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Sat, Jan. 18

Community Viewpoint: Evolution, like gravity, is much more than theory – it is a fact

In Blake Boggess’s opinion piece that evolution is false he made several mistakes, assumptions, and plainly misinformed the public.

He says that evolution has never been observed. This is flat out false. There have been many cases where evolution has been observed in real time, including in species such as fish, moths, and foxes, to name but a few. But the most simple example: why do you think you have to get a different flu shot every year, or that there is a threat that antibiotics might not be as effective as they once were? It’s because viruses and bacteria evolve; and we observe this in real time. “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.”

As far as the claim that scientists have not found the missing link, this is misconstrued. There have been many discoveries of intermediate species of human ancestors, over 29, and more are being discovered. The logic of even finding the missing link is outdated and fallacious. When one is found, it creates two more empty spaces around it. Think about it this way. If you lined up every human ancestor back to the divergence from the other apes (yes we are an ape; Homo sapiens means “wise ape”), 6 to 8 million years ago, you would be hard pressed to see an overt split from one species to another; it’s that gradual. Finding the missing link therefore, even if we found thousands, would mean that there would be an incalculable many more empty spots. It is a project of infinite regress.

As far as the unknown. Evolution doesn’t have the answer for abiogenesis, or the beginning of life. It doesn’t claim to. But it has proven that all of life on this planet related. We prove this genetically, through fossils, through observation, and more. The science is settled. Evolution is as much a theory as gravity: it’s a fact.

The argument that evolution is wrong because God created us is following just a few branches of Christianity (and other religions), mostly prominently Protestant Evangelical Christianity. But evolution is not incompatible with religion, exemplified by the Catholic church’s acceptance of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I personally know a Methodist preacher who is also an evolutionary biologist. The argument is partisan and doesn’t hold.

Think of evolution this way: for thousands of years humans have bred animals and plants into various breeds and forms. Nature works the same way through natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, gene flow, death and sexual selection. It’s actually a very simple and elegant idea. It’s one of the very best ideas and discoveries of our species.

Just think of the beauty of it. Mountains of evidence shows that at several points there were different hominins living on the planet at the same time. Just imagine coming across different human species, and what that must have been like. And genetically we can even see that if you go back far enough, we’re related even to the tree in your front yard, much less jelly fish and elephants. It’s amazing really. Life is wondrous.

Evolution is the cornerstone of not just all of biology but of other scientific disciplines as well, based on change over time. The science is settled, and those rare few scientists that disagree are a certain brand of Creationists, who ironically attempt to use evolution to prove intelligent design. Those who flat out refuse evolution are of one of a few sects of religion and have none or no pertinent scientific background.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson so very well said, “Science is true whether you believe it or not.”

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