Evolution is a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Charles Darwin proposed a theory, now called the Theory of Evolution, stating that animals differentiated into species when the survivors of a changing environment were able to pass their genetic traits to their offspring. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory that can be tested by observations and application of the scientific method. Support for the theory of evolution is based on fossil evidence that has accumulated throughout the geologic history of the Earth. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a contemporary example of the adaptation of life-forms in response to their environment.
Creationism, or Intelligent Design, is the religious belief that a higher power created the animals and everything that exists today through supernatural intervention. Religious beliefs, such as creationism, have to be accepted on faith and cannot be tested or investigated. Creationism beliefs are usually based on a strict interpretation of the Bible or other religious holy books. The book of Genesis starts with the statement "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", and goes on to describe how in six days God created the plants, the animals, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Biblical interpretation infers that the world was created about 6000 years ago. The modern creationism movement received support from the 1961 publication of The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris. Neither author had any training in geology, but they claimed that Noah's flood had laid down all the sedimentary rock before erosion carved the Earth's current topography. The authors dismissed fossil evidence for a long history of life, and claimed that the world had been created to seem old.
Conflicts between Evolution and Creationism occur when evolutionists argue that creationism is not a scientific theory because it cannot be tested by the scientific method, whereas creationists argue that evolutionists do not take God into account and that evolution is just a theory rather than a fact. Scientific methodology which is based on physical evidence can never be reconciled with the creationist faith-based belief that the Old Testament of the Bible, which was written by Israelites around 1400 BC, is the only true account of creation. Creationists continue to ridicule Charles Darwin even though his theories have been confirmed through many scientific studies.
Science requires that a hypothesis or theory should be testable and supported by physical evidence, whereas religion requires acceptance of a doctrine or belief without analysis or judgment. For this reason, conflicts between evolution and creationism can never be resolved. DNA testing has shown that humans and chimpanzees have a 98-percent genetic similarity, providing overwhelming evidence that apes and humans have a common ancestry. Scientists are willing to accept these results as evidence that man is a specific type of ape, but this is what creationists find most revolting, since they believe that "God created man in his own image", as stated in Genesis 1:27.
The theory of evolution regards the similarity of primates as an indication of common ancestry.
Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel shows God creating Adam in his own image.
The Theory of Evolution was conceived by Charles Darwin during a five-year survey expedition around the world. The ship, HMS Beagle, sailed from Plymouth, England on December 27, 1831. Darwin studied geological features, fossils, and living organisms at the various stops that the ship made as it circled the globe. He collected an enormous number of wildlife and fossil specimens and tried to solve the puzzle of how the variety of life forms arose. Charles Darwin published his Journal and Remarks, also known as The Voyage of the Beagle, in 1839 as a travel memoir that contained detailed scientific observations of biology, geology, and anthropology. Darwin conceived his theory of natural selection and sketched an evolutionary tree on his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species in 1837. Twenty two years passed before he published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. The essential features of the Theory of Evolution that distinguish it from Creationism are:
The Theory of Evolution is one of the great unifying concepts of modern biology. Today, the study of DNA sequences of closely related species provides clues to the mutations that produced organisms with different physical features. DNA sequences also make it possible to identify contemporary organisms that share common evolutionary ancestry.
Synthetic biochemical life.
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have studied the chemical reactions necessary to assemble molecules of DNA with enough genes to sustain bacterial life. The creation of synthetic life in the laboratory is being pursued through genetic engineering by producing synthetic ribosomes that can generate long, complex proteins. The synthetic genomes can be custom tailored to create organisms that produce useful chemicals or have special functions. On May 20, 2010, the J. Craig Venter Institute published the Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome (Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1190719). The new cells are capable of continuous self-replication. The debate between evolutionists and creationists is likely to continue unabated.