The search for knowledge about the origin of humanity is as old as its inhabitants. Since the early 1800s, mankind has narrowed the debate to creation by a Supreme Being and the theory of evolution. Ever since then, science has been at odds against religion.
Now it appears that science is returning to religion. Scientists are finding proof that the universe was created by a Supreme Being. The word evolution refers to the change of something over a period of time (Webster’s 634). In biology, the theory of evolution is “the complex of processes by which living organisms originated on earth and have been diversified and modified through sustained changes in form and function” (Valentine).
This theory proposes that between 4 million and 10 million years ago, all organisms on earth had a common ancestor and that through a process of evolution, all living organisms descended from this common ancestor (Coyne). Chevalier de Lamarck, a French naturalist, proposed a theory of evolution in 1809. His idea did not get much scientific consideration until Charles R. Darwin announced his theory of evolution (Coyne). Darwin published “his most famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” (Valentine) in 1859. Darwin stated that offspring resemble their parents, yet they are not exactly identical to them.
He also noted that some of these differences were not effects of their environment but actually were passed down from parents to children (Valentine). Darwin is the most well-known scientist to write on evolution. There are many different variations on the theory of evolution. Darwin states that natural selection is the main reason for the evolution of life. The fight for food, water, and other necessities benefits those creatures who are well adapted for the struggle. Those that cannot survive die with no offspring to continue their genetic line. Natural selection is also called survival of the fittest.
Another related idea to evolution is gradualism. “Gradualism is the idea that evolutionary changes do not occur suddenly but over large amounts of time, ranging from decades to millions of years” (Coyne). Genetic drift is another way that scientists define evolution. When two of a species mate, their offspring gets 23 chromosomes from both parents. When a gene does not split and combine correctly, a mutation occurs. This mutation will get passed down from the creature to its offspring. In this way, a species can permanently be changed (Coyne).
Scientists who have accepted the general theory of evolution as fact disagree among themselves about the ratio of importance between natural selection and genetic drift. They also disagree about what caused the apparent gaps in fossil layers. New species “abruptly” (Valentine) appear in the fossil record with no apparent mutation from another species, then remain unchanged for long periods of time. They do not seem to exhibit the gradual changes that would be expected by modern evolutionists (Valentine). Many people, including those in the scientific community, do not accept the theory of evolution as fact.
When Darwin was alive, his theory was attacked by many scientists and religious leaders (Coyne). In the 1900s, United States public high schools began teaching evolution in science classes. By the 1920s, laws in twenty states to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools had been proposed by people who did not want their children being indoctrinated. “They considered the teaching of the theory to be part of a dangerous trend toward the separation of religious beliefs from everyday life” (Coyne). Several of the proposed laws were passed into effect in states including Arkansas and Tennessee.”
The ACLU challenged the Tennessee law in 1925 by defending a teacher named John T. Scopes, who had volunteered to stand trial on the charge of teaching evolution” (Coyne). The ACLU lost the case, but because of bad press, creationists appeared ignorant of science. However, in 1968, the Supreme Court of the United States “ruled that laws banning the teaching of evolution were unconstitutional because they made religious considerations part of the curriculum” (Coyne). The courts continue to give rulings on creation and evolution in schools; some have come as recently as 1987 (Coyne).
The fight to keep evolution out of the classroom is still persevering. Those who are pushing to keep evolution out of public schools are primarily creationists. Creation is the belief that a Supreme Being created the universe and all its contents from nothing (Vawter). Many different people have believed different stories of how and why this was accomplished. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are a few of the major faiths that teach Creation.
There are many differences in what different people believe. Many Jews and Christians with a literal interpretation of the Bible or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, believe that God created the universe and all that is in it in six 24-hour days. They believe that each species on earth has remained relatively the same since the Creation. These people “base their beliefs on the Bible” (Eve), and some use fossil evidence of long consistencies and abrupt changes (Valentine).
Others believe that God created everything, but not in six days. Still, others believe that God created the universe by lighting the fuse: the big bang was God’s way of creating the universe. Many people have gone in search of proof that the universe was created by a Supreme Being. The case for Intelligent Design was argued by Reverend William Paley of Carlisle, England, in his 1802 book Natural Theology.
Take, for instance, a rock and a watch. How old are the two objects? The rock has “remained more or less the same, perhaps since the Earth was formed” (Miller 24). The watch is different because of the intricate gears, springs, and parts. It was produced with a specific design and knowledge of the watchmaker, and watchmakers have not been around forever.
Paley knew “there cannot be design without a designer; contrivance without a contriver. . . . The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is God” (Miller). Paley’s examples are understandable examples that form “a line of reasoning known as the ‘argument from design'” (Miller). Even some evolutionists have come to realize that humanity is not an accident, even if they disagree with the six 24-hour days belief. The Anthropic Principle is based on so-called “technical observations about the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang” (Glynn 28).
This principle has concluded that not only was the creation of the universe not an accident, but “the existence of human life is something for which the entire universe appears to have been intricately fine-tuned from the start” (28). This principle is based on universal constants such as Planck’s constant and the gravitational constant. It started out as a list of coincidences, but as the list grew, the more it appeared as if the universe had been designed for humanity to exist (29). The second law of thermodynamics has been extensively studied by scientists and people as another proof of creation.
The second law of thermodynamics can be stated: “The thermodynamic principle which governs the behavior of systems is that, as they are moved away from equilibrium, they will utilize all avenues available to counter the applied gradients. As the applied gradients increase, so does the system’s ability to oppose further movement from equilibrium” (Schneider 30). In every system, the entropy or disorder will increase, not decrease. This is one of several different analogies to simplify this law.
There is a box with ten equal compartments. Ten thousand marbles are released into one compartment. If the box is randomly shaken, it is expected that the marbles would pass through the open doors in each compartment, and there would be approximately 1000 marbles in each compartment. It is highly improbable, yet not impossible, that if the box continued to be shaken randomly, all the marbles would go back into the same compartment they started in (28). The second law of thermodynamics is an excellent argument for creation.
Creationists stand in awe of the perfection of the earth. “If it were a little farther away from the sun, the entire planet would be one gigantic Antarctica; if it were a little closer, it would be one continuous Sahara Desert. Earth’s placement is precise; and that, my friends, is not a result of chance” (Limbaugh 154). There are infinite numbers of variables.
To what extent people believe the Biblical teachings or what some scientists teach is a personal decision. Darwin concluded his book: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved” (Miller 32).
The more science seems to dig and research the origins of humanity, the less likely it is that Earth and all the creatures on it were an accident. All the precision, consistency, and detail point to a universal architect, a Supreme Being, God.
- Coyne, Jerry A. “Evolution.” World Book. CD-ROM.
- Eve, Raymond A. “Creationism.” World Book. CD-ROM.
- Glynn, Patrick. “Beyond The Death of God.” National Review May 6, 1996: 28-32.
- Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought to Be. New York: Pocket Books, 1992.
- Miller, Kenneth R. “Life’s Grand Design.” Technology Review. Feb./March 1994: 24-32 CD-ROM. 1996 SIRS.
- SIRS 1994 Life Science. Article 59.
- Sagan, Carl. “Snowflakes Fallen on the Hearth: The Evolution of the Earth.” Planetary Report. Jan./Feb. 1993: 4-9 CD-ROM. 1996 SIRS.
- SIRS 1994 Earth Science. Article 53.
- Schneider, E.D., Kay, J.J. “Life as a Manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.” Mathematical and Computer Modelling 1994: 25-48.
- Suits, Conrad. “The Role of the Horses in ‘A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms.'” Modern Critical Interpretations, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea. 116-125.
- Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. New York: Penguin, 1960.
- Valentine, James W. “Evolution.” Encarta. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp: 1994.
- Vawter, Rev. Bruce. “Creation.” Encarta. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp: 1994.
- Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary. Second Edition. 1983.
- Williams, Kathleen. “Animal Rationis Capax.” Modern Critical Interpretations, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea. 37-82.