This paper discusses the possibility that fear is the reason why creationists don’t believe in the charles Darwin’s theory on natural selection, better known as, evolution. The amount of scientists and Americans seem to be on the side of Darwin, but there is still a large percentage of Americans that reject all of the studies, research and discoveries made in the pursuit of where we all came from.
Keywords: creationists, natural selection, evolution
The theory of evolution is the scientific explanation that people, animals, plants, organisms all of kinds, change and adapt over time to be better suited to their environment. The theory is received by most in the scientific community as undeniable and yet, just throughout the United States, the topic is hotly debated by many. The most prominent group among the doubters, know as creationists, are christians that like to refer to themselves as scientists that hold a very firm belief in the bible from a literary standpoint and don’t sway on the subject that all species are made exactly as they are by a divine creator in the beginning of time. With all of the research and experimentation, coupled with all of the discoveries that have been made in advancing the theory and filling in gaps of knowledge that there are, why is Darwin’s theory on evolution still debated? Why do christians in particular struggle with the concept of life evolving over time? All of the reasons are probably infinite, and not something that can be covered in just one paper, but one that seems to stand out amongst the rest is: fear.
While fear might not be every creationists reason for doubting the theory of evolution, it seems to be the biggest issue for individuals who believe in intelligent design or the fixity of species. Both ideas come from the bible, that everything in and on the earth was made by divine intervention. Even if science and religion are both able to provide explanations about the natural world, one process does not need faith in order to be shown as actuality.
When he got back home to England, Darwin started to realize that certain species of finches were equipped with beaks that allowed different types of eating habits. He realized that, naturally, specific finches would do better than others, depending on the environmental requirements. This led to the discovery that, some finches were better at surviving in a specific environment because of certain adaptations, which let them breed more and become more dominant a species. That process over millions of years led to new kinds of species arising. As important a discovery that was, Darwin was criticised by many christians in his day, and that hasn’t changed much over the years.
“More than a century and a half after the publication of On the Origin of Species, the debate over evolution is far from over, especially in the United States and increasingly in several Muslim countries.” (Jurmain, Kilgore, and Trevathan, Bartlink, 2017, p. 43)
However, it doesn’t seem to be something that scientists are having trouble believing in or understanding. Jurmain, Kilgore, and Trevathan, Bartlink, (2017) go on to suggest that the biological community in particular finds evolution “indisputable”. So there is an ongoing debate that has one side agreeing with Darwin’s theory of evolution over time, and another side that believes that earth and the inhabitants thereof, were made perfectly as they are now, no time needed.
It has been 137 years after Charles Darwin’s death and 160 years since “On the Origin of Species”, (Darwin’s own publications on his discoveries surrounding natural selection) was written. Today, according to the pew-poll conducted on evolutionary belief statistics (Masci, 2017) , the majority of scientists agree that the theory of evolution is correct and that Darwin’s research was and is still correct. Phillip M. Boffey, in his article in the New York Times (1982) says it best when describing these scientists view:
“Like any scientific theory, the theory of evolution will be subject to challenge and change as new facts and difficulties emerge. In the latest issue of the journal Science, Stephen Jay Gould, a leader of the punctuated equilibrium school, argues that Darwinism and the modern synthesis are ”incomplete, not incorrect.””
So then what is the creationism problem? The problem is, once again, fear.
If someone were to be told that something that they have believed in their whole life was wrong, they would probably not be convinced just because that’s what they were being told. One cannot just say that something is not true because that’s what they say or think. One would need proof. But that’s exactly what the theory of evolution offers people who are willing to dig into it and dig deeper and listen to experts who have done research and tests and experiments.
Creationists who look at the theory (or maybe even don’t) and refuse to accept it at all are very close-minded, scared individuals. If you take away something that someone has believed from a zealot-like view or not, all their lives, they can either accept it without proof, make up their own mind, or in the case of the creationists, hide behind a book that says ‘God did it all, there can be no doubt, unless you are wicked’. John Crothers said it best in his opening paragraph for his review of “Evolution vs Creationism” (2011), that there isn’t “any inherent conflict between ‘Science’ and ‘Religion’, perceiving these two systems to be complementary rather than contradictory”. If a creationist sees evolution being taught in the public school system and no mention of their God anywhere in the texts as well as a threat to themselves and their children, then it’s only out of fear. Fear that if one thing they believe in is wrong, what else could be?
Religion most certainly does not need science to back it up, because it will always be right no matter what anyone says about it, to the congregation anyway. But what’s wrong with believing what you want to believe without it causing problems or spreading misinformation, why can’t people be content that Darwin made an amazing discovery that has lead to many advancements today in how we understand our natural world? Because fear is apparently more important than the truth.
- Jurmain, R. (2017). Essentials of physical anthropology. Cengage Learning, Vol 10, p 43.
- David, M. (2017). http://www.pewresearch.org. For Darwin Day, 6 Facts About the Evolutionary Debate, p1. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/10/darwin-day/
- Boffey, P. (1982). https://www.nytimes.com. 100 Years After Darwins Death, His Theory Still Lives On, (April 20, 1998), p00002. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1982/04/20/science/100-years-after-darwin-s-death-his-theory-still-evolves.html
- Crothers, J. (2011). Evolution vs creationism. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, p234-235. 2p