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Is The Theory Of Evolution True? - Facts & Infographic

What is Evolution?

"Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins" – Wikipedia

 

The Merriam - Webster dictionary says evolution is “the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species)” and “a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations

 

According to Charles Darwin's famed theory all creatures descended from a small number of original or progenitor species.

 

Evolution occurs due to the fact that each organism is marked by subtle differences that distinguish it from its parents.

 

Variations caused what he called the 'survival of the fittest'.

 

Offsprings inherit parental traits, the process of natural selection ensures that only those organisms best suited to perform functional roles and to adapt to the natural environment will survive, said Darwin.

 

Eventually the mutation of organisms may lead to a noticeable change and also morph into an entire new species – such as in the case of the descent of human beings from apes.

 

This entire natural process is regarded as the Theory of Evolution. The study of modern genetics and cellular structure of organisms based on their DNA was founded on Darwinism. The study of genetic mutation based on Darwin's ideas came later, in the 20th century.

 

Almost 154 years after Darwin initially published his controversial book, evolution is still at the heart of a heated debate essentially because it overturns all conventional notions of the creation of man and the world by God.

 

Upturning Religion

In 1809, Charles Darwin was born into a wealthy British family, and despite his unassuming nature, Darwin had a keen interest in nature and went on to study botany at Cambridge University. In 1931 he was offered the chance to sail on HMS Beagle as an unpaid naturalist and set out on a five year exploratory voyage around the globe. Darwin’s study of the scientific and natural phenomena during the course of his voyage, especially his study in the Galapagos Islands of plant and animal life and of fossilized specimens helped crystallize his evolutionary theory. About 20 years after he had initially outlined his theory, Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” in 1859, encouraged by Alfred Russell Wallace's views and association. The book became an instant bestseller and quickly let loose a heated controversy. Darwin had fully anticipated the criticism from Britain's religious and even scientific communities and hence had delayed the initial publication of his book.

 

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

 

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

 

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

  • Book of Genesis (The Bible, King James Version)

 

Darwin's ideas were met with a harsh response from religious leaders in Britain. Among his strongest critics were England's highest Catholic official, Henry Cardinal Manning, who called the theory of evolution "a brutal philosophy - to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam". Another staunch critic was Samuel Wilberforce, the Anglican Archbishop of Oxford. Darwin also earned his share of supporters. Thomas Henry Huxley earned the nickname "Darwin's bulldog" due to his robust support of Darwin. With more scientific evidence and a sea change in thought, the church and other religious establishments, however, inclined towards the theory of God-guided evolution.

 

In 1882, by the time Darwin died he was considered among the greatest scientists of his age. He was given a full state funeral and burial in Westminster Abbey.

 

Teaching Evolution

1809 - Charles Darwin is born in England.

1859 - Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

1871 - Darwin publishes The Descent of Man, and expounds the theory that humans have descended from apes.

1870-1890 - Dwight L. Moody & other evangelists begin criticize evolution as contrary to biblical truth.

1920 – 1930 - Conservative Christian clergy take public stands opposing the study of evolution in public schools.

1925 - In State of Tennessee v. Scopes, teacher John Scopes is convicted of teaching evolution and defying Tennessee's ban

1961 - Henry Morris and John Whitcomb publish The Genesis Flood in support of the Bible and “creation science".

1968 - The US Supreme Court rules that an Arkansas law which makes teaching evolution in public schools criminal, is in violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

1970 - Henry Morris establishes the Institute for Creation Research.

1981 - The teaching of evolution in public schools gets a boost with the establishment of the National Center for Science Education.

1982 – A US federal court abolishes an Arkansas law requiring public schools to teach creationism. A similar Louisiana law is repelled by Supreme Court in 1987

Through the 2000s a number of state education boards have had various guidelines for teaching evolution, creationism, and intelligent design. The US Supreme Court uses the 'Lemon Test' legal criteria to determine whether a law violates the Establishment Clause. A law must have a secular purpose to get past the Lemon Test. The Lemon test is frequently applied to cases about the teaching of evolution.

 

Creationism & Religion

Most religions propound their own theories of the origin of the world and all living beings including humankind. Most of the major religions of the world subscribe to creationism – the theory that god created man in his present form. According to a research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2009 the percentage of people who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth stands as follows

Religion

Percentage

Buddhist

81

Hindu

80

Jewish

77

Unaffiliated

72

Catholic

58

Orthodox

54

Mainline Protestant

51

Muslim

45

Historically Black

38

Evang. Protestant

24

Mormon

22

Jehovah's Witness

8

 

Despite their differences over the specific nature of God and creation, most staunchly religious people seem to agree that the human race is a product of creation rather than evolution.

 

According to the report called "Scientists See God's Hand in Evolution" published by the National Center for Science Education, while most US scientists do believe that Homo Sapiens (human beings) did evolve from apes, about 4 in 10 believe a divine creator "guided" evolution. They believe that this reflects in the presence of a soul or consciousness. American scientists unequivocally accept Darwinian evolution as the source of human origins. About 40% of biologists, mathematicians, physicians, and astronomers include God as the guide for evolution.

 

A Pew Research Center survey showed similar results in 1997. Over 97% scientists said humans evolved over time, but only 61% of the public subscribed to this view.

 

According to a 2012 Gallup poll 58% Republicans and 41% Democrats were creationists.

 

Intelligent Design

Intelligent design is the theory that holds that life is too complex to have evolved without the intervention of an external force. This force could be divine. While not rejecting the evolutionary process itself, intelligent design allows for the existence and interplay of God and metaphysical forces. In 1996, the Discovery Institute was set up in the Seattle Center for Science and Culture to promote the concept of intelligent design. The institute forms a lobby group for the position that since there remains a lack of consensus and support for evolution among the people, that public schools should "Teach the Controversy". Thousands of scientists in the country have issued official statements opposing the Discovery Institute's stand and supporting the teaching of evolutionary biology. One famous petition was endorsed by 72 US Nobel Prize winners.

 

The Debate

Objections

Answers

Evolution has not been observed

Evolution deals with changes over time and generations. It is observable over a longer period of time

Only atheists believe in Evolution

A number of religious people believe in evolution. While some agree that evolution may have been guided by God's design, other believe that evolution and belief in God are not contradictory

There are no transitional fossils

Fossils of each period when collected and viewed together demonstrate transition

The theory of evolution holds that life originated, and evolution proceeds, by random chance

While chance does play a factor the theory of evolution emphasizes that the fittest and the best equipped to perform natural roles are more likely to survive. This is Natural Selection rather than chance

Evolution has not been proved

There is increasing scientific evidence to prove evolution. The study of Genetics and DNA structures provide irrefutable proof for the theory

 

Belief In Evolution

On Darwin’s 200th birth anniversary in 2009, a new Gallup Poll result shows that only 4 in 10 believe in Evolution as Darwin propounded. Frequent church attenders are 24% less likely to believe in the Theory of Evolution.

 

According to the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, 46% Americans say God created humans in their present form. 15% said they "believe in the theory of evolution" without the interference of God and 32% believe in Evolution but also hold that God guided the process. The opinions vary with religious belief and education. The higher the education levels, the more the belief in Darwin's theory. 11% of those with high-school education, 14% college graduates and 29% of those with postgraduate degrees said they believed in evolution without referring to God.

 

The battle between religion and the theory of evolution is an old one. Those who attend church most often are the least likely to believe less in evolution. 3% of those who attend church weekly, 10% of those who attend monthly and 26% of non-churchgoers tend to believe in the evolution without any reference to God while 67% weekly church-goers, 55% monthly church-goers, and 25% of non-goers refute the theory of evolution.

 

The Rescuing Darwin survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Theos in the UK in 2009 found that over half of Britons do not believe in the Theory of Evolution. About 15% believed that evolution was 'definitely true' and 25% thought it was 'probably true'. Of those who rejected the theory, 10% chose creationism as a likely alternative and believed that God created the world and all the creatures in it. 12% of those who rejected Evolution preferred to believe in intelligent design.

 

Sources –

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/darwin-birthday-believe-evolution.aspx

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/01/evolution-darwin-survey-creationism

http://ncse.com/rncse/17/6/many-scientists-see-gods-hand-evolution

http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx

http://thedailybanter.com/2009/02/which-religions-believe-in-evolution/

http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Religious-Differences-on-the-Question-of-Evolution.aspx

http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Evolution-A-Timeline.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution

http://ncse.com/news/2009/07/views-evolution-among-public-scientists-004904

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Darwin-and-His-Theory-of-Evolution.aspx

http://www.bartleby.com/108/01/1.html

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