Evolution, as the name implies, is an ever-evolving field of palaeo-biology which has its roots in the work of pioneers like Charles Darwin (19th Century). The definition of ‘evolve’ is (like revolve), to instill the concept of recycling in nature. The difference is that revolution is simply a perpetual circular dynamism, while evolution introduces an extra input variable into a circular system, thus allowing for open system dynamics instead of a closed, unchanging dynamic.
Its origins were mostly due to the inefficiencies in explanations of complex biological organisms, which were previously the sole domain of religion and theology. As the evolution theory became a real choice for scientists of the time to adopt, based on the simplistic structure of biological development from the simplest to most complex creatures observed on planet Earth (both in fossils and in living creatures). Understandably, the friction between evolution science and religion was a major issue once the theory gained support, and this friction still exists today.
The recent advances in science (especially those such as geology, biology and astronomy) have provided an increasingly rigid platform for which evolution can be more accepted as a process, than just a theoretical model. The diversion from the more closed models provided by religion and theology was most pronounced with recent movements such as Creationism and fundamentalism (in many different religious movements including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc.). The debate between the two movements is only becoming more heated as one side accepts the limits handed down to them from previous generations, while the other side shows that with increased banks of information, the complexities and questions also increase.
From the point of view of the layman, either side of the argument has been equally powerful as an influence on the beliefs carried by that layman. However, professionals in both fields bear both major similarities, and major discrepancies about the notion of belief versus knowledge in this debate. Evolutionists (and indeed most scientists) operate on the principle of data-supported evidence and the tools of interpretation to state their case. Theologians, priests and religious clerics however, tend to rely on the emphasis of morals, emotional stability and belief in a supernatural power alone as the driving force of creation. This is where the distinction has never been so contrasting.
Power (the storage of energy in a workable state, or group thereof) is the crucial factor in evolution versus religion, as it is this collective which we all aspire to understand, let alone utilise for the benefit of our existence. In scientific terms, power is defined as work done in/out and by a system, based on how much time is expended. Indeed, time is not even important when work is the focus, as work is truly the conversion (from potential to kinetic energy) factor to yield a power base. In evolutionary terms, power is the group function which allows an organism to adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions, by converting any/all available energy to a usable (and eventually, protective) power source. The result is that accumulated power leads to better health, better stability and better success for the organism’s survival and reproduction. In humans, the increasing complexities of our brains are possibly testament to this.
Conversely, power in religious terms is simply that which is initially distributed from a central, governing body (the God of all religions), and is eventually translated by humans via rules, procedures and security measures, to become usable by humans themselves. The ancient literature scriptures such as The Bible, Koran, and other documents, are the sole source of the processes mentioned above, and amazingly, these scriptures are no less influential today. Whether these were truly documented records of events past or not, they are essentially unchanged in their makeup. Power is of a vastly different composition here, however. From a human perspective, it is seemingly less concerned with available energy and more concerned with the efficiency of kinetic exchange (the stability of energy flow, perhaps?).
The religion form of power is more readily apparent as an easy definition of closed systematics, because not only is there one discrete source of (yet to be realised) energy, but there are also a fixed number of transfer mechanisms to turn this energy into a usable life force. On the other hand, evolution invokes energy as a vast, multi-faceted reservoir existing all around us, and suggests that the same kinetic processes are required to convert the energy to power. The rules are more or less similar, but the quantities and (locally influenced) qualities of energy conversion are dependent on environment (itself being the variable supplier and climate control mechanism for energy), instead of a single supplier of physically separated energy such as God.
Whether God exists or not, the viewpoint of science is more tending toward the possibility that God, postulated as an energy well with more open considerations based on physical nature (both seen and unseen), is the same as the God of religions but happens to be more ethereal and complex, and less rigid and habitual (in the realms of Heaven, Hell and all else in between). As such scientific analytical tools as isotope dating, atomic and sub-atomic spectroscopy, telescopic astronomy, fractal geometric modelling and number theory continue to develop as useful data-finders, there is an increasingly obvious pattern emerging. That pattern is the universal nature of all systems (of all sizes) being part of bigger systems, and being made of smaller parts. In short, we are constantly observing and living within open systems, and we are increasingly able to recognise and understand the nature of order and chaos everywhere we look.
This author’s simple answer to the article title (which is a question) is “no”. Evolution is not an outdated theory. In fact, evolution is advancing beyond the bounds of theory and is being put into practice in science today.