The "creationism vs. evolution" debate continues to be very hotly contested. However, these two beliefs are not exactly the polar opposites that they are made out to be. While creationism deals with the origins of the universe, evolution deals with theories concerning the development of life on earth. Evolution is a part of the biological field, and the origins of the universe and earth are best left to the realms of astronomy, physics, and geology.
Why is there so much antagonism involved with this subject? Why can't we get along and respect each others' beliefs? I think the subject of evolution causes so much contention for two reasons. One, many people who argue against evolution don't even understand the theory, and rely on information from other misinformed people. Two, some of the conclusions drawn as a result of evolutionary theory threaten many peoples' religious beliefs. Some members of the scientific community make things worse by attacking Christian belief. All this serves to do is encourage senseless quarreling, which promotes neither science or theology.
Who was the man behind much of the controversy? Charles Darwin, given most of the credit for today's theory of evolution, was born in 1809 in England. As a student, he studied botany and theology. His 5-year voyage on the ship, The Beagle, proved to be foundational to his work. This voyage during the 1830's took him to the Galapagos islands off the South American coast. His observations of the unique species there helped provide proof for his evolutionary theory. During Darwin's lifetime, his theories were often ridiculed, especially by Church leaders. Criticism of Darwin's work continues more than 100 years after his death, with much of it based on ignorance.
While some creationists mock evolution as a belief that "man came from monkeys", this is not a truly accurate statement. Evolution is the belief that organisms develop traits due to certain factors and natural selection that are passed down through generations. All life on Earth is thought to have originated from a single-cell being. Darwin commonly theorized that all groups in a species shared a common ancestor, including humans and primates. Ironically, many people who reject the theory of evolution have no trouble believing that dogs and wolves share an ancestor.
Some creationists denounce evolution as a theory devoid of God, although many people follow theistic evolution. This is the belief that evolution is true, but was guided by God. some creationists readily accept micro-evolution (gradual changes within a species), but reject macro-evolution (such as the theory that dinosaurs evolved into birds). A problem that creationists typically have with evolution is the lack of transitional fossils.
The debate over evolution is likely to continue for a long time. However, people on both sides of the debate should at least have a better understanding of what they're arguing for and against. Not only are many creationists misinformed about evolution, but many evolutionists also believe that creationism represents all of Christian thought. If these bits of misinformation are resolved, the discussion can be much more civil.