother, only to have a tiger step in and become their surrogate parent, as an example of interspecies mommying. Is the idea of one species caring for another unnatural? I asked him that considering the lives that many orphaned children face, if it wasn’t better for them to have a loving home, no matter who was doing the loving, rather than living in poverty, squalid conditions, or at best, growing up feeling unloved? He agreed that it was preferable for children to grow up feeling loved rather than not. He had been comparing the lives of adopted children to the wonderful ideal of all kids being born into a loving home, an ideal that simply doesn’t jive with what is actually happening in the world today. So, to deny a loving home to kids because unloved kids, on principle, simply shouldn’t exist, didn’t make sense to him either.
We delved further into the discussion, after he made sure I wasn’t offended; after all, if I was a completely different person (and he had no way of knowing that I wasn’t), I could’ve complained about this conversation to the taxi company. I assured him that I was enjoying myself immensely and that I’d keep talking about this subject as long as he was also willing to. His beliefs about what is “right” and “wrong” were being gently challenged, but he was also visibly having fun.
Is it “unnatural” for babies to be born via IVF? While I didn’t feel like exploring the idea of any baby being “synthetic” (they are not made of plastic…), no matter what method was used, I made the argument that it was simply a different way for couples, many of whom fit the “traditional” definition by the way, and who are otherwise unable to have children, to bring a loved child into the world. Considering the ideal of all children being born into loving homes, wouldn’t we want more of those? I posited the idea that our medical breakthroughs were simply a form of evolution. That’s when things really got interesting. He confessed that he didn’t believe in evolution. Of course, he was talking about the narrow definition of humans evolving from monkeys, whereas I use the word to describe our holistic evolution on a physiological, psychological and spiritual level. Again, I had no interest in convincing him to adopt a different point of view. He was free to believe whatever he wanted. I simply wanted to explore it.
Since our definitions of the word were so different, I didn’t feel that it would’ve been productive to get caught up in a discussion on whether or not evolution exists. To me it did, to him it didn’t, and that was ok. He believed that all living beings are created just as they are, which is another explanation for the fear of change. After all, if God created us all as we are, then any deviation from this perfect creation would be sacrilege. How can you even entertain the idea of positive change, if all change goes against the will of (a usually vengeful, hateful, smiting) God? And yet, we had found our common ground – he was not afraid of all change, just bad change. Never mind that he viewed all change that wasn’t tightly controlled as inherently bad. He wanted to see the world get better. And so did I.
As we talked about the animal kingdom, he said: “You know, humans are the only ones who try to justify their deviant behavior.” I thought about this and replied: “I’m not so sure about that. I believe that humans are the only ones who judge their behavior as deviant.” He didn’t have a reply to that, but I could see the gears turning. I have no way of knowing why this man attracted me or this conversation into his experience. But he was clearly being given access to a different point of view, and he wasn’t rejecting it outright. This is not to say that my point of view was better than his, but I believe that finding your own truth requires you to be open to trying out different perspectives, and he clearly was. I felt privileged to be a part of this process, as well as grateful for the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of someone with a belief system so drastically different from mine.
Instead of either/or, why not AND?
He asked me if I was a Christian. When I told him that I wasn’t, I think he assumed that I was one of those atheist science-y types. It was clear to him that I believed in science, and in his world, that meant that I couldn’t possibly also believe in God. After all, the two beliefs are mutually exclusive, right? In fairness, this is a belief held by many in the scientific community as well. We either evolved from apes, or God created us. It’s either one or the other. I introduced a different concept into the conversation. “So, you believe in evolution, then?” he probed. My response visibly surprised, even shocked him: “I believe in divine evolution.” I’m not sure he’d ever been exposed to that concept before.
I don’t believe that the scientists have it completely right. And I don’t believe that the creationists have it completely wrong. For me, my own personal truth lies in combining both. Why can’t evolution be an expression of the divine, simply the HOW of how our creation unfolds? Why can’t change – good, positive change, be a part of God’s plan? And ok, I don’t personally believe in “God’s plan”, as in, someone out there has a plan for us and it’s all predetermined. But I do believe that we are all divine, and that evolution, the evolution of ALL THAT IS, is part of that paradigm. And I do believe, in fact I know (for me) that we are all evolving, that we, in fact, can’t help it. I believe that the world is getting better, that we are in the process of waking up to our true divine nature, that we are inherently good, that we are MADE of love, made to love, and made to be loved. From my perspective, we hurt each other not because it’s in our “nature”, but because we believe that we have no choice (a false belief). And I believe that as we continue to evolve, we will rediscover our inherent goodness in a way we’ve never done before. I believe that everything, every human, animal, insect, tree, mountain, and drop of water in the ocean is part of this evolution. This evolution may play out through biological processes, through natural selection and the mutation of genes, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t divinely inspired.
It’s not about survival
I found this glimpse into the energy of someone so foreign to me to be incredibly enlightening. Here was a person who so badly wanted the world and its inhabitants to survive, but was terrified and pretty much convinced that it wouldn’t. His focus was on the very survival of the human race, and yet for me, our journey is no longer about merely surviving. It’s about thriving. It’s time to stop being so afraid of each other. It’s time to stop assuming that others, those out there who don’t agree with us, will inevitably screw the pooch, no matter which side of the debate (whichever debate) we’re on. It’s time to start trusting each other, to respect each other, to listen to each other and to find the common ground that’s always, ALWAYS there. It’s time to see the inherent goodness in each other, the strong desire to feel better and the drive to evolve (whether you call it that or not). I think conversations like the one I’ve shared with you today are a good starting point.
When we arrived at the airport, the driver helpfully unloaded my bags. I reached out with my hand and shook his, eliciting that brilliant smile from him. And then I surprised him one more time when I made eye contact, held his gaze and genuinely and authentically said, “God bless you.”
I’m pretty sure he’d never met anyone quite like me before. I surprised him, may have confused him, and possibly even triggered him a little. But I definitely made him think, as he did me. Perhaps this blog post will do the same for you and open up the opportunity for a conversation of your own.
By Melody Fletcher, published on March 26, 2015