Brew 13 May 1996 Intelligent Design of the Universe The search for knowledge about the origin of humanity is as old as its inhabitants. Since the early 1800’s mankind has narrowed the debate to creation by a Supreme Being and the theory of evolution. Ever since then, science has been at odds against religion. Now it appears that science is returning to religion. Scientists are finding proof that the universe was created by a Supreme Being. The word evolution refers to the change of something over a period of time(Webster’s 634). In biology, the theory of evolution is “the complex of processes by which living organisms originated on earth and have been diversified and modified through sustained changes in form and function”(Valentine). This theory proposes that between 4 million and 10 million years ago, all organisms on earth had a common ancestor and that through a process of evolution, all living organisms descended from this common ancestor(Coyne).
Chevalier de Lamarck, a French naturalist proposed a theory of evolution in 1809. His idea did not get much scientific consideration until Charles R. Darwin announced his theory of evolution(Coyne). Darwin published “his most famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”(Valentine) in 1859.
Darwin stated that offspring resemble their parents, yet they are not exactly identical to them. He also noted that some of these differences were not effects of their environment, but actually were passed down from parents to children(Valentine). Darwin is the most well known scientist to write on evolution. There are many different variations on the theory of evolution. Darwin states that natural selection is the main reason for the evolution of life.
The fight for food, water and other necessities benefits those creatures who are well adapted for the struggle. Those that cannot survive, die with no offspring to continue their genetic line. Natural selection is also called survival of the fittest. Another related idea to evolution is gradualism.
“Gradualism is the idea that evolutionary changes do not occur suddenly but over large amounts of time, ranging from decades to millions of years”(Coyne). Genetic drift is another way that scientists define evolution. When two of a species mate, their offspring gets 23 chromosomes from both parents. When a gene does not split and combine correctly, a mutation occurs. This mutation will get passed down from the creature to its offspring. In this way a species can permanently be changed(Coyne).
Scientists who have accepted the general theory of evolution as fact disagree among themselves about the ratio of importance between natural selection and genetic drift. They also disagree about what caused the apparent gaps in fossil layers. New species “abruptly”(Valentine) appear in the fossil record with no apparent mutation from another species, then remain unchanged for long periods of time. They do not seem to exhibit the gradual changes that would be expected by modern evolutionists(Valentine).
Many people, including those in the scientific community, do not accept the theory of evolution as fact. When Darwin was alive, his theory was attacked by many scientists and religious leaders(Coyne). In the 1900’s, United States public high schools began teaching evolution in science classes. By the 1920’s, laws in twenty states to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools had been proposed by people who did not want their children being indoctrinated. “They considered the teaching of the theory to be part of a dangerous trend toward the separation of religious beliefs from everyday life”(Coyne). Several of the proposed laws were passed into effect in states including Arkansas and Tennessee. “The ACLU challenged the Tennessee law in 1925 by defending a teacher named John T.
Scopes, who had volunteered to stand trial on the charge of teaching evolution”(Coyne). The ACLU lost the case but because of bad press, creationists appeared ignorant to science. However, in 1968 the Supreme Court of the United States “ruled that laws banning the teaching of evolution were unconstitutional because they made religious considerations part of the curriculum”(Coyne). The courts continue to give rulings on creation and evolution in schools, some have come as recently as 1987(Coyne).
The fight to keep evolution out of the classroom is still persevering. Those who are