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The Story of Evolution, Spring 2005
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The Clash between Creationists and Evolutionists

Ivelina Yonova

I cannot recall a specific moment that I learned about evolution and I don't remember anybody in particular ever teaching me Darwin's theory of evolution. For me it has been something I have always known. But I have also never been a pious Christian and have always thought of Genesis as just a story in the Bible. Now it's almost traumatic for me to see that there are people who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible and devote their lives and energy to invalidating the theory of evolution.

Ernst Mayr's book "What evolution is" is hardly a novel and definitely couldn't be read as one. It is simply a text book about the theory of evolution. Before I read a number of articles on the topic and heard other people's opinions I never believed that any reasonable man could even think that evolutionary theory was wrong. That new perspective has made me think hard over a few issues around the battle between creationism and evolution.

I will start with "theoretically" agreeing with anti-evolutionist point that The Modern Theory of Evolution is just a theory and not a fact yet. The concept came as a result of numerous observations and in its essence is striving to logically explain the diversity of life on Earth. It is not necessarily proven and accounted for with sufficient (that could be argued) evidence but it seems to fit the observations and so far be consistent with the new discoveries. Although he considers Darwin's theory to be more of a fact, Ernst Mayr himself agrees and points out that there are many more things to be explained and gaps to be filled. His book simply presents a more strongly enforced view of the theory as irrefutable because of the numerous consistent "proof" ( Mayr 13). Every advocate of a certain idea would normally enforce his views as the right ones. This, however, I see as the ignition between the creationism vs. evolution battle. Mayr is definitely not right to impose the idea that evolution is a fact, but neither are creationists. That is why I feel that it would be a fair start if both ideas are thought of as theories.

I wouldn't like to go in detail about why creationism is simply a theory but I will emphasize a few points. First of all, creationism has no proof either. That is except for the Bible, of course, which, however, has a sound validity only if considered in a strictly religious and theological manner. Furthermore, not only creationists cannot prove that God created the Earth and all living organisms, but also they fail to account for the numerous phenomena like fossils discovered which resemble manlike and monkeylike structures. Although I believe it is fair and adequate to consider refer to both creationism and evolution as theories, there is a major difference between the two. Darwin's theory of evolution is a proposal of a process or system which accounts for life on earth as we know it and life on earth as we think it was based on research. It is a strictly scientific theory which is no different than the theory of heliocentricity. Creationism, on the other hand, is part of a much larger picture. Its fundaments lie in the Christian theology and are inseparably connected to the religion itself ( Mayr 3). And Christianity as a religion does not only serve to explain phenomena around us but is more a moral code, a basis for social behavior which guides a large part even of the modern/contemporary world. This is an enormous difference because a theory can be refuted disproved and denied validity, but religion is the basis of our society. If it is claimed invalid it would mean that the moral and humane aspect of our society is condemned. Furthermore, that would be impossible because morality cannot be proven wrong; it could gradually change and evolve but not be suddenly claimed untrue or void.

This distinction is maybe the reason for the clash of the two theories. Usually when there has been a general explanation for some phenomenon and a new one is proposed (one that fits better the data and observations) the new one will substitute the old one. There are numerous examples of this but the problem here is that evolution is in conflict with creationism which means that it is in conflict with religion as well. There have been other scientific discoveries that the church has declared heresy but none of them has been involved with the direct refutation of the Bible. Evolution if accepted for a fact of truth will destroy the foundation of Christianity which lies in the Genesis (1)Greeley). This will result in massive (and has actually already caused) enormous trouble within the religiously active parts of the community. It will raise questions not only about God but also about human nature and morality. This is why the clash between evolutionists and creationists will go on for much longer. Society is not ready to turn its back to religion yet and take up its own way (which itself is a very interesting topic of discussion).

Having grown in a relatively nonreligious family I have failed to pick up any sincere appreciation of religion and the ideas behind it. It is obvious that I am prejudice on the topic but yet I have tried very hard to present a logical interpretation between the religion vs. science conflict. And although I personally regard evolution as a fact and not theory, I believe that if religion was interpreted with a more open mind it could live with science, not in opposition to it. As Andrew Greeley points out: "religious truths indeed [...] go beyond the realm of science but not against it."

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