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Creation Versus Evolution

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Creation Versus Evolution©

Creation Versus Evolution: Part I

A Balanced Perspective

"Creation Versus Evolution." What's wrong with this title? Read it to yourself a few times, and then answer that question.

We've all heard of the argument. Creationism, the idea that God created all the species as they appear today, versus Evolutionism, the idea that all life evolved from simple bacteria to all the species that appear today, is a familiar controversy. Ever since Darwin first published the Theory of Evolution in his controversial 1859 book The Origin of Species, the debate has raged between religion and science.

But this debate is something that has always puzzled me. From the time I first understood what the Theory of Evolution was really saying, I found it difficult to reject. Scientifically, every shred of evidence in biology and genetics I have ever seen points to it, directly or indirectly. And religiously - Evolutionism does not contradict Creationism.

Evolution is based on two underlying principles that themselves are not at all controversial: heredity and natural selection. Heredity is the principle that organisms pass on different combinations of their traits to their offspring. If an organism has strong traits that help it to survive, then its offspring are likely to possess some of those same strong traits and themselves be more likely to survive. The second principle is natural selection, better known as "survival of the fittest." According to natural selection, the organisms with strong, "fit" traits are more likely to survive long enough to reproduce than are the organisms with weak, "unfit" traits; thus over time, the strong organisms (as a species, or subspecies) will survive and the weak ones will die out. In this way, only the strong traits that help organisms to survive will be preserved over long periods of time. For instance, all the long-necked giraffes that were able to reach food in tall trees were able to survive, while all the short-necked ones weren't able to compete and died out.

These two principles, taken alone, are not controversial. Most people seem to intuitively accept them as being true, because they make so much sense and because there is so much scientific evidence to back them up. However, when they are combined together in the Theory of Evolution, something happens. The assertion is made that, over time, species engaging in natural selection and passing on their genetic material through heredity will change their characteristics to adapt to their environment. For instance, giraffes' necks will grow longer so as to better enable them to reach food. Given enough time, one species may develop such different characteristics as its ancestors possessed that it becomes considered as another species. This assertion follows logically from the two principles of heredity and natural selection.

Yet when this assertion is made, religious people start to object to it. Notably within Christianity, only conservative Protestants seem to take issue with Evolution; the more open-minded liberal Protestants find nothing wrong with the Theory, and the Catholic church officially recognizes Evolution as scientific fact.

This is something I have always had difficulty in understanding. I suppose that these fundamentalist Protestants believe that the idea that species change over time takes away from the meaningfulness of life. Particularly when you throw humans into the mix and make the claim that we evolve, just like the animals, they object that classifying us as "just animals" somehow dehumanizes us or makes us seem less special as God's creation.

Yet I've read Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible, and there seems to be nothing in it which contradicts with the idea that species - even humans - change over time. The Bible describes how life was created, but it does not specify what happened after that. Thus it is consistent with Biblical dogma to believe that after God created life, it evolved - either on its own or under the guiding hand of God - into the forms we see now. As I have stated in debate before, "The Bible says that God created life. Evolution explains how."

Thus Evolution does not contradict Creationism at all. People can easily believe both without contradicting themselves.

Creation Versus Evolution: Part II

Examining the Evidence

Things that at first may appear contradictory can in the end mesh well together. For instance, when I first heard that some football players were taking ballet, I thought that the idea was absurd. Those two recreational activities were quite different from each other, I thought, and a big football player would surely not do well in dance as a light-footed ballerina - or vice versa when it came to the field. However, I soon learned that the two did go together; ballet helped the football players with their flexibility and grace on the football field and was an excellent way to keep in shape during the off-season.

Such is also the case with the Theory of Evolution and the philosophy of Creationism. They are typically construed as opponent beliefs - hence the title of this series. However, after studying both the science of Evolution and the theology of Creation, I found that the two ideas were not necessarily contradictory, and that they could fit together well. When viewed as an elaboration of Creationism, Evolution doesn't contradict the Biblical conception of the origins of the Universe.

Before the past 100 years or so, people generally believed that living species never changed - that they had appeared on the Earth in exactly the same form millions of years ago as they are found in today. With Darwin, however, a new view came to dominate - the idea that organisms do change over time as they adapt to their environment. In other words, life evolves. As more and more evidence amasses, it has become clear that the latter view, Evolution, is the better representation of reality.

From a scientific point of view, Evolution is nearly impossible to dismiss because of the sheer number

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