ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences

The Controversy About Evolution

Updated on June 17, 2012

When in 1859, Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, he fundamentally changed the way in which biologists understand the natural world. As well as explaining how all species of living things came into being and making sense of the fossil record, his ideas have provided a theoretical foundation for all the life sciences. Why then, more than 150 years later, is evolution still controversial?

HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle
Charles Darwin actual cabin in the HMS Beagle
Charles Darwin actual cabin in the HMS Beagle
British Scholar Thomas Albert Malthus
British Scholar Thomas Albert Malthus

At the time of Darwin's life changing five-year journey to the coast of South America onboard HMS Beagle, the idea of evolution had already been posited. However, an enthusiastic observer and collector, and a keen student of both Geology and Biology, Darwin pieced together a wealth of information on his travels that fresh impetus for evolution by suggesting a mechanism that drove it. It was the writings of British scholar Thomas Robert Malthus on the subject of human population growth and the "struggle for existence" that prompted Darwin to suggest that a process of "natural selection" led to the evolution of new species.

SO WHAT'S CONTROVERSIAL?

At the heart of the theory of Evolution is the idea that there is a certain level of genetic variation between generations within a species, and that some variations will be positively affect the individual's ability to survive and reproduce. As a result, the number of individuals having this variation will tend to increase at the expense of those that do not. Overtime, this leads to the development of a new species. Scientists are still investigating the details of the process of evolution, but the scientific community is virtually unanimous in agreeing that this indeed the way in which life on this planet has come to be the way it is. However, there are several aspects of this argument that various groups have been unwilling to accept over the decades.

Charles Darwin himself perceived that his means humans are simply a form of animal and came into existence in just the same way as other animals by evolving according to natural laws. He expanded upon these ideas in The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex in which he suggested we evolved from ancestos we share wit the apes. Many find this uncomfortable ,a thought that strikes against a sense of being special; but for many of those who believe we were created in the image of God,it is quite unacceptable.

"To use the Bible to support an irrational and an archaic concept of static and undeveloping creation, is not only to misunderstand the meaning of the Book of G

CREATIONISM

For Christians who maintain that the Bible contains the literal truth, there are other problems. The book of Genesis says that Earth and the Heavens, and all other things within them, were created in six days and some "Creationists" insist that this should be taken literally ,a view that is clearly opposed to evolution.

The processes of evolution are generally extremely slow, and the theory requires that life must have existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. Geological studies and the fossil record bear this out, but there are those who, basing their reasoning on the genealogies found in the Bible, calim that Earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old.

These views ,based on a literal reading of the Bible, are clearly not scientific , but they don't claim to be .There is a school of thought, however, that asserts that some aspects of the universe - including the complexity and diversity of life- can only be explained by invoking "intelligent design". To support their case, and justify their demands that Creationism be taught in schools, proponents put forward evidence that they claim is scientific ,a claim that the scientific community utterly rejects.

Evolution remains controversial for various religious groups that insist upon a literal interpretations of certain divine creation stories. Many are also unwilling to accept that, rather than being the pinnacle of created order, humankind is merely the temporary outcome of undirected process.


Creation of Light by Gustave Dore
Creation of Light by Gustave Dore

DID YOU KNOW THAT...

  • Charles Darwin not only demonstrated that evolution had taken place but also put forward a theory of how this occured
  • Creationist who maintain that the Bible gives a literal account of how life on Earth came into existence can only do by ignoring the wealth of geological, paleontological and biological evidence to the contrary.
  • Science and Religion are not always opposed on the issue of evolution.There are plenty of scientists with strong religious beliefs,and on the flipside of the coin there are those religious people who view creation stories as allegories and myths,and are able to accept the body of evidence that life on this planet has evolved.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • cascoly profile image

    cascoly 5 years ago from seattle

    good overview of evolution - on creationism, though, there atre several points to emphasize

    first, creationism DOES claim to be scientific, and these fundamentalists DO try to get the bible creation myth taught in science classes as an alternative to evolution

    it was only after they were slapped down by the courts that creationists [notably the discovery institute, an embarrassment to seattle!] came up with intelligent design [they were lazy, and often just re-published the same material after doing a replacement of 'creationsim' with 'intelligent design' -- ID has also been completely discredited in both science and the courts

    finally, ID does NOT put forth any evidence FOR their claims - instead, they argue against evolution using complexity, etc. there arent any ID research papers in peer reviewed science journals, which is why most scientists ignore them completely

  • aethelthryth profile image

    aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

    What scientific community are you referring to that is virtually unanimous? I am not a scientist by trade, but my degree is in physics, and I personally know a whole lot of people who are scientists (as in, with PhDs and careers in the hard sciences) who believe things happened as Genesis says, and without having to make complicated explanations about how time was expressed in language.

    Look, if you start with the assumption there is an all-powerful God, He could make things any way He wanted, including the way things are. There is nothing irrational about that. On the other hand, if you start with the assumption there is no God, you have to start inserting huge amounts of time to get around the real life evidence in front of all of us, that nobody ever sees things getting better on a large scale. Everything runs down. It's one of the most fundamental laws of physics.

    What is really going on, is that the majority of scientists in universities say they believe in evolution, because their jobs are at stake otherwise. If you look at scientists in other careers where there is more freedom to think, you will find a whole lot of scientists who believe in everything along the spectrum from intelligent design to just plain what the Bible says.

  • whonunuwho profile image

    whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

    The education of our children is foremost and Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution will be a part. We have to make sure that our kids get a fair and balanced explanation of all theories of life's origin and though we may want them to accept ours, ultimately it will be their own decision.

  • jolinabetts profile image
    Author

    Sunshine Diaz 5 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

    Your opinion is also the same as mine. This remains an enigma because of the way we were conditioned in believing. Living in a country where the catholic church with a much dominant say on things than the government, back in school ,we hardly had a lesson about Charles Darwin. Only a sentence on the textbooks thats says he's relevant but nothing more to that. I'd be needing some explaining to do with my children, just in case they ask about these things, its hard to be balanced on opinion.

  • whonunuwho profile image

    whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

    Seems to be a fair assessment of Darwin and also creationist. My own belief is that we were created in the image og our God, over time and not in the literal time limit of six days as is seen in scripture. Time and scripture may mean different things when examined. The huge gap in time cannot be explained by scientists and this is one reason many are coming over to the side of Creationism and God as the Creator. In the Bible it states "WE" created man, which may mean more than one entity created mankind either in an evolutionary form are other means. We may have been genetically engineered by agents or angels of the Divine Creator, who knows? As always, much thought provoking information is created by statements on Creationism and or, Evolution.