I wrote this paper for an advanced writing class I took at Sam Houston State University with Dr. Siebert back in the summer of 1992.
Evolution. Even after a nearly two hundred year history, this idea is shrouded in controversy. What is evolution? It is a widely accepted theory, not only among those of a scientific bent, but even among laymen. In a nutshell, the theory states that life as we know it today did not simply spring up from nothingness full-grown, but slowly changed, over eons of time, from the simplest organisms, through many and numberless alterations, into more and more complex organisms. Until, now, after billions of years of evolutionary history, we have humans and dogs, elephants and porcupines.
There are two observable phenomena that serve as the basis of evolutionary theory. The first is known as the fossil record, the untold story left behind in rock by ancient creatures, long dead. Untold, because there were no means available to these simple creatures to relay their tale to us, except to die, trapped in amber or volcanic ash, their bodies left to slowly turn to stone, awaiting excavation and discovery. Among the fossil record are some very impressive finds, such as the skeletal remains of fantastic creatures, like dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers, as well as the remains of man and man-like creatures.
The second basis of evolution is the observation of that incredible mechanism among animals, labelled the adaptation of species. This is the amazing ability of animals of the same kind to change in order to better fit their environment and to improve their chances of survival in a hostile world. The butterflies in England which changed their coloration from light to dark, enabling them to better blend with the soot blackened trees, are an example of this. Evolution is the theory put forward to explain these phenomena.
Evolution depends heavily on two elements: the chief of the two is chance and it determines the second, which is time. Chance is a very important issue, so we’ll begin with it. Let’s start at the very beginning. Scientists tell us of the primordial soup, a chemical potluck washing over the earth some tens of billions of years ago. A chance lightening strike provided the energy to combine some of these chemicals into amino acids. This has been shown to be possible in laboratory experiments. Amino acids are considered the building blocks of life. Every organism has them. They are not alive, simply the stuff of which life consists. The amino acids in the lab were simply that, amino acids, not living organisms. They lacked some of the crucial structures found in every living thing: DNA and RNA. If amino acids are the building blocks, DNA and RNA are the builders and the architects. We know very little about DNA and RNA, but we do know that they are immensely complex and without them life cannot exist.
We are told that these amino acids did combine into a living organisms; after billions of chance strokes of lightning, and billions of chance combinings, some group of amino acids succeeded in producing the necessary elements for biological survival. Then began the long evolutionary process of trial and error: these extremely simple single celled organisms, through millions of hit and miss changes, some succeeding, many more failing, evolved into more advanced and complex organisms. It would be stretching credulity if this process were to result in one complex organism, like a snail, for example, or even a worm, let alone the vast myriad of living plants and animals that exist in the world today.
The other element of evolution is that of time. Evolution requires enormous amounts of time. Hand in hand with historical geologist, evolutionists have increased their estimates of the earth’s age, first by millions of years, now by billions. But even this is not enough time to account for the progress allotted to these chance happenings. To understand the problem that chance brings to this issue of time, let’s look at it from the view of mathematical probability. Mathematics has often been referred to as a pure science, mathematical truth being beyond bias. One branch of mathematics concerns itself with the study of probability. If you were to sit down and put a pencil to it, even given the best odds, the probability, or chance, of evolution happening, in any length of time is astronomical. Some would say improbable; the word “impossible” is more like it. It is like shredding the New York City phone book in a mulching machine, then tossing the debris into the air, and having it land intact.
Many of the weaknesses in this theory are disguised behind the subtle language used by evolutionists. For example, the word “evolved” does not suggest the radical and fundamental changes that must take place in order for one organism to become another, dissimilar organism. The change required is not subtle, not even if it were spread out over eons of time. It is not so much like changing the color of your hair, as it is akin to growing another head. Nor does it suggest the absolutely incredible complexity of every living creature, no matter how “simple”. There are enumerable functions, such as respiration, reproduction, circulation, digestion, carried out by highly specialized organs, each suited to its task and different from every other, each an amazing achievement. But together? In one animal? Incredible!
It is easy to see why evolution has many detractors, both among the brotherhood of science, and among the common man. One must ask, is evolution the only theory that can explain the presence of these phenomena? The answer is no; there is another way of thinking. Many scientists disagree fundamentally with the tenants of evolution, and have searched for other explanations. The theory most often pitted against evolution is that of creation by divine fiat. That is, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is known as creationism.
In its extreme form, creationism leaves no room for compromise. Its stance is that evolution is an unpalatable blasphemy, which seeks to deny the veracity of the holy scriptures. But there is a compromise offered by some. It is as follows: God is the creator, and evolution his modus operandi, his method of operation. Impossible? No, the purist would have to admit, God can do just about anything he wants to, but the holes in the theory of evolution still exist, and blaming God for them, fills not a one. But many do hold to this middle ground, and feel very comfortable in doing so. It may not answer all the questions asked by a purist, but it provides a position that draws from the best of both worlds: doing away with the unbelievable element of chance, and offering an explanation for the physical evidence offered up by evolutionists.
There is even some biblical basis for this way of thinking. If one were to look at the order of creation as given in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, it would be found to correlate with the various stages enumerated by evolutionists. First, life in the sea, then plant life. Next comes fowl, and creeping things, and finally, come the beasts, and among them, man. The purist could only find fault with the amount of time attributed by evolutionists. But with God in the picture, as has already been noted, you’ve eliminated the element of chance, and therefore, you don’t need the huge chunks of time which chance requires.
Evolutionists would find this talk of God outrageous, it being an issue of faith and religion, they would say, not science. But it requires less faith to believe in creation by design than by chance, to see order and purpose in the universe, rather than chaos and happenstance. When you observe the wonders of nature, be it the most magnificent, or the most minuscule, it takes very little belief to see that it was not chance, nor natural selection that caused it to be, but design and therefore, a designer. Taking into account the difficulties inherent in a chance driven evolution, it is easy to see that more faith is required of the evolutionist. Their theory is not, after all, a matter of science, but a matter of faith.
So the battle rages on with each side holding to their own beliefs. It is not something that can be decided by science, for this is a battle of the mind and heart, waged between a man and his own conscience, a woman and her own intellect. There, inside, beyond the reach of others, every man and woman must make up their own mind; they alone can decide what they will accept as truth, and what as false. I hope you choose wisely.