Creationists say God made all of Earth's creatures in about 7,000 years.
Evolutionists claim the forces of evolution were responsible, and it took hundreds of millions of years.
These subjects will be the focus of a debate between Dr. Dwane T. Gish and Dr. Vince Sarich sponsored by several local churches set for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Carson City Community Center.
Gish is considered one of the foremost authorities on creationism. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles with a major in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Gish is senior vice president of the Institute for Creation Research.
"There are three major areas to provide proof (for creationism)," he said. "Fossil record is the first, which reveals sudden appearance of enormous quantities of fossils of complex invertebrates.
We have billions times billions of all these creatures, and evolutionists have been looking for fossilized ancestors and transition forms ever since Darwin. They have not found a single ancestor for any of these creatures.
"The second piece of evidence is laws of thermodynamics. The laws tell us every system and organism tends to run down or deteriorate. As a universe, it's a natural tendency to go from order to disorder, simple to complex, the opposite of what must be expected if evolution is true."
Gish said evolutionists believe the universe is an isolated system started in chaos and disorder -- the hypothetical "Big Bang" -- and simple hydrogen gas which transformed itself into this complex universe of today.
"The idea that life evolved from non-life is contradictory to a mass of evidence of physics and chemistry," Gish said.
Sarich majored in anthropology and also graduated from UC Berkeley. He recently retired as a professor.
"I think he's one of the few who's debated Gish before," said Ken Haskins, pastor of First Christian Church, one of the many sponsoring the debate.
A question-and-answer period will be held after each speaker has had an opportunity for rebuttal.
"Gish is an authority when it comes to the fossil records. He debated Isaac Isamov in 1983 and some other opponents. It's not easy to get people to debate Dr. Gish. A lot of it is his reputation -- he's very successful."
Several requests to Dr. Sarich asking for comment were unanswered.
"The theory of evolution as it is being taught today is an atheistic theory, that it is insisted there is no God that had any part of this evolutionary process," Gish said.
"Academic freedom, good science and good education would require that students and teachers have the opportunity to understand and consider the scientific evidence for both sides of this argument."
"In my opinion, it's a lot easier to debate if most of the evidence and truth is on your side," Haskins said. "But that could be my bias."