Relationship between evolution and religion

Overview: The Conflict Between Religion and Evolution | Pew Research Center

relationship between evolution and religion

Updated February 3, Almost years after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species by Means of. Evolution and Religion discusses some of the issues that are often referred to when Data is analyzed and relationships between data (laws) are described. Evolution. Jul;63(7) doi: /jx. Epub Apr The relationship between evolutionary biology and religion.

At least some of the offspring will inherit these new traits and carry them on to the following generations.

relationship between evolution and religion

Offspring with less favourable traits will slowly diminish and over the course of many generations this process will preserve some traits while reducing others, gradually transforming species. Why is there a controversy about modern Darwinism?

The explanation of evolution according to Charles Darwin appears to be straightforward and easily understood. Subsequent researchers have gone on to add to his extensive body of evidence for evolution.

The rediscovery of Mendel's work on inheritance provided a mechanism for heredity that was not available to Darwin, and scientists continue to add to our understanding of genetics and molecular biology.

The new data that have been added have caused controversy amongst the scientific community. For example, we now know that evolution does not always occur by the mechanism of natural selection. Early eukaryotic cells first appeared as a result of endosymbiosiswith the result that the cells thus formed acquired a set of features instantaneously rather than by the slow, gradual process that Darwin envisaged.

In fact, the speed of evolution - but NOT the fact of evolution itself - has been the subject of healthy debate among evolutionary biologists.

While Darwinian evolution assumes the gradual evolution of traits, in some circumstances evolutionary events may occur very rapidly and are then followed by long periods of stasis, a phenomenon known as punctuated equilibrium. Fossil fraud, has also contributed to a flawing of Darwin's ideas. The very lucrative business of fossil trading has resulted in some cases proving to be hoaxes that undermine the work of many honest and hard working evolutionary biologists.


The existing debates within the field of evolutionary biology are a part of the normal scientific process. They do not negate the fact that evolution has occurred, but centre on the concept that natural selection is not the only mechanism by which evolution can progress.

Read more about Darwin and his ideas in: Birkett K The Essence of Darwinism. Darwin C The Origin of Species.

relationship between evolution and religion

Jastrow R Ed The essential Darwin. Little, Brown and Company. Specialists' panel Various specialists have stated here why the acceptance of evolution poses no threat to their faith, or to them teaching evolution at school. The convergence, neither sought nor induced, of results of work done independently one from the other, constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.

The sciences of observation describe and measure with ever greater precision the multiple manifestations of life and place them on a timeline. The moment of passing over to the spiritual is not the object of an observation of this type, which can nevertheless reveal, on an experimental level, a series of very useful signs about the specificity of the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of the awareness of self and of its reflexive nature, that of the moral conscience, that of liberty, or still yet the aesthetic and religious experience, are within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection, while theology extracts from it the final meaning according to the Creator's designs.

5 facts about evolution and religion

HTM Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould has frequently argued that science and religion deal with two separate realms and seek to answer different questions; he sees no conflict between the two: Theology and religious views should not be confused with science.

There is a very vocal minority of Minnesotans who are passionately determined to have the theory of "intelligent design" offered as an alternative to the scientific theory of biological evolution. The theory of intelligent design -- while an interesting, and for some a compelling argument -- is not a scientific theory.

The science that underlies biological evolution should not be minimized to appease this group. Allow me to briefly explain my understanding of how science works. Data is analyzed and relationships between data laws are described. Explanations as to how the world works theories are proposed.

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Predictions are made based on the observations, relationships, and explanations. These predictions are checked for their validity, and the relationships and explanations are verified or altered. Laws are statements -- usually mathematical -- that describe cause-and-effect relationships.

Indeed, most scientists argue that, for all practical purposes, evolution through natural selection is a fact. See Darwin and His Theory of Evolution. These scientists and others dismiss creation science as religion, not science, and describe intelligent design as little more than creationism dressed up in scientific jargon.

So if evolution is as established as the theory of gravity, why are people still arguing about it a century and a half after it was first proposed? The answer lies, in part, in the possible theological implications of evolutionary thinking. For many, the Darwinian view of life — a panorama of brutal struggle and constant change — goes beyond contradicting the biblical creation story and conflicts with the Judeo-Christian concept of an active and loving God who cares for his creation.

5 facts about evolution and religion | Pew Research Center

For example, the Texas Board of Education recently debated what kinds of biology textbooks students should and should not read. See Fighting Over Darwin: And while evolution may not attain the same importance as such culture war issues as abortion or same-sex marriage, the topic is likely to have a place in national debates on values for many years to come. Every scientist operates with a deterministic view of the physical world at the working level irrespective of which theoretical perspective they might favor ; indeed it is hard to see how one could do science if one did not operate with this assumption.

Does it include reliable technology based on quantum mechanics, but not the measurement of individual quantum events? It is also unclear why he thinks the practice of science presupposes a causal determinism strict enough to predetermine the exact outcome of the evolution of life on earth. The looseness of this first argument might perhaps be explained by the force Sweetman grants to his second argument for determinism, the clearest statement of which also comes in his discussion of quantum mechanics: From a logical point of view, it is not clear that such a notion is even intelligible.

And if a notion seems to be logically unintelligible, we should be very reluctant to accept it. Unfortunately, this appeal to something like the principle of sufficient reason raises questions about Sweetman's understanding of human freedom and of divine action. Free will, he writes, is "outside the deterministic process of cause and effect," since free decisions are based on reasons that "do not causally compel me in the scientific sense" Are such decisions therefore exceptions to the logical principle that supports a completely deterministic account of nature?

Is the principle in question not that everything requires a deterministic cause, but only that natural or physical events require such causes? If so, why is this a logical truth rather than a particular truth about beings that lack intelligence and freedom? The attempt to support a deterministic interpretation of the natural order by appealing to something like the principle of sufficient reason runs into deeper problems when we consider divine action in nature.

The basic difficulty is that the God of traditional Christian theism is perfectly capable of bringing about physical events in the absence of deterministic physical causes.

The relationship between evolutionary biology and religion.

Sweetman himself recognizes this fact. Not only does he accept the possibility of miracles; he also observes that "the only possible way for an effect to occur by chance is for God to intervene and bring it about, but then this is not genuine chance" From a certain point of view, this last statement is perfectly reasonable. One might reasonably accept the principle of sufficient reason, and therefore hold that there is no chance in any absolute sense.

One might further hold when a natural event appears to occur by chance, it either i has deterministic natural causes of which we are ignorant or ii results directly from a divine decision.

relationship between evolution and religion

As soon as one allows the second possibility, however, it becomes perfectly conceivable that the occurrence of determinate outcomes in the absence of deterministic natural causes should be an everyday part of the natural order. From a purely scientific perspective, moreover, it would be correct to describe such outcomes as occurring by chance, even though their occurrence is determined by divine providence.

It would also be misleading to describe God as "intervening" in such cases, not only because the outcomes might have real, nondeterministic natural causes, but also because the outcomes would be ordinary natural occurrences.

Similarly, by the way, one might also decline to follow Sweetman in treating every deterministic causal chain, however unusual or convoluted, as somehow aiming at its own outcome.

relationship between evolution and religion

One might prefer to follow Aristotle, identifying and individuating causal processes in term of typical rather than actual outcomes, and then attributing to chance goal-like outcomes that are due to the intersection of distinct causal processes so individuated. Outcomes of this sort, too, would still be subject to divine providence.

Now Sweetman is probably correct in supposing that many of his opponents are committed to the existence of chance in a much deeper sense -- that they wish, in other words, to treat the evolution of life in general and of human beings in particular as undetermined by any cause whatsoever, whether natural or divine.