The philosophical system that totalizes reality is better referred to as "Evolutionism." As an "-ism" combined with Scientism, the view that only science offers the way to truth, it competes with young earth Creationism and its "Intelligent Design" variant. While materialists claim support for their belief system from the science of evolution, the belief system and the science are not identical. The scientific concept of evolution simply accounts for the world as nature presents it. It needs to be understood and evaluated as science, not as philosophy.
I want to make this point as strongly as I can, because what I present here is science. I will outline and highlight the major elements of the empirical study and research that has placed evolution at the center of the modern scientific world-picture.
Perhaps God created the process of evolution as a way for life to survive the natural calamities that He knew would come, such as the meteorite impact at Chicxulub in Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. A remnant of the animals (mammals, birds) apparently did survive and went on to re-populate the earth. This view is consistent with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19, where a remnant is saved because of God's mercy. (If you want to know why God sent or allowed the Chixculub meteorite in the first place when there was no sin of mankind to destroy, you'll have to ask Him when you get to heaven. I plan to. The same question applies to present-day hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters.) This view asserts that evolution is not God's ideal process for creating life, but instead evolution is God's way of providing for life to survive and thrive in a difficult and dangerous universe. Life on earth has indeed survived for many millions of years despite the worst that satan could throw at it. The universe is good - good enough for us to marvel at along with the Psalmist. But God's ideal arrangement for life is . . . heaven!
God chose a certain method to spread the Gospel message: Tell people, and then those people will tell other people, and so on. We humans could easily conclude that this method is cruel and inefficient by looking at human history. Jesus Himself was crucified for spreading the message this way. St. Stephen, St. Paul, and all the Apostles except for St. John are thought to have suffered violent deaths for spreading the Gospel message. We can see that this method is inefficient because 2,000 years later there are still people in the world who have not heard about Jesus. Some people have heard the message so poorly communicated that thay are not inclined to accept it. Yet we do not deny that God chose to use this method to spread the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Neither can we conclude that God did not use evolution because to us it seems cruel and inefficient.
As noted earlier, the small probabilities here bother me less than they would bother an atheist, because I believe in more than just a tinkering God. I believe in a God who knows and cares for even the sparrows (Matthew 10: 29-31). Yahweh is always directing and caring for His creation. He does not show up only when evolution needs a boost. Jesus Christ is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20).
Adaptive radiation: Migrations of species to new environments and their resulting reproductive isolation have led to spurts of evolutionary development at different periods of life's history. The species that migrated from the oceans to land evolved from amphibians to reptiles some 340 mya. From them radiated the great number of reptilians forms, from the ancient "-saurs" (T-Rex & Co.) to modern crocodiles, lizards, snakes, geckos, and others. When the early mammals that arose in the Triassic period (248 to 206 mya) no longer needed to compete with the giant reptiles for habitat and survival, a rapid (in geological terms) radiation of various lineages emerged over time. The species of bats, rodents, whales, elephants, horses, rabbits, moles, and great apes living today are the present ends of lineages that radiated out over the lands, and some from there to the seas, from the earliest mammals of the Cretaceous Period (over 65 mya) (Price 137-143).
Given these genetic phenomena and the action of natural selection upon them, how do they account for the origin of new species? In other words, how does microevolution lead to macroevolution? First, let us define what a species is. While evolutionary biologists differ in their views about the concept of species, and in practice it is not always easy to determine whether various individuals belong to the same species, this definition is a widely accepted one:
Changes in gene frequency, gene flow, and genetic drift by themselves do not ensure evolutionary change, for these processes are random with respect to adaptation. Natural selection, which selects for beneficial over harmful mutations, provides the directionality for such genetic changes. Not only does it make possible the survival and improvement of the organization of living beings, it also makes possible their diversity (Ayala 40). This sustained directional selection leads to major changes in the forms of living things and their ways of life, with some changes occurring with greater rapidity than others, over long periods of geologic time, that is, time calculated in millions of years. These processes illustrate a convention often expressed by biologists: "natural selection works by converting variation within populations to differences among populations" (Gould, 2002, 748).
1. Perhaps the days stated in the Genesis 1 account are not 6 24-hour days. Scripture tells us that God's days are not our days (2 Peter 3:8 "with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" and Psalm 90:4 "A thousand years are to You like a yesterday which has passed"). The full context of these two verses is the great sweep of time from creation until the judgment day. Perhaps the days are not strictly sequential, although the order matches up pretty well with the theory of evolution. The account of Cain's wife in Genesis 4:17 cannot be strictly sequential and literal. There is also the difficulty in reconciling Genesis 1 with the second creation account in Genesis 2, where man is created first and the animals afterwards (Genesis 2:18-20).
Natural selection: Ayala has defined natural selection as "the differential reproduction of alternative hereditary variants" or alleles that enhance the survival of the organisms that carry them and enable them to "reproduce more successfully than organisms carrying alterative variants." The term "differential reproduction" includes differences in survival, fertility, mating success, and rate of development (Ayala 36). The amount of genetic variation is astonishingly high in all organisms, especially those that reproduce sexually, and thus the opportunities for evolutionary change in response to environmental conditions are virtually unlimited. While most genetic mutations are adaptively neutral, and many prove to be harmful, the comparatively smaller number of beneficial mutations is more than enough to account for innumerable variations that have made possible the emergence of new varieties and new species. As the number of favorably variable genes increases, and the number of forms of these genes likewise increases, the frequency of change in these forms is likely to grow at the expense of other variations. The frequency in a large natural population may be very small in a generation but increases in effect over several generations. It has been demonstrated mathematically that "there is a direct correlation between the amount of genetic variation and the rate of evolutionary change by natural selection" (Ayala 36, 37).
This possibility is often called the "Day-Age Theory." A common criticism of the day-age theory is that the order of days/ages does not match up with evolutionary theory. The answer to this criticism is that if Genesis 2:18-20 is apparently free to change the order of creation for animals and man from Genesis 1:24-27, why should we conclude that the order of creation days is strictly sequential and non-overlapping? If I were permitted to change the Bible (and I'm not), the only switch I would make would be to swap days 3 and 4. The Biblical order matches up well enough for me. One suggestion for the sun and moon appearing late in the sequence (from physicist and Christian Pastor Carl Johnson at A Christ Walk Church in Kingsbury, Indiana) is that the early atmosphere was very cloudy, much like the planet Venus is today.