What is a creationist viewpoint on natural selection?
The concept of natural selection was first proposed by the zoologist Edward Blyth in 1835. Blyth himself was a creationist and published his ideas in articles explaining how different animal species could have adapted to a new environment after the biblical flood. Darwin later combined this process with mutation and speciation to explain the unique animal life he encountered on the Galapagos Islands.
Natural selection refers to the process by which a species adapts by passing down genes that are best suited for survival in a particular environment. Every organism has a genotype or set of traits that comprise its genetic makeup. These traits are carried in the DNA and randomly passed from parents to their offspring. Offspring receive half of their DNA from each parent. Certain traits are dominant or recessive or come with many variables. Thus, each individual carries a trait, but how it will be expressed depends on the combination of all the traits. When a species experiences a new environment or change in their current environment, it affects which traits are passed down to the next generation. The individuals with the traits best suited to the environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, while those with less suitable traits will die. Therefore, more of the suitable traits will be passed down to offspring, eventually weeding out the other traits all together or leaving them dormant.
In his book "The Origin of Species" Charles Darwin stated that natural selection was the driving mechanism of evolution. As his ideas became more popular, the concepts of natural selection and evolution became linked, leading to the misconception that natural selection equals evolution and vice versa. Yet when examined closely, one realizes that natural selection does not prove the theory of evolution. Darwin's theory of evolution requires a common ancestor between all species and the appearance of new genetic material. However, natural selection works through heritable variation in which all the traits come from existing genetic material, so nothing new is created.
There are many examples of natural selection at work in nature. Notable ones include the peppered moth that changed colors to evade predators while adjusting to the pollution from the Industrial Revolution, the Nebraskan deer mouse who changed colors to adapt to a non-wooded habitat, and insects that adapt to become immune to certain pesticides. Darwin's finches on the Galapagos Islands are one of the most iconic examples. Darwin found that while the finches all shared common traits with the finches on the South American mainland, each island had finches with different beak shapes and sizes. As the birds migrated to different islands, they had to adapt to different food sources. Those with stronger beaks survived where there were nuts to eat and those with slender beaks could better survive where there were insects hiding inside logs.
Natural selection does not contradict the Bible. In fact, it demonstrates God's sovereignty and creativity through the intricate design of variables within genetic makeup. He provided the life He created with the ability to adapt to changing environments due to the presence of sin in the world. From the great flood to diseases, He knew how life would need to change over time. Creationists can accept natural selection. However, they should do so with caution and discernment so they are not deceived by the many lies surrounding the Theory of Evolution.
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