Science-based Religion Blog

Science and religion are not intrinsic enemies. Science strives for revelation. It is the revelation of the universe as we find it. The current picture of the universe is in perfect harmony with many religious perspectives and in stark contrast to others. This blog intends to explore these harmonies and conflicts of Science and Religion. Keep an open mind and a gentle heart please.

Location: Richmond, Virginia, United States

My family background is third generation German-American. I was the younger of two sons. My father was an English professor who had also served a Protestant minister and missionary to China. My mother was a nurse and social worker. I went to Purdue University, where I earned a B.S. degree in the Honors Physics program. I got a masters degree in Physics from the University of Southern California and also a masters and Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the USC school of religion. I have worked as a teacher and as an IT professional. I am married, with no children but two cats.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Evolution Defined

Since evolution will play an important part in the ideas I will be expressing in this blog, and since many do not understand evolution at all, let me define what evolution is.

Evolution happens under certain conditions. This is not a theory but an observation of how the world works. "Evolution" is just the name we give to a particular process. Consider the idea of acceleration. No one says acceleration is just a theory, because it describes a common phenomena of objects in motion changing their velocity. Acceleration only enters into the realm of theory when it is part of a hypothesis about the way things work, like Newton's theories of motion (now considered fact, since they have been so well demonstrated).

So what is evolution?

Evolution is what happens when four conditions exist.

1) There exists a large population of entities (not necessarily living organisms) which are similar in most respects, but not identical.

2) These entities get replaced over time with copies of themselves, copies which are similar but not necessarily identical to the original.

3) Some condition exists which causes entities to reproduce or replicate to different degrees based on some difference in their makeup.

4) Those entities that reproduce more readily gradually come to dominate the population, in terms of numbers, and over time, the overall characteristics of the population shift.

This can be demonstrated in a number of ways. The most important way is in the human project of breeding domesticated animals with certain traits. Horses have been bred so that some are huge, strong draft animals, while others are lithe and fast, and others are diminutive. This was done by selective breeding (condition number 3). It is the same process that biologists know happens in nature, it having been observed in the wild and in the lab. It can also be demonstrated with computer programs, manufactured items, and ideas.

So evolution happens. That which is commonly called the "theory of evolution" is really a theory about the diversity of the species of plants and animals found on earth now and in the past. This theory posited that wherever the four conditions exist, plants and animals can be expected to change because of this process of evolution.

Scientists have found so much evidence for natural selection or evolution of species that they no longer consider it to be "just a theory." It is an established fact. The only questions remaining are how the process works. This will come up again and again in this blog because evolution is how the universe works. It will have to be taken into account to have the possibility of the development of religion that can effectively link the moral issues facing us to the eternal truths of the cosmos.


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