Once again the evolution/creation controversy makes front-page news. Here are all the ingredients a newsman could ask for. We see the champions riding out to do rousing, albeit verbal, battle. Behind each of the two groups is a home front, a good-sized segment of America’s general public. One side the mass media find easy to caricature or portray as the buffoon. The other side, speaking from a rostrum of academic prestige, is learning to flavor its pontifications with enough salt to satisfy the media taste.

How delightful a battle, so human yet so bloodless! Who would be churlish enough to ask for definition of terms or clarification of the issue? But do it we must. We begin by asking whether evolution and creation are necessarily antithetical alternatives. And the answer depends on how the two words are defined.

Defining Evolution

Evolution is a term that can conjure up a host of images and conceptual extrapolations—nature red in tooth and claw, social Darwinism, robber barons and laissez-faire capitalism, reductionist materialism, aggressive atheism, ethical relativism, human perfectibility, a self-existent universe. To the scientist acting as a scientist, however, such ideas are simply not germane. Evolutionary theorizing is merely a way of explaining in natural terms the history and mechanism of change within the universe as a whole, in certain parts of it such as stars and the earth, and in life on our planet (i.e., cosmology, stellar evolution, historical geology, and organic evolution).

Usually the scientist is simply investigating whether there exist long-term, large-scale, natural processes analogous, for example, to the development of a baby from a fertilized egg. More often than not, he has no theological or philosophical ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: