I. Background of Evolution

A. Progressive evolution vs. mutation

Darwin was not the first one who suggested evolution as the explanation of species' origin. Lamarck (1744-1829) had introduced a progressive view of evolution i.e. little changes in species caused by the environment passed down to their off-springs gradually throughout many generations. Unlike Lamarck, Darwin supported the idea of mutation i.e. sudden and drastic changes.

B. Eugenics

In the past Westerners were highly interested in Eugenics--applied genetics. Many research endeavors were devoted to explain why Western civilizations were superior to others (e.g. research of intelligence) and how they could preserve their advanced civilizations. One of the core notions of evolution is that the fittest species are the strongest ones who could reproduce more descendants. R. A. Fisher, a well-known statistician and also a believer of evolution, suggested that the only way to ensure improvement of the nation was to increase reproduction of high-quality people (Brenner-Golomb, 1993).

II. What is evolution?

A. Micro-evolution

i. It is believed that many animals can be observed over the course of time to undergo changes so that new species are formed. Most biologists are giving their attention to micro-evolution.

ii. Phi Johnson (1994), who is a well-known law professor, questioned the evidence and arguments of evolution in the perspective of conducting a trial:

  • Only natural explanations can be accepted as scientific knowledge.
  • If you cannot prove that I am wrong, then I am right .
  • Every thing can happen no matter how small the probability is.
  • Evolution is a fact because there exist complex life forms.

B. Macro-evolution

i. It is believed that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.

ii. In 1953 Stanley Miller re-created the early stage of the earth in a lab and found that amino acids, which are the basic materials of life, could be formed in a "natural setting." Today Miller is a professor of chemistry at the UC, San Diego. He contended that "the problem of the origin of life has turned out to be much more difficult than I, and most other people envisioned." Recent research found that life arose in an environment far less hospitable than Miller's artificial setting. The primordial atmosphere may not have contained methane and ammonia, as Miller had assumed.

iii. Countering the idea that life originates from random couplings of chemicals, Fred Hoyle, a British astronomer, has said that such an occurrence is about as likely as the assemblage of a 747 by a tornado whirling through a junkyard. Most researchers agree with Hoyle on this point (Horgan, 1991).

C. Evolutionism

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this debate is not concerned with the origin of species, but the assumptions and implications of evolution. The major challenge of evolution to Christianity is the materialistic character of Darwinism i.e. explanation of human behaviors in terms of environmental and biological factors, or simply matters.

i. Social Darwinism suggests that human society on the whole is progressive based upon the criterion of survival for the fittest. Advanced civilizations, in a sense, are mandated to replace lower civilizations.

In the name of the survival for the fittest and the improvement of human society, aggressive actions may be justified.

ii. Today many psychologists adopted evolution as the foundation of their theories. For example, based upon evolution, Robert Wright explained why men are attracted by many females while women tend to stick with one mate. According to evolution, early men wanted to "spread" their sperm as far as possible in order to extend their kin. On the other hand, women who have one egg per month were very selective in intercourse. Therefore, the infidelity of men, relationship problems, and divorce are "understandable" in light of evolution.

In a pure biological and material level, how can we judge what is morally right or wrong.


  • Brenner-Golomb, N. 91993). R. A. Fisher's philosophical approach to inductive inference. In Keren G. & Lewis, C. (Eds.), A handbook for data analysis in the behavioral sciences (pp. 283-307). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
  • Horgan, J. (1991, Feb.) In the beginning... Scientific American. pp.116-125.
  • Johnson, P. (1994). Darwin on trial. Washington, D.C. : Regnery Gateway
  • Wright, R. (1994). The moral animal : the new science of evolutionary psychology. New York : Pantheon Books.

Suggested Further Reading

  • Hummel, C. (1989). Creation or evolution? Resolving the crucial issues. Downers grove, IL: Inter-varsity Press.

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