Evolution is supported by strong evidence and is a widely accepted scientific theory, so why do some Christians and Muslims still reject it?
Firstly I would like to point out that not all Christians and Muslims reject evolution. Some even go as far to say it is metaphorically described in the Bible and Qur’an. Even some creationists are now saying that micro-evolution* is possible. However there are still a large portion that reject evolution.
To put this in perspective, about 1/3 of America and just under 1/5 in the UK still reject evolution, and this is usually due to a lack of understanding, or it being taught improperly in schools.
*Please note, micro & macro evolution are terms misused by creationists. This is covered further down the article.
This article is split in to 2 key parts:
- Page 1: Common Arguments Used to Reject Evolution
- Page 2: Reasons why Christians and Muslims Reject Evolution
Common Arguments Used to Reject Evolution
- It’s just a theory.
- It doesn’t make sense.
- There is no evidence of evolution.
- You can’t see evolution happening today.
- Evolution means something came from nothing.
- There are no examples of transitional fossils.
- You don’t see one animal turning into another.
- If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
- It is mathematically impossible.
- Lots of people don’t believe in evolution.
- You weren’t there man!
- Carbon Dating is Inaccurate.
Evolution is just a theory
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world. It is acquired through the scientific method. It is repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation.
Perhaps a simpler version is to describe the scientific method in short bullet points:
So what is “Just a theory”?
The theory you are thinking of is simply an idea, guess or supposition. Even abstract thought and speculation could come under these terms. If evolution was indeed “just a theory” instead of a scientific theory then I would understand its refutation. However it IS a scientific theory, and therefore it has been acquired through the scientific method. Ergo repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation. As such its rejection makes little sense.
If you are interested there are tonnes of sites out there, but I think thinking-critically.com describes the differences between the two very well here: http://thinking-critically.com/2010/07/08/theory-scientific-vs-laymans-definition/
Evolution doesn’t make sense
I get it, there is a lot to take in. It is much easier to switch off your mind and think “God did it”.
Lets briefly examine the Bible and Qur’an alternative to humans having evolved.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
“Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging; then We fashioned the drop into a clot, then We fashioned the clot into a little lump, then We fashioned the little lump into bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators!” [23:12-14]
“It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old,- though of you there are some who die before;- and lets you reach a term appointed; in order that you may learn wisdom.” [40:67]
Apparently you think being created out of dust or mud makes more sense than slow changes over millions of years to suit one’s environment?
There is no evidence of evolution
Have you not checked the fossil record? There are so many examples of creatures evolving.
Here are some great resources for you:
- BBC GCSE Bitesise Evolution. – GCSE revision guide for Evolution, so it is quite simplistic in its explanations.
- Evolution and The Fossil Record.
- History of Life on Earth.
- What does the Fossil Record Show.
You can’t see evolution happening today
- Explain to me how viruses and bacteria keep evolving new strains?
- Perhaps how humans are starting to be born without wisdom teeth?
- What about the Lizards that are moving to live birth instead of eggs?
- Here’s another 10 examples for you.
Evolution means something came from nothing
No it doesn’t. Evolution, simply put, is the transition of life from A to B (through small gradual changes till specation occurs). To add a little more detail to it an quote Kriss Pyke: Evolution is the ability of a species, over time, to consistently move the bell curve of its characteristics towards what is optimum for its changing environmental conditions.
Please note “towards” is not a definitive goal here. Species adapt to their surroundings. The “goal” that is metaphorically being moved towards is survival. – Please note this isn’t a conscious process, it has just been written in a way that might be more palatable to some of our readers.
99% of species have become extinct. Some of those managed to adapt, some adapted so much specation occurred.
Evolution has nothing to do with how life started on earth. You are getting it confused with Abiogenesis. You can quite easily reject abiogenesis and accept evolution saying that evolution was your deity’s method for advancing life on this planet. Rejecting evolution on a false premise such as this is beyond ludicrous.
I’ve spoke with many Muslims and Christians who say that evolution is in the Bible and Qur’an. That God brings forth life but does not specify what it is, and allows it to take its own path after that. Some then throw in the caveat “except humans, they were created”.
There are no examples of transitional fossils
Technically everything is transitional on a micro scale. Otherwise we would just be clones of our parents. In the micro-evolution scale there are tonnes of transitional fossils. A creationist may state “Micro is not evolution it is just adaption!”. However, when a creationist is speaking about transitional fossils they are usually addressing macro evolution, and will say “no it’s just a different kind”. There understanding of Macro is a “change in kind” – this is not what macro describes. It is worth noting that “micro” and “macro” evolution are terms are commonly misused by creationists to throw doubt on to the topic. (Especially with others who also do not understand evolution)
“Transitional forms occur just when one might expect to see a change from one body type to another. However, a common objection is that few transitional fossils have been discovered; thus many lineages cannot be traced smoothly.
There are several reason for these gaps in the fossil record. First, fossilization is a very rare event. Plus, transitional species tend to appear in small populations, where rapid changes in the environment can provide a stronger evolutionary drive. Finally, because fossilization itself is a rare event, smaller populations are sure to produce fewer fossils. The fact that transitional species have been found at all is remarkable, and it offers further support of gradual, evolutionary change.”
Speciation is actually a more accurate term than macro evolution. Simply put, speciation is where a species changes so much over the course of time that they become their own distinct species.
You could even debate that there is no real micro or macro evolution. There are small changes over time that lead to speciation.
You don’t see one animal turning into another (Change of “Kind”)
I am sure we have all heard, “You don’t see a duck turning in to a cat” or “Why don’t humans have wings then?”
These sorts of statements are based on a fallacious understanding of the aforementioned speciation. Creatures evolve to suit their environments and ensure successful procreation. Humans haven’t sprouted wings because they have had no need to. A duck won’t turn in to a cat as they are creatures that have already evolved to suit their environment.
These changes usually happens over thousands, if not millions, of years. Even if duck’s environment changed to the point where they needed to be more cat like, you wouldn’t see it in your life time.
In fact if a duck’s environment changes suddenly, they would most likely die out before they had a chance to evolve. Only if the changes in environment were slow, would the duck stand chance at evolving.
Just a reminder, the “macro” scale is speciation; the result of tonnes of “micro” changes. Put another way; species adapt and make small changes to their environment over time till they are no longer biologically compatible with their original species.
If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
We didn’t “come from monkeys”. At least not as one who makes that comment understands. This is a classic theistic misrepresentation of the facts.
- Humans, apes, chimps and gorillas you see in the world today are all modern species of primate that followed different evolutionary paths.
- We share a common ancestor with the aforementioned primates (now extinct). The great apes evolved from apes which evolved from earlier apes which are thought to have evolved from monkeys in the Miocene epoch.
Did we evolve from the monkeys we see today? No.
Did we evolve directly from monkeys? No, through a series of earlier species in the homo genus, up through the great apes to apes, and earlier apes and earlier apes at which point, yes the apes evolved from a species classed as a monkey.
We have a common primate ancestor with the monkeys you see today.
Monkeys and apes took separate paths millions of years ago and continued to evolve separately.
- We essentially ARE monkeys (well, great apes or primates would be more accurate), just with a lot less hair.
Entire species do not evolve into new species; new species tend to evolve as isolated offshoots of existing (parent) species.
Some people argue this saying the other primates have 48 chromosomes where as humans only have 46, but 2 of them are actually fused pairs meaning we do actually have the same number of chromosomes as our primate relatives.
- Fused Pairs: Generation and annotation of the DNA sequences of human chromosomes 2 and 4
- More Detail: Why are there still monkeys?
It is mathematically impossible
Unfortunately they did what all creationists, and even a fair few theists do, and they started at the conclusion and worked their way back through the evidence, disregarding anything that didn’t agree with their point of view. Creationists are now using this article as “evidence” that we are all going to burn in hell.
Thankfully AIR’s own has already debunked their article, taking you step by step through all their faulty maths and faux scientific understanding.
Lots of people don’t believe in evolution
A common theistic fallacy is “an appeal to popularity”. Lots of people who don’t understandable evolution, reject it. Those that do understand evolution accept it. Billions are Christians, Billions are Muslims, they may believe in the same God but they have theological differences. Can they both be right? After that about 14% of the world are Hindu and 14% are not religious. Again if we appeal to popularity, we can’t say which of any of these are definitely right.
There are also a tonne of examples throughout history where what was popular wasn’t necessarily right. Look at the slave trade, or the Nazi movement. There were times when a headache was thought to be demons, and your head was cracked open to let them out (Trepanation). Or that baths were considered unhygienic by the masses.
Even today there are some examples of groups of people whom are gaining momentum and increasing numbers by perpetuating pseudoscientific myths. For example the Anti-Vaccination movement is full of people who take the opinion of their degree-less friend over thousands of peer reviewed scientific articles. These anti-vaxxers are responsible for many preventable diseases coming back with increased infection rates.
You weren’t there man!
Another common theistic fallacy known as “The Vietnam Defence”. If you reject evolution because “you weren’t there man, you don’t know what happened” then you can quite easily do the same for any God claim of any religion. There is at least evidence of evolution, outside of the bible there isn’t any evidence of Jesus (barring a few hearsay bits written decades after his alleged crucifixion, which there is also no evidence of)
Carbon dating is inaccurate
There have been examples where carbon dating has been erroneous. Yes, science has gotten materials mixed up, or identical younger or older materials have leaked in to the sample. But since then science has learned to allow for this. A simple Google search on variations in C14, and head for the scholarly docs, and you have best part of 100, 000 hits on articles delving deeply into how the experts have honed their calibration skills to allow for most any event they can think of which may lead to a bad result being returned.
There are also more dating methods than carbon dating. AIR’s own has started writing up various scientific dating methods in both interesting and easy to read articles. I have to admit, I found reading up on the dating methods a laborious task, until Alan wrote this article. And there are more to come!