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Eden and Evolution


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By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post

While critics of evolution point to gaps in the fossil record — asking, for instance, why no fossils of intermediary species exist between land mammals and sea mammals — new discoveries regularly fill those holes. By 1994, observed Brown University biologist Ken Miller, scientists unearthed fossils of animals near the Indian subcontinent that had front and hind limbs capable of walking on land and flippering through water.

Why have such examples failed to convince doubters? Over many months of interviews about intelligent design, I gradually came to realize that evolution’s advocates and critics are mostly talking about different things. While the controversy over intelligent design is superficially about scientific facts, the real debate is more emotional. Evolution cuts to the heart of the belief that humans have a special place in creation. If all things in the living world exist solely because of evolutionary competition and natural selection, what room is left for the idea that humans are made in God’s image or for any morality beyond the naked requirements of survival? Beneath all the complex arguments of intelligent design advocates, Georgetown theologian John Haught agreed, “there lies a deeply human and passionately religious concern about whether the universe resides in the bosom of a loving, caring God or is instead perched over an abyss of ultimate meaninglessness.”

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