May 27

SPN, Evolution, and Hael’s Grand Canyon

Originally published October 10 2013 on Tumblr.

There’s a place. I built it when I was last here – many years ago. A grand canyon. –Hael, “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”

This line bothered me because SPN had previously done a pretty good job of creating a world where religion/mythology coexists with science and our understanding of how the world developed. Not a great job, but at least they made bit of an effort, which they didn’t have to do. The SPN ‘verse is one in which angels, Heaven, and God (maybe) are concrete realities. They could easily have said “you know, alternate universe, everything hand-created by God, world is 6,000 years old.” But they didn’t, and as a student of biology (with a deep and abiding interest in evolutionary bio, although it isn’t my academic focus) and a fairly religious person I really liked that. But it seems like they just threw all that out the window.

We haven’t really had a previous reference to geologic change, but we got a reference to evolution in 6×20, with Castiel’s “little gray fish”, and again in 7×21 when Cass talks about the angels not knowing which primates would become humanity. Both of these examples not only demonstrate that SPN’s universe is like ours in that biological evolution happened and the world is billions of years old, but also showed the angels are non-interventionist in such matters. Granted, this is evolution, and in particular human evolution–to which God might’ve given a particular “Hands off!”–but angels interfering with natural geological processes is also a problem. You cannot have biological evolution and geologic change that occurs over eons and also have angels creating canyons on a whim during a visit to Earth.

We know Grand Canyon was formed through erosion over of millions of years. It’s still being created now, because geologic change doesn’t just stop at some arbitrary point. Even if Hael had, say, altered the flow of the Colorado River so it flowed in just the right place, her “last visit” to Earth would have to have been millions of years long in order for her to be able to say she made a grand canyon there. Which could be what she was talking about, but it sounds like she is saying that she carved out the canyon on a brief visit to Earth. I liked Hael a lot. I really did. I just wish they hadn’t thrown in that “things that were formed over eons by natural processes were actually created by angels” in there, because that really messes with one of the things I like about SPN.

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