Sample Paper on The Origin of Species: Conflict between Evolution and Religion

Introduction

Religious beliefs offer various backgrounds to the existence of species. Particularly, the Bible describes the creation story, through which God made everything without using anything. These stories provide an overview of how various species came into existence, and are the cornerstone of religious history. On the other hand, scientific theories such as Evolution by Charles Darwin, explain how living beings came into existence throughgradually developing from the most basic forms of compounds to the most complex. The extent to which one believes in the accuracy of either theory is dependent on the faith he or she possesses. In the ensuing article, the religious perspective is considered as most intensive and justified explanation of the origin of species. This paper focuses on the viewpoints shared by Darwin (2002) as well as those by Futuyma and Kirkpatrick (2017) to determine which evidence validates messages on the origin of species.

Religious Evidence

The theory of creation is presented in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, in chapters one and two. The theory explains the origin of all living and non-living things, concluding with the origin of humankind and their dominion over all the other beings and things on earth. This theory is also described as creationism, and the proponents believe that God or an all-powerful deity is the creator of all things, is constantly involved in how things turn out, and is beyond human understanding. The deity in the creationism concept is usually ready to intervene in the lives of people, and without this intervention, all the creations would cease to exist (Bromfiel, 2008). The creationists consider the Bible, mainly the first book of Genesis as the absolute truth on the origin of species and all beings.

There are various points of agreement about the religious theory of creation. For instance, it has been argued that there has been a short time between the creation of species and the present day. According to Ruse (2003), some believers posit that the creation of the universe occurred roughly 6,000 years ago unlike in the evolutionists theory, in which the evolution of species takes up to millions of years to be complete. In the religious perspective, species are created in their ultimate forms and their creation occurred over 6 days, indicating that the duration of creation is another premise of agreement shared by the creationists. While the Bible, which the creationists regard as the ultimate record of the origin of species, indicates that creation took 6 days, the duration of a day is a common source of debate among the proponents of the theory. Scientific and religious evidence from the Bible have shown that a day covers a period of light and that of darkness. The most common perception, however, is that a day typically takes 24 hours, which could be attributed to scientific and evolutionary evidence (Ruse, 2003).

Thirdly, the creationists believe that the creation of the species, including humans, was miraculous. The Biblical account shows that God gave commands on different days for various organisms to appear and they did. For men, the creation was a combination of physical work using elements that had been formed previously, and miracle in the form of blowing life into the first man (Ayala, 2008). Other common beliefs include the occurrence of a massive flood sometime following the creation story, and that there are other events that have contributed to further intellectual and emotional development of the creations following the creation story such as the story of the tower of Babel, the salvation story, and the gifts given to mankind by God. Essentially, the creationists oppose the evolution story completely, positing instead that all organisms were formed as a result of miraculous intervention of the all-powerful God. Furthermore, they support the concept of microevolution rather than macroevolution as promoted by the Darwinian concept (Ruse, 2003). The theory of natural selection is also opposed in its specific components such as the differences between organisms is random and is a result of genetic errors during environmental changes; those who survive the natural selection process reproduce while those who do not fail; and evolution is the consequence of natural selection and it only supports well adapted organisms.

Beyond elucidating the origins of species, the religious theory explains other aspects, including beliefs and theological questions that the evolutionary theory does not explain. However, the religious approachis also limited as it leaves certain gaps that solely require faith to understand. The religious teachings make it even more difficult to understand the premises of other beliefs due to these gaps and the argument that one needs faith-based eyes to understand some of the basics of not only creation but also progressive religious living. For instance, questions such as the origins of other humans after the creation of the first two humans; the reason and process of extinction of species and the differences between human racescannot be clearly answered through a direct interpretation of Biblical teachings.

Evidence from Evolution

Darwin’s theory presents the most common hypothesis on the origin of species through evolution. According to Darwin, different species of organisms originated the modification of common ancestors. The core driver of the modifications is described as the theory of natural selection, which states that organisms that can withstand existing environmental pressures survive while those that do not eventually become extinct; an example is the evolutionary synthesis, which was observed from the 1930s through the 1940s, supported the natural selection concept (Futuyma& Kirkpatrick, 2017).

Thestudy of evolutionary biology has been based on the evolutionary synthesis. Additionally, previous studies on genetics also provided evidence supporting the argument for the evolutionofspecies and its influence on the development of new species. According to Futuyma and Kirkpatrick, Mendelian genetics support Darwin’s ideas through evidence that supports theassertion that species that survive certain periods of adversity do so because of their capability to change their allele frequencies. These modifications in alleles result in changes in the organism phenotypes, which enable them to be better equipped to survive than others. Those who are unable to adapt to environmental changes becomeextinct. Over prolonged periods and slight periodic changes, specie populations experience different genetic changes, eventually becoming different species from what they were before (Futuyma& Kirkpatrick, 2017). Thus, phenotypic and genetic differences occurring over time result in significant observable differences between species and their predecessors.

Darwin’s evolutionary theory has made significant contributions to various biological disciplines as well as multiple areas of social concern, including agriculture, medicine, and even human understanding of themselves (Darwin, 2002). Additionally, the theory, which has been revolutionized by foreign ideologies, continues to hold that change is the natural order of things and not stasis. Therefore, biological phenomena that seem to have been designedhave a high probability of having occurred as a result of the persistent change in the environment. Material causes are  the reason for the various changesand only human actions are intentional or with specific purpose and objectives. Considering the evolutionary theory as the basis for explaining the origin of species is considered a deviation from the convention that religions provide a background, goal, and purpose for the origin of species (Darwin, 2002). As such, it is important that while explaining the concept of evolution, focus should be on the process of specie development rather than the future and purposes of that species.

The acceptability of Darwin’s evolutionary theory as the explanation of the current specie range on earth is dependent on other biological evidences besides Mendelian genetics and the theory of natural selection (Futuyma& Kirkpatrick, 2017). Particularly, modern biology has affirmed the probability that all organisms from the present and the past have a common ancestry. For instance, studies on the symbiotic origins of eukaryotic cells as well as those on multicellular organisms from unicellular ones reveal important information on the origin of species, which in one way or the other contributes to the consideration of the evolutionary theory as accurate (Johnson, 2007). Concepts such as the family tree or phylogeny have been used to explain how and when taxa originated from other phylogenetic trees (Futuyma& Kirkpatrick, 2017). The conceptposits that species that are closely related have more in common than those thatare distantly related. As such, within a group of species, it can be assumed that species that have specific derived character traits have inherited them from their ancestors.

Darwin’s theory has been proven, through the evidence drawn from several biological studies and past theories. However, the theory has failed to fill many gaps. Moreover, it seems to be biologically fit from the perspective of specie origins alone. Beliefs about morality and ethics are some of the common outcomes in human life yet the evolutionary theory cannot explain them(Emery, 2007). Moreover, the theory is limited in its inability to prove or disprove other hypotheses such as theological beliefs. As such, for the theory to be conclusive in its assertions about the origin of life, it has to be all-round. For instance, what is the origin of the common ancestry from which all other species come? What is the origin of the non-living things?Such questions raise concern overthe completeness of the concept of evolution and its relevance to the wider biological context.

Comparison of Theories

Neither of these theories is complete on its own nor provides accurateand foolproof information of the origin of species. For this reason, it can be argued that the laws and designs that result in the development of species are mutually exclusive. There are two possibilities herein. First, is that everything came into being by chance thus genetic mutations, as described by the Mendelian theory, are a result of chance. If the ae changes occur accidentally, then the implication is that the happenings in the quantum world are ignored and science cannot fully explain the occurrences. Claims about chance are not ontological assertions thus an alternative approach to their explanation is necessary. The second possibility is that changes even in genetic predispositions occur by design (Giles, 2004). In this case, a specific law is thought to beinfluence such mutations to occur. The laws can only exist with the existence of a master designer, in this case God.

The designer in creation can therefore be argued to use the law. The presence of a deity that works based on a set of laws is evidence of designing intelligence, wherein the designer pushes things into motion such that his intentions are revealed to observers over a period. Evidence from religious teachings and testimonials has shown that such a designer is available to intervene in the life of his creations. In this case, the law produces outcomes that to the ignorant observer seem like chance yet to the designer, it is part of the overall context and plans. The great creator of things in this case is God, and his plans and creations fit perfectly within the ignorant assertions of the theory of evolutions’ per chance.

From this general perspective, it may seem that the religious theory of creation supersedes the evolution theory in its capacity to explain the origin of species. However, the theory of creation still fails to address the reason behind extinction. If the creator can design the perfect species and even plan for any future changes such that they appear per chance, it could be presumed that He could also stop the extinction process (Paz-y-Mino & Espinosa, 2011). While this further argument can be used as a criticism for the creation theory, it can also explain the inexplicable power of the creator, for maybe the extinction too is part of the plan, and humans are just ignorant.

Conclusion

The theories of creation and evolution attempt to explain the origin of species. However, neither of I them is accurate or even easily understandable when considered in a context that goes beyond the creation story. Assuming, that the origin of species is independent of the other supernatural occurrences, results in deficits that cannot be explained by either the creationist or evolution theory. However, within a wider context, the creation theory offers an explanation beyond what can be obtained from the evolution theory, mostly through reference to human ignorance of the designer’s intentions. It is thus deductible that the religious theory seems more accurate in explaining the origin of species and that science or the theory of evolution explains the happenings that arise from God’s design.

 

References

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Bromfiel, G. (2008). Creationists launch new ‘science’ journal. Nature, 451, 382- 383. Retrieved from www.nature.com/news/2008/080123/full/451382b.html

Darwin, C. (2002). The origin of species. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Emery, A. (2002).The origin of species revisited: A Victorian who anticipated modern developments in Darwin’s theory. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 95(12), 628-629. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1279301/

Futuyma, D.J. & Kirkpatrick, M. (2017).Evolution, 4ed. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from evolution4e.sinauer.com/index.html

Giles, J. (2004). Peer-reviewed paper defends theory of intelligent design. Nature, 431(113). Retrieved from www.nature.com/articles/431114a

Johnson, C.N. (2007). The preface to Darwin’s Origin of Species: The curious history of the “historical sketch”.Journal of the History of Biology, 40(3), 529-556. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/29737500?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Paz-y-Mino, G.C., & Espinosa, A. (2011). On the theory of evolution versus the concept of evolution: Three observations. Evolution, 4(2), 308-312. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4778711/

Ruse, M. (2017).Creationism.Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from plato.stanford.edu/entries/creationism/