Evolution and Religion Can Coexist, Scientists Say

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
October 18, 2004

"Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." —Albert Einstein

Joel Primack has a long and distinguished career as an astrophysicist. A University of California, Santa Cruz, professor, he co-developed the cold dark matter theory that seeks to explain the formation and structure of the universe.

He also believes in God.

That may strike some people as peculiar. After all, in some corners popular belief renders science and religion incompatible.

Yet scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as other people, according to surveys. Some of history's greatest scientific minds, including Albert Einstein, were convinced there is intelligent life behind the universe. Today many scientists say there is no conflict between their faith and their work.

"In the last few years astronomy has come together so that we're now able to tell a coherent story" of how the universe began, Primack said. "This story does not contradict God, but instead enlarges [the idea of] God."

Evolution

The notion that science and religion are irreconcilable centers in large part on the issue of evolution. Charles Darwin, in his 1859 book The Origin of Species, explained that the myriad species inhabiting Earth were a result of repeated evolutionary branching from common ancestors.

One would be hard pressed to find a legitimate scientist today who does not believe in evolution. As laid out in a cover story in the November issue of National Geographic magazine, the scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming.

Yet in a 2001 Gallup poll 45 percent of U.S. adults said they believe evolution has played no role in shaping humans. According to the creationist view, God produced humans fully formed, with no previous related species.

But what if evolution is God's tool? Darwin never said anything about God. Many scientists—and theologians—maintain that it would be perfectly logical to think that a divine being used evolution as a method to create the world.

Continued on Next Page >>


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