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God and Evolution Can Go Together

Updated on March 30, 2012
Hasty generalizations like these cause unnecessary tension and misunderstandings. This is a prime example of closed-mindedness that those who believe in God are often accused of coming from the other side of the evolution debate.
Hasty generalizations like these cause unnecessary tension and misunderstandings. This is a prime example of closed-mindedness that those who believe in God are often accused of coming from the other side of the evolution debate. | Source

Some religions have taken a definite stand against evolution. Much of the reasoning against evolution stems from a misunderstanding of what the theory of evolution is. In some cases, it is the lack of definitive evidence for specific proposals within the theory that causes animosity. The other big misunderstanding in the debate is that all religions do not accept evolution. However, this is far from true. In some religions, the current evidence in support of evolution also serves as potential evidence of intelligent design. Misunderstandings on both extreme sides of the evolution-creationism debate is what slows down religious and scientific progress.

Artwork such as this showed ape-like creatures evolving from a more primitive form into humans. This sent the message that man evolved from apes rather than the proposed idea that we potentially shared a common ancestor but are not the same.
Artwork such as this showed ape-like creatures evolving from a more primitive form into humans. This sent the message that man evolved from apes rather than the proposed idea that we potentially shared a common ancestor but are not the same. | Source

Evolution Simplified

When we look at the majority faiths in the days when Darwin's take on evolution was first introduced and the suggestion that men may have evolved from apes as we know them today, we can easily understand the religious animosity against the concept. No, man did not evolve from apes and no one said we did. Rather, the idea was that man and apes may have a common ancestor. Apes and humans are different possibilities as natural selection occurred again and again. The ancestor species went in two totally different evolutionary paths.

Even the idea of a common ancestor among such different species enrages some. According to some faiths, man was made in the image of God. If we evolved from something else, then does God look like us? Or does God look like what we evolved from? Some of Darwin's theory was ruled out as more scientific and technological advances were made, leaving some to question how accurate the theory is. However, his concept of natural selection is painfully obvious to even the casual observer.

A popular teaching aid involves the use of a species of moth. This teaching aid reenacts research studies involving the peppered moth. The moths genetically can be a light or dark gray. They tend to seek the bark of light colored trees for rest. Those that are too dark are spotted and eaten and future generations carry on the dominant light gray. Over time, the tree barks become darker with pollution. The moths are easier to see and eaten. Those with dark gray coloring survive and the dark gray becomes the dominant gene. Natural selection, then, is very real.

Natural selection has evidence to support it, but proposed evolutionary paths such as this one from 1874 is based on speculation using current data. That man has evolved can be accepted, but to such degrees is difficult to swallow without proof.
Natural selection has evidence to support it, but proposed evolutionary paths such as this one from 1874 is based on speculation using current data. That man has evolved can be accepted, but to such degrees is difficult to swallow without proof. | Source

Intelligent Design for All Religions

Intelligent design does not have to mean that everything that exists as we know it today was made exactly the same. Faith does not have to remain stagnant to be true to those who believe. Religions adapt with societal changes or risk becoming outdated and their teachings lost on future generations. Another religious view in terms of evolution is that it takes a pretty intelligent deity (or group of deities) to consider putting a process like evolution in place so that the many species of the world can live and thrive in changing environmental conditions and provide stabilization in the various populations. If anything, evolution is yet another one of those aspects of the known universe that is incredibly hard to believe happened by chance. Such a genius, natural process is surely a great example of data in favor of those who believe in God in one form or another.

The part of evolution that causes the most animosity in some religious circles is that which goes beyond observable natural selection. The only common "ancestor" of the world's species would be God. Suggesting that various species that are so very different, including man, evolved by the same process over far, far, far longer spans of time goes against their theology. Here is where a religion must choose to adapt or become outdated and lost. Some religions recognize that the stories that have been passed down were written with by the hands of man. Even "words of God" are recorded by men who, no matter how strong their connection with God, can only view the world and God by human perspective. Personal biases can and nearly always appear in any writing (this article is rife with it!) regardless of one's intentions.

Had the men of yesterdays long ago known what we know now, those stories would have been recorded differently. Some recognize this and have come to reconcile known facts with the stories of old. For example, the Genesis story that the Earth was created in seven days is impossible as explained. However, if we recognize that "seven days" may not be the literal seven days as we know them by our measurement of time, the fact does not take away from the story but actually provides the potential for deeper understanding of the stories on a new level. In the same way, evolution might explain why different cultures sharing the same God will depict that God in completely different manners. If we could convince a cat that God exists, the cat will view God as a cat just as we may view God as human. A change in perspective leads to new interpretations of such teachings. To be created in the image of God does not have to mean we look exactly like God as we are now, but could simply mean our spirits are of the same essence.

A Little Tolerance From Both Sides

Current science can easily be reconciled with religious belief to allow a religion to adapt so long as religions are not met with hostility from those who hold pure science (which changes and adapts as new data and discoveries disprove the widely accepted theories of days long past) as their faith. Hasty generalizations such as the image above from those who claim to use "rational logic" fail to recognize that many religions have found ways to incorporate scientific advancements into the understanding of their faith. This in turn causes religious individuals to feel animosity toward the scientific communities (or those claiming to be a part of them). Some individuals may well take the scriptures and teachings of their religions literally and accept no alternative interpretations; however, relatively few individuals are hardly representatives of religion as a whole. The concepts of deity and evolution can and often do go together just fine without anyone on either side of the evolution-creationism debate needing to cause a commotion. In the same way scientific advancements take considerable amounts of data gathered over time and applying new data to old theories, so too does it take some religious institutions time to incorporate new scientific research into theological explanations.

Hub #24/30 for March Challenge.

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© 2012 Evylyn Rose

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    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Brilliant hub, Evylyn! I have often thought that religion--or God--and science do compliment each other and even may go together. Yet some religious people, as you say, are so against science. What a thought-provoking hub. I think that you will stimulate much discussion with this one. I think it's awesome! And beautiful and useful and interesting and voted up! Sharing!

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Thank you for the feedback, Victoria. I'm glad you enjoyed reading! It's not just the religious who may be against science but the other way around as well. I find this strange as science is very much a religion with the only exception that belief in God is personal choice and not part of the field. Otherwise, I find science and religion are very much the same in terms of how they adapt to changes in our knowledge of the world. Some groups and individuals in both areas may take longer than others to adapt, but they always do in time. Thanks again for the comment, vote, and share!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      It's my belief, Evylyn, that God created science. When He did, everything was in harmony. God never denied scientists; scientists never denied God.

      Unfortunately, whether it was during the time in man's history leading up to and after Babel or some other era, the harmony disappeared.

      I like the concept you underscored about "a little tolerance from both sides." Amen to that!

      Thank you for intelligently and faithfully sharing.

      Aloha!

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Thanks for the comment, hawaiianodysseus. :) I agree that there was at least some harmony overall when it came to the areas of religion and science. After all, there are cultures in which the priests were the scientists of their communities. I see science as it evolved as a different school of thought but still just as related as it always was. The approach may be different, but the goal is still the same. I think the two still go along great together, but unfortunately there are those who would rather focus on continuing the disharmony than moving on to make greater discoveries. I hope the message of tolerance spreads! ;)

    • profile image

      Jesshubpages 5 years ago

      Hi Evylyn Rose, I agree with hawaiin...that God created science (true science). True science do not not deny God and will not deny God. In fact true science reveals more about God. Magandang umaga (goodmorning) from the philippines.

    • Tara Miller profile image

      Tara Miller 5 years ago from Port Charlotte, FL

      Great hub! I agree that both can be true and never personally understood about this great debate that it has to be one or the other.

    • Vegas Elias profile image

      Vegas Elias 5 years ago from Mumbai

      Very well studied and brilliant hub. Those who think evolution goes against Genesis of The Bible have not read the bible properly wherein it is clearly mentioned that a thousand years for us is but a single day for God. The Bible makes it very clear that Creating of Seven days does not point at seven human days but Seven Days of God which may be Seven Ages for humans. But as The Bible aptly says several times 'They will have ears but will not hear and have eyes and will not see'.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Jess, thanks for the comment. Anyone who truly understands science and its limitations will recognize that science, currently, can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. A scientist may believe in God or not, but he or she is well aware that the conclusions they reach is based solely on data currently available and that we have an incredibly limited amount of data in comparison to what is there to work with. :)

      Tara, I'm the same way. I never understood why the two sides of the debate always seemed to assume what the other believed instead of just listening and recognizing that some are actually arguing the same point! Thanks for the comment. ^_^

      Vegas, It has been my experience that many who go up in arms and take the words within the Bible literally in every instance have never actually read the Bible or read only certain passages. Those who engage in Bible study that requires them to not only read the entire Bible but also to comprehend what they are reading come to a much better understanding of the very nature of the Bible. Some will even branch out to study other holy texts and related history, providing answers to why it was written in the manner it was. Great comment. ;)

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      When Man had evolved to the point where Man became ready to be made in God's image, the Creator gave Man spirit and the Man became a living soul. Up, useful, interesting.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
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      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Perspycacious, that's a very interesting take on man's evolution! Thanks for the comment and vote. :)

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Which of all Michelangelo's inspired paintings is the one most people have seen so often, and remember so well?

      The Creator touching Adam's finger. I believe there is a reason which goes beyond the beauty of the inspired painting, thus my comment above.

    • profile image

      buddhaanalysis 5 years ago

      buddhism and jainism are two religions which are not based on god.

      almost all quality scientist including einstien and nobel winners like bohr praised buddhism for it's scientific authenticity of buddhism.

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