The majority of Christian denominations are accepting of the science of evolutionary biology. However, they tend to see this as evidence of God’s work and God’s creation. There are also several Protestant denominations, primarily fundamentalist churches, that outright reject evolution. Some Christians reject the consensus beliefs of their respective churches as well, and beliefs in evolution start with the individual.
Evolution and Christianity
Evolutionary biology seeks to explain the diversity of life and how species vary from each other. It also explains how species are related to each other. Evolutionary biology and religion may clash over issues related to the origins of species. Christians who accept evolutionary biology often place one caveat on the theory. While they accept evolution from a scientific understanding of life on earth, many Christians feel that evolution is simply shedding light on God’s creation.
In contrast with evolutionary biology is the belief in creationism. Creationists believe that God created life and the universe. Many believe that the earth is less than 6,000 years old, that is much younger than scientists theorize -- more than 4 billion years old. They also dispute the theory that species change over time. While most Christians believe that God is the ultimate creator of life, true creationists reject the scientific understanding of the diversity of life on earth.
Catholics and Evolution
Catholics in general have not been aggressive in critiquing theories about scientific evolution. Evolutionary biology is taught in most parochial schools, and Catholicism believes that evolution is compatible with religious doctrine. In the modern era, Pope John Paul II and other leading Catholics have stated that it is their belief that evolution is a scientific understanding of God’s work. Catholics do clash with scientists over the origins of life when theories are presented that exclude an ultimate creator.
Protestants and Evolution
A 2010 survey published in "Evolution: Education and Outreach" found that Protestants are mixed in their acceptance of evolution. Mainline Protestant churches, such as the United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, United Church of Christ, are accepting of evolution, but the fundamentalist Protestants, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, Assembly of God and others, outright reject evolutionary biology. Fundamentalists tend to interpret the Bible literally and believe that God created the universe and life on Earth in six days. This contrasts to mainline Protestants who critically interpret the Bible and are more open to diverse understandings of Genesis.
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