Origin of Humanity: By Creation or Evolution?
Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has been asking the question of how the world and, in particular, humans came to be. Many explanations regarding the universe’s origins have been presented throughout history, and these include creation myths from various cultures as well as scientific explanations. Two theories, in particular, have come to dominate the discussion: creationism and the theory of evolution by natural selection. Some assert that creationism and evolution are not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, putting these two theories side by side reveals differences in explaining the origin of humanity. This essay will discuss creationism and the theory of evolution.
What is creationism? How does creationism relate to life and abortion?
The Creationism Belief
Creationism is the belief that the universe including everything in it was created by a supreme being. A creationist is someone who rejects scientific findings of how the universe came to be. Even if there is a supreme being involved, this does not necessarily mean that it is divine or that it is pertaining to God. Therefore, contrary to popular beliefs, creationism is not tied to a particular religion since non-Christians also have their own religion's belief of how the universe and everything in it came to be.
Creationism in the broadest sense refers to creation accounts espoused by various cultures thus creating a myriad of creationist views. There are traditional creationists who believe in what was presented in the Holy Bible. That according to the Book of Genesis, God created the universe in six days from nothing. And then there are the Young Earth creationists who believe that the Earth is actually, more or less, just 6,000 years old. Finally, there are the Intelligent Design creationists who hold that a higher being is the proponent of the process of evolution.
Traditional creationist views vary in their interpretation of the story in the Holy Bible. Some take the Book of Genesis quite literally in that they argue that the world was indeed created in the span of six days. Others, by contrast, take a more progressive view by asserting that the biblical account was but an allegory for the actual billion years-long process of evolution that God made possible. The progressive traditional creationists assert that it is virtually impossible to create and evolve so much in the span of seven days.
A customary reading of the creation account in Genesis indicates that God has existed all along, even before the existence of time itself. Traditional creationism, therefore, is more concerned with how the divine being created the world. It does not concern itself with the question of where the divine being came from in the first place and instead presupposes that it has existed for eternity. It also insinuates that the how and why the divine being exists are no longer matters of inquiry. The acceptance of the supernatural is essential to the viability of this doctrine. Finally, the scope of this perspective is all-encompassing, as it claims to explain the origins of the entire universe.
Next, the Young Earth creationists believe both the scriptures literally and that the Earth is only 6,000 to 12,000 years old, in line with the span of time as told in chapters 5-11 of the book of Genesis. They believe that all existing things or beings had been created as they were in a short span of time. The great flood as told in Noah’s Ark supposedly completely changed the Earth’s landscape and is the reason behind the unearthed fossils and some, if not all, rock formations and layers.
The literal history of the Book of Genesis, up to chapter 11, is believed to be the foundation of truth. Young Earth creationists believe that the question of the age of the Earth and of creation itself is the same as questioning the truth and the Holy Bible. That is why Young Earth creationists simply cannot accept the scientist's take on evolution and the Earth being a million years old. For them, the truth of the Holy Bible shall prevail since it coincides with historical accounts and calculations of how much time has passed since the first chapter of Genesis.
Intelligent Design avoids any explicit mentions of God and instead leaves the identity of the creator open for interpretation. This was formulated to refute Charles Darwin's theory of evolution while using creationism as the base. They believe a being was made as is by an intelligent designer and that a living being is much too complex. Therefore making it virtually impossible to alter a part of that being for it will cease functioning.
Unlike the traditional and Young Earth creationists, Intelligent Design creationists have scientific backings, which is why some of the other creationists refuse to accept it. Even if Intelligent Design creationism isn't focused on proving creation as it was told in the Holy Bible, it is still considered a creationist view because they reject the theory of evolution.
While creationist views slightly differ from each other, what can be surmised is that this doctrine’s approach to explaining the origin of humanity relies on the existence of a supreme, divine being that predates the universe itself.
The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection
The theory of evolution by natural selection, on the other hand, takes a more and evidence-based approach. Developed primarily by the naturalist Charles Darwin, the central tenet of this theory asserts that life on Earth began with single-cell microorganisms. These organisms became more complex and diversified over time through a series of genetic variations. Thus, eventually accounting for the diverse species that exist today. An important component of this theory is the mechanism called natural selection, a topic that has been touched on in biology class.
Simply put, natural selection is the survival of species due to certain traits that they develop through genetic variation. They then pass on the traits that they have acquired to offspring which makes the next generation evolve. The more useful the acquired traits are for thriving and adapting, the greater the chance of the species to survive over time. This can be related to how students learn to adjust and survive in college . Natural selection is also the reason why scientists have found some seemingly "unuseful" parts of the body in both humans and animals.
Scientists have found that all living beings, while segregated by class, share a common ancestor. A class is in the middle of the taxonomic rank and is a group of organisms that share a common attribute. They have found that organisms evolve and change as time passes. It is for this reason that in the present, there is a diversity in species. Over time, a specie develops or discards a trait or feature depending on what is needed for them to survive.
Unlike creationism, the theory of evolution does not rely on the existence of a divine being or a supernatural force that created the universe out of nothing. Instead, it concerns itself with explaining how the world’s species came to be and how they continue to change by looking at concrete scientific evidence. In evolution, it is believed that every living thing here on Earth has pre-existing types and had gone through modifications.
While evolution rejects the idea that the universe was fashioned by a supreme being, it acknowledges that the origins of the universe and how exactly it formed and developed are still unknown. Unlike creationism, though, the scope of this theory is limited as it does not attempt to explain how the universe came to be. However, it recognizes these questions as matters of inquiry that can be answered through continuous research.
Creationism and evolution are today the two dominant doctrines that attempt to explain the origins of humanity. While creationism purports that the universe was created by a supreme or rather divine being, the theory of evolution by natural selection asserts that the world’s species developed over billions of years through genetic variations. The fundamental difference between the two, therefore, is creationism’s integration of a supernatural force in the form of a supreme being or deity. By contrast, evolution does not rely on this supernatural force and instead depends on concrete scientific data.
While the two views are often considered antithesis to each other, it must be noted that there are attempts to reconcile the two, and thus it would be more accurate to consider them as the two ends of a broad spectrum of perspectives.
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Ruse, M. (2018). Creationism. From The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/creationism/