Righty: The theory of evolution (emphasis on theory) is incompatible with the account of creation handed down to us via God’s own Word in the book of Genesis. The Bible clearly states that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. That hardly leaves time for the vast parade of prehistoric creatures that supposedly romped around the Earth a hundred million years ago, according to the mythology of evolutionists and nonbelievers. Those fossils may have been deposited at the time of the Flood, or they might have been fudged by overambitious paleontologists. (Amazing, the way they can recreate an entire creature from a single neck bone!) We don’t necessarily believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old (the Bible doesn’t provide us with specific dates, after all), and it could be that a “day” at the dawn of time was considerably longer than a day is today. But we do believe in the Bible, and the Bible makes it clear that God created the fishes, the beasts, the “fowls of the air,” and “every thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Finally, He created man. How could anything so mindbogglingly complex as man — or even a housefly — be the result of mere accident? Evolutionists are asking us to take an awful lot on faith.
Lefty: Mythology has no place in science. In fact, it has been the mission of science since its ancient beginnings to lift the veil of the supernatural from the inner workings of life and matter. As hard as this may be for Righty to accept, the Book of Genesis is just one of the many creation myths fabricated by primitive tribes to explain the mysteries of the universe. The evidence for evolution is so overwhelming that only the most ignorant Bible thumpers continue to reject it. (Unfortunately, those Bible thumpers continue to hold sway in the vast hinterland between the East and West coasts… Jesusland, as one inspired cartoonist dubbed it.) How can these imbecilic rubes continue to deny what paleontologists have uncovered in layers of rock dating back hundreds of millions of years? How can they fail to notice the striking similarities between man and chimp? Righty and his obstinate brethren are in serious denial. If they still can’t admit that we’re descended from apes, the rest of the world can clearly see that they are — and that they haven’t evolved very far from their simian origins.
The New Moderate:
Nobody with any sense still believes that the great parade of creation marched from nothingness to Adam and Eve in six days. We can give the Bible some latitude here and there; we can interpret the “days” as epochs that correspond roughly to the geological ages, or we can wonder if the Genesis account of creation was meant to be viewed as a myth all along. But the evidence for evolution is impressive. We can look at a fossilized archaeopteryx and immediately see the missing link between dinosaurs and birds. With a little imagination, we can understand how the modern horse developed from a cat-sized critter known as eohippus.
So how did primitive life diversify into the millions of astonishing forms we see around us today, all without divine assistance? Darwin’s theory of natural selection offers a brilliant (and brilliantly simple) explanation: mutations that popped up in our genes conferred advantages that enabled the lucky mutants to attract desirable mates, prosper in their native habitats, or exploit new niches that no comparable creature had exploited before. A small dinosaur born with membranes that enabled it to glide through the air might be able to evade predators (and find prey) more easily than its earthbound cousins. It would live longer and presumably raise more offspring, several of whom would share its ability to glide. Those gliding offspring would prosper, and so on down the line. Eventually some of them would produce descendants that could flap their wings and stay aloft for hours at a time. That’s progress. That’s evolution.
Natural selection is essentially free-market capitalism as practiced by plants and animals. Individuals, species and businesses that develop useful new widgets will be more likely to perpetuate themselves through time. Those that fail to adapt are destined for the compost heap. Like business, natural selection is totally amoral: it favors the opportunists.
It all makes sense, but I’ve noticed a few loose ends. How do you account for the development of new traits that don’t seem to confer any evolutionary advantages? (Wouldn’t we have survived and reproduced just as readily without eyebrows, for example?) And how do you explain the evolution of something as complex as a circulatory system? A partial circulatory system would be of no use at all; blood vessels have to reach every living cell, or clumps of tissue would start sloughing off in a disgusting and probably fatal manner. How could any creature have developed even a primitive circulatory system as the result of a single mutation? Correct me if I’m wrong, but evolution alone seems powerless to explain it.
I’m not proposing that God or even some nameless Intelligent Designer engineered the first circulatory system, though I refuse to shut the door on those possibilities. It’s just that the visible world doesn’t always fit neatly into prepackaged theories — even one as beautiful and widely accepted as the theory of evolution. Religious skeptics probably shouldn’t take so much of their science on faith.
Summary: The theory of evolution explains most (but not all) developments in the history of life. We should be willing and able to question science as readily as we question religion.