by Adler Ma
Ever since Charles Darwin proposed his Theory of Evolution in the year of 1859, scientists, philosophers, and theologians have been debating over how living organisms became the way they are. The other principal theory concerning the existence of modern creatures is Creationism, which states that an immortal being (or immortal beings) modelled Planet Earth and directed the formation of living things over a limited period of time. Creationism in the United States, a country with a Christian majority, specifically supports the creation tale told in the Genesis.
Presently, scientific and academic institutions all over the world regard as fact Darwin’s theory that organisms evolved over time due to natural selection and the creation of new mutations. According to the article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” in the July 2002 issue of Scientific American, “massing evidence from palaeontology, genetics, zoology, and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere-except in the public imagination.” This particular article in Scientific American was specifically lashing out at a few pro-creationist dissenters from scientific opinion who recently proposed a fantastical new idea called intelligent design. According to intelligent design, the earth was formed by scientific means and is more than 6 000 years old (as the Bible, Koran, and Torah state it is) but most organisms as they exist today were created or caused to be created by an “intelligent designer” who may be an immortal being. Intelligent design proponents have brought their ideas to court, trying to re-institute the teaching of creationism in science classes.
Why is evolution a more rational approach to the development of life? Evolution was reasoned through careful observations and proven by the scientific method whilst Creationism was not. Evolutionary biologists conducted investigations on divergent evolution, also known as adaptive radiation, of life forms. They noticed that all species in a genus shared common characteristics but had distinct traits suited to their environments. A classic example- finches with small, weak beaks and finches with large, strong beaks inhabited a forest where seeds were the main source of nutrition. Both species produced offspring at the same rate. Eventually, the finches with large beaks proved to be better seed-eaters than the small-beaked finches. As a result, the large-beaked birds were the “fitter” species, for more of their offspring were able to consume enough nutrition and survive. In addition to observations of obvious differences between species, speciation (the formation of new species) was supported by the study of embryology, in which scientists noticed that embryos of different species shared common traits, anatomy, in which vestigial organs were deduced to be remnants of ancestral species, and genetics, where it was discovered that gene mutations could occur as a result of accidental alteration of DNA sequences.
In the course of supporting evolutionism, it is necessary to point out the weak basis of creationism. First of all, there is absolutely no solid evidence that supports the existence of a deity. Even if gods (and/or goddesses) exist, there are still no valid indications that they have influenced the creation and development of life. Secondly, all holy texts were written by mortal humans- they were purely the products of human creativeness and imagination. Even though their morals are often important and based on conscience, their tales are of doubtful verity.
The aforementioned Scientific American article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” provided a list of Creationist arguments against evolution. Most of these arguments pointed out what Creationists considered defects of evolution, which Scientific American expertly refuted, but none of the arguments reasoned the truth of Creationism. This implies that Creationists cannot find support for their ideas apart from firm belief in holy myth. They should not criticize evolution’s basis despite the fact that they are unable to find evidence for the theory that they are trying to promote.
Science is the study of our world based on observation and experimentation whilst religion refers to a set of beliefs concerning “all of God’s creations”. Obviously, facts that have been proven by the scientific method are much more credible and meaningful than mere beliefs. Devout Christians have every right to hold on to their principles. However, it is improper to contest verified scientific theories with unsubstantiated myths, and even more inappropriate to integrate their ideas into science classes.
Note: This article includes the opinions of the author and most of the scientific community, which is generally in favour of evolution, but does not necessarily represent the views of any individuals or organisations with whom the author is affiliated nor the views of the H2G2 website.