Although not everyone of religious faith rejects the theory of evolution, nothing from science generates more controversy. How solid is the theory, can it really be reconciled with religious faith and should it be accepted?
Evolution on the micro level
Even the strongest critics of evolution usually admit it has some validity on the micro level, since there is no denying human beings have used it for their own purposes and its effects on the world. For example, farmers have used selective breeding to create cows that produce more milk, sheep more wool and plants more food for people. Animals modified by humans with selective breeding include pigeons that cannot fly and cute species of dogs that could never survive in the wild. Furthermore, it is possible to see harmful evolution at work when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.
Those who reject evolutionary theory will generally say that evolution stops on the macro level, although they do not exactly explain how, why or precisely what point it stops at.
Evolution on the macro level
While dissenters can always be found in every group of people, the evidence for evolution is strong enough to be accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists, particularly biologists. Some of the reasons include the following:
The fossil record
The fossil shows a layered history with gradual increases in complexity of life forms over time. The oldest layers have the least complexity and the newest the most. This matches perfectly with what would be expected if life evolved. The completeness of the fossil record varies greatly with the time and species (only a tiny percentage of any life forms ever become preserved as fossils), but every place the record has been preserved shows a gradual evolution.
The genetic record
As the science of genetics has advanced, it has added a lot of evidence to support evolution. This includes:
Vestiges. For example, chickens have the genes for teeth and humans for tails and heavy body hair. These features will show up when they are “turned on.”
Junk DNA: Every species carries a lot of DNA that is not serving any proving instructions. While a small percentage has been found offer some functionality, the vast majority does not.
Chemical and Anatomical Similarities
The similarities in chemical compositions found in all life on earth point to a common origin. As stated in Palomar.edu
“All living things on earth share the ability to create complex molecules out of carbon and a few other elements. In fact, 99% of the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other molecules of living things are made from only 6 of the 92 most common elements. This is not a mere coincidence. ”
This is just scratching the surface of the very extensive evidence pointing to evolution existing on all levels. For more reading on some of the evidence, the following articles in Wikipedia and TalkOrigins cover the topic far more extensively.
Evolution or God?
With the evidence as strong as it is, religious scientists also embrace the theory. Kenneth Miller who offers powerful evidence for evolution in the following video, is, in fact, a Christian. These people use their belief that God started the evolutionary process to accept both religious faith and evolutionary theory at the same time.
This brings up a point ignored by some of those who attack evolutionary theory. Proving evolution is not actually disproving the existence of any god. Likewise, even if some or all of evolutionary theory were proved wrong, that would not prove the existence of any god either.
It also needs to be noted that the fact that science does not have all the answers yet is not proof that God created it all. As methods improve and knowledge expands, so do conclusions. What has not changed is the fact that the evidence for evolution has continuously expanded while creationism remains little more than an attack on evolution.
One reason why evolution is not universally accepted is because of the complexity of life. Human beings simply are not equipped to really comprehend time frames of even thousands of years, let alone millions or billions. So much can happen with even the most gradual changes over time frames like that. Furthermore, if life was too complex to have evolved, how could have a far more awesome God have just come into existence?
Finally, there are all the flaws in the life that point to it being something that came from an imperfect process and not a perfect designer. From diseases and parasites that eat their victims alive to weak lower backs, teeth which decay and nipples on men, there are a lot of flaws in life that make perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but would make any designer either malevolent or incompetent. This is covered further in intelligent design.
Would God want to fool us?
If there is a God, then it is pretty safe to assume he wants us to embrace evolutionary theory. If he does not, that would mean he was trying to trick us all with an elaborate hoax that was enough to convince the greatest minds in human history of a lie. Religious or not, there is no reason not to accept evolutionary theory as the driving force for changes in life on earth.