Creationism or Intelligent Design is the belief that life and the universe were created by a supernatural being (an "intelligent designer"), an omnipotent, benevolent God. Evolution is the process by which different kinds of living organisms developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the Earth. The theory of evolution purports that life on earth evolved from one universal common ancestor about 3.8 billion years ago. It is a "theory" in the scientific sense of the word, which means it is supported by evidence and accepted as fact by the scientific community. The intelligent design hypothesis is not supported by evidence. Since 1929, the term “creationism” in the US has been associated with Christian fundamentalism, and specifically with a disbelief in evolution and a belief in a young earth.

Comparison chart

Creationism versus Evolution comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartCreationismEvolution
Introduction Creationism is the belief that life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being. The belief is also called intelligent design. Evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations. After a population splits into smaller groups, these groups evolve independently and may eventually diversify into new species.
Testable No Yes
Scientific No; the intelligent design point of view cannot be tested to prove or disprove its accuracy. Yes; a scientific theory can be tested and proved to be false based on evidence.
Types Young Earth Creationism, Gap creationism, progressive creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolution. Divergent evolution, convergent evolution, parallel evolution
Discovered by No-one; Biblical version of truth Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace
% of believers in US 46% 35% (theistic evolution), 15% (evolution without God).
Proponent organizations American Scientific Affiliation, Christians in Science, Center for Intelligent Design, Creation Research Society, Institution for Creation Research, the Discovery Institute Society for the Study of Evolution, European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Society

The Points of View

Evolutionary theory holds that living organisms that do not adapt to their environment fail to survive. Genetic variations are introduced in species through random DNA mutation. These mutations manifest themselves in different phenotypes, or physical characteristics, in living organisms. Organisms whose characteristics are better suited for the surrounding environment survive and reproduce, passing on their mutated DNA to subsequent generations. This is often called "survival of the fittest", and it is not a random process. As the surviving organisms reproduce, and this process repeats over several generations, the species evolves.

There are many flavors of the creationist worldview. Young Earth Creationism and Gap Creationism believe that humanity was created by God, but while Young Earth Creationism claims the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and was reshaped by the flood, Gap Creationism claims the world is the scientifically accepted age. Progressive creationism believes humanity was directly created by God, based on primate anatomy, while intelligent design and theistic evolution include a variety of beliefs based on the idea that divine intervention led to something that may appear like evolution.

Types of evolution

Divergent evolution occurs when one species separates into two species, for example if they become separated geographically and have to adapt to different environments to survive. Parallel evolution, on the other hand, occurs when two or more species develop similar traits, such as growing wings, to survive the same environment. Finally, convergent evolution occurs when two or more species develop similar traits in different environments.

The Evidence

Evolution relies on evidence from fossil records, similarities between life forms, the geographic distribution of species, and recorded changes in species. Since the 1920s, for example, hundreds of fossils have been found of creatures in the intermediate stages between monkeys, apes, and humans, and fossil records in general suggest that multi-celled organisms only appeared after single-celled ones, and that complex animals were preceded by simpler ones. Geographic evidence includes the fact that, before humans arrived in Australia 60-40,000 years ago, the country had more than 100 species of kangaroo, koalas and marsupials, but no placental land mammals like dogs, cats, bears and horses. Islands like Hawaii and New Zealand also lacked these mammals, and had plant, insect and bird species not found elsewhere on Earth.

Creationism is typically based on a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Supporters of Intelligent Design argue that either God created the conditions for evolution or point to patterns occuring in nature as evidence that the universe is not random but created by an intelligent being.


Here is a video of a debate between evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and cardinal George Pell, a Catholic priest. They discuss evolution, creation, Adam and Eve and the first humans, as well as the existence of God. A question specifically about evolution is at around 28:40.

A basic tenet of science is the scientific method, which states that

To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

This mans that scientific hypotheses must be testable. Critics of intelligent design argue that the creationist hypothesis is not testable i.e., the existence of God cannot be proved. Although science cannot test issues of faith, scientific studies have disproved many elements of Creationism, including the age of the Earth, its geological history, and the relationships of living organisms. Anthropology, geology and planetary science reveal that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, disputing Creationist claims that the Earth was created 6000 years ago. Creationism has also been criticized by several religious organizations, as they maintain that the Christian faith does not conflict with the science of evolution.

Many Creationists argue that evolution is a “theory” and not fact and so should be taught as such. However, this is based on a misunderstanding of the scientific use of “theory,” which does not mean “possibility,” as it does in common usage, but “a scientifically acceptable general principle to explain phenomena.” Creationists also claim that supernatural explanations should not be excluded, and accuse of evolution of also being a religion, not a science. Creationism also criticizes the idea of “common descent” – the theory that creatures with similarities in their genes must have evolved from a common ancestor -- by arguing that such similarities suggest that the creatures shared a common designer, aka God.

Contemporary beliefs

According to a Gallup poll, 46% of US citizens believed in creationism in 2012, including 52% of those with only a high-school education or less and 25% of those with post graduate education. 25% of those who do not attend church believe in creationism, while 67% of those who attend church weekly believe. Outside of the US, most contemporary Christian leaders believe that Genesis is allegorical and support evolution.

Notable supporters of Evolution

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is a notable and vociferous critic of creationism.

The Catholic church's unofficial position is an example of theistic evolution, also known as evolutionary creation, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict. Moreover, the Church teaches that the process of evolution is a planned and purpose-driven natural process, guided by God. Catholics regard the creation descriptions in the Bible as parables written to provide moral instruction rather than as literal history, and therefore see no conflict between these accounts and the Theory of Evolution. The Church has deferred to scientists on matters such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record. Papal pronouncements, along with commentaries by cardinals, have accepted the findings of scientists on the gradual appearance of life. The Church's stance is that any such gradual appearance must have been guided in some way by God, but the Church has thus far declined to define in what way that may be. [1]

Notable supporters of Creationism

Many Protestant, and particularly Evangelical, churches, on the other hand, reject Evolution in favor of a literal, rather than figurative, interpretation of the book of Genesis. However, it is typically not specified which version of the creation account is being considered divinely inspired and hence "literally true". This is problematic since there are two such accounts in the Bible (Gen1:1 - Gen2:3 vs. Gen2:4 - Gen50:26) , and they contradict each other in numerous ways. For instance, order in which Adam vs. the Beasts were created differs [2][3] between the two accounts.

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