Intelligent Design (Creationism in new a Lab coat) and Evolution are the most popular theories of how our world came into being. Because these are theories it comes as no surprise that they offer no ultimate truths or answers to those ‘eternal’ questions; but they have managed to drag mankind, kicking and screaming in some instances, a long way toward understanding some secrets of life.
Creation theory came first but not all at once – ironically perhaps, it evolved.
It is in man’s very nature to attempt to solve life’s mysteries and it can be speculated that centuries ago, when the people of that time finally got around to thinking about things like that, all evidence led them to believe that spirits were the dominant, animating force of life. They saw their reflections in standing water and believed they were seeing their own spirits; they assumed evil spirits to be responsible for bad things and good spirits responsible for good things; they saw people lie unanimated in death and assumed that their spirits had left their bodies (and no one, as yet, has proven them wrong). Over a long period of time the concept of Gods (all-powerful spirits) evolved and people, logically, did whatever they felt they should do to keep the good spirits happy and the evil spirits at bay. Rules of behavior emerged, modes of worship were developed and eventually a theology that had the all-powerful God-spirit as the creator of their known world was born.
The age of science intervened and scientific discoveries broke down many of the beliefs that were formulated in that simpler time. Astronomy, physics, biology, geology and the other physical sciences brought new knowledge to the table – knowledge that disproved many of the early creationist theories and cast doubt upon others.
The Theories of Evolution and Natural Selection. Then, to make matters worse (from the Creationists point-of-view at least) in 1836 a British Naturalist, Charles Darwin, returned from an around-the-world expedition aboard a British Navy ship. During the trip, as the ships naturalist, he had collected samples from every port and made note of every variation he noticed among plant and animal life. From this research he eventually developed and published his two celebrated primary theories: Evolution and Natural Selection. Evolution held that over millions of years life evolved on earth and Natural Selection stated that, through a process called specialization, all life on earth evolved from a single life form. The religious world was understandably aghast and many religious scientists were themselves hesitant to part from their belief in a Creator so, over time, two branches developed in the Evolutionist’s family tree: Naturalistic Evolution and, a compromise theory, Theistic Evolution.
Naturalistic Evolution, Darwin’s original theory, postulates that the earth is approximately 14 billion years old but that life didn’t start developing for about 10 billion years. Evolution theorists believe that Naturalistic Evolution was, just as the name implies, a completely self-sustained evolutionary process without input from any supernatural (God-like) forces.
Theistic Evolution, on the other hand, supports the Naturalistic theory of Evolution up to a point and parts from it by speculating that God is the force behind evolution.
Creation science, the formalization of the creation theory, came about as the concept of the very colorful and controversial Kent Hovind (aka, Dr. Dino).
There are also two branches of Creation Science, New Earth Creation (aka, Young Earth Creation) and Old Earth Creation. The New Earth group, led by Dr. Dino himself, believes in the inerrancy of the Old Testiment, that the earth was created by God himself within the last 10,000 years and that it has essentially remained the same since then. Old Earth Creationists believe (as do the previously mentioned Theistic Evolution advocates) that the earth is, as science has shown, billions of years old but they also believe that God created the earth and is the guiding hand behind any evolutionary changes.
The latest entry in the field of the creation/evolution controversy, Intelligent Design Theory, was developed by Dr. Phillip Johnson (Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley) as a response to the snubbing of Creation Science by the scientific community and the Darwinists. Dr. Johnson, in a March 2000 lecture titled: “If Darwinism is the Answer, What’s the Question?” expounded on the idea that Darwinism is, indeed, part science but it is also a naturalistic philosophy. He then stated:
“Intelligent Design is a theoretical approach in understanding, which explains why the evidence for the creative power of natural selection is so bad.”
The contrast between the origin of Darwinism and the origin of Intelligent Design tells an interesting story. Darwinism was proposed as a search for knowledge of how life was formed and in so doing it has ‘taken us back’ as far as it could . . . back to the primordial soup. By contrast, Intelligent Design was created to bring Creationism into the Colleges, Universities and the scientific community for the express purpose of pointing out the weaknesses in Darwin’s theories. If we were to award points for ‘noble intentions that foster mankind’s understanding of his universe,’ the apparent score would be Darwinism: 1, Intelligent Design: 0.
As it stands, neither science, Evolution, Creationism or Intelligent Design have satisfactorily answered the question of the actual genesis of life on our earth: the ‘primordial soup’ of Evolution has been left without a ‘chef,’ the Intelligent Designers are too busy pointing out the Darwinist’s omissions and the Creationist’s, while they do propose an answer, their answer relies on a level of faith that is not in everyone’s repertoire.
The battle of science vs. religion is destined to rage well into the foreseeable future even though, in the broader view, there is only a very small area of serious contention between the two.
Sigmond Freud, in his 1932 “Philosophy of Life” lecture series makes the point that religion, in it’s very earliest days, was a very logical search for order in a chaotic, seemingly-magical world. As religion evolved, however, it turned into more than that . . . it became a whole-life philosophy that reached into areas where science did not compete.
Religion essentially attempts to serve four purposes:
- It attempts to satisfy man’s desire to understand how he got here.
- It attempts to answer the question: “Why am I here?”
- It attempts to assure man that he is not facing life alone . . . that there is a powerful force that, if he has the faith, will help.
- It sets down rules for life . . . a moral code of precepts, prohibitions and restrictions . . . and it promises the reward of eternal life to those who follow this code.
The only obvious conflict between science and religion is in the first of these four purposes. At certain times in our history, however, this speculation on our mode of creation seems to be larger and more important than life itself.
According David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia”:
“. . . there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many thousands of smaller ones. Among these various faith groups, we guess that there are probably at least 500 different creation stories to draw from – all different.”