"Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." ~ T.S. Eliot in "Burnt Norton"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Evolution vs. Creationism

Merriam-Webster Dictionary has defined the definition of evolution as:

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

It also defines creationism as:

A doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis

Charles Darwin, one of the founding fathers of evolution, explained the means of evolution in his Origin of Species.  His evolution theory is a premise on natural selection, which is based on survival of the fittest, random variations, and struggle for survival.  This finding over time has become, widely known as Social Darwinism, a major attack on Scripture.  This challenges God as the designer and the status of humanity. 

Here are the counter-arguments from non-creationists:

Creationism is based on the religious belief that there is an intellectual designer of the universe, humanity, and Earth.  The prominent group of these believers is Christian Fundamentalists, who specifically believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible.  They target against the theory of evolution.

William Paley introduced the watchmaker analogy in his Natural Theology, which stated that there is an intelligent designer.  Creationists often use this analogy to support their claims against the theory of evolution. 

Here are some questions for you guys to consider:

1.     What is your view on the controversy between evolution and creationism?
2.     Is Evolution just a theory? Does Creationist have solid evidence to argue against Evolution?
3.     Scopes Trial led to the questioning of the teaching of evolution as being part of the public school curriculum.  What is your take on this matter?  Should just evolution, creationism, or both be taught in the public school system?
4.     Earlier we’ve read John Paul II’s address on the need for a dialogue relationship between religion and science, which maintains both identity and integrity.  Do you agree with this? If not which one of Barbour’s taxonomy would you classify the two?

     Happy discussing!

     -Khulan, Riley and Ryan 



  1. I think it's difficult to totally integrate these two ideas. One can be a creationist and view the Genesis creation as an allegory and accept evolution on the basis that humanity was created by God, but the creation was lengthy and involved evolution. It's hard to effectively dispute fossil evidence of evolution and carbon dating of dinosaur bones which provide evidence for the theory of evolution. However, hardcore creationists could claim that humans simply do not have the intellectual capacity to understand how God created the world in just a few days. Each side can The two sides can certaintly exist seperately or in conflict but, if each side is able to have an open mind there is certainly possibility for the two to intermingle and possbily acheive dialogue or even integration.

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  3. In regards to the first question I personally believe in intelligent design. I'm not saying that there is or is not a god but I do believe that there is some sort of higher intelligent being that started the "fire" that is evolution. The evidence of evolution is so predominate that it is almost foolish to say that it has never happened; such as the video stated. As far as teaching evolution or creationism or neither in public school; I think that there is one more option, teach intelligent design. But then you would think that teaching intelligent design would go against separating Church and State. There is actually a way to "spin" it so that you could teach it in public schools. You never have to say that there is a god because the beautiful thing about intelligent design is that you don't have to say the word god, because intelligent design states that there is some sort of higher intelligent thing that started evolution.

  4. Just to put this out there. After watching that video and reading the prompt, I'm literally crying from laughing. I have yet to have someone use Hitler as Creationist argument, and I hope to God, I live to see experience it. So now being serious...

    I believe that in the public school system of the United States, (that I acknowledge had Christian traditions, but now actively promotes and holds true the belief in Separation of Church and State), there needs to be the teaching of evolution, considering that it has been proven (or at least evidence to support it). I do personally believe in a God that has created the world and everything that exists in it, and that he used "The Big Bang", evolution, and other scientific phenomena as a means to reach his ends or goals. Make sense?

    Considering that those beliefs I hold are a matter: of faith, belief, logic and some supporting evidence, I don't necessarily believe that it should be taught in public schools as proof, perhaps as a theory, but not as an objective proof.

    Well now that I'm done ranting about public schools. I believe that both evolution and the idea of intelligent design (God) can and should exist in an exchange of dialogue. I refuse to believe anything other than this until they can prove the source or cause of the Big Bang. I mean, it's a really cool idea, but who started it?

  5. I find it very interesting how Darwin never mentions God in his texts. I take this as the first sign that evolution does not necessarily conflict with Genesis, and creationism. I think Christianity and science can work together to find a deeper understanding of creation. Science seems to focus more on the "how" questions, and Scripture focuses more on "why" questions. We can use evolution to attempt to answer questions such as, "How was the universe created?" And we can use Scripture and creationism to answer questions such as, "Why was the universe created?" I believe that the Bible is not meant to be read as a science textbook, but rather as a guide of human ethics, morals, etc. I do see how science and Christianity seem to conflict from afar, but when the two purposes are identified, their differences are noticed and dialogue occurs between the two.

  6. I believe that God did create the world and everything in it. However, I also believe that things evolve, or change over time. Even human beings change; they age, their personalities change, their views on life change. All of those changes are a result of having to adapt to life and the things happening in that life. I agree with Colleen when she said "...the Bible is not meant to be read as a science textbook, but rather as a guide of human ethics, morals, etc." I do not think evolution should be drilled into peoples minds as fact and everything else gets thrown out the window. I think people need to accept, however, that things DO change or evolve. Just because people accept that does not mean that the Bible's message of creation is false. Both the story of creation and the theory of evolution should be open to interpretation.

  7. Colleen made a really good point when she explained, "the Bible is not meant to be read as a science textbook, but rather as a guide of human ethics, morals, etc." At the end the moral of the Bible is the way we should best carry ourselves.

    The intelligent designer doesn't have to pertain to the Christian sense of God and most of us seems to believe that there is an intelligent designer whether it's God or a higher being.

    There are many counter arguments to this analogy, like those of David Hume and Richard Dawkins. Hume criticizes the design argument by asserting that since there are flaws on the Earth, God is of fault. Also, there can't be just one designer, since it would die, but a group. Dawkins argues that in order for there to be an intelligent designer, there must have had a predecessor. He claims that life is a result of evolution, an intricate biological process.

    We've talked about Deists, Interventionists, and Sustained Creationists. What do you guys think of these theories? Do you guys believe in the watchmaker analogy?

    -Khulan, Riley and Ryan

  8. Evolution is not just a theory anymore, because of scientific and archeological discoveries, evolution is a proven occurrence. In my opinion, Creationists have little to no solid evidence against supporters of evolution, assuming they do not cite scripture. If evolution is not taught in school curriculums, students will be mislead about the existence and origins of humankind. I have witnessed the effects of misinformed students, when I once had an argument with a peer from Alabama. For some reason the topic of the Holocaust arose and it seemed as if my peer had no idea what I was talking about, he claimed the Germans never did that to the Jewish because he was never taught that in history. I thought it was insane that he was never taught something so important in history, and if schools were to withhold the information we have about evolution, students would be missing out on very important information. I feel that both creationism and evolution should be taught in schools, which would allow students to learn both sides, and determine what they feel is the most correct / informative to them.

    I do agree with what John Paul II said about how religion and science should keep their separate identities and integrities but still contribute to each others progress. John Paul II seems to be a very level headed person during his address, neither igniting any fires or fights, but also giving constructive ideas to further the progress and relationship of both science and religion.

  9. I have to agree with Ben on this one. I really think that "TheThinkingAtheist" used some ridiculous arguments and made them seem to be a common argument that Christians make. I also have never heard anyone argue that God is real. Another thing that struck me the wrong way was how the video claimed the "Scientist X" was invalid argument, but then used the same type of argument under the "Christian Nation" to prove their own validity. I felt as if the video contradicted itself.

    However, there are some arguments that cannot be ignored. I do feel that often Creationists are ignorant and say the first thing they can think of to discredit atheism. The video brought up a perfect point about this: Evolution is only a theory. Sure, maybe that is true, but at the same time gravity is only a theory as well. There is obvious supporting evidence for evolution. One example of this evidence would be the genetic similarity of over 98% similarity between humans and monkeys.

    One thing that I found odd, after visiting the Museum of Natural History, was that we are also 60% genetically similar to a banana tree. This fact leads me to ask the question...Do we also derive from these trees? I actually do not know! If anyone does know the belief that can answer this question, a response would be appreciated!

  10. I believe that while the theories of evolution and creationism can coexist without conflict it is very difficult to do so. There is nothing to say that God did not spark the big bang and then guide evolution as it progressed. However, I think both camps of thought are very reluctant to accept anything like that. While I do not believe creationism has any place in a science classroom, it's worth mentioning that the incredible order of the universe is not something that we can explain with science yet and some people believe there may have been a force that ensured this order within the universe. As far as whether evolution is just a theory or not, there is no denying that there is a great amount of evidence for evolution. I still think, however, that there are some significant gaps in the theory that prevent me from believing I am a direct descendant of primaeval sludge. For one, there does not really exist in the fossil record evidence of animals with transitional traits that, according to evolutionary theory, should exist. Also, there is a problem with the method through which Darwin claimed evolution occurred. He argued that certain genes would mutate over time and organisms with favorable mutations would live longer and procreate more until gradually the mutation would be the dominant trait. The problem with this is that all known mutations we have observed are either neutral, harmful, or fatal, never beneficial, and most are corrected within the organism. Scientists did a 35-year study with fruit flies (who have a new generation every nine days) controlling mating so that a mutation allowing the flies to mature faster would be passed on (seemingly beneficial because the flies could fend for themselves more quickly). While many mutations occurred, the flies with mutant genes were weaker and lived shorter lives, and in the end, none of the mutations were passed on the healthy flies who ended up carrying on the population. Also, whenever mutation and natural selection have been observed, the species never develops into something other than what it already was. Bacteria, who spawn new generations in as little as twelve hours, mutate quickly, but they always firmly remain bacteria. For whatever reason, in lab experiments Darwinian evolution is not occurring today. I'm not trying to discredit the whole theory of evolution, these are just some problems I have with believing it blindly and in its entirety.

  11. Evolution as a theory has come a long way from its original manifestation. At the outset, Dawin's understanding of the way traits were passed from parent to offspring was primitive, and the understanding of natural selection as the key mechanism for evolution was not entirely accurate. Since then, Darwin's theory has expanded greatly with discoveries in biology, genetics and research into genomes that have shown how closely a great deal of life on earth is related. The main critique of evolution from a great deal of creationist scientists is that in many cases, it likes conrete observable evidence. As a process that is purported to have taken billions of years, it is impossible to observe the kinds of changes that would give rise to new species in any way approaching our current level of diversity. The second challene comes in the fom of irreducible complexit--that is that some lifeforms or organs are so complex and perfectly developed that any minor change would result in loss of function. In other words, there would be no advantage to natural selection to develop an organ like the eye unless it functioned properly in the first generation. These challenges to eovlution represent legitamite critiques that need to be answered if evolution is to be used as an accepted theory. That said, the theory of evolution is the best model in existance for explaining the origin and divsity of life on earth. As our scientific knowledge has progressed, we have discovered more and more about genetics and biology that support this thoery. Rather than rejectin a valid scientific theory on scripual grounds absent any inteprretation or thought, it is more important that creationists focus on actual empirical evidence and discover a way to reconcile thier faith and beliefs with the real world.

  12. Like Ben I just want to start off that the video presented made some ridiculous arguments and grouped all Christian Fundamentalists in a group and labeled them ridiculous. Maybe there are good arguments out there for Creationism even if I haven’t heard any that have convinced me. And even if there are legitimate arguments that cannot be disproven “TheThinkingAtheist” would not waste his time in the video on those arguments. The video in my opinion tries to make all Christians who believe in Creationism look like irrational individuals that tout out ridiculous reasons for their beliefs. Watching this video is fine as long as the viewer realizes that not all Christians fall into this category.

    I also wanted to talk about teaching evolution vs. creationism in schools. All children need to be presented with ideas so they can make their own decisions. Even if their parents don’t want them exposed to evolution in their elementary or high school years certainly when they get to college they will be exposed. It is better for children and young adults to be informed so they can make their own decisions instead of blindingly following what their parents or other authority figures tell them. Information in my opinion leads to you determining your future as opposed to someone else determining it. The concepts of evolution and creation can both be taught in schools without making a child subscribe to one or the other.

  13. Carrie, I like that you mentioned the teaching of evolution vs. creationism in schools. I think it is essential for children to be exposed to both scientific theories and the theories that derive from their personal religious upbringings. It is simply ignorant for schools or religious institutions to mask the idea that an opposing theory does not exist. People are going to find things out eventually...it is the 21st century after all. I also think it is interesting to address the idea of whether or not these are even opposing theories. I think it is up to the beholder to decide that. I think oftentimes in this society, we are so obsessed with teams and choosing sides--whether they be political parties, religious groups, soccer teams--that we tend to blindly agree with one side before carefully analyzing the information presented and coming up with our own personal conclusions. I think it is very dangerous when we do so and I think that frequently in this evolution vs. creationism argument, we get caught up in choosing sides instead of deeply thinking about how we should approach the theories as individuals.

  14. Concerning the video, from the beginning to the end, ‘The Thinking Atheist’ group antagonizes all Christians by not distinguishing the Creationists from Christians who are not Creationists: this gives The Thinking Atheists an imaginary high ground to look down upon an entire group of people without considering Christians who agree with everything they’ve stated in the video. This, in my opinion, comes off as a very obvious straw-man argument begging for agitated responses from Christians who’ve been offended by the video only to make a fool of themselves in the comment section.

    I do not believe in Creationism and quite appreciate the wealth of knowledge that evolution has showed me.

    I would not say that evolution is a theory since theories cannot be proven, which is the case with evolution itself. Of course, the scope of time that evolution acts and takes place is over millions of years so there is no real way a single human could witness the action of evolution taking place.

    I would not say that Creationists have any sort of evidence to go on the offensive and claim that evolution is not real.

    The concept of evolution should be taught, as it is a scientific phenomena and not a religion in itself. Creationism is a part of a religion, therefore should only be taught as a part of a theology and religious studies course, and I mean taught, not practiced.