Evolution and Creation - an Introduction and Glossary
Created | Updated Nov 4, 2004
A popular topic of, shall we say, lively discussion on h2g2 is the disagreements between those who believe in the Biblical account of Creation, and those who propound the theory of evolution. This prompted an attempt to pull a number of contradictory viewpoints into an overall discussion of both sides of the argument.
- The Tension Between Religion and Science - an explanation of the inherent differences between the 'aims' of science and religion.
- The 'Genesis' Creation Account - explores the Biblical account of the origins of the universe and the creation of life on Earth.
- The Theory of Evolution, Part I and Part II - a guide to Darwin's original theory and the developments since.
- Discrepancies in the Theory of Evolution, Part I and Part II a Creationist guide to possible flaws in current interpretations of the evidence for evolution.
- Creation - Fundamental(ist) Errors - a defence of evolution, answering specific Creationist arguments.
- The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis - a look at a controversial theory that takes a view of human evolution differing from the current scientific consensus.
Creationism and Christianity
- The 'Evolution' of Creationism - explains the origins of Creationism and the different responses of Creationists to Darwin's theories.
- Creationism and Creation Science - a Perspective - a look at some of the arguments used by Creationists, and the attitudes of more mainstream Christians.
- Creation - a Mainstream Christian Viewpoint - a detailed look at how mainstream Christianity views the Genesis creation account.
- Creationism in the UK - looks at how Creationism and evolution are taught in some schools and colleges in the UK in 2002.
By necessity the following definitions are not comprehensive. For instance, there are not one or two types of Creationist, but a spectrum of Creationist belief, ranging from those Christians who regard the book of Genesis as an engaging metaphor about God's role as originator of all things, to those fundamentalists who believe the Old Testament is a literal historical account, and therefore that it is possible to calculate the specific day on which the earth was created. Similarly, although the man in the street knows a little about the theory of evolution, there is a degree of debate in the scientific community as to how exactly it works. But, for the purposes of this project, the following definitions are worth noting.
The belief that, one way or the other, life on earth was created by the direct intervention of (the specifically Christian) God. Creationism implies a belief in the truth of the Creation story as related in the book of Genesis, although opinions vary as to how literally this book should be interpreted.
The main point of Creationism appears to be to influence educational policy, and in that sense it may be reasonably described as a political as well as a religious movement. Specifically, Creationists, where they exist, attempt with varying degrees of success to affect science teaching in one of two ways. If possible, they try to prevent the theory of evolution being taught in schools at all. Where that is not possible, they attempt to ensure that creationism is taught alongside evolution, in science classes, and that evolution is portrayed as being 'just a theory', inferior to the theory of creation.
'Old Earth' Creationist
Describes those people who believe that the earth is billions of years old, as the scientific evidence would suggest, and that God created it and divinely guided life to its present form by direct intervention in natural processes. These people lean toward interpreting Genesis metaphorically.
'New Earth' Creationist
Describes people who believe that the earth is less than ten thousand years old, and that life on earth is basically now in the same form as it has always been. In general, they believe in a literal interpretation of the Old Testament.
A recent trend in the Creationist movement, proponents of 'intelligent design' do not make reference to God or religion, but instead point to features of living systems that they believe are not adequately explained by the accepted scientific theories. They contend that certain elements of life, and in particular its staggering complexity, rule out any natural origin and instead imply that life was somehow 'designed' by an intelligent agency. Unlike mainstream Creationists, who are very specifically Christians, they do not necessarily claim to have an answer to the question 'designed by whom?'.
The theory that species on earth arise from simpler forms due to natural selection. Further, the belief that all life on earth originated by scientifically explicable, natural processes, without any need for an external guiding agent.
One who believes in the theory of evolution. More especially, one who tries to point out where Creationist views conflict with the accepted scientific view. This term carries an implication of vocal opposition to the Creationist viewpoint.