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Evolution is a scientific theory regarding changes in the traits of living organisms over successive generations, resulting in the emergence of new species. Many in the scientific community assert that all living creatures share a common descent, having evolved to their current state through natural processes, and that evolution is thus the source of the vast diversity of life on Earth. There is significant controversy wherever the theory of evolution contradicts the biblical account regarding the origin of the universe, which asserts that God was the sole author and agent in creation, not random forces. The modern understanding of evolution is based on hypotheses popularized in Charles Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

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The proponents of evolution are generally those who hold that natural processes are sufficient to account for observations in nature, that all living things have originated from a single living source which itself arose by a similar process from a non-living world, and that supernatural origins are beyond the scope of the scientific method. A significant portion of the Christian community denies that evolution is the mode by which all life has come about; others accept that God may have used components of evolution in the Creative process. This has caused much controversy, especially in regards to the teaching of this theory in American public schools.

Microevolution

Most Christians accept what is known as microevolution - the understanding that some animal life has evolved in some regards within its own "kind", yet it does not allow that one "kind" may evolve into another "kind". Often simplistically (and erroneously) invoked as "proof" of macroevolution, this is the name used to describe the empirically observed phenomenon in which exisiting potential variations within the gene pool of a population of organisms are manifested or suppressed among members of that population over a series of generations.

Macroevolution

By contrast, macroevolution contends that biological population changes take place (typically via mutations and natural selection) on a large enough scale to produce entirely new structural features and organs, resulting in lower life kinds giving rise to higher kinds, such that mammals evolved from microscopic sea creatures, birds evolved from land animals, and humans and apes have a common ancestor.

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