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The Religion of Creationism
and the Science of Evolutionary Theory
FAQs and OGAs
FAQ: Is evolution a fact or just a theory?
OGA: It is both. The fact of evolution is that populations change through time ... that is something we can observe and measure. This is known as microevolution, and effects everything from bacteria (which are evolving resistance to antibiotics) to humans (who have a wide variety of adaptations to different parts of our planet). Microevolution through natural selection is accepted by most creationists.
Evolution is also a theory. The theory is based on the contention of Darwin and others that living species share common ancestors and that species owe their origins to evolution through natural selection. This has been tested by evidence from fossils, genetics, and comparative biology.
In the world of science, a theory is an hypothesis that has been thoroughly tested and accepted by the scientific community. If evolution is "just" a theory, then gravity is "just" a theory as well.
It is important to note that speciation, also known as "macroevolution," has been observed in the wild, even in the short 150 years that scientists have been studying the evolutionary processes.
FAQ: If we evolved from apes, why are there still gorillas and chimps?
OGA: This is the question I am most often asked. First of all, we did not evolve from the living apes. Under evolutionary theory, chimps, gorillas, and humans have a common ancestor. Our evolutionary lineages diverged sometime before 5 million years ago and took separate courses of evolutionary change. There was no straight line of evolution from amoeba to humans, with each species replacing its ancestor Ė divergences are what account for the tremendous biodiversity of life today.
FAQ: The theory of evolution predicts that there will be intermediate forms, but I hear that there are no fossils of transitional forms. So donít fossils give evidence for special creation?
OGA: There are many intermediate forms found in the fossil record, many of which represent transitional forms. In the study of human evolution we see changes going back more than 4 million years. The earliest of our confirmed ancestors are the australopithecines of Africa, who have the morphology of an animal who stood upright, walked on two legs, but still had relatively small brains. The relative brain size increased with early Homo, but did not reach the capacity of today until much later in time. Indeed, with early Homo we have so many transitional forms that our greatest challenge is choosing which ones led to us, and which ones diverged to become dead-end lineages.
I argued in The Riddled Chain that ALL fossils represent transitional forms. Moreover, all living beings today are transitional forms to whatever will come next!
FAQ: So evolution did not end with us?
OGA: Nope. We are just a transitional form stuck in a tiny slice of time known as the "present."
FAQ: But life is so complex. Even a simple bacterium is not so simple. Could evolution really have really have created such complexity?
OGA: Yep. Under an evolution model, life could NOT be simple ... indeed, it would be more complex than anything created by design. This is because of the chance, coincidence, and chaos inherent in the process.
FAQ: Is intelligent design theory a new alternative to evolutionary theory?
OGA: "Intelligent design" is neither new nor a theory. The idea of "intelligent design" was resurrected from William Paley's argument for design of 1803 (which you should note predates Darwin's hypothesis of 1858). It was dismissed in the 1830s (again, before Darwin.) Intelligent design proponents of today have no testable hypotheses, and thus no theory (at least not in the scientific sense describe above). And although intelligent design has been promulgated by a few well-published scientists, NOT ONE of their peer-reviewed scientific publications has even intimated any notion of "intelligent design." The idea that this is a theory is simply a ruse, another trick in the creationists assault on science.
Indeed, human evolution can be shown to be a product of UNintelligent design.
FAQ: If intelligent design is not a theory, is evolution simply a matter of faith that should not be taught in our schools?
OGA: There are those who claim that scientists have "faith" in evolution, and that evolution is a "religion." But evolution is a theory; it could be disproved tomorrow, and scientists would discard the theory (whereas one never discards one's faith). Given the massive amount of evidence supporting evolution, it appears highly likely that evolutionary theory will stand.
Probably the best thing I learned in my high school chemistry class is that H2O might be water. That too could be disproved. But for now I accept that theory to the same degree I accept the theory of evolution. And so does the vast majority of the scientific community.
More FAQs and OGAs will come in due course. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conclusion: At issue is not a scientific debate. I would not bother with this site if it were not for the constant threat of creationists in the USA trying to undermine our public schools. Let science be taught in the science classrooms, not a ruse meant to promote one's religion.
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P.S. This page was crafted long ago, and needs to be updated. Please forgive any "missing links."