Our Evolutionary Inheritance
God of Apple and His Disciples
As any biologist will tell you,
the entire science of biology makes sense only when studied in light of the theory
of evolution. Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is based on
observable facts that are used to develop hypotheses, which scientists
then attempt to confirm or invalidate.
Thus evolution is not a
theory in the sense that word is sometimes used to refer to something that is
uncertain or speculative. On the contrary, it is a set of consistent facts
that are interrelated by mechanisms that account for a wide range of phenomena.
Exactly like the theory of relativity, quantum physics, or, more simply, the theory
that the Earth is round and that everything on it is made of atoms.
One of the points of disagreement
between creationists and evolutionists is the age of the Earth. For geologists,
the age of the Earth, estimated using a wide variety of dating methods, is about
4.55 billion years. But according to the creationists interpretation of the Bible,
the Earth is only 6 000 to 10 000 years old.
When creationists thus dispute
the entire body of scientific data, one of the arguments they advance is that
the Flood caused such a total upheaval of the Earth's landscape that it thwarts
all our efforts to determine the Earth's true age. But when scientists have dated
the moon rocks brought back by the Apollo mission, they too have yielded the same
estimate of around 4.55 billion years. And yet the Bible does not tell us anything
about a flood that took place on the Moon!
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|CREATIONIST ATTACKS ON EVOLUTION|| |
The term "evolution"
refers first and foremost to change. Galaxies, languages, political systems...
all these things are subject to change. In biology, evolution refers to hereditary
changes that are transmitted in a population across many generations. For most
people, the theory of evolution generally refers to the idea that we are descended
life forms that appeared on Earth over 3 billion years ago.
theory is now accepted by all scientists, because there are countless facts that
support it and because its numerous mechanisms have been confirmed many times.
But it wasn't always thus.
The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, is
the central panel of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and represents the official
view of the creation of human beings, before Darwin.
1859, the publication of Darwin's landmark book, The Origin of Species,
sent out shock waves by calling into question the idea that human beings had been
created by God. Darwin's proposal that humans were instead descended from ancient
apes was very badly received by the religious thinkers of his time, who saw in
this theory a loss of human dignity.
gradually, faced with the rapidly accumulating weight of the facts that supported
the idea of evolution, believers in traditional religions came to harmonize their
faith with these facts of science. Most such people now believe that it was through
the process of evolution that their deity made it possible for life to emerge.
For some time now, however, a movement called creationism has been growing,
especially in the United States, that flatly denies the entire theory of evolution.What
is creationism? First of all, it is a religious doctrine, derived from Christianity,
which asserts that the universe and human beings were created as such by a superior
But unlike the majority of Christians, who
take the story of Genesis in a metaphorical sense, creationists believe that what
is written in the Bible must be taken literally. For them, Adam and Eve, the six
days of creation, the Flood, and everything else that goes with them are literally
true. Obviously, all this is incompatible with the theories of the Big Bang and
|The problem arises when people try to
give creationism a scientific veneer, because their “method” is the
exact opposite of the scientific method. They start from conclusions that they
do not question, and they retain only those observations that tend to support
these conclusions. |
Now, these errors would be merely regrettable
were it not that several U.S. states are now demanding that creationism be recognized
as science and taught in their schools. The most active creationists are now holding
debates where they scarcely bother going into the details of the theory of creation.
That is understandable, because creationism is a matter of faith, so once they
have stated their position, there is really very little more they can say. Once
again, this approach is the direct opposite of the scientific method.
yet creationists do not hesitate to push evolutionists to the very limits of their
knowledge, then cite these limits in an attempt to discredit evolution. But even
scientists readily admit that there comes a point when you have to acknowledge
Before the 17th century, everyone was a creationist.
Then the scientific method and the theory of evolution forced us to recognize
our evolutionary inheritance. The creationism that is resurfacing today among
certain religious fundamentalists entails
some major misunderstandings of what evolution is really about.