Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection asks whether we were we created by design or accident?
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 26th March, 2020.
No matter where your beliefs lie in regard to evolution, whether you feel that the Universe exists by design or came about by accident, it is a fascinating thought that the full life of our sun should, by the reckoning of scientists be about 10 billion years.
And it is only four tenths of the way through its progress through the heavens.
That is less than half of its lifespan.
It is barely out of its teens.
And of course, we Homo Sapiens have only been around for somewhere between six and seventy-thousand years depending on your religious and scientific belief; not long, in the bigger picture.
Of course to believe the Universe was created less than 10,000 years ago you have to be a serious flat-earth thinker.
No dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible; not even the mammoths. Yet their skeletons are being found all over the planet; they were prehistoric. Not even the ancient Egyptians make any reference to such weird and wonderful creatures.
It was very moving recently watching a Leatherback turtle laying her eggs on the Zululand coast of South Africa; they too are prehistoric creatures, having been around for millions of years.
Now they are being seriously challenged because of the plastic in the sea that chokes them; it looks inordinately like jellyfish, their natural food source.
I would like to broaden our awareness of the tremendous time span lying ahead; for the Earth, and for life itself. Most folk are aware that we are the outcome of about four billion years of natural selection, but many of us are inclined to think that Homo Sapiens are the culmination of that process.
The sun, however, is less than a half of its way through its lifespan.
Six billion years from now, it will not be humans who watch the sun's demise. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from the viruses and bacteria, and the other creepy crawlies.
Martin Rees, cosmologist and astrophysicist
So, what is Darwin's theory of natural selection? It seems to be inordinately difficult for Christian fundamentalists.
I am a beekeeper by hobby. When breeding new queens I would draw up a list of desirable characteristics. The ultimate goal is to provide better pollination of flowers, and more honey, of course.
How to start beekeeping is a subject close to my heart.
* Strong queens build big colonies with plenty of workers; that means more honey.
* Which colony consistently produces the most honey?
* Which colonies have a lesser tendency to swarm, taking half the workers and honey with them?
* Which colonies are the least aggressive? Our African killer bees are very dangerous.
Thus I am able to shape the characteristics of the bees in my apiary by selecting queens with desirable qualities. Alas the backyard keeper has difficulty choosing the drones to mate with his virgins.
It was Darwin who first pointed out that, in like manner, Nature shapes all species by selecting which creatures are going to breed and produce subsequent generations.
Here is an example of natural selection.
Prior to the industrial revolution in England there was a specie of bird that was primarily white, but with the odd black-coat seen flying with the flock.
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The black-coats stood out like the proverbial sore thumb and were soon spotted by a hawk; they were only rarely given the chance to breed.
However, when the industrial revolution got into full swing, all of Britain was coated with a swathe of coal dust. Before long black-coats actually had an advantage.
It was the white-coats who were easily seen and caught by the raptors. Within fifty years, the specie was predominantly black.
Only the odd white-coat was seen after that.
That is Darwin's theory of natural selection and thinking Christians have not the slightest difficulty with it. As the environment changes, those that are able to adapt are the ones that will survive.
However, Darwin's reputation has become so muddied in fundamentalist society that everything mentioned in his name has become utterly condemned.
Such is the nature of prejudice; being down on what we are not up on. However the mature mind is not afraid to contemplate controversial subjects. Fact is, we all ought to weigh our treasured corner stones periodically. Some will rightly be overturned in time.
The Charles Darwin theory of evolution, of course, is another matter. We will leave that chestnut for another day.
Incidentally, did you know that May 2016 was the first month ever when more electricity was generated from solar power than coal. Perhaps one day we will see the white-coats predominate again.
So there have been about 200 plus generations of Homo Sapiens. That is not many in 4 billion years. We occupy only a very small part of the history of the Earth.
And when you think that human life has progressed as much in the last century, about 3 - 4 generations as it did in the first 197, one is aware that Martin Rees is absolutely spot on, when he says that life on Earth will be very different in another 6 billion years.
It will be very different in another hundred years.
But still, as Christians, we do believe that God has created us for a very special purpose, to live in relationship with Him, an invitation open to none of the other creatures on the planet, as far as we know. We are special. We are loved.
And unfortunately we also have a very wicked streak in us. No question of it, no matter how much we would deny it. Who? Me? Hence the great need for a cross in the affairs of mankind. There was no other good enough to pay the price for our wrongdoing.
At this point in time, we are the culmination of God's creative genius. Personally, as a Christian, I have no difficulty with Darwin's theory of natural selection. Just as the good Lord created Gravity to keep us from falling off the planet, he seems to have used Natural Selection and perhaps even Evolution to create us, and all the other species. But they do remain theories, though totally accepted by many scientists as fact.
Personally, I believe it is time for us Christians to stop taking issue with evolutionists. It is a red herring, and detracts from the central question: What do you make of Jesus Christ? Will you accept him as your Lord and Saviour?
As long as we continue making foolish arguments about when and how the world was created we allow and encourage the world to evade the question: What do you make of Jesus Christ? With or without the Charles Darwin evolution theory, that is what is going to determine whether you and I will watch the sun's demise in 6 billion years. I am serious.
I'm rather appreciative that I won't be watching the sun's demise from this planet. It will be rather cold.
But, Martin Rees, I will be watching the sun's demise. In exactly what shape or form, and from where, I have no idea, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest. Will you, sir, too be watching our sun's last sunset? I hope so.
We Christians believe that has nothing to do with Darwin's theory of evolution. It has everything to do with what do you make of the person of Jesus Christ?
I look forward with great confidence to watching the last sunset. Is that totally, utterly dumb? Perhaps; but if I'm right, along with millions upon millions of other Believers, what then?
I know that I am a serious dissident in fundamentalist circles. I am convinced that we Christians have lost the plot in allowing Charles Darwin to take centre stage. He was a remarkable man, and like many scientists he probably got it half-way right, perhaps 90 percent correct. No doubt in the centuries ahead, our children will find fault with some of his theories, and those of many others of the great thinkers.
But that does not detract from the fact that he was an incredible thinker.
But to dismiss him out of hand, we not only do him a great disservice, but more importantly we have allowed Charles Darwin theory of natural selection to distract the world from that other far more important question.
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
Do not confuse me with the facts. Is your mind made up that the world was created 6000 years ago in accordance with the Bible? And that Charles Darwin should have been burned at the stake?
Nope, I disagree. I think you have led unbelievers down the garden path, and you are the one facing being burnt at the stake. Worse, the lake of sulphur. Because you have distracted your fellow seeker from the central question: What do make of Jesus Christ? Instead you have faced him with the silly question: What do you make of Charles Darwin?
Let Charles Darwin rest in peace
He was born into a Christian family. His father was a preacher. I will bet his mother loved the Lord too. And prayed constantly for her son. Is it for us to judge the servant of another?
Choice foods asks whether we should we include refined nectar of the bees? Raw, lightly filtered honey does not have a high glycemic index because of the protein and fat in the pollen, but the supermarket stuff probably is not much better than a junk food.
What has all this to do with Darwin's theory of natural selection, you may well ask? Plenty; it is those who consume choice foods from our environment that will be able to see better, run faster, and suffer from less disease; they are the ones who will survive and breed.
Recently a friend reported that her granddaughter, aged three, was given the choice of three, one of which was Bernard Preston's lightly filtered, unheated, raw honey. Having tasted them she would henceforth apparently only sanction that from my beehives.
It is not what I do to my honey that makes it famous; it is what I do not do.
Manuka honey from New Zealand is famous. Why, you may well ask? It is because of the pollen.
If you want crystal clear, pure honey, then so be it. It has no pollen and has questionable merit, particularly if it is been heated in the refining process.
Take any honey, do not heat it, filter it lightly so it includes the pollens from your location and, voila, you have a perfect choice food. Still they are simple sugars, and I limit myself to a teaspoon a day.
Bernard Preston's books love to delve into the mysteries and confusions of life. Once such is when the world was created.
Recently a massive sink hole appeared in South Africa; geologist who examined it, report that it was formed by a massive meteor that struck the area millions of years ago, not unlike the one that hit Mexico, destroying the dinosaurs. That creates huge difficulties for those who believe the world was created less than 10,000 years ago.
Dipping into such issues is what Bernard Preston's books are about. His seventh book, currently being written is about the first married pope in a thousand years; that will get some of us excited. It might even be more controversial than Darwin's theory of natural selection.
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