There is a popular conception of an either-or dichotomy between evolution and belief in God—either evolutionary theory is correct or belief in God is correct. John Maynard Smith was one who indeed, at the young age of 15, decided to reject belief in God because of his exposure to evolutionary theory and Darwin and reading a book by an atheistic evolutionist, J. B. S. Haldane.
However, in reality numerous top scientists do successfully juxtaposed the two viewpoints, including two of the biggest names in terms of evolutionary thought. R. A. Fisher was a deeply devout Anglican. Theodosius Dobzhansky also was an ardent believers in God. In Unification Thought, it is recognized that the overall view of evolution, the theory of descent with modification, accords well with the view of a creator God, but a God that builds on the foundation of earlier forms, rather than create "ex nihilo." For example, in a 1965 (unpublished, notes only) "Master Speaks," Rev. Sun Myung Moon stated "Evolution is true, and all the creations of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms have developed through an evolutionary process." In a February 1, 1982 speech, Rev. Moon noted "There are similarities among all the animals and man as well because there was a certain basic process of which they were all a part. Externally, God made use of previous experiences in successive creations."
However, there are difficulties reconciling theories of causation that lead to "evolution as not inherently progressive," "philosophical materialism," and "purposelessness." The kinematic theory of natural selection promotes the view that a higher purpose is not required or utilized to explain the seeming harmony in the world. Unification Thought clearly rejects this view, as the entire creation is centered on purpose. Indeed, Unification Thought holds that the concept of humans existed in the mind of God prior to creation and all things were made to resemble aspects of the image and likeness of the human character and form. Natural selection is also tied to philosophical materialism, which holds that matter is the main reality of existence and mental and spiritual phenomena, including thought, will and feeling, can be explained in terms of matter, as its by-products. This is in direct opposition to the view of Unification Thought on the separation of mind and matter, with an elevated status for mind. The view that evolution is not inherently progressive, moving from lower to higher states, and that humans do not have any special status, is in opposition to Unification Thought, which recognizes the process of creation as progressive. However, it should be understood that Unification Thought does not reject natural selection, for this is clearly a force active in the world. However, this does not mean that natural selection is the only creative force, nor that it necessarily is the creative force for the origin of new deigns. In fact, that natural selection is the causal agent of speciation or evolution of new designs is supported only by extrapolation from the microevolutionary level, and the the merits of making such an extrapolation has come under criticism from evolutionists themselves. Rev. Moon has recognized the power of natural selection, but only within a certain limited design. He has stated that "There have been sudden changes at certain times to develop to a higher stage. Darwin recognized those changes...He could not see the cause; but, he could see the evolutionary result. . . . Evolutionary change is possible within a certain formula or plant or animal, but there is no evolutionary development from one family to another family." In a 1976 ICUS talk, Rev. Moon notes "The theory of evolution seems to be logical, but the process of the stage-by-stage progression of things can never convincingly be explained through the theory of random mutation."
In other words, the random component within the theory of natural selection does conflict with many views of a Creator God, if natural selection is seen as the main creative force in the development of new designs, for it leads to views of purposelessness, philosophical materialism, and evolution as not inherently progressive. However, there is no conflict with the "fact of evolution" (theory of descent with modification) and thus religious people can easily juxtapose belief in both God and evolution. Furthermore, even many religious adherents do not have a problem with the theory of natural selection, even with its random component, if one assumes that God set the process in motion and then at one point "breathed spirit" into humans.