In the history of science vs. religion there has been no issues more hotly debated than that of evolution vs. creationism. The issue is passionately debated since the majority of evidence is in favor of evolution, but the creation point of view can never be proved wrong because of long standing religious beliefs. Human creation is seperated into three simple beliefs; creation theory, naturalistic evolution theory, and theistic evolution theory. The complexities of all three sides create a difficult dilemma for what theory to support among commom people, religious or non-religious.
The theories of human evolution tend to always cause a heated dispute in modern American society. Each theory presents its own evidence proving its acceptance, but lacks enough evidence to prove the other theories incorrect. All the theories that attempt to explain human existence fall under the categories of creation theory, naturalistic evolution theory, and the theistic evolution theory. The creation theory explains that a certain God, or God’s created the humans, and evolution does not exist.
The naturalistic evolution theory states that evolution is driven by purely natural forces, and is not controlled by any input from a god, goddess, or multiple deities. The theistic evolution is a mixture of both creation and naturalistic theories. The theistic evolution theory states that god created the world and guides the evolution process (Religious Tolerance, 2004). The information presented in evolution studies must be viewed with an open mind since there is no definite proof or law of evolution. The dilemma boils down to science vs. religion.
God has been viewed as our creator by different societies for thousands of years, but the discoveries of recent science are suddenly questioning the origins of our existence. With new discoveries, scientific theories may prevail over religious theories. Until science proves its naturalistic theory correct, the world will have to choose between the three theories based on personal beliefs, religious values, and scientific information. The creation theory includes over 500 different creation stories based on numerous religions (Religious Tolerance, 2004).
The vast number of stories creates strains on which evolution story is accurate. Christians that are creationists take their holy texts literally and believe the earth is around 10,000 years old. The creation theory will always exist with religion, so the creation theory can never be proved wrong since it is simply a religious belief. Religion is still very important in the United States, and the acceptance of the naturalization theory would completely change Christianity all together.
Religious Tolerance, a website that outlays the conflict of evolution vs. creationism, explains how naturalism would shake Christianity. Religious tolerance states that the acceptance of evolution would make people interpret Genesis symbolically and classify evolution stories as myths. Since the creation stories are closely tied to the fall of man and to original sin, the entire role of Jesus would change. Without original sin, there would be no need for a savior, and Christianity would change drastically.
This further proves that the creation theory will live as long as religion. The Gallup Organization studies what percentages of Americans believe in each of the three theories. 44% of Americans believe in the creation theory (Religious Tolerance, 2004). The naturalistic and theistic theories of evolution were unheard of until about 200 years ago. With modern science, popularity is growing between these two theories. Naturalistic evolution is built on Darwin’s ideas of natural variation and selection and Mendel’s model of genetic inheritance (Steen, 2001).
Darwin and Mendel both could not explain how evolution occurs, but recent studies have shown evolution does occur by observing the evolution of fruit flies, and the Tilapia fish (Religious Tolerance, 2004). Scientists argue that observing human evolution is nearly impossible because the past 2000 years have proved little, and relying on fossils leads to many interpretations.
Even though naturalistic evolution raises many questions, the theory also has many established facts. General acceptance of creation science would mean that the entire foundational structure and inner relationships of many sciences (geology, biology, astronomy, nuclear sciences, etc. ) become meaningless, and would have to be abandoned” (Religious Tolerance, 2004). The naturalistic theory incorporates many aspects of the sciences into its proof. If creation science is somehow proved correct, the sciences are useless. Specification is the newest theory of evolution.
Specification is having members of a population adapt to their environments to better suit themselves, and the members will pass this trait on to the future members. Ian Steward of New Scientist states, “Specification is a complex business, taking place over vastly different scales of size and time. There is no reason to suppose that it is governed by just one force-after all, we know that genetic mutations and sexual recombination of existing genes vie with environmental influences, depletion of resources, parasites, migration and disease… he math’s indicate that far from being a surprising phenomenon, it would be very odd if specification didn’t occur. “
Strictly based on science, evolution would follow the naturalistic theory. The naturalistic theory falls behind on the popularity of creationism and theistic evolution in the United States because of religion, the questions raised by the legitimacy of fossils, and the simple fact that the evolution of humans occurs over a period of time inaccessible to humans. (Steen, 2001) According to the Gallup Organization, 99% of scientists believe in the naturalistic theory while only 10% of the U. S. population believes in the theory. A theory with growing popularity is the combination of the creation theory and the naturalistic theory.
Theistic evolution theory supporters believe that evolution is controlled by God. Many Religious institutions teach that evolution was under God’s control and guidance. Even Pope John Paul 11 is intrigued with recent discoveries stating, “Today, more than a half century after this [Human Genesis] encyclical, new knowledge leads us to recognize in the theory of evolution more than a hypothesis… he convergence, neither sought nor induced of results of work done independently one from the other, constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory [of evolution]” (Religious Tolerance, 2004). The pope’s decision to consider the recognition of evolution is based on many discoveries and theories including the intelligent design theory.
The intelligent design theory for the most part is a more sophisticated version of creationism. Dr. Meyer (director of the center for science and culture at the discovery institute) outlays the intelligent design theory stating, “The current evolutionary theory cannot explain how new animal forms developed in the distant past. It advocates the theory of intelligent design, which holds that biological systems are so complex that they could have arisen only through the action of an intelligent force and not through purely random evolutionary processes” (Monastersky, 2004).
Dr. Meyer’s statement in support of the intelligent design theory states that natural evolution could not have developed humans because we are too intelligent. The theistic view shows some aspects of religion and supports substantiate information yet does not jump to conclusions over unproved evidence. The Gallop Organization reports that 39% of Americans have a theistic view on the topic of evolution (Religious Tolerance, 2004). The naturalistic evolutionary theory will continue to gain ground on creationism as time goes by and further information is found and proved.
I predict that the theistic evolution theory will become the most popular theory in the United States and around the globe. The concept of religion in people’s heads will never let natural evolution be proved or accepted. The creationism theory and the theistic evolution theory will survive as long as religion. Evolution vs. creationism is in fact science vs. religion, and no theory will ever be unanimously accepted until either religion or science is totally abandoned. Evolution vs. creationism is a controversy that may never be totally agreed upon universally.
Courtney from Study Moose
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