Questions-Answers: Darwin's theory
What is evolution? Describe how Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection provides a plausible mechanism for evolution.
The point of view which describes the main world processes through the prism of evolution always existed in the history of thought. Charles Darwin was that scientist who integrated these evolutionary views and different data he discovered during his researching voyage around the world in the theory of evolution. According to Darwin, evolution is based on the concept of natural selection. The environment plays a very important part in this process. It influences its inhabitants and determines what part of population will have more advantages in certain situations. For example, when some part of animals developed specific qualities and adapted to certain new conditions of their existence in a higher degree than those who did not have these qualities, the first group of animals will have bigger chances of survival than the second one; thus, the qualities that helped them do it will remain in their breed. In such a way, from time to time, the nature determines certain conditions, selects a part of living beings and chooses them to become the base of the next generation. In today's science this process is explained as a change in allele frequency in a population over time. Interpreted through the prism of genetics, evolution can be understood as natural prevalence of dominant genes over recessive ones in every new population.
How have scientists tried to distinguish their work from religion?
The establishment, development and sharing of the theory of evolution made some representatives of church deny it and, in such a way, to compete with Darwin's theory as with the point of view which differs from the Christian creationism. In order to show the logical mistake which took place in this confrontation between religion and science, scientists offered four theses concerning the distinction between them.
First of all, science interprets not spiritual, but physical reality. The subject of scientific observation does not need scientist's religious faith for approval of its existence. Science offers theoretical knowledge which can be falsified, while religion is based on divine revelation which has indisputable authority. Scientific methodology differs from the religious one and is grounded on the rational form of knowledge, experience and critical thinking. The function of science also differs from the function of religion. Science tries to explain and explore the material world in accordance with human needs. Religion exists to teach people how to live properly and to survive spiritually after physical death. Such approach to science and religion is an attempt to draw the line between them.
Why have US courts consistently rejected attempts to require public schools to teach creationism or intelligent design?
Creationism and its more developed form – intelligent design – interpret the world as the result of the act of creation which was realized by the highest being – God. First, when the theory of evolution was only established by Charles Darwin, church tried to deny it because the Christian paradigm of world origin defended the concept of the fixity of species, disputed by Darwin as uncertain. When evolutionary theory possessed the place of the main scientific view on the world, creationists could not neglect it – they had to start to compete with the theory which became too powerful. The theory of intelligent design was created for this purpose as a scientific form of creationism. Besides, both pure creationism and intelligent design contain the main core which differs them from science, which is represented by Darwin's theory. This important detail is the religious basement, the belief in transcendent Creator of the Universe, and His will, which cannot be observed and proved through the methods of science. That is why US courts cannot equalize creationism and intelligent design with the theory of evolution.
According to the authors, why should the Christian commitment to truth lead Christians to support Darwinian and neo-Darwinian scientific research?
Darwinian and neo-Darwinian researches are based on scientific methodology, rational understanding of the world. Christianity exists to make people free through the ultimate truth. The fertility of the theory of evolution can be learned through the evidence of researching results. There is no doubt that the views which connect Darwinism with atheistic materialism, social Darwinism, eugenics etc. are very popular. Such a situation is determined by widespread tendency to misinterpretation of scientific theories with the help of ideological prism. Certainly, some people always try to use every idea to control others – in such a way the Darwinian model was perverted.
According to the authors of the article, there is no need and no reason in competition between religion and scientific theory: they can effectively serve for different human purposes, and science can be an instrument of critical and rational understanding of God's creation. The theory of evolution, as a very fertile theory, can provide the way to some fields of truth to which Jesus Christ calls his disciples.
In your own words, please explain what the authors mean when they write that the neo-Darwinian model is very fertile? Please explain one of their three examples of this fertility.
The neo-Darwinian model is fertile because it brings many results that can be applied in direct practice (medical field, for example) or for development of scientific knowledge as effective prism of understanding of the world and the processes of its development. The authors offer an example of evolutionary theory usage in medical practice.
The modern world is under the threat of avian influenza – a very dangerous disease that can become pandemic. The dangerous character of it for people is connected with avian influenza's origin: it appears from combining human influenza with its bird version. Through different mutations influenza virus can become lethal to the human race. Influenza caused pandemic in 1918; that event was the first great realization of avian influenza's immense danger. In 2005, the body of a 1918 pandemic's victim was taken to expertise. Now scientists have a good opportunity to learn in what way influenza's mutations realized; these data can help virologists to prevent the world of new pandemic. Such research is based on the theory of evolution, because it describes and helps to understand such mutations and the appearance of avian influenza virus.
That is why the theory of evolution is very fertile: it is the prism through which scientists can understand and observe the real processes of natural changing and, in such a way, to get useful results that may help the society in different situations.
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