Being a Catholic, I have no problem believing in evolution because this scientific theory offers plenty of insights. Unlike many religious people, I don’t take the Bible literally, especially the Old Testament. As a general rule, words invented by humans cannot describe in full all the truths, particularly subtle and complex ones like evolution. There is an ancient Chinese saying that if you believe without questioning what you read from books, you may as well go without any books at all. We must think critically about what we read and see. That’s how people find enlightenment. The negative attitude toward evolution is not new. It has something to do with the following three factors — psychology, religion, and complicated scientific knowledge.
First, how can we accept that humans descended from an ancestral branch of apes? Harder still, how can we accept that all living things originate from a single cell at the beginning? This thinking definitely conflicts with our egos since we think humans are the highest form of life. Well, all we need is an open mind. Why not take a look at something important about life that is based on scientific evidence? Never mind our egos that tend to get us into trouble. The fact that humans have come this far demonstrates our great success in evolution history. However, we must also pay attention to the countless success stories of other species around us. Despite being illiterate, are apes smart enough to survive the hostile environment in their own styles? Despite possessing no tools, are vegetables smart enough to photosynthesize for survival besides providing for human consumption? Despite being single cells, are microbes smart enough to populate everywhere even within our bodies? The fact that all life forms (not just us) continue to thrive in this diverse and complex ecosystem is a great reason to celebrate, not denigrate.
Second, the curious human mind never stops looking for answers. When an answer is found, it provides closure and peace of mind. How can we find answers to the greatest mysteries such as the origins of life and of the universe? Here, religions rightfully come into play. The Bible snd other scriptures provide the ultimate elegant answer — the omnipotent Creator. As for the atheists, they will also find the ultimate answer even more elegant that everything in the universe is a result of pure chance. We don’t need scientific evidence that is hard to understand. We just want closure and peace of mind, which are perfectly fine. Then what about the Creator’s plan for humankind? It varies depending on which religion you belong to. The religious answers to the Creator’s plan are simple like fairy tales but fail to provide closure. We are still asking God why so many humans in the world are suffering, and why does evil triumph over good in so many cases.
Third, science is a very complex discipline, but you need not fully understand it to appreciate its usefulness. If you possess a smart phone, access the Internet while flying or employ GPS while driving, to deny scientific evidence is a sinful betrayal of truth and reality. Every scientist will tell you that they only know a very small fraction of truth because science is always work in progress. Scientists learn and correct their mistakes along the way everyday. The science of evolution has now grown to encompass not only biology but also many other disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Cosmology, Geology, Ecology, Paleontology and Anthropology. There has not been a single piece of evidence suggesting that evolution is false or contradictory to logic. Instead, more and more evidence point to the wonder and complexity of evolution.
In spite of all the advanced tools, science cannot answer the question about the existence of the Creator. That is not the job of the scientists, but of the clergy in order to fulfill the human desire for closure. The scientists can never provide closure regarding the origins of life and the universe, because one question inevitably leads to another as to what was the first being or condition to give rise to all the physical laws and other things. They find that the answer involves more and more complexity — an infinite wonder worthy of continued research. This wonder is the Creator’s plan if we really want closure.
The science of evolution describes how the Creator’s plan evolves as revealed by continuous scientific discoveries without usurping the religious doctrine about the existence of the Creator. In so doing, evolution provides a fuller yet complex answer to the simple religious doctrine about the Creator’s plan. Therefore we see that religion proclaims the omnipotent Creator while evolution confirms the omnipotence of His complex plan. The two are complementary. Why do we have to treat them as conflicting? The science of evolution gradually reveals the Creator’s plan like peeling an onion. It gives us great insights into the process of life instead of simple closure. In addition, it points the direction to how we are able to save the world.
Evolution, nature and ecology are almost synonymous. There seems to be a goal for all living things — to adapt, survive and reproduce. These essential capabilities are all built-in and passed down from one generation to the next. Evolution does not discriminate between species, resulting in a huge diversity of both animals and plants to form a well-balanced ecosystem. This balance is dynamic rather than static. Many species including humans evolve faster than others. Many species become extinct because they fail to adapt fast enough. This natural balance may be disrupted by some major external disturbances like an asteroid impacting the earth like the one ending the dinosaurs and many other species. However, a different balance will be restored eventually reflecting the high adaptability of the surviving species.
We should recognize that all living things are passively responding to the changes in their environments, with the exception of humans. In this technological age, an external disturbance may comprise not only an asteroid, but also disastrous human acts such as nuclear holocaust, overfishing, environmental pollution, and climate change due to excessive man-made carbon dioxide. It is difficult to predict how living things will adapt and evolve in these conditions. Nevertheless there is scientific consensus that after an extinction event for humans, the creatures ruling the earth will likely be the most adaptable cockroaches and other insects. If you find this really hurts your ego, better engage yourself in promoting peace and protecting the environment from man-made disasters.
In conclusion, I believe in evolution because it helps me understand all those things important for human survival and wellbeing. It does not conflict with my religious belief. It only helps me find a way to contribute positively to the Creator’s plan, which despite omnipotent and benevolent, allows human freedom to destroy the earth.