According to findings from the Pew Religious Landscape Survey, 48 percent of those surveyed believe evolution is the “best explanation for origins of life on earth.”Given the near 50-50 split, it is not a surprise that evolution is a hot-button issue. A closer look at the Pew data suggests approximately 80 percent of Buddhists and Hindus believe in evolution, whereas only 24 percent of Evangelical Christians believe evolution explains life on earth. Mainline Protestants (51 percent) and Muslims (45 percent) appear to be nearly split in their beliefs on evolution.
Some parents and school board members fear instruction on evolution would displace the belief in God. In fact, Darwin himself struggled with this fear. Darwin was not afraid he might be wrong. Instead he was afraid he was right and that his theory would “kill God.” Some of the personal struggles of faith that he and wife faced before they sending Origin of Species to publication are brought to life in this movie, “Creation.”
Despite Darwin’s fear about the demise of God, most of us would agree faith is alive and well. Based purely on the longevity of faith, even the most ardent atheist would have to wonder how it has outlived so many generations. Of course, atheists can argue that faith is irrational, illogical, baseless and unscientific. Yet, it is sublime, awe-inspiring, offers hope to the hopeless, and peace to the troubled.
Faith, reason and science can coexist. In fact, their coexistence makes faith vibrant and dynamic. Given the preponderance of scientific evidence for evolution, keeping it out of the schools dilutes science education. The fear among some Christians that evolution will displace God is unfounded. Evolution offers only a material account of our origin. It is faith that fills the void in the human soul. And it is this healing power of faith that explains its Darwinian survival over many generations.
Prabu David, Ph.D., has a strong interest in religion research.