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Darwinian Evolution

QUESTION: What is Darwinian evolution?


Darwinian evolution is named for the theory of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Darwin was not the first person to propose the theory of evolution; many ancient Greek philosophers suggested the idea of life developing out of non-life. But Darwin brought evolution to the forefront of the modern scientific community. From his observations, Darwin assumed that all life -- man, monkey, fish, dinosaurs, birds, flowers, trees, et al. -- descended from a common ancestor.

Darwin theorized that at one time no life on this planet existed. Out of this non-life came about all life. Once life started, it evolved through naturalistic stages from the earliest single celled organisms through modification or mutation. Darwin rejected the idea of a Creator of life; he believed only in a series of fortunate adaptations prescribed by nature and need for survival.

Darwinian evolution is built around some major assumptions:
  • Darwin assumed that life is in a constant state of flux, ever changing, ever evolving. According to Darwinian evolution, genectic mutations are necessary for survival of any life form. One organism will change over time and become a different species. While most scientists agree that life does adapt to fit different climates and terrain, the hypothesis of one genus evolving into another has not been proven.

  • Another assumption of Darwinian evolution is the idea of animals and plants reproducing geometrically. This theory means that a pair of animals will have far more offspring than is necessary to replace themselves. A fish or turtle, for example, may lay millions of eggs in their lifetimes. If each laid egg produced a full-grown adult, the population of that species would increase exponentially and overpopulate the land. In order to keep the number of a species under control a checks and balance system must be in place. This premise of checks and balances led to Darwin's next assumption.

  • The number of individuals in a species remain relatively constant. Darwin observed that, generally, a species did not dramatically multiply or die out. Since large numbers of a species’ offspring failed to reach maturity, the cause must be a competition for food and reproduction. This theory is called survival of the fittest or natural selection. However, as Darwin noted, the environment changes continuously so the definition of what is "fittest" changes with time.

  • Finally, Darwin hypothesized that change progresses gradually. Darwin himself stated, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
Darwinian evolution is built around these assumptions. Although some scientists argue that Darwin’s observations do not result in a solid theory, Darwinian evolution is still promoted as a viable alternative to Creation. But certain aspects of Darwin’s theory actually points to, not away from a Creator.

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