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Who is God: Everything You Wanted To Know About The Faith Business But Were Too Confused To Ask
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Who are these people and what do they believe in?

      There was a time when life was simple. This was when life for the frightened, selfish, scheming, belligerent cowardly and inquisitive animal that was to become the (temporary) rulers of the planet could only think about finding enough food for himself, not becoming food for anything bigger and getting as much sex as possible before disease or sharp stick brought life to a painful end.
       Then came a time when a little agricultural foresight and planning gave New Man the chance to seriously wonder why he had ever born in the first place - and that is when man started to get confused.
       Man eventually came to believe that there could only be two possible explanations for 'life'. It was either because some greater force decided to create it, so he better be careful not to upset the 'creator', or it was all just a matter of chaotic chance, which, of course, gave him the unrestricted ability to indulge in all those selfish and violent acts that he was getting so good at.
       Ancient Greek philosophers thought about it, the Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Roman and European scholars wrote and worried about it and they all tried to find a reason why, if there was some sort of God, that He (it always seemed to be a He) had created man only for man to spent a great deal of time questioning the very purpose of that creation.
       It was all getting rather difficult until eventually one man put faith firmly to one side, took a long hard look at the science of evolution and wrote a book.

       Charles Robert Darwin was born into a family of doctors, thinkers and artists and although his big sister had to take on the role of mother when their own one died young Charlie had the benefit of a privileged upbringing and an opportunity to educate himself that was denied to the vast majority of young people in the early 1800's. More interested in collecting bizarre bugs and experimenting with dangerous chemicals than pursuing his (father's) chosen career in medicine, Charlie managed to disappoint all his teachers, especially those that tried to teach him Divinity in Cambridge, and was far happier when he was hunting, shooting, riding and partying with his new upper class friends.
       He still had a passion for bugs and in the company of his cousin William Darwin Fox and the Cambridge scientist John Henslow would spend many happy hours talking about insects with six legs and short violent lifestyles.
       On December 27th 1831 HMS Beagle set sail from Plymouth on a two year voyage of exploration to the South Americas and gave young Charlie, who signed up as the unpaid naturalist, the opportunity of a lifetime.
       Charles was fascinated and confused by fossils. A lot of the fossils contained the remains of creatures that were, he was sure, extinct and yet there were still creatures around that looked a bit like all the old dead ones. This made Charlie start to think. Everyone knew that creatures (especially bugs) lived and died but it appeared from the fossil evidence that new types of bugs replaced their old similar-but-different ancestors. That made Charlie really start to think.
       As the two-year expedition turned into a five year odyssey, Charlie meticulously collected sketched, measured, documented and did his best to try to understand why so many things looked the same but were subtly different in either behaviour or physical attributes. Something that was particularly evident on a group of islands known (then) as Las Encantadas, The Enchanted Isles, that gave the ever inquisitive Darwin the key to his theory of natural selection. One animal that dominated the landscape (and is considered even now as the creature with the longest life span of them all) is the giant land tortoise that the Spanish called galápagos. It seemed only fair to give the islands the same name.
       When Charlie and his thousands of samples, notes and measurements came back to England the serious cataloguing and scientific work began.
       He was convinced he was on to something big but was also intensely aware that the Evangelical Religious Police had discredited perfectly good scientific explanations of astronomy, biology and chemistry by the dogmatic conviction that it was God, not chance or natural selection, that was responsible for the creation process.
       Now a fellow of the Geological Society and a member of The Royal Society Darwin started to collect evidence that when published in 1859 would fundamentally influence scientific thinking for the foreseeable future. It was first published under the title of: The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and is now more commonly known as The Origin of the Species.
       The scientific community, with a couple of die-hard exceptions, wholeheartedly agreed but the religious leaders had a real problem when the creative forces of The Divine were exposed as, at best, misplaced faith and at worst dogmatic, intolerant and dangerous bigotry.
       As Darwin explored and published more of the same it was clear natural selection applied to philosophy as well as giant tortoises and that the world was never going to be the same again.

       Thomas Henry Huxley, born in the spring of 1825, he went through medical college, believed firmly in the laws of logic and reason, studied metaphysics, became a surgeon, got bored, studied languages (he spoke at least five) joined the navy and as assistant surgeon on HMS Rattlesnake spent an adventurous five years exploring the waters and wonders of Australasia.
       This had the benefit of taking his mind off a subject that had be bothering him for a good few years. Tom did not know what he was. He knew he was a man (and a reasonably good surgeon) but he was unsure if he believed in any of the things that gave spiritual comfort to so many of his contemporaries. Tom had a bit of a problem with God.
       On his return he was made a fellow of The Royal Society, became a professor on Natural History and Palaeontology, wrote prolifically, studied glaciation in the Alps and picked up a copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species.
       As he read through the scientific evidence and proof of natural selection Tom now knew why he did not believe in God - he could not prove it.
       At a meeting of the top brains of the Metaphysical Society in London in 1869, Tom suggested that as Gnostic meant complete religious knowledge - then he and anyone who agreed with his views should be called Agnostic.
This came as blessed relief for those who, like Tom, had a problem with faith verses truth and the membership list grew and grew.

      There are now Strong Agnostics, Weak Agnostics and Agnostics who are happy to be simply, Agnostics. The difference is in the detail but the question of proof, absolute proof, remain common. And of course, unresolved.


Roots:The original 'don't knows'. Born from the theories of Charles Darwin's Natural Selection. Started by Thomas Henry Huxley in London UK
Location:Wherever people don't know.
Top God:Still waiting for proof.
Running Time:Ever since people asked: who, what and why. Officially: from 1869
Status:Still waiting for proof.
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