Evolution Vs Christianity Essay, Research Paper
Evolution vs. Christianity The concept of evolution has caused such a great deal of controversy. This controversy is between evolution, and its belief of creation; and Christianity, and its belief of creation. Evolution is summed as being the “doctrine of change (Ross 24). Christianity is the science of God (McCollister 74). This tension is between concept of a Creator-God and that of an impersonal chance process that nature undergoes and has undergone throughout time.To better understand, this so-called tension or controversy, one must have a basic knowledge of both evolution and Christianity. Both views, regarding creation, try to prove their belief and disprove the other. Evolutionists believe their proof lies with the fossil record (Peters 17). The Christians is a faith built upon the writings of God. These writings are referred to as the Scriptures, or most commonly the Bible. So as stated before, the tension is between the belief of a Creator-God, and the belief that nature simply undergoes a chance process.Evolution is a Latin term meaning unrolling. The term evolution is used to explain the belief that all living organisms have came from the evolving of earlier organisms. Evolutionists believe that living organisms do not arise spontaneously in a sterile environment, however, might have risen from inanimate matter long ago. Not only were the conditions of the earth different, but back then the original process was different than the ones trying to duplicate them (Ross 71). First of all, the total length of time it took for the original process to take place is probably impossible to duplicate today. Secondly, if some form of life did originate it would have to compete with the millions of organisms that already exist, and because of this it would not likely survive(72). While there is still uncertainty about these things, there is reason to believe that the gaps will be filled as our understanding develops. The possibility of doing experiments to answer some of these questions is fairly good. This does not mean that scientists will ever be able to create life, however, it does mean scientists do have faith that life did arise from inanimate matter through a series of chemical processes no different from the ones occurring today (Klinkenborg 111). If man, in fact, descended from some pre-existing form answers would have to been given to these four questions: “Does man vary like other animals? Does he increase so rapidly that there is a struggle for existence in which the most beneficial variations are preserved and the least favorable eliminated? Does his body structure show traces of his descent? Could his special qualities of mind and morality have been produced by evolution (Gelernter 53)”? The face and the form of man and gorilla show a common ancestral origin. The earliest primates were small creatures of the trees (Moore 137). From them developed monkeys with fairly large brains and dexterous hands. Over 10 million years ago apes may have split into two lines: the forest apes, and the prairie Prehumans such as the Australopithecus. Prehumans like Australopithecus split off early from other primates. Early men roamed the prairies, while apes kept to the forests and monkeys to the trees (159). Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way of looking at organic evolution. The idea of evolution has itself been evolving long before Darwin, and is still changing today. Some of the modern day evolutionary theories are as follows: 1) Atheistic evolution – which is the idea that there is no God and that natural laws originated by chance. Atheism took advantage of Darwin’s explanation of the origin of species by only natural means. Atheism’s weakness is that life must have a starting point, and this theory does not explain this starting point (Helweg 85). 2) Deistic evolution – which is the belief that the evolutionary processes are more or less, controlled by a Mind behind the universe. It also states that the Mind or the Creator is concerned only with events, not with individuals. Deistic evolution takes the middle of the road and offers the advantage of avoiding the objections from design, as well as the inconsistencies of the theistic evolution. However, this theory does face some opposition. It seems inconsistent that the Creator would take the time to make this vast universe and then not have a personal interest in it (Farrington 19). 3) Theistic evolution – is the belief that God directs the evolutionary process himself. This view is growing in approval today, and is taught in some church related schools. Many theistic evolutionists see no problem believing in both evolution and the Bible as long as evolution is a God guided process (Beardsley 112). Though very popular today, theistic evolution also faces several problems. The numerous biblical implications that the human descended from only a single pair of parents are where this theory faces its problems (Farrington 96). 4) Pantheistic evolution – is the concept that as nature evolves, God too evolves. This means that God is Nature. Pantheistic evolution’s weakness is the violence in nature, this would make God the merciless killer as well as the helpless victim (Moore 42). 5) Agnostic evolution – is noncommittal in regard to the supernatural. Its main appeal is to the intellectuals; its main weakness is that being noncommittal it provides no real answer to the problem (43). 6) Natural selection – is the overpopulation and scarcity of food, thus, resulting in the survival of the fittest (Farrington 53). This is the theory that Darwin is most famous (Moore 10). According to natural selection, the strongest, most experienced animal gets the prey. The problem to natural selection is that it may explain the survival of the fittest, but can’t explain the arrival of the fittest (64). 7) Sexual selection – is the theory that tried to explain why males and females are so different. Sexual evolution can explain the maintenance of sex differences, but cannot explain how the sex differences appeared in the first place (Ross 45). 8) Mutationism – is the theory that states that species do more than just improve, but that they originate completely new traits. Mutationism was faced with growing problems such as: the fact that the number of original mutations, of any kind, is extremely low, beneficial mutations are even less common, and no mutations have been recorded as producing new organs (112). Charles Darwin has had a great effect upon modern biology. Many of the modern evolutionary theories arose because of the evidence that the studies of Darwin uncovered. For some time prior to his book, The Origin of Species anatomy was characterized as praises to the Creator or was simply descriptive. Darwin himself believed all organisms to be descended from a few common ancestors. There is no record, however, that these few ancestors arose by mere spontaneous generation (Klinkenborg 108). Charles Darwin’s major work on the subject of evolution was studying the “origin of species.” In his study of the origin of species he was faced with two problems, one being the investigation of the true nature of a species, and the other being the investigation of the processes which determine that nature and separate one species from another. The majority of the book was on his theory of natural selection. Natural selection, as stated before, is the survival of the fittest (Farrington 44). He believed that evolution took the path of natural selection. He considered natural selection to be a form of population control as well as a way to weed out the weaker species (45). To summarize, the theory of evolution is the process that nature goes through, whether it is started by spontaneous generation or by some higher being.The source book for the Christian belief is the Bible. Christians do not expect to find in the Holy Scriptures a detailed account of the how the universe came into existence. The basic purpose of the Bible is to tell who created the universe not how it was created. Christians believe that God created the whole visible and invisible universe without the use of pre-existing materials. Therefore the universe is something completely different from God, but yet totally dependent upon him for life to continue. The Bible opens with answers to three important questions, one being the origin of the universe, the other two being the origin of life and the origin of man.The Bible states that God is the Author of the whole universe and all that it contains. The passages in Genesis describe his creative activity in the form of a brief but poetic narrative, placing importance on his divine purpose, and the orderliness of his plan. The orderly sequence in which God created the universe is as follows: Day one he created light, Day two he created the sky and the waters, Day three he created the land, seas, and vegetation, Day four he created the sun, moon, and stars, Day five he created fish and birds, and on Day six he created animals, man, and woman. So as you can see, the Bible gives little specific information about the ways in which he worked, possibly because it was of little importance to him. The Bible does state, however, that we as humans are both indebted and responsible to the Creator. Men may believe in him as the Creator or reject him, but they cannot claim to do so on the grounds of their understanding or their lack of understanding of nature. To any person who regards the Bible as God’s revelation there remains, of course, the question of limitation imposed by the actual words of the Scripture (McCollister 76).
The climax of God’s creation was the making of man and woman. God man and woman in his own image. This is not a physical resemblance, but a spiritual one. We are like him in that we can think, feel, choose, and rule. God created of man from the dust of the earth. He breathed life into man and placed him in the Garden of Eden. God created woman from the dust of the earth, but he, also, used a rib from man. According to God’s masterful plan, all living things were to multiply, and spreadout to inhabit the whole earth (Helweg 85).During the twentieth century, one of the most important conflicts centered around the problem “fixity of species.” At that time “kind” in Genesis 1 and “species” in biology were one in the same. Therefore, since Genesis implied that these kinds or species were stable units, many Christians became vigorous defenders of the fixity of species theory. When it could no longer be doubted that plants and animals bred true to type, scientists postulated this theory. They believed that each type of species had originally and directly came from the hands of God and had experienced no variation from the time of creation to the present (Ross 131). Christians made the statement that species do not cross or, if they do, the offspring are sterile and in many cases the offspring will have deformities. This belief is based on the statements in the Bible that each created organism reproduces after his own kind. If, in fact, this is the case species could not have any changes and each species would be fixed (132). A species may be considered as a large or small population of organisms having so many genes in common that their variation pattern is slight when compared to the variation patterns of related species. Some confusions about this definition of species is do to the fact that some species vary at such a great extent. For example, the human species is composed of at least three races and many sub-races (113). In conclusion, the fixity of species theory states that species are populations of individuals which cannot interbreed with other species, and if they do interbreed they cannot produce offspring without the offspring having some form of a defect (133).It is probably true that many non-believers have welcomed mechanistic meanings of creation, feeling that such interpretations would make the belief in God unnecessary. Such an attitude is the basic misunderstanding of the Christian idea of God and the way by which we come to know him. Belief in God is never forced upon us, no matter what our level of understanding may be. God cannot be found by scientific knowledge any more than he can by scientific ignorance (McCollister 75).No one can accurately predict the extent of new discoveries or the effects they may have on our ideas of creation, whether we are believers or non-believers. As Christians we need not regard the great adventure for discovery with suspicion or fear, but take part in it wholeheartedly, because we can be confident that they are in a sense thinking the Creator’s thoughts after him as they learn to understand his ways. After all, we believe that God created life why should we be afraid of how he created it (Frame 73).Darwin has even had an impact on the Christian concepts of creation. Such as the fact that many modern Christians have come to embrace, to some degree, Darwin’s theory theistic evolution. This theory is the belief that God personally directs the evolutionary process. However, Darwin’s major influence on Christian concepts of creation was to rid them of naiveness, and to force them to search for intelligent reasons for their belief (Helweg 84). Many Christians have found little difficulty in accepting the evidence for the age of the earth, and the gradual development of its living forms. These Christians believe that where the gaps exist, in this development, is evidence for God’s special intervention. The gap between living and non-living has always seemed so large, however, that most Christians do believe in some creative act of special creation (Farrington 93).Both evolution and Christianity have opinions on the fossil record. A fossil is the remains of, or the record made by, ancient living thing. All fossils belong to two categories: they are either the direct remains of once living things; or they are the direct evidence of their existence. The fossil record is the story of the rise an fall of species (Peters 17).Fossils are often referred to as the documents of evolution. However, evolutionists cannot say that fossils are the proof of evolution. They must concede that the fossil series is just circumstantial evidence. Fossils may permit an evolutionary interpretation, and possibly even demand it, but cannot by itself close the issue of creation. Fossils, however, do strongly suggest that a considerable amount of descent with some type of change has occurred (Ross 115). A number of fossil links between modern man and his assumed ancestors have appeared, but most have since been rejected. Most evolutionists believe that the reason for the stages of evolution not being found is due to the incompleteness of the fossil record (Gelemter 53). During the Dark Ages the established Church had the notion that fossils were the result of any or several of the following causes: creations by the devil to fool mankind; creations by God to test true believers; creations by God to confirm unbelievers in their unbelief; mineral deposits which coincidentally resemble living organisms; and the results of spontaneous generation (Frame 73).Some considered fossils to be genuine animal and plant remains, though no one could explain how they became fossils. Several theories adopted the idea that some form of catastrophism, that is, the view that some disastrous event occurred that suddenly destroyed some or all of life. Most modern creationists say that fossils indicate: wide gaps between certain species; sudden appearance of new and distinct forms; fixity of types in many cases; and limited variation in many cases (Peters 18). In summary, there are three ways to look at the evidence that fossils give. One is that all species and varieties, living and fossil, are totally unrelated to one another. The second is that all species are related by descent from one ancestral form of life. The third is that there is a limited amount of relationship among species because there has been more than one ancestral type (Ross 70). In conclusion we can say that fossils do not prove or disprove evolution; nor do fossils give grounds for losing faith in God or in the Scripture. A popular misconception of evolution held by Christians is the vague idea of progress. The common objection that evolution claims man is still evolving does not apply today. Evolution involves change, not progress (Beardsley 12).The fact that the evolutionary hypothesis as a total explanation for all major transitions is so firmly established in our scientific and educational system is due to at three factors: based upon the experimental knowledge the gaps that appear are to be expected; the idea of creation must take some degree of faith; and lastly, the Christians have failed to prove their belief (Helweg 86).The primary point of difference, then , between evolutionism and Christianity is not a matter of accepting or rejecting facts. The primary point is on the level of mechanistic vs. supernatural (McCollister 76). Most evolutionists claim, along with G.S. Carter, thatMan is an animal, and, however greatly his present state differs from that of the rest of the animal kingdom, we must accept that arose from subhuman ancestors by a process of evolution. Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material (Ross 58).The creationists claim that man is more than a unique animal, and was both planned and created by God (Peters 17). In conclusion, we can say that there are three major groups in the battle between evolution and Christianity. First, there are the Christians who fully believe every word of the Scriptures. Second, there are the Christians who believe in the theistic evolutionary theory. Lastly, there are the evolutionists. The fact of the matter is simply that which belief you may have you must have faith that was the way the world was created because neither evolution nor Christianity have all the proof