October 27, 2011
Faith and Evolution
In the Catholic Christian religion, the essential belief is that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of god God who was born of the Virgin Mary, became man, and died on the cross for all of man kind’s sins. However, many people who are catholic Vatholic believe that God created the Earth six thousands of years ago, a belief referred to as creationism. One particular group of Catholics Christans called Baptists, do not question the authority of the bible Bible and believe it word for word, and this is where I tend to disagree. I was born and raised a catholicCatholic, and I still believe with all my heart and soul that Jesus was in fact the son of god God and do my best to follow the morals taught in the good book. When it comes to what I believe in terms of how the Earth was made created though, the theory of evolution seems to make a lot more sense to me. With all the logical points that it makes, I feel believe like it has more truth to it than the theory of creationism, ; after all, it was not god God who wrote the bibleBible. Essentially, I believe that you can continue to have faith for Jesus, God, and the morality of the bible without believing that every last word is one hundred percent accurate. In other words, I believe it is possible for a Catholic to still be faithful even if they also think that Darwin’s theory is true. The theory of evolution was started by a man named Charles Darwin. Darwin was born on February 12th of 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He was born into a wealthy family that had many connections. His maternal grandfather was china manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood, while his paternal grandfather was Erasmus Darwin, who happened to be one of the leading intellectuals of 18th century England. Darwin’s initial plan was to pursue a medical career at Edinburgh University, but later switched to divinity at Cambridge. In 1831, Darwin joined a voyage on the survey ship HMS Beagle. During this time period, almost all Europeans believed in the creationism belief that the world was created by God in seven days as described in the bibleBible. On this voyage, Darwin read a book called “Principles of Geology” which suggested that the fossils found in rocks were actually evidence of animals that had lived many thousands or millions of years ago. Lyell's argument was reinforced in Darwin's own mind by the wide variety of animal life and the many geological features he saw during this trip. The breakthrough in Darwin’s ideas came on the Galapagos Islands, which is about 500 miles west of the continent of South America. While on these islands, Darwin observed that each island had its own form of finch, all of which were closely related but differed in important ways. This sparked many new ideas in Darwin’s mind that eventually lead him to coming up with a theory that would change the way we think about things. When Darwin eventually got back to England in 1836, he worked endlessly trying to use his observations he had made to put the pieces of the puzzle together to discover how species evolved. Influenced by the works of a man named Malthus, Darwin proposed his theory of evolution through a process called natural selection. Natural selection basically just means that animals and plants best suited to their environment are the most likely to survive and reproduce, passing on the characteristics which helped them survive to their offspring. Through this, new species develop over time. Darwin worked on this for about twenty years and made a joint announcement with another naturalist named Alfred Wallace who had similar ideas about their discovery in 1858. A year later, Darwin published the book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”. This book at the time was extremely controversial, because it suggested that man had evolved from another animal such as an ape. Darwin was criticized by many people, especially by the church, because his theory had destroyed the prevailing orthodoxy on how the world was created. However, Darwin’s ideas later gained currency and have become the modern day orthodoxy. Even after his death on April 19th of 1882, today his ideas are proving to be very accurate. Many Catholics Christisns today still believe in the methods of creationism, but those that believe in creationism, even if they know about evolution, continue to believe otherwise because they believe it is a test of their faith from God. As a Catholic myself, I can fully understanding being respectful to God because I do my best every day to give him thanks for what I have almost every day in some way, shape, or form. However, in the commandment “Thou shall not lie” I am not perfect in this regard, but I follow it the best I possibly can. Through it I am always looking to seek the truth, and while ignorance itself is not lying, it can still mislead in a similar way. For example, back in the renaissance days of scientific oppression, many other great minds of the time, in the same way that Darwin was in his time, were attacked by the church for going against the Catholic belief even though they had solid proof through their experiments. Galileo for example was attacked by the church for believing that our solar system was actually heliocentric, instead of believing the common belief that everything revolved around the world. Despite the fact that Galileo had proof of this through many experiments, the church refused to open itself up to the new ideas all because one of the biblical authors thought that everything revolved around the Earth. For these men who were ahead of their time, it was never a matter of disproving the church; it was a matter of proving what is true. Perhaps if more Catholics learned to be less adamant and more open about beliefs, than I think it is quite possible that if we had been more open back then to different ideas, we could be in a far more advanced technological world today. Along with not being very open about new views, the church along with its creationist believers also seems to ignore the facts that back up Darwin’s theory. Five of the most essential of these points include the universal genetic code, the fossil record, genetic commonalities, common traits in embryos, and bacterial resistance to antibiotics. While there are many other strong points that also back up the Theory of Evolution, these five sum up most of the previously stated definition of the theory. Be sure to introduce who came up with this proof and what it entails. Essentially, you should come to terms with it. According to the universal genetic code “All cells on Earth, from white blood cells to simple bacteria, all have a genetic code that can be determined” (5 proofs). This seems to suggest that if all life has a genetic code that has a composition that can be determined, then perhaps all of life did in fact descend from common ancestry. Since Darwin’s theory suggests that all life came from a common ancestor, this point backs up what Darwin was trying to say quite nicely. Along with the universal genetic code, one must also consider the fossil record. This record states that “the simplest fossils will be found in the oldest rocks. There is also a smooth and gradual transition from one form of life to another” (5 proofs). This suggests that since the simplest forms of life were found in the oldest rocks, then these simple forms of life must have been the first forms of life which adapted to their surroundings over time. This point along with the last one also does an exceptional job of giving the Theory of Evolution some reinforcement. To continue off of what the fossil record was stating one also should consider genetic commonalities. Genetic commonalities consider that “Human beings have approximately 96% of genes in common with chimpanzees, about 90% of genes in common with cats, 80% with cows, 75% with mice, and so on” (5 proofs). While this does not necessarily prove that we descended from chimps, it definitely seems to suggest that the species listed all had some sort of common ancestor before they naturally developed into what they are today. This points further backs up Darwin’s idea that all life came from a common ancestor. To extend off of the topic of genetic commonalties, one must also consider some of the common traits that are found in embryos. Common traits that are found suggest that “Humans, dogs, snakes, fish, monkeys, etc. are all considered "chordates" because they belong to the phylum Chordata. One of the features of this phylum is that, as embryos, all these life forms have gill slits, tails, and specific anatomical structures involving the spine. For humans in particular, the gill slits reform into the bones of the ear and jaw at a later stage in development” (5 proofs). All this says is that initially, all chordate embryos seem to strongly resemble each other. Pigs for example, which also come from the phylum Chordata, are often dissected in many biology classes due to how similar their embryos are to humans. What this also seems to infer is that these common characteristics could only be possible if all members of the Chordata phylum came from a common ancestor, which again reinforces Darwin’s idea. Finally, the last of these five essential points is that one has to consider how bacteria over time build up resistances to antibiotics. According to this point “Bacteria colonies can only build up a resistance to antibiotics through evolution. In every colony of bacteria, there are a tiny few individuals which are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics. This is due to the random nature of mutations” (5 points). When an antibiotic is applied, the initial inoculation kills most of the bacteria, and leaves behind only a few cells which happen to have the mutations necessary to resist the antibiotics. When these bacteria reproduce, they pass down their mutations characteristics and these future generations become resistant to the specific antibiotic. This specific example is probably one of the best because it is essentially what natural selection is, which a big part of Darwin’s theory is. All the bacteria that can survive this do and pass down their genes, and whatever else dies out. With all of this in mind it is also important to consider some of the points that creationism makes so that one does not appear close minded to evolution either. Creationism is one of the oldest and most believed theories in the world. Generally speaking, it is the belief that God created the world in seven days. The greatest argument that creationists have to offer is that all life seems designed, and scientists come to terms with why that is. For example, the trees and plants provide oxygen for animals and people, the animals and people provide the carbon dioxide for the trees and plants. Another good point they make is that the minds of people are all different from one another. For example, just because man is all the same race, that does not mean we all think the same way. The creationists’ explanation for this is that it is all due to God’s divine intervention. In conclusion, I believe that evolution is the most logical explanation for how life came to be despite some of the good points that creationists make. As a catholic, I feel that I have the free will to believe this because nothing in the Ten Commandments or and golden rule states that the bible is one hundred percent accurate. While I still have faith and still take pride in what I am, I also try to keep an open mind to new ideas.
Bridgford N. Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Young Scientists J 2009;2:48-50
Peacock, Richard. "Five Proofs of Evolution." Evolution FAQ. Web. 30 Sept. 2011. .
BBC - History - Charles Darwin." BBC - Homepage. BBC. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. . How Accurate Are Carbon-14 and Other Radioactive Dating Methods? ChristianAnswers.Net." Christian Answers Network [Home] • Multilingual Answers, Reviews, Ministry Resources, and More! • ChristianAnswers.Net. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. .