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Charles Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory


Evolution can be defined, in general terms, as any process of change over time (Evolution-Def. 2010, par.1). Evolution is a theory that was first developed by Charles Darwin, who is considered the father of evolution. Development of explanations as regards to the existence of man started to emerge long ago and they were in contrast with the biblical explanation of man’s origin. These explanations started to emerge as scientists were researching on rocks and they had found that man came to existence after vast periods when there was other creatures that existed before man (Bowler 1989, 2; 2003, 2). The evolutionists developed the idea that the possibility of these creatures were as a result of the laws of nature rather than miracles (divine). This, therefore, explained the human race as a mere species of animals, superior apes (Bowler 2003, 2). Furthermore this can be related to biological evolution, which refers to a theory that all living things are descendants (modified) of a common ancestor that existed long ago (Barton 2007, 7). It also portrays that man descended from apes, which also descended from more primitive creatures (Wells 2002, 4). This is the basis of Darwin’s theory that the human race was as a result of evolution. This theory aroused strong passions and to date there is still strong resistance for this theory. This was so much from a religious point of view who insists that the history of life can only be explained biblically, the book of Genesis (Bowler 2).

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Some other philosophers and moralists have criticized scientific theories, of which Darwin’s evolution theory is, saying that there is no interpretation of nature that is completely free from the values of the people who articulate them (Bowler 2). This suggests that these theories are subjective and therefore, they cannot be fully relied upon to give a clear explanation about the origin of life. These contradicting views that affect the relationship of man’s existence and the natural world will therefore form the basis for our discussion. The essay, therefore, will discuss the problems of evolution theory as it was projected by Charles Darwin.

Problems/ challenge of Evolution Theory

Darwin’s theory portrays that there is no difference that is fundamental between man and other higher mammals (primates) in their faculties of mind. He viewed that they share intellectual capacities that range from attentiveness to reasoning (Pope 189). Darwin in his opinion never saw any inherent conflict between evolution and human dignity. However, Darwin’s detractors felt otherwise regarding his opinion and theory on evolution. The challenge of Darwinian Theory is more from the theological point of view. The following is an analysis of the Darwinian challenge.

Firstly, Samuel Wilberforce, who was a bishop of Oxford, was the first to register worries about the origin of man as portrayed by Charles Darwin. He argued that that man’s power of articulate speech, reason, free will and responsibility were as a result of the fact that man was created, and by the image of God. This is contrary to Darwinian Theory which degrades the origin of man and the dignity of man from other animals (Pope 190). The Darwinian Theory is seen to lead to human worth degradation.

Secondly, William Jennings was of the conviction that common descent could only lead to social and personal immorality. He was arguing that if people came from monkeys, then we cannot expect people not to act like monkeys. The claims of having monkey ancestry, loosens the ethical restraints on the way we take life. He linked this with the way people could wage wars and the way that life could no longer be a big issue as regards to abortion. He continued to argue that if animals are perceived to only have instrumental worth, then humans too have instrumental worth only. This means that humans have no intrinsic moral worth, as they do not have rationality that is there because of the soul, therefore there is no rationality. Raising the level of animals closer to that of man, he continues, does not help at all. Escalating the values that animals have is accompanied to lowering the level and values of man (Pope 192).

Thirdly, John Paul II sees evolution to presuppose creation. His greatest reservation concerning evolution theory was from a moral concern. He argued that nature should not be interpreted in a way that should downgrade the dignity of human beings. He, therefore, disagrees that the soul of a human being can evolve from matter. The belief of creation of soul safeguards the dignity of human beings. It is only the body that can be noted in terms of evolution but not the soul, he argued. The spiritual soul can only be explained as a creation from God. He further argued that the fact that we are created in the image of God, we can be able to be in communion with God and with one another. Art, science and work are some of the avenues that human dignity is expressed (Pope 196).

Lastly we can site the fact that there are forces that operate in the universe that can only be related to the existence of a deity who is superior to man and animals in the universe. The forces and energies of nature can only be sensed, but their source is not revealed to us (Paley, James and John 231). Also the fact that humans are more privileged than animals in that they have five senses, more than that of the animals. It shows that there is a being that is superior whose personality we can not explain, and is responsible for the arrangement of the universe (Paley et al1860, 231). It is, therefore, concluded that the way nature works is as a result of intelligence and design from the creator (Paley et al 233). The views of nature have, therefore, deduced the suits in which our intellects universally enters into the idea of God (Paley et al 246), and this explains the existence of humans and why we have religions.

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The evolution theory was developed by Charles Darwin and it tries to explain the source of life as a process of change overtime, and how humans are not any different from other forms of higher animal species. This has, however, been criticized as it is demeaning the dignity of the existence of humans and the fact that they were created and not evolved. The criticisms are more from a religious point of view that try to explain that the source of life can only be explained through the divine way, from the book of Genesis. The argument being that the soul can evolve from matter and have a sense of reasoning and moral responsibility, and thus there is a greater power that is beyond human imagination, and science, that is responsible for the way things are in the universe and which is considered as the source of life, not evolution from matter. Furthermore, the issue of a common ancestry would be demeaning and would therefore, be ruled out hence the Darwinian Theory is not the best way to explain the source of life, as it is a mere scientific approach which is prone to subjectivity.

Works Cited

Barton, Wells. Evolution. New York: CSHL Press, 2007. Print.

Bowler, Peter. Evolution: The History of an Idea. 2nd Ed. California: California University Press, 1989. Print.

Bowler, Peter. Evolution: The History of an Idea.3rd Ed. California: California University Press, 2003. Print.

Paley, William, James Paxton and Ware, John. Natural Theology: or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Michigan: Gould and Lincoln, 1860. Print.

Pope, Stephen. Human Evolution and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.

Wells, Jonathan. Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth?: why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2002. Print.

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