Biblical literalists are strongly opposed to the idea of common ancestry—especially common ancestry of humans with other creatures. According to some literal interpretations of the Bible, God created living things as separate "kinds." If living things instead have descended with modification from common ancestors, the Bible would be untrue. Many biblical literalists (Young Earth Creationists, or YECs) also believe that Earth's age is measured in thousands rather than billions of years.
Yet even before Darwin published On the Origin of Species, there was compelling evidence for an ancient Earth and the existence of species of living things before the advent of humans. Fossils of creatures similar to but different from living forms were known, which implied that Genesis was an incomplete record of creation. More troubling was the existence of fossils of creatures not known to be alive today, raising the possibility that God allowed some creatures to become extinct. Did the evidence of extinction mean that God's Creation was somehow not perfect? If Earth was ancient and populated by creatures that lived before humans, death must have preceded Adam's fall—which has obvious implications for the Christian doctrine of original sin. These theological issues were addressed in a variety of ways by clergy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (see chapters 3, 4, and 12, and references).
unquestionably, evolution has consequences for traditional Christian religion. Equally unquestionably, Christian theologians and thoughtful laymen have pondered these issues and attempted to resolve the potential contradictions between traditional religion and modern science. Some of these approaches are discussed in chapter 12.
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