Science and Religion Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Micro-Evolution acceptable to 7 Day Creationists

It is frequently lamented that a large portion of the population believes in creationism. A Gallop Poll in 2012 reported that 46 percent of Americans believe God created man in present form in the last ten thousand years, up about 2 percent from 30 years ago.

It is quite reasonable that this bothers people. Evolution is an important fact for both personal decisions and voting. Insects evolve a resistance to our pesticides, and bacteria evolve a resistance to our antibiotics. So the rejection of evolution is indeed disturbing, but even young earth or 7-day creationists can believe in microevolution without compromising their religious beliefs in any way.

Microevolution is evolution within species. Macroevolution is the evolution of a new species. Because evolution moves slowly, microevolution is what we observe, for example, insects evolving resistance to pesticides, and bacteria evolving resistance to antibiotics.

As microevolution happens over the relatively short time periods that are relevant to personal decisions and public policy decisions influenced by voting, believing in micro-evolution maybe enough for intelligent decision making. So while the supporters of evolution will not consider it sufficient, from a public policy, societal, point of view if the seven-day creationists accept microevolution most of the problem is solved.

We could hope that churches that teach that macroevolution is wrong will make it clear to their followers that they have no problem with microevolution. It is clearly in their interest to do so because it is a phenomenon that the individual is likely to run into. If they have antibiotic resistant staff infection they can see and feel the results of micro-evolution on their own body. Why unnecessarily encourage doubt among your flock.

Science is a powerful and impressive institution, it is best not to pick unnecessarily fights with an institution like science. Of course, the reverse is also true. Everyone knows that it is extremely unlikely that their one vote will decide an election so they have no temporal self-interest in their own vote. Freed of economic self-interest, people are free to vote their religion, and many empirical studies show that they take advantage of this. Given that science is critically dependent on governments that are elected by often religous voters it would be best for science if it did not pick unnecessary fights with religion.

But as much as would make sense for churches that condemn the idea of macro-evolution to make it clear they do not condemn the idea of microevolution, some may fail to do so. We can always remind them, hopefully, this essay will help serve that purpose.

But even if the seven-day creationist churches do make the point in many cases the laity will not learn the lesson. One would hope that the court decisions and the general allergy that public schools have for religion will not prevent schools from making this point about microevolution so that the close to one-half of the population who believe in young earth creationism can understand enough about evolution to make good personal and voting decisions.

As both the churches and the schools may fail this might be a good area for public service ads. A public service ad is not restricted in the way public schools are.

The media is not restricted as schools are so this might be a good topic for letters to the editor, Internet posts, columns, blogs, etc.

Sometimes the supporters of evolution claim seven-day creationists can not reasonably deal with antibiotic and pesticide resistance. In many cases, seven-day creationists may indeed fail to accept these important facts, but there is nothing inherent within their religious belief systems that prevents them from understanding.


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