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Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

Charles DarwinToday marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, his landmark work about Evolution and Natural Selection. Controversial in his day, Darwin’s book continues to cause controversy today, not for a lack of evidence or a scientifically questionable theory, but because of it unavoidable conclusion that man is not a divinely inspired creation, but a product of Natural Selection over billions of years.

Evolutionary Biology is not just a white-tower theory in the halls of academia. In his article titled Evolutionary Biology: Technology for the 21st Century, Jim Bull explains how it is used to track infectious diseases, create vaccines, and enhance agriculture among other things. As Evolutionary Biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky (who was also a Russian Orthodox Christian) said in his 1973 essay, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is a cornerstone on which the biological sciences rest. It has withstood the test of time since Darwin released his work 150 years ago. It has arguably undergone more intense scrutiny than any other scientific theory in existence, but has remained as the best and most complete explanation for the development of life on this planet (not the origin). It has done so because of the vast amount of evidence that exists to support it… and the complete lack of evidence that does not. Some minor details of the theory have been modified since Darwin’s book was published, but the basic premise remains untouched and well-grounded.

Why, then, does there seem to be such a controversy surrounding Evolution and Natural Selection? The controversy exists not among the scientific community, but generally between Creationists and those who accept the facts along with the accompanying inevitable conclusion. The facts are there. The evidence is there. Research from multiple branches of science completely support Darwin’s theory.

Natural Selection removes the protective cocoon of “divine creation” from humankind. Since all living things evolved from a common ancestor over billions of years, homosapiens are not necessarily the pinnacle of God’s intentioned creation. We are simply one current tip of a branch on the evolutionary tree of life. We are no more divine than any other creature on the planet and are not “special” children of God. From that is where the controversy springs.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Creationists refuse to accept the Evolutionary Theory and continue to treat the bible (or their alternate chosen holy book) as the literal word of God, maintaining that God created humans to rule over the earth and all its inhabitants, that human beings are divinely created, not evolved from ancient prokaryotes over billions of years. Evolutionary Theory removes, for them, their reason to exist.

It removes the meaning from their lives instead of creating an overwhelming sense of awe at the relationship of all living things on this planet… that joyous feeling of inclusiveness that we are not alone and we are not isolated. We have a glorious connection to every creature that flies in the air or walks on the earth or swims in the oceans. We are part of something greater than ourselves, something indescribably more vast, and something almost unimaginably ancient. We are part of an awe-inspiring process that has developed single cells into such a diversity of forms that it all but overwhelms our minds with wonder.

We are part of life.

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