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Compatibilitatea principiilor evoluu021Biei biologice cu ortodoxia.pdf

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St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 55:2 (2011) 209-231 THE COMPATIBILITY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION WITH EASTERN ORTHODOXY Gayle E. Woloschak Introduction: Biological Evolution Defined Biological evolution is defined as descent with modification. This definition includes both small-scale evolution (such as changes in the frequency of a particular gene within a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (such a
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  St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 55:2 (2011)  209-231 THE COMPATIBILITY  OF THE  PRINCIPLES OF  BIOLOGICAL  EVOLUTION WITH  EASTERN ORTHODOXY Gayle E. Woloschak  Introduction: Biological Evolution Defined Biological evolution is defined as descent with modification. This definition includes both small-scale evolution (such as changes in the frequency of a particular gene within a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (such as the descent of different species from  a  common ancestor over many generations). Evolution as a biological theory was first proposed by Charles Darwin, a British naturalist who explained that species develop over time and that they developed from a common srcin. His two most important works are  On the Origin of the Species 1  ana  then  The Descent of   Man,  and  Selection in Relation to Sex}  The major tenets proposed by Darwin and accepted by the mainstream scientific community to this day were that there is a common ancestry for all of life on earth; that species developed through variations in form (now known to be the result of inheritable mutations); and that natural selection selects variations and drives speciation. At the time, the books were controversial both from a public view and from  a religious  perspective. The Church of England's establishment reacted against the book at the time, although this view softened into an uneasy acceptance over the ensuing decades. Even the Roman Catholic Church eventually took a pro-evolution perspective through the work of such noted scholars as Teilhard de Chardin and others. 1  Charles Darwin,  On the  Origin of Species by Means of Natural  Selection,  or the Preservation of Favoured Races  in  the  StruggleforLife (1st  ed.)  (London:  John  Murray,  1859). 2  Charles Darwin,  The  Descent   of   Man,  and   Selection  in Relation to Sex  (1st ed.) (Lon don :  John Murray,  1871). 209  210 ST  VLADIMIR'S THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Evolution was srcinally presented as a scientific theory: a logically self-consistent model describing the behavior of   a  natural phenomenon srcinating and supported by observable facts. Like all other scientific theories (such as the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, etc.), evolutionary theory is formulated, developed, and evaluated according to the scientific method. Often in everyday language, people equate the word theory with speculation or a conjecture. In scientific practice, however, the word theory has a very specific meaning—it is a model of the world (or some portion of it) from which falsifiable hypotheses can be generated and verified (or not) through empirical observation of   facts.  In this way, the concepts of theory and fact are not opposed to each other, but rather exist in a reciprocal relationship. While it is a fact that an apple falls from a tree, it  is  the theory of gravity that explains it. The scientific method which is used to test a scientific theory is not radically different from a rational attitude that is used in many aspects of everyday life. 3  The scientific method is characterized by several major features: (1) it uses an objectivity in approach where the goal is to observe events as they are without falsifying them; (2) the results (if produced experimentally) must be reproducible in a broad sense in laboratories anywhere in the world; (3) there is an interplay of inductive reasoning (from specific observation and experiments) and deductive reasoning (reasoning from theories to account for specific experimental results); and (4) the objective of the work is to develop broad laws that become part of humanity's understanding of natural laws (such as the theory of gravity developed by Isaac Newton). The definition of a scientific theory, which is generally considered to be a paradigm that is proven or assumed to be true, is in marked contrast to a dogma which is a principle that is proclaimed as true. It is at the core of science to fight hard to be open to change imposed on it by the utilization of the scientific method. For that reason vocabulary of science is cautious: science has refrained from making dogmatic claims; 3 Arthur Peacocke,  Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Exploring  (Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2001), 26.   Biological  Evolution  and   Eastern Orthodoxy  211 instead, it relies upon hypotheses, which are assumptions used as the basis for investigation or argument, and can be tested. Proven hypotheses support and modulate their srcinating theory. The textbook definition of evolution describes it in a broad sense as a process of change, but biological evolution itself is much more limited in definition. Douglas J Futuyma in his book   Evolutionary  Biology  makes the following distinction: In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alteration that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions. 4 Biological evolution, then, does not act upon individuals but rather on populations. 5  The fate of individuals can be affected by their traits, but individuals do not undergo biological evolution, changes we undergo in life may perhaps  be  called personal evolution, but not biological evolution. A natural unit enacting biological evolution is the population. A population acts essentially  as a  collection of genes and genotypes that evolves, and the evolution of the population can be expressed as a change in the frequency of certain genes and genotypes in the population. For example, the prevalence of lighter Douglas J Futuyma,  Evolutionary Biology  (Sunderland, MS, Sinauer Associates, 1997), 751. John M Smith and Eörs Szathmáry,  The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 81; David S Wilson,  Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society  (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 9-18.  212 ST  VLADIMIR'S THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY skinned individuals in dusky climates and darker skinned individuals in sunny climates resulted from a selection of gene combinations balancing vitamin D deficiency and protection against UV light induced mutations; since neither of these issues is instantly lethal and they are mutually opposed to each other, selection pressure over many generations leads to the skin color gradient between equatorial Africa and Sweden. It is not the purpose of this work to provide  a  proof for biological evolution. Despite recent challenges, 6 there is an overwhelming body of support for biological evolution in the scientific literature that comes from protein and DNA data, from the fossil and geological records, physiologic and functional studies, and much more (see for example, any textbook of biology currently used in universities). Theodosius Dobzhansky, the son of an Orthodox priest, a practicing Orthodox Christian, and a noted evolutionary scholar wrote the following: Let me try to make crystal clear what is established beyond reasonable doubt, and what needs further study, about evolution. Evolution as a process that has always gone on in the history of the earth can be doubted only by those who are ignorant of the evidence or are resistant to evidence, owing to emotional blocks or to plain bigotry. By contrast, the mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification. There are no alternatives to evolution as history that can withstand critical examination. Yet we are constantly learning new and important facts about evolutionary mechanisms. 7 Biological evolution (throughout the remainder of this text referred to as evolution) is the unifying theory of biology. Results of evolution shape the lives of people in almost every respect of everyday life. Agriculture and medicine have used the principles of evolution for centuries before that word was ever used for the first time.  Regardless of their attitude toward education about evolution, 6 Michael J. Behe,  Darwin s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution  (Free Press,  1998). 7 Theodosius G. Dobzhansky, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,  American Biology  Teacher   35 (  1973):  125-29.
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