Series: Evolution Basics (50 entries)
Written by BioLogos Fellow of Biology Dennis Venema, this series of posts is intended as a basic introduction to the science of evolution for non-specialists.
One of the challenges for discussing evolution within evangelical Christian circles is that there is widespread confusion about how evolution actually works. In this installment we explore how evolution is a theory in the scientific sense, how it is supported by converging lines of evidence, and how it can make accurate predictions about the natural world, using whale evolution as an example.
A common challenge to evolutionary theory is that while life does indeed change over time (what is known as microevolution), no one has ever seen one species evolve into another species (macroevolution).
This blog series by Dennis Venema undertakes the task of clarifying numerous aspects of evolution that often become misconstrued by Christians. He first discusses the idea of speciation in a population over time, later applying it to the speciation process that occurred among hominids (human ancestors) which led to modern humans. He continues to support this idea by exploring so called “Mitochondrial Eve,”“Y Chromosome Adam” and other compositional clues of the human genome.
Many evolutionary critics have identified the Cambrian Explosion as a stumbling block to the theory of evolution, arguing that the “expected transitions between major invertebrate phyla are absent, and that the suddenness of their appearance in the fossil record demonstrates that evolutionary explanations are not viable.” Keith Miller argues that the Cambrian Explosion is not so problematic as these opponents claim after all.
In this video conversation, Jeff Schloss makes the observation that when we use the term “evolution”, it is not always exactly clear what we are actually discussing unless we denote the intended usage.
This two-part series highlights some of the most common misconceptions about evolution and some helpful responses to them.
A complex biological structure with many interacting parts might appear, at first glance, as if it were originally created in its present form with all its interlocking components fully formed and intact. It doesn’t seem possible that they developed step by step via biological evolution. In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe introduces a term that he and other proponents of Intelligent Design use for this concept: irreducible complexity.
Evolution is the biological model for the history of life on Earth. While some consider evolution to be equivalent to atheism, BioLogos sees evolution as a description of how God created all life. Evolution refers to descent with modification. Small modifications occur at the genetic level (in DNA) with each generation, and these genetic changes can affect how the creature interacts with its environment. Over time, accumulation of these genetic changes can alter the characteristics of the whole population, and a new species appears. Major changes in life forms take place by the same mechanism but over even longer periods of time. All life today can be traced back to a common ancestor some 3.85 billion years ago.
Would those genuinely interested in learning about evolution benefit from a careful explanation of why these common objections don’t hold water? Here the answer seemed to me to be “yes.”
The Nazarenes Exploring Evolution poll of religion scholars reveals that most scholars in science, Bible, and theology are open to the possibility that Christian faith is compatible with the idea that God creates through evolution.
The BioLogos Book Club discussion of Francis Collins’ The Language of God.
Astrobiology is the field of inquiry about the origin of life on our planet and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Making a comeback is the theory that life began on Mars and emigrated from there to Earth via meteorites dislodged by collisions with asteroids.
When they imagine evolution, many Christians picture novelty: new species arising over time, or speciation events. But as the most recent Southern Baptist Voices exchange makes clear, many Christians also focus on the role of death in evolution—something that can be a stumbling block.
A new study published in the August issue of American Naturalist has found that a single genetic change has sent two different populations of monarch flycatchers on the path to speciation.
In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.
This entry was originally posted on February 17, 2010. In this video conversation, Jeff Schloss makes the observation that when we use the term “evolution”, it is not always exactly clear what we are actually discussing unless we denote the intended usage.
The evidence suggests that God has chosen to work through a random process, one which involves the routine creation and destruction of millions of cells that never get used. This is the ordinary means by which God maintains our health. The miracles of healing recorded in the Bible are miraculous precisely because they don’t occur by this normal, natural process.
In this video Conversation, Denis Alexander asserts that contemporary Christians are not taking the early chapters of Genesis seriously enough.