To most of us, evolution is a fact. We are taught it at school and it explains how such a variety of life forms came to be, and how we are related to one another. But not all of us think so. Many discard Darwin’s ideas in favour of religious explanations, and even scientists question the accuracy of Darwin’s theory.
For our latest survey we decided to find out what children think about evolution. We asked 2,372 schoolchildren whether or not they believed Darwin’s theory and received the following responses:
As you can see, slightly fewer than half our respondents believe that Darwin was correct while a third of them think he was completely wrong. This came as a shock to me. As a man of science I was of the opinion that almost all of us believed in some kind of evolution, just as we believe in other tried and tested theories, such as heliocentrism (that the Earth orbits the Sun) or that the Earth is a globe rather than flat. It seems that, although these have been accepted, evolution is still rejected by many.
As evolution seems so hard for some of us to accept, then perhaps I have been wrong all these years and it is a myth. To find out, let’s look at the evidence for and against evolution:
There is a lot of evidence supporting the theory. I have not got space for all of it here, and cannot go into too much depth. So, let’s try to summarise the main five points:
Shared characteristics. Different species share similar physical features. Taking humans and cows as examples, we both have eyes, four limbs, warm blood and many other similarities. Evolutions says this is because we share a common ancestor. The counter argument is that God had some good designs so used them on more than one creature.
Shared DNA. The DNA of even distantly related species is very similar – even between humans and a banana. This supports the theory that we are related. Creationists would respond by saying that God used much of the same code to make us because that is what works.
Biogeographic regionalisations. Species which become separated from others of the same type develop their own characteristics and evolve into new species. It was this fact about finches and tortoises which first put Darwin on to evolution. Creationists would say that God put different species in different parts of the earth.
Fossils. These show us the preserved remains of long dead species which bear similarities to modern ones which supports the idea that we are descended and have evolved from them. Creationists do not believe that fossils are very old, and many think the animals died out in Noah’s flood.
Observation. Evolution takes a long time so is very hard to see. However, it has been witnessed in organisms with short lifecycles, like insects or bacteria. Not to mention the breeding of domestic animals which have brought us the wide variety of dog breeds. Creationists say that this is not evolution but is breeding, which is different.
Now we have looked at some of the main proofs for evolution, let’s do the same for creationism:
Mitochondrial DNA. Through looking at this (which we all inherit from our mothers) scientists have shown that all humans are descended from one woman. This must be Eve. Evolutionists dismiss this. Yes, we are all descended from one woman. However, she lived 150,000 years ago – long after the first humans appeared.
Mutation. Creationists claim that macro-evolution (mentioned earlier under “observation”) is proof against evolution. Rather than organisms evolving, they temporarily change to match conditions. Evolutionists rely on mutation – it is the process which drives evolution. If successful it can cause a new species. If not, it causes the organism to die.
Intermediary fossils. Creationists say that, if dinosaurs evolved into birds (as scientists believe) then there would be fossils of the species in between – part dinosaur, part bird. Evolutionists would counter that only a tiny proportion of extinct species have ever been found. Just because we have not seen them that does not mean they never lived.
Rapid formation of strata. Most layers of rock were laid down over millions of years, or so scientists claim. But there is proof that some at least appeared in just a few days. This supports the idea of Noah’s flood. Scientists admit that some layers did indeed appear quickly. Floods are common in nature and so you would expect to see evidence of them. Evidence for a worldwide flood though is lacking.
Evolution is only a theory. Despite most people’s view, evolution is not a fact. It is only a theory. Scientists would agree with creationists on this, but that is because science is always questioning current beliefs, theories and ideas in an attempt to improve them. Yes, evolution is only a theory. But so are relativity, quantum mechanics, gravity, astrophysics and a whole load of other ideas we readily accept.
So there we have it – the arguments for and against evolution. I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions as to which is right.FASCINATING CHILDREN’S SURVEYS
Here are the results from the 2,372 children who answered our question "Do you believe in evolution?". The survey was conducted in the week ending 13th February 2021.
|Do you believe in evolution?||Percentage of Respondents|
|No, there is a divine creator||17%|
|No, we don't know how it happened||16%|
|Sort of, Darwin was onto something||19%|
|Yes, Darwin was correct||48%|