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Religion & Evolution
In my short life on this planet I have come to question things that many take upon blind faith. We all know that we must some day die; yet we continuously deny the forces at work inside ourselves, which want to search out the answers of what may or may not come after. It is far easier for humanity to accept that they will go to a safe haven and be rewarded for their lives with pleasures and fantasies of an unfathomable scale than to question the existence of a supposed omnipotent being. Yet, there are a few of us humans who tend to question the why's and wherefore's that society puts forth to us. We question the existence of God, or the creation of mankind rather than blindly accepting faith-filled beliefs we may received from our parents as children. Perhaps it is because we live in a nation filled with many peoples of different beliefs whose Gods are all so varied and different that it is difficult to fathom that they are all the same divine being. It is also plausible that we just have a desire to quench the thirst for knowledge that lies deep within ourselves. As for myself, I cannot believe in a being which created a universe and a multitude of worlds in a rather short period of time then deigns to lower itself into becoming a puppet-master and "pulling the strings" of the Earth and all of the people therein.
Since this paper touches upon many scientific terms, I feel that in order for the reader to correctly grasp the content I must first define three words: Theory, Law, and Hypothesis. The definitions will allow for a greater understanding of this essay and give us an even ground upon which to begin.
1. a. Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena. b. Such knowledge or such a system.
2. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.
Law; (l") noun
12. a. A formulation describing a relationship observed to be invariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met: the law of gravity. b. A generalization based on consistent experience or results: the law of supply and demand; the law of averages.
1. A tentative explanation that accounts for a set of facts and can be tested by further investigation; a theory.
2. Something taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation; an assumption.
It is important that you thoroughly read the above definitions or you will be at a disadvantage if you do not. You will note that there are several different definitions to each word. I felt it was important to include the added definitive statement to theory because it shows the difference between a scientific theory and an "everyday" theory based upon conjecture. The additional definitions to law and hypothesis are both added for a further understanding of these words.
The definition of creationism is somewhat more complex. One must start by saying that the belief in the creation of the universe given at the beginning of the Bible is literally true. Creationism is a belief based solely upon faith (which is a belief in and of itself). There are no scientific facts as a basis for this belief, solely conjectural theories and speculations. It is ingrained into our minds, as children that a belief of a force, or supernatural entity, which is all powerful and all knowing, is watching over us and taking care of our needs. Yet, to me, saying this very sort of thing is heretical in its very essence. To be so crude as to think that some being which created the universe itself and all things in it would take the time to care for each and every individual is incomprehensible. In practically all ancient cultures, the biblical included, the universe was thought of as an original chaos into which order had been introduced by a creative hand: This was the essence of creation.1 In this statement alone we can see one of the major flaws of creationism. While science can prove without doubt the universe up to the first 20 milliseconds of existence, we cannot prove anything before that point at this time. The statement above, regarding creationism, suggests that there was no beginning, only chaos. Subsequently this "creative hand" structured the order of the universe out of chaos and applied physical laws to that chaos so it would form itself into motion and order. Yet, creationism as a whole does not touch base upon what came before the chaos. While science admits that there was a time in which different laws and order applied; creationism attempts to deny this existence by saying that there was always something. For if there was indeed a beginning and there was no God before this time, where did God come from? We can scientifically prove that there was a beginning. We cannot yet ascertain what was before this beginning, but we now know that there was one. To suggest that the universe has always existed is a mere myth today. Much like the myth that the world was once flat. Today, we take for granted that the world is indeed round, for have we not seen pictures from the space shuttle in orbit of the earth. Not to mention the multitude of orbital shots from satellites. Consequently we would consider it preposterous if someone attempted to tell us that the world is a flat surface. Yet, upon blind faith, some are content to believe that a "creative hand" structured this existence. Although the figures (Gods) differ from mythos to mythos, all the ancient stories intend simply to give a poetic accounting for cosmic origins.2
In the scientific community there is a well known and accepted theory known as the "Big Bang Theory". Most people know of this theory because they were taught it in school. Yet it usually contradicted what their parents and pastors taught them in church. As a result, the Big Bang Theory was generally discarded as something that intellectual minds which cannot exist upon the true faith alone, must accept as truth. The Big Bang Theory is stated in condensed form as follows. As the universe expanded, the residual radiation from the big bang would continue to cool, until now it should be a temperature of about 3 K (about -270ш C/-454ш F). This relic radiation was detected by radio astronomy in 1965, thereby providing what most astronomers consider to be confirmation of the big bang theory.3 In this statement we have our first of arguments over creationism by evolution. We have the beginnings of a proof that there was a time or rather, I should say, a point in time where there was indeed nothing.
Many creationists will argue that the universe is too ordered; the path of the planets (which meant wanderers, or great wanderers in early Grecian society) is too ordered, too perfect. I will start by asking you to attempt to define perfect (as it existed at that time). In the creationalistic point of view, a person might write it off as the act of God. It was his divine will that moved the planets together in such a way as to be able to support life. Or you could ask the more worldly scientist who would explain to you about the Law of Probability, the Theory of Relativity, and show you lengthy mathematical equations dealing with Quantum and Theoretical Physics. In the end, you would likely have a headache of immense size, but come away with perhaps a better understanding of how the order of events, and the laws which created, ordered and structured the planets to exist as they do. Many creationism fanatics will also attempt to dissuade the argument of evolution by saying that the Big Bang is merely a theory. The only reply that the scientific world can refute this with is the fact that relativity and gravity, are also theories. This argument by creationists is obviously not in their favor.
The creation of the universe by scientific means is a world-wide theory that many creationists refute simply because it goes against their beliefs. Yet to understand evolution to its fullest, we must further investigate life, or rather human life. We ask questions like: How did we evolve from amoebae? Are you trying to tell me that I evolved from an ape? If we are evolving in such a manner as described, why can we not see it daily? Since these are all very good questions, I will touch base upon them all.
Approximately seven-hundred or eight-hundred million years ago life was first known on this planet in the form of single-celled organisms called procaryotes, not amoebae. Over time these unicellular organisms diversified into an array of adaptive types. Scientists hypothesize that many advanced cells (eucaryotes) may have evolved through amalgamation of a number of distinct simple cell types. Single-celled eucaryotes then developed complex modes of living and advanced types of reproduction that led to the appearance of multicellular plants and animals. The latter are first known from about seven-hundred million years ago, and their appearance implies that at least moderate levels of free atmospheric oxygen and a relatively predictable supply of food plants had been achieved.4 Through a long and drawn out process life eventually formed into that of mammals and dinosaurs. However, approximately sixty-five million years ago the dinosaur specie was completely eradicated (perhaps by way of natural selection), which left only mammals.
Approximately two million years ago humanity began to show its evolution in the order of the universe. Humans originally belonged to an order of mammals, the primates, which existed before the dinosaurs became extinct. This development of descending from tree habitats to forest floors and eventually to more open country was associated with the development of many unique features of the human primate, such as erect posture and reduced canine teeth, which suggests new habits of feeding. However, while humanity did evolve from a primate ancestor, it did not evolve directly from an ape-like specie. Humans as well as apes both evolved from the same primate specie, but each branched in different directions to become apes in one specie and humans in another specie.
Yet, you ask that if this is the case, and humanity has evolved from primates in such a short period of time, why can we not see the evolutionary process taking place today? The answer is a simple one. I know of no human which has lived for two-million years. Which in and of itself is not a very valid argument for this case, but nevertheless a substantial point at any rate. However, if we were to be more objective about the process of human evolution we would see that in the life span of the earth we are still a relatively young race. Dinosaurs, for example, inhabited this planet for over one-hundred-thirty-five million years. In relative view of this information, we can see that humans have only been in existence for approximately 1/60th of the time that dinosaurs existed. With this in mind, we can further grasp that the process of evolution is a very slow process which requires an almost incomprehensible scale of time to our limited lifespans.
While I realize that many points, and beliefs were not touched upon in this essay I did attempt to cover as much ground as possible in as short a space as possible. It is painfully clear to me that an existence based upon blind faith is no longer an acceptable tradition. The ideas of creationism are far outweighed by the Laws and Theories of evolution. While there are understandably a great many men who have spent a vast amount of time in scribing the Bible, we must realize that they were indeed men, not Gods and the bible is, actually, only a book. To believe the contents of that book completely, one must have unwavering faith in the validity of its concepts and the precepts upon which its religion is based. One of the striking and perhaps most intriguing points of interest that I have stumbled upon is the lack of education of creationism in schools. If the point was so very valid and without skeptical doubt, then why is it not being taught to our children? I understand the idea of separation between church and state, and the fact that the school is very much a part of state. Yet it seems to me that if the idea is a basic building block in today's society then why not teach this to the young? Why is it that we only teach evolution if it is so unbelievable? The simple fact of the matter is that we have evidence and supporting cases in science today which makes the very idea of creationism redundant to teach, as well as a contradicting view of evolution which could possibly confuse those of a younger age. There are many religions in the world upon which the bible are based, and the ones which espouse creationism are but a few. Being a western culture we tend to forget this.
In summary I believe that evolution is the only plausible of these two theories which is acceptable to the current state of humanity. In closing I leave you with a simple, yet disturbing statement that a great man once told me: "it is not what you believe; it's what you can prove."5 Creationism is based upon belief; evolution is based upon scientific proof.
Bibliography"Creation," Microsoftr Encartar 96 Encyclopedia. c 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. c Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.
"Creation," Microsoftr Encartar 96 Encyclopedia. c 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. c Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.
"Cosmology," Microsoftr Encartar 96 Encyclopedia. c 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. c Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.
"Evolution," Microsoftr Encartar 96 Encyclopedia. c 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. c Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.