Darwinism In Relation To Religious Beliefs essay example

1,542 words
Adam NageleProfessor Tim SougstadENGL 1113.047 November 29, 2004 Creation and Evolution: An Eternal Debate Many people have tried to reconcile the differences between creationism and Darwinism but few have succeeded. Any religious debate is seen as a very sensitive subject and the discussion about the foundations of certain religions generally becomes difficult. Darwinism, in relation to religious beliefs can become controversial; some say they can coexist and some say they cannot. Darwinism was not intended to be anti-religious, but religious activist have criticized the belief since On The Origin of Species was published in 1859. Common ground between the two subjects is a very rough place, but it can be achieved. Reconciliation between the subjects has been achieved but few are standing by it because even the compromise is controversial.

The beliefs of Charles Robert Darwin, as shown in his book On the Origin of Species, are controversial religiously and have been debated since its' publication. Darwin writes "I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one" (Darwin 329). This was not how religious activists saw the book; they attacked Darwin's beliefs and stated it is in opposition of some religious beliefs. Darwinism is based on the basic belief of 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest'.

These are not separate thoughts when it comes right down to it. According to Darwin, the idea of 'natural selection's tates that animals adapt slowly in accordance to their environment, and their DNA adjusts throughout generations. At first glance, this seems like a logical, non-controversial topic, but Creationist believe that. ".. all species were created by God and had not changed biologically" (Hirschberg 321). This is where the conflict comes in to play. Darwin believes that genes can mutate and change over generations to better adapt to environment. This belief has since been overturned by modern evolutionists.

Hirschberg put it this way: "Today, evolutionists believe that mutations in genes produce the variations that natural forces select for survival. And, indeed, geneticists have traced ancestral relationships among species from the presence of similar molecular structures and DNA patterns" (Hirschberg 321). Instead of only bettering the species, the DNA shifts and the stronger of the species usually survive and pass on the strong gene; and thus, survival of the fittest. Although this change was unveiled, it did not calm the hearts of creationist. This still contradicts their belief that God made all species and that the DNA of each individual species would stay the way God intended it. The religious beliefs on the subject differ quite a lot when the interpretation of the Bible is taken into account.

Protestant fundamentalist use the literal translation of the Bible to state that God made all animals and human out of earth and breathed and immortal soul into him (Bible Gen 2: 7). Also, creationists use the scripture of God to prove that God does not change His mind: "God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind" (Bible Heb 6: 17). Therefore, using a literal translation of the Bible, there would be absolutely no sort of gene mutation, creation of new species, or survival of the fittest. According this thought process, the evolutionary theory would therefore be proven faulty. "Darwinism implied that God had 'then abandoned the universe to itself to be controlled by chance and necessity without any purpose on his part as to the result, or any intervention or guidance'... thus Darwin was virtually atheistical" (Davis 2). Religious beliefs do not affect the content of scientific theories.

The theories of science are the same for all scientists but the rules of science are perceived and therefore in their eyes, the world came to be a different way for Christians than scientists. This suggests that something very significant, the creation of the world, is perceive differently among people. Creationists and evolutionists both have strong views on the subject and neither are willing to budge their understanding. This is why there is so much strain between the conflicting groups.

Creationists, rather than provide positive evidence for their own position, they mainly try to find weaknesses in natural selection. So they have no more proof for creation other than the Bible. The religious are strictly viewing the way things are as a result of the creation by God of all living things and nothing has been changed throughout time. "The only Christian religious groups that have problems with evolution are the Protestant fundamentalists, who insist on literal interpretation of the Bible" (Berra 124). This takes the view that the conflict is Protestant fundamentalists versus the world. It seems to be a very odd idea but it does get to a point.

A vast majority of Americans refer to themselves as Protestant Christians. There is also another view aside from strict creationist and strict Darwinist. "Many evolutionary biologists are Catholic priests or nuns... They see evolution as God's plan, not as a denial of their belief in God, a view called theistic evolution" (Berra 124). This brings the reconciliation within the Catholic Church into the picture. The idea that evolution and creation can combine is staggering to some, and the fact that it was issued to the church by Catholic priests is even more amazing.

In 1950, the Pope of the time addressed the issue directly and stated to the Catholic Church, the doctrine that should be accepted: Pope Pius XII stated the Catholic position on evolution A Catholic is free to accept any scientific theory about human origins provided it is acknowledged that, at some stage, God infused an immortal soul into the human body. This requires an act of faith, but not a denial of science, because science has nothing to say about gods and souls (Berra 124). This gives a brief definition of theistic evolution and the Catholic position. It also brings to the table, limitless possibilities of how modern species came to be. One example that seems outrageous and theoretically would be supported by the Catholic Church is the idea that man evolved from monkeys and 4000 years before, an 'immortal's jul was put into all the species that qualified as humans.

This, by logic, seems extreme in the sense that the Catholic priest actually supported that kind of outrageous claim indirectly. Another example of reconciliation is something called 'Intelligent Design'. The basis of Intelligent Design refers to the theory that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life in all its diversity. Advocates of Intelligent Design maintain that their theory is scientific and provides empirical proof for the existence of God or some kind of super intelligent being.

They believe that design is empirically detectable in nature and in living systems. They claim that intelligent design should be taught in the science classroom because it is an alternative to the scientific theory of natural selection. This theory is also widely accepted, in comparison to other forms, and has many supporters. Intelligent Design seems to be just a 'modern creationist' view because it ties the proven evolutionary theory with a supernatural force, usually a god that created humans and animals. One conflict between Intelligent Design supporters is the component of what happened after animals and humans were created. Creationists argue that one sect of the theory of Intelligent Design, random mutation, cannot be created by God because everything that happens has a purpose.

They argue that nothing to do with the DNA of humans can be random and must be planned by God. One last example of the reconciliation between Darwinism and religion is called the 'theology of evolution'. Theistic evolutionists simply combine the two without compromising much of each belief. The theistic evolutionists take the science of evolution seriously as they make commitments to creation.

What happens in the science of evolutionary theory regarding the formulation of natural selection is of particular interest to Christian faith; and this should be distinguished from the other forms of Darwinism other than evolutionary Darwinism. This seems to be the widest accepted form of reconciliation between the Christian faith and the evolutionary theory. People have tried to reconcile the differences between Darwinism and religious beliefs. No certain viewpoint has been widely accepted other than the very vague Catholic position. It is a very harsh subject and it seems that there is no accepted compromise in sight. The controversy of On the Origin of Species seemed to elevate this debate when it was published.

The religious views seem to rest on the interpretation of the Bible, although some religious leaders have tried to compromise; there are others that rebel against the compromise. Overall not many have gotten very far in the compromise process and it does not seem promising.


Berra, Tim M. Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: A Basic Guide to the Facts in the Evolution Debate. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press. 1990.
Darwin, Robert Charles. Past to Present: Ideas That Changed Our World. Ed. Stuart and Terry Hirschberg. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.
Davis, Edward B. "The Christian Century". Chicago. Jul 15 - Jul 22.1998.
Vol 115, Iss. 20; pg. 678. Hirschberg, Stuart and Terry, ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2003.
Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois. Housley, Kathleen. "The Christian Century". Chicago. Jun 19- Jun 26, 2002.
Vol. 119, Iss. 13; pg. 39. Pope, Stephen J. "The Christian Century". Chicago. Jul 13, 2004.