Evolution vs. Creationism
Biological evolution or evolutionary biology is genetic change in a population occurring from generation to another (O’Neill 2002). All life forms evolve and continue evolving from earlier species, and these life forms include human beings. Most biological scientists concur that the earliest life forms on earth evolved from chance natural occurrences 3 1/5 to 4 billion years ago. They agree that evidence for evolution comes from fossil records of change, the chemical and structural similarities of related life forms, the recorded genetic changes in living organisms for many generations (O’Neill) and the geographic distribution of these related species.
Fossil remains of animals and plants in sedimentary rock deposit prove and serve as records of past changes that occur through time and of the numerous varieties of living things. They also suggest that gaps or missing links in evolution are due only to lack of recorded data (O’Neill).
Living things share the same basic chemical and structural characteristics and highly complex organisms with billions of cells evolved from single-celled organisms through division (O’Neill). Another evidence is that 99% of the proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other molecules of living things are composed of only 6 out of 92 most common elements and that they inherit specific genetic combinations from their parents.
Most remarkably, the numerous types of proteins in living things are composed of only 20 kinds of amino acids and have only one DNA code, attesting to the basic molecular unity of life. Furthermore, living things obtain energy for growth, repair and reproduction from sunlight, by photosynthesis or indirectly by eating green vegetation and other organisms that consume this vegetation.
Moreover, vertebrates, or animals with internal skeletons, share the same types of body structures, which they inherited precisely from a common ancestor (O’Neill). Examples are human arms, the forelegs of dogs and cats, birds’ wings and the flippers of whales and seals. Their similarities urge the belief that they share a common ancestry or they evolved due to similar natural processes (O’Neill).
Genetic changes also occur through generations. When a given population of organisms is unable to tolerate huge genetic changes, they die or become extinct. Charles Darwin, however, observed that there are individuals who would survive an environmental crisis and then reproduce (O’Neill), resulting in new genetic changes in the ensuing generations.
Major isolated areas have been observed to evolve their own distinct plant and animal communities. Examples are Australia’s more than 100 species of kangaroos, koalas and marsupials and the absence of land mammals in Hawaii and New Zealand (O’Neill). This geographic distribution of living species is one more evidence of evolution.
It is widely held by evolutionists that evolution continues to occur today, although the specific evolutionary paths of some species remain speculative at present. But a lot more has been added to the collection of knowledge on evolution since the 19th century. Examples are the six processes that can operate independently or in cooperate to bring on evolution (O’Neill) and serve as basis of an overall theory of evolution – multiple causes, including Charles Darwin’s concept of natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s genetic inheritance experiments, and important 20th-century discoveries.
Creationism supporters sustain the Biblical account of Genesis, whereby God created the world as a single act approximately 6,000 years ago and that animals today had the same forms as they did when created (youdebate.com).
It has likewise been noted that Creationism developed only in the 1900s (Bakke 2000), when strong religious adherents feared that the evolution theory would debunk the Bible as an infallible account of the creation of the world and man. Most people view religion as based on faith rather than fact and anything that can concretely disprove the creation of the world and of man, as Creationists believe, will destroy the entire foundation of religion itself. While the evolution theory concerns itself only with how life on Earth has progressed and varied since the first life form, Creationists have targeted more than one feature of the theory: first, that man and ape had a common ancestor (Bakke); then that the questionable use of the word “theory” and, later, of evolution as a concept itself. And recently, the Pope released a statement that evolution is, after all, not in conflict with the Church’s teaching about creation.
It must also be pointed out that the evolution theory as a theory is not a mere guess or speculation, but a fundamental one, which is sufficiently backed by empirical or demonstrable evidence.
Even the law upholds the evolution theory. It will be remembered that the teaching of the theory was outlawed in Tennessee in the 1920s, through the Scopes trial. Then in the 1970s and the 1980s, laws were made, requiring the teaching of science in more than 20 states, but only Arkansas and Louisiana passed these laws. Later, a federal district court overturned this law in 1982 and the U.S. Supreme Court did the same to the Louisiana law in 1987, which required that evolution be taught only with a “balanced treatment” of the creation theory (youdebate.com). It decided that creationism is not a science and, therefore, cannot be taught in public schools as an alternative, or in addition, to the theory of evolution. It, however, allowed religious creation stories in philosophy, religion and history (O’Neill).
In effect, this Supreme Court ruling could neither prevent public schools from teaching the creation theory nor ban the teaching of the evolution theory. Both subjects are taken off the standard tests of public schools, and the local school board decides what should be taught (youdebate.com).
The basis of this ruling was what Nobel Prize winner-scientist Linus Pauling said about science: that it is the search for truth and that what science does is to continuously explore and compare theories in an objective manner, using evidence drawn from the natural world. He emphasized that, when a particular theory fails to conform to evidence, it is either modified or rejected in favor of another theory that conforms. The series of constantly trying assumptions and either accepting or rejecting them is what makes scientific knowledge and understanding grow through time. This test cannot be performed on religion and its assumptions and thus cannot arrive at a concrete, objective understanding of the natural world.
1. Bakke, Mark. Philosophy/Evolution vs. Creationism. EarthLink Network.
Philosophy of Life. (accessed 28-02-03). http://home.earthlink.net/~mbakke1/evolcrea.htm
2. Cable News Network. Evolutionary Biologist Don Waller on Creationism vs. Evolution in Schools. CNN.com LP, LLP: AOL Time Warner Company, 2003
3. O’Neill, Dennis. Early Theories of Evolution: Evidence of Evolution.
A accessed 28-02-03). http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_3/htm
4. Youdebate.com. Creationism vs. Evolution. Creationism vs. Evolution Debate.
A accessed 28-02-03). http://www.youdebate.com/DEBATES/creationism_evolution.htm
5. Evolution vs. Creationism. (accessed 28-02-03)
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