When I am asked if I “believe” in evolution, as I have been many times in my life, I am somewhat at a loss with how to respond. To believe in evolution implies that there is some level of faith required to accept that life on earth changes in order to adapt to the environment and to increase the chances of surviving and reproducing. The evidence for such adaptation is so abundant that, to my way of thinking, denying it would require an extraordinary suspension of observation and reasoning.
Of course, I am keenly aware that when I am asked this question, the real query is “Do you believe that human beings evolved from lower life forms?” or the less- intelligent and poorly-informed version, “Do you believe we came from monkeys?” The answer to the former would be an unequivocal YES, and the answer to the latter would be an equally emphatic NO. Anyone who has taken an elementary course in biology knows the difference between those two premises, so I won’t bother with the distinctions.
I suspect the people who have the most difficult time accepting evolution as a scientific theory that explains so much about life on this planet are those who cling to religious beliefs that somehow run contrary to the evidence. This conflict is especially true for people of faith who maintain a literal interpretation of ancient, sacred texts such as the Bible or the Koran. Evangelicals in America are so bound to their worldview of creationism by the hand of God that they will not allow themselves to be swayed by rationalism or overwhelming evidence. I have even met scientists, teaching in universities, who cannot fully embrace human evolution as a fact because of their religious convictions. The pressure to conform to supernatural explanations of natural phenomenon must be enormous.
Is it fear that prompts such denial? Pride? Does science pose such a threat to faith that adherents impose barriers to the most obvious truths rather than accept and embrace them? I am absolutely baffled by people who can choose to believe the supernatural over the natural.