November 24th saw the 156th anniversary of Charles Darwin ’s famous work that sparked an international and ongoing war between religion and science. Even today, there are mass amounts of people who refuse to believe that humans and apes share a common ancestor.
Its full title is ”On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”. It was published in 1859 and is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. The main idea behind it is that the individuals more able to survive the environment are able to live longer and thus produce more offspring. More offspring means that its genetic material will exist more. An accumulation of small changes in animals and organisms lead to new species.
There is a major clash with this theory in that it contradicts the biblical account of creation. In this account, we are not the product of evolutionary events but are the creation of an omnipotent being that, not only created us in a day, but the entire planet in just six days. Not all Christians are against evolution, however. More fundamentalist Christians that take a more literal translation of the Bible have issues with evolutionary.
Believe it or not, Darwin is not the start of the thought of evolution. The idea can be traced back to Aristotle who began to classify organisms based on their traits. For example, he thought that the dolphin should not be classified as a fish due to its ability to nurse its young with milk and breath water not with gills but with lungs. He even laid the foundation of DNA by saying that information was passed on from parent to child somehow.
While Darwin ’s work may have not been the starting point for the thought of evolution, it certainly was a climatic event that forced religious entities to really take sides. Either the biblical account was supported or it wasn’t. In the eyes of some, if the biblical account was taken into question then the very notion of God comes into question. That is the reason why some see Darwin’s theory of evolution not as a scientific work but an oppressive move to eradicate the foundations of Christian dogma.
To add on to this complication of acceptance of this theory, for evolution to work the timeline of the Earth has to be millions of years. The biblical timeline only accounts for about 6,000 years. Those who take a literal belief in the Bible believe the Earth to be around 6,000 years old. They arrive at this number by basically counting the number of generations from Jesus back to Adam. Major supporters of this theory include Ken Hamm who actually runs a museum devoted to this belief.
The acceptance or even consideration of Darwin ‘s theory of evolution by fundamentalist Christians requires two major changes to the belief in the bible. The first one being that the Earth was not created in just six days and neither were we created in one. The second is that the age of the Earth cannot be around 6,000 years old.
In summary, the acceptance of evolution in the Christian community is slowed due to the fact that if it is accepted, the very approach to how the Bible is translated by fundamentalists must be changed.