(This is an inquiry that I wrote for a high school composition class – use it for reference, but I wouldn’t recommend or appreciate it being submitted into a proffesor.)
The merits of the arguments between the theory of evolution and the belief in creationism is a topic that has bestirred an interest in me for several years. I think that most people have an opinion on the topic or are trying to form one. An example of this is the Christian fish that emphasizes a creationist view found on the back of many cars. In contradiction, there is a growing response to this emblem by people who publicize their evolutionist views by posting a fish with Darwin written on the inside and feet on the bottom. This strikes me as an interesting controversy that everyone can and should know more about. I have acquired basic opinions on the topic that have come from both viewpoints which leaves me with the struggle of establishing my own belief. Sources that have influenced me before I began investigating the topic include Christian religion, school, my parents, media, and my peers. When I began investigating the subject, I found extensive information full of particular evidence. However, the viewpoints are generally conservative and are strictly either for evolution or for creationism. This inquiry will hopefully illustrate an overview of the ongoing debate.
Most people view the theory of evolution as being a feasible explanation of how life became what is today. Evolution is a theory that the various organisms are descended from others that lived in earlier times and that the differences are due to inherited changes that occurred over many generations. It must be realized that evolution is a theory and cannot be considered a fact. Even though its roots are from Greek anatomists, the theory of evolution came to light in 1859 when Charles Darwin published his book The Origin of Species, which dealt with natural selection. Since then, scientists have been continually searching for proof for the theory through research and experimentation. Some of the topics that are associated with proving the theory are fossil records, carbon-14 dating, and DNA testing. These are also noted as part of phylogenetic systematics, which is the term used for classifying and understanding the relationships and history among species of the past and present. Natural selection, or survival of the fittest, is the mechanics of evolution. Natural selection deals with the dying of weaker offspring of an organism, and the survival of the stronger offspring. When a strong organism survives, its dominent genes are passed on to its offspring. Over time, these genes will lead to mutations, which allow a species to adapt as they slowly move to different environments or other natural change. This is a broad interpretation of how evolutionists explain, for instance, sea creatures becoming land creatures. Evolutionists believe that life began on earth when chemicals combined to produce the first cell. Throughout the course of millions of years, single cell organisms arose to life as it known today. Fundamentally, evolution is based on scientific reasoning and experimentation. As with most sciences, inaccuracies do occur through new discoveries and the theory of evolution must be rethought.
Creationism deals with the theory that the world was created in a brief amount of time by a higher being. Creationism has been the way humans explain the making of the earth and the inhabitants on it for thousands of years. This has been depicted through ancient hieroglyphs, stories, and popular mythology. Although almost every culture, ethnicity, and religion that has ever believed in a higher being has its own creation story, I will be focusing on the popular fundamentalist Christian version. These creationists believe that the entire cosmos, the Earth and all its creatures, were created by God in six days between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago as described in the old testament’s book of Genesis. They believe that geological records were laid down as a result of a worldwide flood. Most creationists disagree with a majority of the scientific theories used to prove evolution. They believe that life was presented all at once in nearly the same complex forms that are seen today. That is to say, that there were no changes from simplistic to more advanced life forms as suggested by evolution. Furthermore, it is believed that fossils of pre-historic species that no longer exist are just examples of extinction and not the ancestors of an evolved species. Creationists generally use common sense to disprove science and present their theory. More extreme creationists believe that those who believe in evolution hate God. Creationism is the fundamental belief that most people have wrestled with in the past and is still a very strong force today.
There are many reasons for evolutionists and creationists to be in conflict with each other. Many creationists hold a sense of loyalty to their holy doctrines and fear that abandoning belief in them would prove that their religion is false. Conflict is feasible because it has been implausible for science to come up with indisputable evidence for evolution. Or possibly, it is complete ignorance on the creationist standpoint that creates conflict. It could be that creationists are uneducated and simply refuse to accept new, contradicting evidence because their fundamentalist belief shuts the door on science in exchange for supreme being power. Perhaps science needs to recognize that a supreme being was indeed partly or wholly responsible for the creation of life and earth. Conflict will continue until society can grasp a coherence among the two beliefs.
How can science reconcile itself with the long history of creationism and become an accepted theory of the origin of life and earth? This question is important to the continued acceptance of research advances in science and to the validation of religious beliefs in the face of new scientific discoveries.
In the July 1998 issue of The Herald of Christs Kingdom, an article titled The Creation-Evolution Controversy argues that the Genesis story stands up well against the Darwinian theory. The article questions Darwins theory that all species grew from a single cell through mutation and natural selection. It points out that if all species were to grow from a single living cell, then science is yet to produce fossils showing links between the species such as from reptiles to birds. Even when looking at development of embryos, the article concedes that five digits develop on human fingers, birds wings, and fish fins; but all come from different types of cells and develop at different rates for entirely different uses. The Herald attributes these differences to a divine creator. Natural selection or the survival of the fittest is characterized in this article as the ability to survive without any upward progression or genetic changing. Natural selection is likened to a function of the environment in which a species lives. In the final analysis, the article purposes that the body is a very complex organism with many separate and difficult processes which could only be attributed to Gods intelligence in creating life.
The Citizens for the Ten Commandments published an essay entitled Evolution is Wrong and Deceptive. They state that the evolution theory is a massively deceptive fable seeking to describe the creation of this world and its inhabitants. Evolution is a strange, broad, irrational, and disconnected conjecture made up from a mind full of hatred for God. The article suggests that most things in life go downhill without human interaction, but evolution suggests that things arrange themselves for the better and create a stable unity between everything. The authors state that there is no proof in evolution and they dismiss the theory that humans evolved from ape-like beings. Species are the way that they are because God made them that way. These creationists state the similarities in creatures are simply just similarities and have nothing to do with evolution. The goal of evolution is to clear away evidence of a divine creation and replace it with a ludicrous alternative, which dishonors God with its deception.
In his article Science Teaching, and the Search for Origins, Kenneth R. Miller states that evolution can be compatible with traditional religious beliefs. In fact, most western religions have long since accommodated Darwin within their views of human and biological origins. Nonetheless, many religious people still feel that the findings of evolution are hostile to religion. A typical argument is that evolution is too unpredictable and involves an element of chance, which a loving creator could not have used in creating our species. Miller refutes that the unpredictability of evolution results from the contingent nature of any historical process and unpredictable forces on human and natural affairs was an essential feature of any creation by a loving God. Unpredictability sets creation apart in distinction from its creator and the only alternative would be a strict determination of our future at the creators will. Another argument of religious people is that evolution is too cruel. The repeated cycles of bloody competition and extinction are too cruel to be compatible with divine purpose and plan. Miller again argues that evolution is not so cruel that it cannot be compatible with the notion of a loving God. Competition in species for existence is also matched by involvement of cooperation and care that shows extraordinary beauty. The final objection of evolution by religious people is that evolution is too indirect. If the Creators purpose was to create us, why would he not have done so directly? Why was it necessary to produce so many worlds, so many different species, all destined for extinction? Miller states that the indirectness of evolution is exactly comparable to the indirectness of historical, social, and even linguistic change, and yet none of these is incompatible with the concept of divine will and purpose. Miller claims that even to a traditional believer, evolutionary biology is not the obstacle that we often think it is. He believes that science and religion can coexist and actually strengthen each other to help us understand the wonders of nature.
American Atheists president, Ellen Johnson says that creationism is an unacceptable explanation for the existence of the human species because it has no basis in science whereas there is no dispute among reputable scientists about the scientific basis of evolutionary theory. Due to the scientific basis of evolution it should be included in public education, but creationism shouldnt. Lacking scientific evidence to support their story creationists resort to subterfuge to promote their theology. They suppress competitive ideas and camouflage theology as a pseudo science. Creationists argue that if evidence for evolution is taught, then the evidence against it should also be taught. The problem with that is there is no scientific evidence against evolution. Johnson ends by noting that religiously motivated ignorance may be comforting, but actual knowledge of our past will allow Homo sapiens to survive and thrive.
My next source written by evolutionist Scott Anderson, is titled Creation and Scientific Logic. Anderson explains that creationism demands that the logic of the scientific method be abandoned in favor of whatever logic one might be able to scrape out of the Bible. Creationism suggests that all planetary, biological, historical, and astronomical evidence that coincides with evolutionary theory have been misinterpreted. Anderson questions how all of this evidence could be so wrong when it all seems to fit together so well. He states that creationists still have to prove that science is wrong before they can begin postulating how the errors persisted for so long. To replace evolution with creationism would mean throwing away all data about the age of the universe, psychological testing data, athropology, archaeology, and biology. In short, thousands of theories and millions of tidbits of knowledge would need to be ignored in favor of magic and mysticism. Doing this would take us straight back to the Dark Ages of civilization.
Barry Williams, editor of The Skeptic, an Australian magazine, states that believing or not believing in a God isnt a precondition for being a scientist. Many scientists believe in God and are therefore strengthened in their understanding of the working universe. These scientists believe that a god set into motion all of the complex interactions that made the universe and this doesnt defy scientific laws. He stated that the Bible doesnt make any reference to evolution or any other fundamentals in understanding nature and science. This science wouldnt have any meaning to the writers in a society two to three thousand years ago. Williams goes on to say that the creationists deity magically created everything, but isnt intelligent enough to conceive anything as complex as evolution. He then asked that having created man in his image, why did this god decide to include a brain in humans? Williams concluded that creationists are entitled to their views, but should not expect to have them taken seriously.
The sources that I have gathered have perspectives from three categories: evolution is correct, creationism is correct, and creationism and evolution can agreeably coexist. The article from The Herald disputes evolution by pointing out some of its scientific flaws, but also addresses basic creationist views. Since the article puts some factual evidence against evolution, it is one of the more credible sources on creationism that I reported from. The article Evolution is Wrong and Deceptive is a work of complete arrogance. It states that there isnt proof for evolution, but it fails to give examples. The authors are evidently very fundamentalist and are not open to acknowledging other opinions besides their own. The article Science, Teaching, and the Search for Origins addressed my research question on how evolution and creationism can coexist. Although the basis of the article was worthy, it was biased towards evolution theory and the arguments were not that definite. Ellen Johnsons report on why evolution should be included in public education was brief and to the point. Johnson clearly illustrated that evolution is worthier since it includes science. This argument is common sense, but Johnson made a good approach at the content, using public education. The article Creation and Scientific Logic puts in perspective what a full acceptance of creationism would mean for scientific data. This article does a good job of showing that evolution and creationism can not coexist. The essay by Barry Williams began with some good statements, but quickly went into God-bashing statements which most extreme evolutionists feel they need to allude to.
The probability of evolutionists and creationists coming to an agreement any time soon is not great. Even if one of the theories is proven correct, extremists will still argue over their position. The only people who do think there can be coexistence are those who are less educated on the topic. A popular opinion that I share with these people is that evolution has and is happening as scientists believe, but at the fate of a higher being. An example of this belief is that when non-organic chemicals came together to form the first living cell, as scientists give credence to, there was a deity involved. One way that evolution might gain more acceptance is the decline of religion in society. Since most creationism is based off of religion, which is declining in participation from generation to generation, more people might turn to science. Creationism would require a supernatural occurrence to turn evolutionists over to accepting it as fact. The opposition between the theory of evolution and the belief in creationism is in an idle balance, and without any extravagant changes in evidence or approach, it will be for an extensive time.
Johnson, Ellen. Creationism in the Classroom. ABC News.com. 1999. http://abcnew.go.com/sections/us.TakingSides/takingsides2.html
Anderson, Scott. Creationists and Scientific Logic. http://www.onthenet.com.au/stear/creationists_and_scientific_logic.htm
Miller, Kenneth R. Science Teaching, and the Search for Origins. April 14, 2000. http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/science/kennethmiller.htm
The Creation-Evolution Controversy. The Herald. July-August 1998. http://heraldmag.org/98ja_10.htm
Evolution is Wrong and Deceptive. Citizens for the Ten Commandments. 1997. http://www.hom.net/angels/evolution.html
Williams, Barry. Science and Religion are Compatible. http://www.onthenet.com.au/stear/letterfrombarry.htm