This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.
2001 Third Web Report
Creation science, which is a belief that God created the Earth and all the creatures in it, is not science because creation by God or another divinity does not give concrete scientific explanation of life's origin. Rather, it is an explanation consistent with their beliefs that an intelligent creator, God, exists and created the universe. Creationists try to verify this concept and other Biblical stories by evaluating on scientific grounds. Geologists, for instance, used to try to explain all the earth's geological features in terms of Noah's Flood.
It has been said that no book other than the Bible has had a greater effect on Western society than Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. Darwin was famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection, which became known as Darwinism. Today evolution is known as the "changing of simple life forms to higher life forms as theorized by Darwin." (1). Darwin used the word "evolution" for the first time to discuss the development of change and adaptation within a species rather than the individual. Some people confuse Darwinism with evolution. Darwinism is simply Charles Darwin's proposal for the methods by which natural processes cause the evolution of the species. Darwin was the first to document the idea of evolution and proposed a theory, natural selection, to explain the mechanism of evolution. He presented the idea that evolution worked by natural selection. Natural selection theory states that "evolutionary change comes through the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a well developed combination of inheritable characteristics, give rise to the next generation." (2). People who literally interpret the Bible say that Darwinism goes against the concept that God created the earth. The theory of evolution is a product of the scientific method. The scientific method is the process by which scientists, collectively and over time, endeavor to construct an accurate representation of the world.
The theory of Darwinism relies on scientific evidence. Darwin's theory stated that evolution could change one type of organism into another. Darwin did not have a clear understanding of the laws of inheritance of such traits, because an Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel, discovered them only a few years earlier. In the 1900's, geneticists incorporated Mendel's four laws of inheritance into Darwin's theory of evolution. They called this new theory, neo-Darwinism, in which the individual units of inheritance were generation to generation. Mendel's laws of inheritance only explain microevolution, such as natural or domestic breeding of desirable changes or variations within plant and animal species.
Darwin's theories of man's evolution out of lower species challenged the nineteenth century belief on two grounds. First, the theory of evolution is crossing the border line of faith and science by emphasizes that species changed over time, which called into question the creation story of the Bible, which stated that God created the world in seven days and man was created on the last day. "The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2.7). Darwin's theory went against this by saying that humans evolved from monkeys in a process that took far longer than a day.
Finally, Darwin added another piece to the theory that was devastating to traditional belief: the notion of natural selection. Natural selection states "species produced random variations and that only those beings whose characteristics that allow them to survive and reproduce can live a long life." (3). The natural selection process argues against any form of the divine plan known as moral divinity. Moral divinity states that God controls everything and by accepting God into your life, you will live a long life in the path of the Lord. Therefore, your morality and faith in God shapes your life. However, natural selection says that your genetic characteristics allows you to have a long life and also determines your success or failure in life. I agree with moral divinity because when people have faith in a supernatural power, they try to achieve their goals in life and by live their life the best way that they can. This case isn't always true for everyone but by having an established guideline for themselves people tend to value their life to a higher degree. Even though moral divinity doesn't guarantee you with long life, whenever someone dies some people believe that are living a longer and better life in Heaven. Just like moral divinity, natural selection doesn't guarantee you a long life because your genetic characteristics can't stop you from dying from aids or dying from a heart attack.
Creationists are among the harshest critics on the theory of evolution. They have been instrumental in pointing out weakness in the scientific evidence. One argument made by supporters of creation science is that natural selection can produce minor changes within species but cannot generate new species from pre-existing species. Although there is plenty of evidence for adaptive changes (microevolution), we don't have scientific evidence to examine one species becoming an entirely different, more highly evolved organism. For example, there are no examples in records of fish becoming an amphibian or even bacteria evolving from something other than bacteria. However, evolutionary biologists have documented many cases to support Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin's theory was supported when Othiel Charles Marsh discovered fossil records of extinct horses. The fact that larger horses were better able to survive than small many-toed horses supported the idea of natural selection.
More recently, creationists have used the second law of thermodynamics " the law of disorder" as part of their attempts to challenge evolution. The second law of thermodynamics states that although the amount of energy remains constant, the amount of usable energy is constantly decreasing. The law also implies that ordered systems become more disordered over time, unless energy is supplied and directed to creature order. Creationists believe that the second law of thermodynamics does not permit order to arise from disorder, and therefore the macroevolution of complex living things from single-celled ancestors could not have occurred.
In response to Creationist, evolutionists say that evolution relates to the second law of thermodynamics by making the argument that order can come from disorder in nature. "Every exchange in nature that takes place spontaneously always results in a loss of order. Natural selection always occurs in such a way that the complex tends to become less complex, order states tend to become disorder. Therefore, the universe is constantly becoming more disorder." (4).
Another argument with the second law of thermodynamics is that Creationists say that the second law states that the entropy of a closed system increases over time. Closed system means that the earth receives limited energy from the sun. The creationist argument is based on their interpretation of the relationship of entropy, which is a measure of randomness, or of the degree of a system's disorder. Creationists assume that a change characterized by a decrease in entropy cannot occur under any circumstances and spontaneous entropy decreases can, occur all the time, providing that sufficient energy is available.
The second law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system disorder grows and less energy is available for work. A good example of this is a battery; it breaks down as it works, and, in fact, breaks down even when it is not working. Evolution, on the other hand, appears to be doing the exact opposite: life is evolving from the simple to the complex, and everywhere we look we see increasing order, not disorder. Evolutionists say that order increases over time, without any directed energy. Evolutionists think that creationists are confused with the phrase "closed system". To evolutionist, a closed system is one that receives no fresh inputs of energy from an outside source. The earth and evolution are not closed systems because there is unlimited energy form the sun, which fuels the life process and creates growing order. The universe in not really a closed system because if living organisms could escape the concepts of the second law of thermodynamics, then they could live forever and there is no way that any living system on earth can directly violate the second law.
First of all, the universe transmits energy to everything in space (especially Earth), which makes it a closed system. If the universe was not a closed system, then there has to be an outside source other than the universe that supplies us with energy. But since there isn't, then the universe is a closed system. Also, energy from the sun doesn't solve the evolutionist's problem of how increasing energy could occur on the earth which is contrary to the Second Law. The second law shows that the total entropy of a system and its surroundings never decreases and a closed system exchanges energy but not matter with its surroundings. Therefore, open systems still have a tendency to disorder. Evolutionists open system argument against Creationists does not help the theory of evolution because "raw energy cannot generate the specified complex information in living things. Undirected energy just speeds up destruction".(4). Just standing out in the sun won't make you more complex because the human body lacks the mechanisms to harness raw solar energy.
Darwinism as science differs from creationism, which is faith and religion. Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural cause. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral. For years, some creationists have been against the theory of evolution and have tried to present scientific evidence to show that the theory is wrong. This debate will continue until some can prove that Darwinism is correct with scientific evidence or even prove that Creationism is accurate by scientific evidence, too. But until that time, people should be given the decision to choose which origin that they want to accept.
3) Charles Darwin ,
4) Creation Science FAQ ,
| Back to Biology 103 | Back to Biology | Back to Serendip |