Is Evolution True?
The book ‘Why Evolution is true’ written by Jerry A. Coyne is famous for the research regarding genetics and speciation evolution. Coyne defends the theory of evolution present in the current world by claiming that there is a gradual evolution of life whereby the original primitive species or precisely, a self-reproducing molecule (living over three billion years ago) split into new and advanced species through natural selection mechanism (though not for all species). By arguing that evolution is true, firstly, Coyne supports the six components of evolution to be true. The components include, firstly, evolution fact in that the change of genetics occurs gradually. Secondly, we have speciation phenomenon, whereby the splitting happens from the previous lineage.
Thirdly, the common ancestry of various species, in that reproduction appears like the development of branches and that it is easy to trace the ancestors of the newest species. Fourthly, natural selection mechanism, whereby in a shared environment, reproduction and survival strength depends on the types of genes involved in reproducing a species; and lastly, some other processes (other than natural selection), such as genetic drift which is important in evolutionary change. Additionally, Coyne also means that the components should also get accepted as true because they relate to science and because he has used much real life evidence from different views (Coyne, 2009).
The book is one of the major evolutionary science books that keeps a reader wanting for more of it. Coyne has focused on bringing out the fact that evolution is real using various descriptive facts that can easily get proved and understood. He does so by getting deeper into the reader’s mind persuasively without forcing the reader into believing. The chapters get aligned in a sequential manner such that the reader can follow each topic without thinking of skipping either of them. The book title ‘Why Evolution is True’ is descriptive and such a powerful title that makes a reader want to move closer, and read the book so that he/she can get the facts that prove it. Reflection begins by reading the book title and by reading the contents of each chapter, the reader begins to compare the phenomenon and descriptions as stated in the book with real life.
The six components as described above are the major themes of reflections, which appear in various chapters. Each of the components provides a theme that gets thought upon by the reader. This paper provides the review and my personal reflections on the themes highlighted in the book, which includes my support and rejection regarding Coyne’s research.
Analysis and Reflection
In this first chapter, Coyne introduces us to the book by defining the meaning of evolution and providing clarification for the mistaken beliefs regarding the nature of science and the common misuse of the word ‘theory’. First and foremost, I believe that Coyne’s definition of evolution is perfectly true simply because, from my personal way of thinking, evolution occurs in a slow but gradual process, and it is realized many years later (Coyne, 2009). Just like Charles Darwin’s theory regarding evolution, I strongly believe that the features of most creatures we see like the human beings, their intelligent nature and the way they walk, it took time for them to be who they are. In the early days, there were limited innovations, but the humans gradually gained intelligence through experience and then passed the experience to other people. \
The changes in genetics and DNA that are currently seen are the realization of many years, and as time grows there will be new changes seen. As from the mistaken beliefs regarding evolution, I support almost all of the mistakes that he outlined concerning evolution. Coyne directly attacks Christians by claiming that they have a myth that evolution necessarily improves organisms. Coyne should notice that Christians believe that evolution exists and the evolution he talks of is not directly related to Christianity way of thinking because those are two different things. Christians believe in spiritual changes rather than bodily changes. By claiming that that is a myth common in Christians, then Coyne is totally wrong, because, during evolution, changes occur in two different ways. In a more scientific way of thinking, the evolution may be affected by external factors, leading to a different result as compared to the one accepted initially.
Later on in chapter two, Coyne reveals the fossil evidence regarding evolution, by using the common examples such as the Tiktaalik originating from tetrapod and the birds originating from dinosaurs. This chapter also shows that Coyne is performing a brilliant job in identifying the troubles faced by the paleontologists in searching for fossils, benefits, and disadvantages of the fossil record, and finally, the positive changes that fossil evidence has provided in the establishment of the real passage of revolution. Considering that the evolutionary biology books mostly provide incomplete, obsolete ad imprecise record regarding fossil data, Coyne’s discussion provide discussion that can be claimed to be true because of the way he provides evidence and explanation that can easily be understood. His book changed everything and it easily gets understood as compared to the discussion for most paleontologists I have ever read their stories.
In every research, data is very important in determining the results and discussion. Sometimes I think of relating humans to the animals around such as the apes and other domestic animals and feel that there may be a possible connection. The connections between the dinosaurs and the birds as well as the other examples provided by Coyne can be seen in the real world and clearly understood. Looking at the apes, its features, posture and style of living are very similar to that of human beings.
In the third chapter, Coyne identifies ‘mute witnesses’ of progression whereby he provides the vestigial organs showing good and bad designs. He brings out the idea that the poorly designed features clearly chow that evolution exists. Coyne utilizes several examples such as the embryo, the whale hips, legs, human tails as well as other body features existing in human beings that have bad shapes so as to base his arguments (Coyne, 2009). The craziest part is whereby he explained of the left recurrent nerve that runs from throat to aorta, then back to the throat which he terms as unnecessary because it had been connected to the gill at the embryo that was developing.
The features of an immature organism that keeps on evolving cannot get compared to those of the fully grown organisms. Initially, the organism appears very delicate and incomplete but as time goes on, the organisms’ gains features that make it strong. Coyne uses the embryo to differentiate the good and bad designs at different ages. The bad design gets shown when the embryo is very small, but as time goes on, the embryo gains shape, and it appears to gain human features. Another way of thinking is using the Charles Darwin’s theory of the evolution of humans from the apes. The humans at the beginning are considered to have ape-like features, their bones structure and their intelligence were poor. In the evolution, Darwin brings the picture of humans as they gain good designs, until the current intelligent homo sapiens. All the changes in human evolution appear as if they evolve from poor and bad design. On the other hand, I may challenge Coyne’s way of thinking that still, the changes in design may be affected by the external features such that the final result may have a bad design as compared to the initial design.
The fourth chapter brings out the powerful proof resulting from biogeography, from Isles and their unusual biotas and to the structures fossils that were left after the Pangaea broke up. The division of life varieties, as well as locations of the organisms on Earth, clearly shows that there is the evolution of life. Coyne uses the biological and geological evidence to show the agreement in the two, however, he provides strong evidence in biogeography (Coyne, 2009). The split of Pangaea could have the great effect on the distribution of the species of organisms distributed on either part. It is likely that some species could only be found in a certain area because they could not travel to the other parts, such as the tortoise. Also, you may think of it as, the climatic condition of some part of the land was unfavorable for the survival of certain species. Therefore, they had to leave the land immediately, die or undergo evolution so that they could adapt to the climate in the areas.
The next three chapters provide the arguments based on the genetics, the speciation theory, and proofs that have been documented by the latest biologist in the nineteenth century. It is in these chapters where Coyne truly shows the specialty he has regarding evolution research. He explains that sex impacts on evolution by providing arguments based on Charles Darwin’s first presentations. The arguments were then improved when genetics found out the significant role of sexual connection to the change and speciation of genetics.
Our penultimate topic brings out the greatest challenge of the Christianity undertaking of the human changes. It is possible that most of the Christians would completely ignore the topic of evolution and the other parts of biology if they did not consider that humans have relation and get connected to the other animal parts and that they had origins from non-human beings. By so doing, Coyne clearly summarizes the proofs that connect the human beings to the animals (mostly the monkeys and other apes) from paleontology, genetics, and human anatomy.
I may support Coyne’s idea of the origin of some species due to sexual relations, but not to a great extent. It is very unlikely to find species with no intelligent behaviors mating. For example, in the wild, the zebras can graze near Buffalo but they will never get seen mating, yet they get considered as unintelligent creatures. Therefore, Coyne’s argument may be imprecise in some way. However, some truth may be extracted when he relates monkeys to other apes, the cat family, and the dog family.
Within the species’ family, the animals are friendly towards each other such that it is very hard to find them fighting, and to some extent, eating each other because they have similar genes (Prothero & Buell, 2007). These genes bring out the connections between the species. The Christians’ belief is that there exist some animals within the species family, which are powerful than others, which is very true considering that in the ape species, humans are considered as rulers, while the others follow. In fact, the Christian belief should be considered because the humans have all the power over others, and therefore they have special features that differentiate them from animals. In a more scientific reasoning, the humans should think of carrying out a DNA test to analyze the difference in the organisms. Coyne’s way of thinking is unbiased and true because he bases his arguments on specific facts from the various fossil and DNA test that he carried out to distinguish and to research on evolution.
In the last chapter, Coyne ponders on several hot consequences brought about by evolution, using the theoretical justifications used by scientists to claim that evolution is true, to evolutionary psychology and the metaphysical of evolution for our human view. Coyne does not spend most of his time to engage the creationists directly or exposing their arguments but rather, he single-handedly convinces the reader by explaining how the human evolution happened, just like Charles Darwin. Therefore in his book, Coyne performed awesome description by pursuing the reader gently without a struggle, which is a better way of approaching a person who avoids facts about evolution. This book may get hated by most Christians, but they should rather believe that their minds should not be filled with religious things so that they give themselves to understand that they should try thinking about themselves, their psychology, and physical nature and understand the changes that occur in their lives.
In my understanding, evolution happens all through though it does not get seen. In reproduction, the different genes meet and a new gene is produced. It is true that people are equally the same. However, the difference in them is the fact that they get reproduced from the different combination of organisms. The result is that a new creature gets obtained that has the characteristics of either the parent or it may contain the different percentage of familiarity depending on who contributed most of the genes. When the produced organism then mated with another, it becomes a hierarchy, but by using the evidence and tests, we can find the ancestor. Coyne uses this belief to base his arguments without bias. Coyne believes that evolution occurs, and he uses various elements and examples.
In relating Coyne’s analysis with the question of human races, it becomes true. The existence of human races all over the world gets realized from evolution. The different races develop when people are bound to a single location without moving to other places. In the past centuries, It is noticed that traveling was a limitation because there was no machinery such as cars, which could get used in assisting travelers at their journeys. Therefore, in the olden days, people had to walk very long distances to reach their destination. Additionally, according to my personal thinking, since the distances were long and the population of humans was small (it cannot be compared with today’s population because researchers show that population has a positive change every year), they had to settle for some places before proceeding. Where those travelers settled, they would reproduce, thereby yielding new race. The white and black race may also have occurred due to biology and geographical reasons as Coyne claims. The connection of the natural selection, as well as the genetic drift altogether, leads to the patterns of the populations isolated from different areas. There is no clear understanding of how the evolution led to the production of the races; however, we can base our judgment on the natural selection, even though we do not know how.
I think that the difference in races is brought about by the difference in the climatic condition and impact of geographical location. The classical thinkers argue that the difference is brought about by the difference in latitude such that the lighter skin is associated with higher latitude while the dark skinned gets associated with the lower latitudes. Other thins like the nature of the body features like the eye, mouth and hair textures are unclear.
I do not see whether Coyne’s pervious work impacted on my thinking, from his book, it gets observed that he emphasized so much on the theory that human races have the connection with the evolutionary history. In some way, I believe that there is the need for gene branching so that we may have an understanding of the race. I feel that I should understand history so that I may be able fully to understand the evolution of the earth creatures (Hitchens, 2002).
Coyne’s work can get regarded as one of the most creative thing done in the field of evolutionary science, and I truly support his work. However, there are some few things that I would like to add to his work. Regarding the features of pigmentation, we can now understand about its genomics. It appears as if the light skin was found more than two times at both ends of the Eurasia, which was the latest emergence. Additionally, concerning the hair texture, some research has made some findings on this, whereby the difference EDAR brings out the features of the hair texture. There is a different type of EDAR that makes the hair of the East Asians thick and straight. Less research has been done on the other hair types (like the wooly hair), but I believe that sooner or later much will be brought up.
Besides, I think that Coyne’s work on analyzing the protection that the dark-skin provides against cancer should not be brought about in this evolutionary subject. This belief is not associated with any evolution at all because it is a matter of the number of pigmentations in the human cell that make him the way he/she is. Finally, I strongly believe that Coyne does not fully estimate the strength associated with gene genomics when limiting the exact geographical and population origins for the parts of the DNA at the moment. The work of Coyne is, however, satisfactory, though he needs to perform research on the issues mentioned.
Coyne, J. A. (2009). Why evolution is true. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hitchens, C. (2002). Why Orwell matters. New York: Basic Books.
Prothero, D. R., & Buell, C. D. (2007). Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters. New York: Columbia University Press.