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evolution and creationism. Evolution is usually held responsible for inducing immorality among its followers. This paper discusses the impact of believing in evolution on the behavior of student by describing both the evolutionary theory and its various effects.
EVOLUTION AND STUDENT BEHAVIOR
It is the belief about an individual's origins that sparks a debate evolution and creation. This is because not only does the belief about origins (and the consequent debate) stir controversy but it also has serious implications. These implications are substantial in consequence because they relate to issues such as ethics, morals, truth, values, and a number of actions.
EVOLUTION OR CREATION
Belief about origins has two conflicting branches. These are creation and evolution. The theory of evolution claims that "all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form" (Kerkut, 1960). Since it is a widely-accepted phenomenon that beliefs have considerable impact on an individual's actions (Gardner, 1988 and Erickson, 1992), it is important that an individual's beliefs be correct and healthy. A belief in evolution, on the other hand, rules out the possibility of a Divine Creator by the very nature of its definition. This is because evolution is considered a naturalistic process (Simpson, 1960 & Simpson et.al, 1957). A belief in such a process creates an unhealthy individual and an equally unhealthy society. This is primarily because as evolutionists claim "there is no higher purpose in life" (Dawkins, 1989). This translates into a belief that since there is no higher purpose and no Supreme Being, "anything goes." Hence a "human society based simply on the gene's law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live" (Dawkins, 1989). This is derived from the implications that a belief in evolution can have on an individual's ethics.
Evolution and Ethics
Ethics is that yardstick or a code of conduct that measures the inherent nature of an action to determine whether it is right or wrong. If the theory of evolution is correct, an individual creates an environment where just about anything is allowed in the absence of a Supreme Being to monitor. As Sartre states, "everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.... Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behavior" (1961; 485). As a result, there are no methods of reaching an adequate conclusion regarding an ethical code of conduct. This leads to a society where, for lack of guidance of a fixed code, an individual does as he pleases in order to serve his own ends without any regard for ethical conduct. This in turn leads to an immoral character.
Evolution and Morality
Morality can be defined as an individual's character being in accordance with the principles or code of ethical conduct. Since "discovery that the universe apart from man or before his coming lacks and lacked any purpose or plan has the inevitable corollary that the workings of the universe cannot provide any automatic, universal, eternal, or absolute ethical criteria of right and wrong," morals cannot be determined (Simpson, 1951; 180). This is because belief in evolution states that man is only an animal that possesses a mind as low as a dog or a lion. Since an animal cannot be expected to abide by ethical conduct, man also cannot be expected to "draw such grand conclusions" as whether his actions are right or wrong (Darwin, 1889, 1:282).
If there is no inherent higher purpose to existence of Universe, then there is no purpose to morality or ethics. As a result, morality becomes an exercise in relativity where actions of an individual could only be judged by the situation and not an absolute standard. Hence an individual, who does not believe in an absolute standard, would aim to maximize personal benefit or pleasure and minimize pain out of any action.
Evolution and the Value of Human Life
The theory of evolution that man is just another animal in the line of living forms, attaches the same value to a man's life as the value that is attached to an animal. As a result, in presence of evolutionary claims, there is no rule that could regard a man's life as more important than an animal's and therefore worth treating any differently. Such a belief tends to lead, inevitably to unethical code of conduct. For instance, in January, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-to-2 vote, decided that the human embryo growing within the human womb cannot be defined as "human" and as a result, it can be subjected to any kind of maltreatment. According to Darwin, an evolutionist, since the weaker members of society are unfit and, by the laws of nature, cannot survive, a baby growing in the womb cannot survive either unless helped by a stronger being. Unless the mother, a stronger being, is bound by a moral code, she will not help a baby grow. This will, in the long run, inevitably lead to extinction of human race. This goes to show the extent to which an individual's beliefs can affect his actions. In the present-day United States, it is more evident than before where students kill each other in extreme forms of violence, resultant of the value they attach to human life. Therefore it is feared that students studying the theory of evolution in their biology classes are as vulnerable to immoral conduct as their elders who have come to believe in evolution through other means.
CO-EXISTENCE OF EVOLUTION AND RELIGION/MORALITY
The religious faiths provide one theory for human origin. The religious theory claims that man was created by God, a Supreme Being. The human race has therefore descended from Adam, who was created from dirt and God's breath. This is known as Creationism. On the other hand, evolutionary theory claims that human race has evolved from monkeys which came from bacteria, which in turn were a product of non-living chemicals and lightning. Both of these theories however have credibility. This is because the theory of Creationism has been derived from the Bible which is one of the oldest and most extensive historical documents that the human race possesses which has also been recorded with great precision, while evolutionary theory is logical and builds on numerous scientific disciplines. However it cannot be ignored that creation and evolution appear to rest at opposite ends. If the human race was a random creation without any purpose, as evolution suggests, then the creationist account of a Supreme Being molding a human body out of His hands appears incongruous. As a result, scientists often label the Genesis account a "myth." Such a labeling has always offended people of religion who turn to attack the scientific claims of evolution. However it can be demonstrated that both the theories can co-exist and that the dichotomy between the two is false. Though scientists claim that existence of God is not a scientific phenomenon, there is considerable evidence in nature that points towards His existence. One argument for existence of a creator is that everything in nature is balanced so precisely for this universe to function perfectly to facilitate the existence of human race that the laws in the universe actually point towards producing man. Now if man has been the goal, someone should be preceding this goal. This argument is seen in the Anthropic Principle first described by Brandon Carter, an astrophysicist and cosmologist from Cambridge University. This principle states that the basic constants of chemistry and physics in the world are the precise values needed for life to exist (Carter, 1974). For example, gravity is 10^39 times weaker than electromagnetism. If gravity was just 10^33 times weaker, then the composition and characteristics of stars would be drastically different to the point of being problematic to life (Taylor). In addition, the difference between protons and neutrons is approximately twice the mass of an electron. If this was not the case, then protons would have become neutrons and vice versa, distorting chemistry and life (Taylor).
Another argument for existence of God is the argument that evolution does not disprove God. Though all species may have evolved from a common ancestor that itself did not evolve from a living form, it was perhaps a Supreme Being who set up the laws of nature to govern this process. This is evident in the theories that some scientists hold that states that there is a guiding force behind natural selection (Blackmore & Page, 1989). Therefore it can be stated that evolution and creationism can co-exist.
BELIEF IN EVOLUTION AND BEHAVIOR OF A STUDENT
Recently there has been a lot of debate regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools. This is because of the evidence (mentioned above) that has been gathered regarding the actions that are generated due…[continue]
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