Evolution Vs. Creation Essay, Research Paper
Stephen A. Gauthier
Evolutionism and Creationism
It has been said that the major difference between humans and beasts is that humans are curious about their beginnings. They question where they came from and how they ended up where they are. There are several theories as to how humans came to exist, but none have created such a controversy as the debate between evolutionism and creationism. Evolutionism consists of the idea that all organisms evolved from a single ancestor. According to this theory, the human species closest living ancestor would be the ape (Morris 115). It is currently the most accepted theory proposed by the scientific community. The major opposition to the evolutionists theory is that of the creationists. The creationism theory is based on the idea that all life was caused to exist at the same time by a divine power, which is usually considered to be supreme. The concept of God and the Book of Genesis play a major role in this theory. In terms of human development, creationism implies that the world and everything on it were created for humans and their existence. Humans were created last after all else was made to exist. Both theories have their supporters. The evolutionists tend to be scientists, while creationists tend to be non-scientists or have strong religious beliefs. Whether evolutionism or creationism is the correct theory can not be determined at this time due to lack of supporting physical evidence. There are too many missing links in both chains. Evolutionism holds a closer path to the beginning of existence, whereas the creationist s side seems too selfish to hold any true value.
Evolution is the idea that all organisms evolved from a single, more primitive ancestor. The basis for evolution is Charles Darwin’s research that was done while on the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin however later proposed a successful explanation of evolutionary processes. His most well known book, The Origin of Species by means of natural selection, is a turning point in human understanding of nature and evolution. Claiming diversity within species, Darwin mentioned that while offspring inherit a resemblance to their parents, they are not identical to them. Furthermore, he noted that some of the contrasts between offspring and parents were not due entirely to the environment but were often inherited. Animal breeders were often capable of changing the characteristics of domestic animals by selecting those individuals with the most desirable qualities for reproduction. Darwin reasoned that, in nature, individuals with qualities that made them adjust to their environments better, or gave them higher reproductive capacity would tend to leave more offspring; such individuals were said to have higher fitness (Hotton 132). Because more individuals are born than survive, a natural selection-should occur, leading to a population that is well adapted to the environment it inhabits. This is also recognized as survival of the fittest. When environmental conditions change, populations require new characteristics to maintain their fitness. Either the survival of a sufficient number of individuals with agreeable traits leads to an eventual adaptation of the population as a whole, or the population becomes extinct. Evolution continues by the natural selection of well-adapted individuals over a stretch of many generations, according to Darwin’s theory.
Darwin’s theory, however, became difficult to test scientifically from a lack of knowledge about heredity itself. When the earlier genetic works of Gregor Mendel came to light, the primary rules of inheritance became known to science during the turn of the century. Mendel had discovered that characteristics are transmitted across generations in distinct units. It was then that the discovery was made those inheritable changes in genes could occur spontaneously and sporadically without regard to the environment. These changes are known as mutations. Since mutations were seen to be the only source of genetic alteration, many geneticists believed that evolution was motivated on by the random buildup of beneficial mutation changes. At the same time as Darwin, Sewall Wright, and several other geneticists were founding the leading evolutionary theory, the science of population genetics. They formed arguments to reveal that even when a mutation that is immediately favored appears, that its subsequent spread within a population depends on the following: the size of the population, length of generations within that population, the degree to which the mutation is favorable within those individuals, and the rate at which the same mutation will reappear in future descendants. Moreover, a given gene is favorable only under certain environmental conditions. If conditions alter, then the gene may be favored only in an isolated part of the population; if conditions change over time, the gene may become ordinarily unfavorable.
Because different individuals usually have different assortments of genes, the total number of genes available for inheritance by the following generation is usually quite massive, therefore forming an extensive collection of genetic variability also known as the gene pool (Boulding 33). Sexual reproduction ensures that these genes are rearranged in each generation. This process is called recombination. Mutations provide the gene pool with an endless supply of new genes; through the process of natural selection, the gene frequencies change so that useful genes occur in greater proportions (Halstead 230).
As the new evolutionary theory came about, it became known as the synthetic theory. Three American scientists made contributions that were particularly influential. Ernst Mayr, a zoologist, showed that new species usually occur in geographic isolation, often following a genetic turn that quickly changes the contents of their gene pools. George Simpson, a paleontologist, proved that using the fossil record, rates and modes of evolution are correlated. A botanist, by the name of Ledyard Stebbins, showed that plants display evolutionary patterns similar to those of animals. Most importantly, this showed that Darwin studied finch and found that they were similar in almost all-physical aspects except their bills. One species had short bill while the other had long thinner bills. The short bills seemed to be suited for cracking open nuts while the long bills were more suited for picking insects out of hiding places (Dennett 22). Darwin assumed that they adapted to take advantage of their niche. The two species were on separate parts of the islands. The short bills lived where nuts were more plentiful therefore those birds with short bills had an advantage over those with the long bills. The opposite occurred where the long, billed birds lived. The insects were more plentiful therefore, those birds with long bills could catch them more easily. Thus the term survival of the fittest. Those individuals who have a certain feature or skill that gives them an advantage will have the greater chance of survival and will be able to breed longer. The birds with long bills that existed on the area of the island where nuts were most plentiful could not compete with the other birds effectively and died (Dennett 232). The changes that occur in evolution take a long time sometimes millions of years and occur in small steps. The gene pool slowly shifts due to the ability of individuals with mutant features to breed more often and over a longer period of time (Hotton 130). Many people think that evolution says humans changed from ape to human overnight. That is not true, there were millions of years between the two. There have been many steps between those years to get to what humans are today. Evolutionists use fossil records as proof of their theory. Plant life on land first appeared about 400 million years ago. Two hundred and sixty five years later, dinosaurs and mammals came to share the land with them. Although the dinosaurs seemed more adaptable, the mammals survived the wave of extinction that eliminated these giants about 65 million years ago. Perhaps these mammals were a bit more “fit.” Humans belong to an order of mammals, the primates, which existed before the dinosaurs became extinct and still lived on after the dinosaurs were long gone. These early primates seem to have been tree-dwelling. Many of the primate attributes, the short face, overlapping visual fields, grasping hands, large brains, and even alertness and curiosity, must have been acquired as needed adaptations. Fossils can be dated using a technique called Carbon13 dating and the depth at which found it in relation to present day (Hotton 135). Generally fossils that are found deepest are the oldest. By dating fossils, there can be studies and comparisons can be made between the older fossils and the newer ones. Over time, it has been found that the fossils of certain species have changed in certain ways; between species, the similarity can sometimes be traced back and eventually the traces intersect and a common ancestor is found. This theory was applied to humans and the similarities can be traced back to primitive apes (Hotton 46). A very distinct line of ancestry can be traced back. The first ancestor to walk completely upright was the Homo Erectus. During the course of time of the evolution, the hominid skull and its distinct ape like feature have many general trends that can be recognized and related too human. The main foremost trend of the skull was the gradual increase in brain size (the brain size can be measured by the size of the cranium). The skull did not just accommodate a growing brain, the skull itself changed also, a rounding of the cranial vault, and the decrease in size of the whole structure, not to mention the reduction of the upper and lower jaw and the teeth. All these changes resulted in a change of the skull shape and proportion, while the cranial vault expands, the front of the skull itself would form a more straighter face like we have today (Hotton 152). The skull of the Homo Erectus had a low skull vault or forehead, and a low cranial capacity. They also had a large face with big teeth and jaws, and a bridge along the bottom of the forehead. Since the Homo Erectus had such a heavy skull, in order to counter balance the front of the skull there was a lot of muscle on the back of the head and neck part. Homo Sapiens in comparison have an expanded cranium vault, with a well-developed forehead. Since the cranial expansion has occluded the ridge that was near the end of the Homo Erectus’ forehead, it has now practically buried itself, and at the same time the face is shortened by a decrease of the jaws which now bear smaller teeth. The muscles on the back of the head and neck can now be reduced in size. Now that the front of the skull is now smaller and not as heavy, it results that their areas of attachment can be brought more under the back of the head. If one is to compare the two skulls of the Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens, one will find that they are very similar. Similar in the way of the eye sockets, dental characteristics, and skull structure are very much alike. Practically all of the fossils that have been discovered can be related back to the modern day human, in the ways of skull structure and so on. Humans back millions and millions of years ago were not just walking skeletons. Since there are no Neanderthals or Homo Erectus walking around today, we cannot study their DNA or genes for that matter. So in hand we have to compare our genes with those of apes and monkeys. If one is to examine the genes of man, they will compare with the genes that code for proteins of apes and monkeys (Halstead 220). Studies of Neanderthal fossil sites indicate that they lived in family units or groups, took care of the ill and wounded. Cro – Magnon fossil sites have shown use of tools and communication such as painting on cave walls. These findings also support evolutionism and tell about humankinds first primitive beginnings.
The Evolutionists have strong proof and fundamental methods of calculating the past, but the Creationists plead their case with blind faith. Believing in a higher power that has never been seen before, nor does this higher power leave any trace of itself in the universe. The Creationist theory is that human existence is based on the idea that all life was caused to exist at the same time by a divine power. The divine power would be considered a god or a Supreme Being. Creationism has to do with or reconciles to facts or passages within the Bible. Creationists think that the Bible is an accurate record of the creation event, namely the Book of Genesis. The Bible says that God created everything on earth. This is largely a Christian belief, but there are and have been other religions and cultures that believe (d) in creationism. Creationists believe that human is molded in “his image; in the divine image” (Genesis 1-27). The creationist view is largely based on faith and religion. There are efforts, however, to express scientific views to support the theory. One scientific approached by creationists is using the second law of thermodynamics. Evolution theory involves a state of increased order over time, going against the second law of thermodynamics. Creationism supports the second law of thermodynamics in the fact that “God” created everything perfect, and all changes thereafter are approaching disorder. Another argument that creationists say is that if the theory of evolution were so correct, the fossil record should illustrate this. Instead there are gaps between the stages of man, millions of years between fossils; there is no information that there was anything there. Evolution is a man made approach, it assumes that all events happened at a steady rate throughout history, and all changes are explained by mechanisms currently at work. Catastrophe, which is a major part in creationism, is a suggestion that many changes occurred by processes not currently observed at rates not now seen. Geological record supports catastrophic because of discontinuities in existence of fossils. Many kinds of plants and animals have remained practically unchanged throughout history. Examples of this would be algae, jellyfish, ferns, and crocodiles, just to name a few (Tillich 98). It is hard to relate this with evolution because why would everything else evolve except for those particular animals or plants? This suggests that all forms began at the same time. A primary method for dating rock layers is through the studying of fossils. If there are three layers of ground or rock: the lowest layer should contain simple, but extinct, forms of fossils. The second contains a little bit more complex forms, and the third and highest layer has even more complex fossils than the second and the first (Tillich 101). When studied, the first layer is considered to be older, but why is the first always considered older? If one has two fossils in the same layer, why is the simpler considered older? They are considered older because of the theory of evolution, and it is a circular argument. Rock layers are dated based on the evolution theory and the support of evolution comes from the help of the fossils. Considering the time evolution had to happen, we can assume it takes as long as it needed to evolve. The earth on the other hand has only been hospitable to survival for only about four billion years, and massive geological evidence exists that this is so. Take in mind that human DNA alone consists of about three billion genetic instructions. These instructions can never stay the same over extended periods of time. The instructions, or codes , would evolve with there surroundings. So over a million years or so a lizard may have shrunk in size along with the amount of water that must have been needed to the larger reptiles.
Evolutionism is a very convincing theory, but like any theory there are flaws and faulty corners that have not been explained. The fossil pattern of the evolutionary pattern says that humans evolved over millions and millions of years from a primitive ancestor to the well-developed beings that we are today. This has some pieces missing from the puzzle of the fossil though. There are very wide gaps were scientists cannot fill in because there are no fossils or information, if one may between one fossil to another. Is there nothing there because man just did not die for a couple of thousand or million years? It is not possible. Fossil records show that there was single-celled life about four million years ago, but no multi-cellular existed till around six hundred million years ago. That is about when an abundant number of complex plant and animal species appeared practically at the same time. After they appeared, they stayed virtually unchanged for millions of years, one either dying off because of the environment or surviving to the present. Several most recent collections of a new species has happened more recently, and the most recent being the appearance of humans alone, about two hundred thousand years ago. Creationists say that evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics. (Hotton 14). They also say that creationism is supported by . Evolution started out as simple primitive apes but then evolved to a more complex being and kept on going up the ladder. This disagrees with the second law because the second law is that everything in the universe is seeking disorder, and for something to get more and more complex, it also has to have more and more order.
The evolutionists say that creationism is supported by the second law of thermodynamics because “God” created everything perfect, and then from there it changed and increased disorder more and more every day. If one theory has defects, then it is quite likely that the other has just as many if not more. There are many problems with creationism, first of all most of the creationist literature is negative. Creationists spend so much time attacking the evolutionists, and the evolution theory that they forget to propose the alternatives that can be tested for their own theory. So if they are saying that creationism is a science, then it should be able to be tested and should solve problems. Creationists can accept the order of the fossil record, that as you move up the layers of the earth that the organisms become more and more complicated. They don’t on the other hand do not understand the nature of fossils and fossilization. They say that the fossil should reflect upon all of evolution. Fossils are only a small part of the many plants and animals that once existed. Some species would be more likely to fossilize than the other (ex. Mollusks are more likely to fossilize than birds or insects). A problem that creationists have is the fossil order, because they think that everything was created at once. Creationists say it is because of the flood that the fossils are buried at different levels (Halstead 167). To explain the order, they say that Marine invertebrates are at the bottom, fish are at higher level, reptiles at higher water ground level, and finally mammals and birds higher than the rest. There are many problems with this theory though, marine invertebrates are found at all levels; whales are only found at high levels. Birds are not all found at the highest levels, some are even found with the dinosaurs, which is at quite a low level. Creationists argue that there are many plants and animals that have not changed during the course of their history. Evolutionists say that why should everything change at the same rate, or even change at all. An example would be that if one put two pans of cookies in the oven and each cookie was the same mass and both were baked at the same heat for the same amount of time. When one finally take the cookies out, one find out that some are burnt and some are not. Why should have all the cookies burnt if it were just those that were hotter than the other because they were over the element or some other reason. The cookies burnt because they found that they were getting too hot, so they adapted to the heat and became black, and the rest stayed the same because they were fine were they were. The creationism theory states that all can be traced back to the Bible. Creationists contradict themselves when they say that everything in the Bible is true, but no one really believes that. In the Bible there are such passages as (John 7:38) which states that Jesus said, “he that believeth on me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” That passage is a figure of speech and is not to be taken literally. A river could never flow out of a man’s belly if he believed in someone, or something for that matter (Morris 123). So how could it be that humans had just popped out thin air and landed on earth. For no particular reason what- so- ever. Nothing like that happens in this day in age, so why would it happen back then? The creationism theory, argued by creationists say that creationism is supported by the second law of thermodynamics. They also say that evolutionism could have not happened because it goes against the second law. If one looks at it at a different angle, that is not entirely true. All the disorder around the humans could have caused an increase in order for them as well. The sun, for example, is a humungous ball of disorder 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The outcome of all of this disorder causes our plants to grow and keeps the water unfrozen, etc. Since the sun causes the plants to grow, that means that man can eat them and have more energy to do other stuff. While the humans have so much energy from eating and drinking all the time, they also become smarter because they are still curious about the environment around them. At the same time humans are also making their surrounding suitable for them as well, ex. Making tools, drawing pictures, etc. so all the disorder around the humans would have caused them to have an increase in order. Evolutionism, creationism… which one is true? We may never know. There are many facts and very good arguments about each of the two theories within this report. We may never know how man ever came to exist on this planet, but we still can make hypotheses about how it happened. The question throughout out our lives is how we got where we are. Evolutionism has set some really rock solid arguments that are hard to compete against, but so has creationism. Maybe some day we will find some evidence that will show us how we really wound up on this planet.