Micro vs. Macro Evolution

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Our children have heard us say that evolution isn’t true, yet we often aren’t sure how to explain why or in what way it isn’t true. The simple concept of microevolution versus macroevolution is a great to place to begin helping our children understand this important and foundational topic. If you aren’t sure what the difference is yourself, read on. As the author of Apologia’s elementary creation science curriculum, I believe it’s crucial we are able to explain the truths and untruths of micro vs. macro evolution to our children.

Evolution is not an evil word in itself. The word simply means to change from something simple to something more complex. Businesses evolve when they begin selling more products; people evolve when they graduate from their ABC’s in kindergarten to learning much more complex information in college.


Your relationship with God evolves from a simple understanding that Jesus took away your sin, to discerning God’s will for your every day and entire life. Scientists have borrowed the word evolution to explain processes they believe happen in the world. One thing scientists have discovered is microevolution—a process where little changes take place over time. These changes have been observed and recorded. Some scientists believe in macroevolution, a theory that organisms can change from one species into another. This kind of evolution has never been observed, recorded, or proven in any way. 

Most Christians do not believe in macroevolution.

Let’s take a look at microevolution. It occurs when part of an animal, like a beak, changes over time, causing the animals in an area to look differently than they used to. Now it doesn’t truly change on an animal; the animal’s body part doesn’t become something else. A mouth doesn’t change into a beak; a paw doesn’t become a bird’s foot.

Let me explain this further. Pretend there are birds living in Hawaii that have long bills and enjoy eating nectar from flowers. Every bird is born with a long bill, however some naturally have a bill that is a few centimeters longer than the others. We see these same variations in people. Two sisters might be born with curly hair, but one has hair that is just a little curlier than the other. That’s a natural variation. If the curlier haired sister married a curly haired man, their children would have even more curly hair.

Animals have natural variations as well. For example, let’s say there are more flowers in Hawaii with long tubes that only those birds with bills a little longer could reach. Now it’s a fact that the more an animal eats, the more babies it will have. Because the birds with longer bills will get more food, they will have more young. As a result, over time, there are more birds with longer bills. These birds will begin mating with other longer billed birds. And if there happens to be a little variation in the size of the bill in their offspring, those with even longer bills will get the most food, have the most young, and begin to populate the area even more. Slowly, the birds with shorter bills will not be as abundant. And when they mate with longer billed birds, their young that develop the longer bills will have more young than the ones that didn’t get a longer bill.

So over many years birds with longer bills begin to produce young with longer bills, and eventually it seems that the only birds you see around have extremely long bills. Did the bills change? No. The birds with longer bills simply reproduced more than the birds with shorter bills. We say they evolved longer bills. This is microevolution. The bills didn’t change into something different; they didn’t even grow. But the birds in the area eventually “evolved” to have longer bills. Does that make sense to you? Jeannie Fulbright - swish

Microevolution is valid. You can believe in microevolution because we can find evidence for it. If we were to discover buried deep within the earth old bones from these Hawaiian birds, they would reveal shorter beaks. Then, as we continued to find newer bones, they would show longer and longer beaks. The bones would reveal the transition from shorter beaks to longer beaks. Our Hawaiian birds are what we call transitional creatures because they show a change or transition between shorter and longer beaks. We can actually see, observe and prove the change that occurred. However, the beak remained as it was. It didn’t become something new or grow from something other than a beak. It was always a beak. The bird had within its cells the ability to produce birds with longer beaks. Yet it couldn’t produce a mouth with teeth because the genes inside the bird only allow it to produce bird parts.

However, some scientists make a giant leap and say that because a bird beak size can change over time (and we know it didn’t really change on any one bird), a fish can change into a man, or a lizard can change into a bird. This is like saying that because we see a small mound with ants living inside, which we call an ant hill, giant mountains must have been made by similar creatures. Macroevolution is the name given to this giant leap from truth to a lie. Macro means big, and evolution means change.

Macroevolution is an impossibly big change for which there is no evidence.

Often in public and private school textbooks, microevolution is explained and all the evidence supporting it is given. After the students come to understand how microevolution works, the textbook then states this is how evolution works and how we evolved from monkeys and monkeys evolved from fish. Because the students understand how the small changes occur, they just assume the textbook must be right about the big changes. And many, many people, without even thinking, just believe it.

One thing that amazes me about the fact that some scientists believe in macroevolution is there have never ever been any transitional creatures found between man and apes, or dinosaurs and birds, or fish and mammals. Though millions of fossils have been unearthed, none show a halfway or changing body from one creature into another creature. Yet, for two hundred years, some people have believed in macroevolution anyway.

You are probably wondering why some people believe this when the evidence does not confirm their beliefs. Well if you didn’t believe in God, and you were a scientist, you would need some explanation for why we exist on earth. This is called origins. From where did we originate? What are the origins of man? Scientists who don’t believe in God want to believe in macroevolution. And when someone wants to believe something, it’s really hard to change his mind. Once he has fully accepted the belief, it’s hard to convince him otherwise.

Adolf Hitler said,

If you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, the people will believe it. And the greater the lie, the more they will believe it.

That’s a strange thing to say, but I’m beginning to think it’s true. Once the belief system (drilled into students’ heads at an early age) is firmly in place, it’s difficult to change it. If someone today told you that the color green is not really green but a shade of blue, you would have a hard time believing it. When you see green, you will always want to call it green. Let’s say everyone begins calling it blue. That would be a difficult transition in beliefs for you to make. All people have a hard time changing their beliefs once they really believe something. Sometimes when someone becomes a Christian, they have a hard time believing the Bible’s explanation of origins. This is because they have, since childhood, been taught macroevolution is the way we originated.

The fact is most people have not even heard of the difference between microevolution and macroevolution. They think evolution is a scientific word for origins. But I believe all this is changing now that the word has gotten out. Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” The truth about evolution is fully dressed, and though the lie has gotten all the way around the world, the truth is becoming known and is exposing and correcting the lie so that real science can happen, and people can turn to the God who created it all.

Find out more about Apologia science.  

Learn more about my Young Explorer Creation Science Series.


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