Belief systems about the
& the development of species
Debates on the Internet, within religious groups, and in the media about the origins
and development of
species of plant and animal life on Earth are often presented
as a life and death struggle between two
competing beliefs: naturalistic evolution
This is not a particularly accurate description. There are in reality three
main belief systems being promoted by individuals and organizations in North
America. Within these three main systems there are many variations.
Hundreds of religions around the world teach creation stories which account
for the diversity of life on Earth. The theory of evolution is also a
popular belief, particularly among scientists, secularists, and religious liberals.
In North America, beliefs regarding the origins of the origins of species of
plant and animal life mostly fall into three general categories. Starting with the
Creation science: God created the universe during 6
consecutive 24 hour days less than 10,000 years ago, precisely as a one of
interpretations of the Biblical book of
Genesis would indicate. All of the various "kinds" of plants and animals that currently exist (and
that once existed but are now extinct) on
earth are descendants of the original life forms that God created during the
single week of creation. However, within these original kinds of animals, microevolution has resulted in similar species developing. For example, God created a deer "kind" which has developed into a variety of deer. This is the most popular belief system among
the general public. It is the least popular among earth and biological
scientists. Over 99% of such scientists believe that a literal
translation of Genesis does not represent reality, and thus that
creation science is false..
Theistic evolution view: The universe is about 14 billion years old.
earth's crust developed about 4.5 billion years ago. Some believers in this option suggest that God created the first
cell; others suggest that the the first cell happened as a result of natural processes through abiogenesis. Subsequently, God used evolution as a
guide the development of each new species. By steering evolution over time, God
eventually produced human beings.
Scientific view: Evolution was driven by blind, unguided
natural forces without a goal. Darwin's belief that naturally ocurring differences among offspring lead to evolution of the species through natural selection is the main -- or perhaps the only -- driving principle behind evolution. If God exists, he played no part in the processes. If all
life were to be wiped off of the face of the Earth -- not that remote a
possibility with the Earth's current levels of religious hatred and supply of
nuclear weapons -- and life were to start over, there is absolutely no
certainty that intelligent beings would evolve. If they did, there is no
certainty that they would look much like homo sapiens.
Those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible
attempt to follow eternal Biblical truths. However, they seem to have
great difficulty in settling on a single understanding of the origins and development of
plant and animal
species. They have ended up with
many different conflicting theories which cannot be harmonized. Meanwhile,
the scientific community has arrived at an almost complete consensus in the theory of evolution.
evidence is found, some details of the evolution of species are occasionally
modified. Yet supporters of naturalistic evolution
long ago reached a
consensus on the overall evolutionary process.