The Case for Evolution Counterpoint?

Darwin is often credited with the theory of evolution, the idea that complex organisms have developed gradually over geologic time from simpler ones. What continued to elude Darwin, and the other naturalists of the time, was how transformation occurred. Darwin’s great contribution to science was that he solved this mystery of how and why evolution occurred. The answer, which he called natural selection, finally occurred to him in 1839. The essence of the idea is that those individuals born with characteristics that make them best suited for their environment are the ones most likely to survive, and most likely to successfully produce offspring. By 1859, Darwin was an eminent scientist, when he published his book, The Origin of Species.

 

Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on five key observations and inferences drawn from them:

1)      Species have great fertility. They make more offspring than can grow to adulthood.

2)      Populations remain roughly the same size, with modest fluctuations.

3)      Food resources are limited, but are relatively constant most of the time.

From these three observations it may be inferred that in such an environment there will be a struggle for survival among individuals.

4)      In sexually reproducing species, generally no two individuals are identical. Variation is rampant.

5)      Much of this variation is heritable.

Probably all organic beings, which have ever lived on this earth, have descended from some one primordial life form (Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species).

In 1925, Tennessee adopted a law that made it a crime for any public-school teacher to “teach any theory that denies the story of divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”

The First Amendment prohibits the state from establishing religion. Arkansas attempted to meet these tests when it enacted a 1981 law that did not require any direct teaching of the Bible, but only that “public schools . . . give balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science.” In 1982, Louisiana tried a similar “Creationism Act,” that reached to the Supreme Court. This Supreme Court decision ended the life of teaching creationism in the public schools.

The first legal challenge to requiring the teaching of intelligent design with evolution involved the tiny Dover Area School District, in Pennsylvania, and the case was decided in December 2005. It involved two primary questions. First, is intelligent design a science (or is it just creationism under another name)? And second, does requiring the teaching of intelligent design in science classes amount to a governmental endorsement of religion or serve a religious purpose?

The Pennsylvania Judge’s strong opinion concludes with the acceptance of a non-binding precedence of a large body of adult’s acceptance of antievolution teaching activity in the United States. The Judge surmised “there will undoubtedly be a wave of opinion that will feature yet another strategy to promote creationism by questioning evolution.”

I was a student of the 50’s and 60’s that saw first hand the changes that were being introduced in schoolbooks and curriculum. My class viewed the pond water, the one cell amoeba, dissected the frogs, and discussed Darwin’s evolution. Most adopted the viewpoints without question-after all it was science. The scientific community had refuted the flawed arguments for creationism, it had failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it had not generated any peer-reviewed publications, and it had not been the subject of testing or research.

Of course, the theory of evolution cannot answer all questions about how life emerged or how the human brain developed, nor is evolution even relevant to the question of where the original matter of the universe came from. I am reminded of this story about a scientist talking to God. The scientist says to God, “You know God I think I could create just as good a human as you can.” “You think so,” said God, “alright, why don’t you try.” So the scientist bent down on the ground and started scraping together some dirt. Then God said, “Wait a minute that’s my dirt! go get your own.”

A fellow sophomore high school student who had enthusiastically accepted the evolution theory turned to me after several minutes of discussion in class, “What do you think, don’t you agree with the evolution theory?”  I paused and thought for a second, as I felt the peer pressure from the others listening near by. “I can agree with the basic idea of evolution of living things-plants, creatures-, but I can’t see the evolution of two of all things-male and female.” Everyone looked at me as if to say something, then just left biology for the next class. Nearly 50 years later, after all the changes, studies, and advancements in knowledge, that thought still lingers in my mind, and no one has yet answered.