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Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist

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Biological evolution, as outlined by Darwin and Wallace in the mid-19th century and elaborated upon and tested by thousands of scientists worldwide ever since, is about the diversification of living biodiversity from one or few common ancestors at the root of the Tree of Life. It does not concern the origin of life or the existence of God, yet the perception that it does is widespread. The polemic on this topic derives from both creationists and atheistic scientists who, to varying degrees, present Darwinism as incompatible with religion. It is either one or the other, they say; if you are an evolutionary biologist, you cannot be religious, and vice-versa.

I wish to address this misunderstanding by stressing firstly that the Darwinian mechanism of descent with modification, as outlined in the 19th century and refined greatly since then, is a natural process of cause that is not tied to any particular belief about the role of God as a creative agent.

This talk is part of the Trinity Hall Forum series.

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