Why Evolution is True
Science has uncovered many wonders about the universe in which human race and animals live. Among those wonders, there is no any particular subject which has been more fascinating and fury than the topic of evolution. This might have been caused by the fact that there is no single majestic galaxy which has personal implications. There are even deeper ways through which learning evolution and specific concepts of evolution can transform the life in which human race lives. Evolution shows the human race their place in the entire splendid and extraordinary life’s panoply. Evolution unites the human race with every living thing on earth today and other several creatures that ever inhabited the earth. It also gives the human race true accounts of their origins. This account of the human race origin replaces the myths that looked satisfying for many past years. Although some people find it frightening, others consider it is ineffably thrilling.
Charles Darwin in his book, On the Origin of Species (1859), expresses the beauty of evolution in a final paragraph when he says:
“There is grandeur in this view of life with the several powers it has after it was originally breathed into a few forms or one. And that, while the planet has been cycling according to the law of gravity from a simple beginning to endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have evolving and are still evolving.”
On the same note of evolution, there is more cause for wondering. In the evolution process, there is natural selection. Natural selection as an evolution mechanism is the driving force behind the first replicating molecule into the different millions of fossil and other living forms. Additionally, natural selection is a simple and beautiful. The people who have a comprehensive understanding of evolution and natural selection can experience the awe that comes with having a realization of how the straightforward processes can yield features with several diversity as the flowering of the orchid, the wing of a bird, and the tail of the bat.
What is Evolution?
The truest thing about the nature is that the way animals and plants are designed perfectly suits the way they live their lives. Some animals such as squids have the immense capability in which they change their skin colors thus disguising themselves against the prey and predators. Different animals, birds, and insects have some ways to which they are suited in the environment they dwell. The ways in which these animals, birds, and insects are suited to the environment in which they live imply one thing. The more one gains information about plants and animals, the way one marvels at how they are suited to the environment in which they live and ways of life. According to Darwin, this suitability and adaptation of animals and plants to the environment in which they live dispels the idea of deliberate design. The two ideas defining this suitability are the evolution and natural selection.
Although Charles Darwin talks exhaustively about evolution and natural selection, he was not the first one to talk about it. Several people including his grandfather had insinuated the idea of evolution. However, Charles Darwin was the first the person to use the natural data and information comprehensively thus convincing people that the idea of evolution and natural selection were true. Besides evolution and natural selection, there is the idea of Darwinism. Darwinism is the theory of evolution through natural selection. However, the theory is misunderstood and maliciously misstated.
The theory of evolution can easily be grasped. The theory can easily be summarized in a single sentence although it is slightly long. According to evolution, there was a gradual evolution of life on earth where it began with on primitive species such as a self-replicating molecule that existed more than three billion years ago. The molecule then branched out over time where it threw several new and different species. The mechanism for most of the evolution change is referred to as natural selection. Breaking down the statement referring to evolution, one finds that it contains six components although the most important are evolution:
The first idea behind the definition of evolution means that a species changes genetically over a certain period. This means that over several generations a species can undergo evolution thus becoming something different. The differences the species undergoes are based on the changes in its DNA. The species DNA is what originates as mutations. The modern animals and plants species did not exist in the past. However, they are descendants of the species that existed earlier. A good example is human species which is the result of the evolution of an ape-like creature although it does not resemble the modern ape.
All species have undergone evolution but the rate at which they evolve is not same. Some such as gingko trees and horseshoe crabs have not changed after millions of years. There are no clear predictions from the evolution theory that species will constantly evolve or the speed with which they are going to change if they evolve. That species will constantly evolve, and the speeds of which they are going evolve to depend on the evolutionary pressures they are going to experience. Some group species such as human and whales have undergone rapid evolution while other such as living fossil are identically similar to their predecessors from which they evolved over hundreds of millions of years ago (Coyne, 2009).
Evolution on the Rocks
Although the record of the fossil is incomplete, it fully supports the idea of evolution as opposed to creationism. Those who support the idea of creation often go back to the missing links argument in the idea of evolution. According to them, the unavailability of transitional forms between groups of species is problematic for an evolutionary account of the diversity of life. However, the creationists’ ideas are easily rebutted because transitional forms are found every day. The latest addition to the transitional forms is the Ida. Ida was recently disclosed by the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Therefore, the discovery of these fossils has continued to give ideas about the features of the hypothetical links between various kinds of species and fossils. Also, many fossils have been in support of the hypothesis of amphibians and fish sharing same ancestors and birds emerging from dinosaurs have been found.
Although the details of fossils are speculative, the availability of the transitional fossils and the evolution of species from another species such as birds from reptiles is a fact. Some fossils such as Archaeopteryx and its descendants highlight a mixture of traits of birdlike and early reptiles. They also occur at the right time in the fossil records. Scientists have shown that birds emerged from the theropod dinosaurs, and this is cemented by the fact that theropod dinosaurs are feathered. There is a systematic transition of the feathers covering the bodies of the theropod dinosaurs. Birds refashioned the old feathers into what they have today according to the predictions of the evolutionary theory. The hippopotamus is a good example of a mammal that lived on both waters and on land which is the kind of creature that might not have evolved. Snakes are thought to have evolved from lizard-like reptiles which lost their limbs. Reptiles without legs are well documented in the fossil records before snakes (Coyne, 2009).
The availability of the fossil records shows three things. It shows the evidence of the evolution of species while confirming several predictions of evolution. It shows how species gradually changed within lineages, the splitting of their lineages, and the existence of transitional forms between various kinds of species. When the transitional forms are found, they occur in the fossil records in the position where they should occur. The evolutionary change involves remodeling of the old species into the new ones.
Most of the biological facts like the atavisms such as the human tail, nonfunctional organs such as the appendix, and instances of bad design like the gap between the human ovary and the fallopian tube among many others are only sensible in the light of evolutionary theory. The organs show the evidence of sharing of a common ancestor as well as telling the functioning behind evolution by refashioning of the old genetic and phenotypic features for different purposes.
Vestigial organs are features in some of the species that was an adaptation in the ancestors from which they evolved. However, the organs have lost their meaning, or they have been co-opted for new uses. Such organs no longer perform the functions for which they were supposed to be functioning thus showing incidences of evolution. Such organs are wings in ostrich where the flight has become expensive metabolically. It uses a lot of energy that could be used in the reproduction. The human appendix is also the remnant of an organ which was significantly important to the ancestors from which human species evolved and which was eating leaves. The organ is of no use to the modern human species. Human race also has a vestigial tail referred to as coccyx which is also sensible when considered in the light of evolution. What the book shows is that most of these organs would not have existed if they were not useful in the previous species from which the current species possess (Coyne, 2009).
The Geography of Life
Evolution is evidenced by biogeography such as islands and their peculiar biotas and some of the odd patterns that were left after the breakup of Pangaea. This systematic distribution of the forms of life and the patterns of the diversity of organisms on earth is strong evidence that life went through the process of evolution. Both biological and geological evidence are in agreement with one another. This leads to a new inevitable conspiracy theory in the eyes of the creationists. The evidence presented by the biogeography is a strong supporter of evolution.
Considering that some of the earliest marsupial fossils have been found in some parts of the North America is a strong indication and evidence that they originated from some of those places. They later migrated to the south and jumped to Australia passing through Antarctica. This is easily possible because both South America and Australia were part of the same continent referred to as Gondwana, which was then connected through Antarctica. However, a question would be why some native species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals are not found on oceanic islands. This can easily be answered by the fact that they could not easily reach there. There is evidence in the favor of evolution. The only mammals that are likely to be found on some of these oceanic islands are aquatic seals and bats simply because their ancestors could easily get there. Convergent evolution shows three parts of evolution working hand in hand:
- Common ancestry
- Natural selection
If it is true, there was evolution species in one area should have descendants of earlier species from the same area. Digging into shallow layers of rock in a given area, one is likely to find fossils resembling the organisms living in that area today.
The Engine of Evolution
Natural selection is not an evolution mechanism imposed on the population of animals or human species from without. It describes how genes producing better adaptations become frequent over period of time. The trait in the animal and human species undergoes a process but in the same sense, species do not try to adapt to the environment in which they are trapped because it does not involve any will or striving of the conscious. Adaptation to an environment cannot be easily evaded if a species has the required genetic variation.
The creation of the adaptation by natural selection involves three things. The first thing is that the starting population should be variable. In the case of mice within a population, they have to portray some differences in the colors of their coat. Secondly, s proportion of the variation has to originate from the changes as genes. This means that the variation should possess some genetic basis. In this case, the term random has a specific and misunderstood meaning. Random means that mutations will occur regardless of whether they are going to be useful to the individual or not. Mutation can be considered to be a mistake in the replication of the individual DNA. The third aspect of natural selection is that there must be some effect of genetic variation on an individual animal or human species probability of leaving an offspring behind (Mickleson, 2010).
Natural selection adequately explains changes that are observed in the fossil records. One of the reasons why people are likely to raise the question of natural selection is because they are unable to appreciate the immense spans of time that natural selection has gone through. It is conclusive that natural selection causes all adaptive evolution although it is not every feature of evolution because genetic drift can also play a role.
The rest of the chapters cover the classic neontological arguments from topics of genetics and speciation theory. The topics also cover some of the available evidence which the modern biologists have documented in the last century. One of the topics, “how sex drives evolution”, updates the classic arguments on the sexual selection that were first presented by Darwin. The arguments became amplified when genetics discovered the importance of sexual recombination to the genetic speciation and variability.
The human evolution is one which drives the creationist movement. Most of the members of the creationist movement are likely to ignore evolution together with the rest of the biology completely if it were not for it claiming that human species are related to the rest of the members of the kingdom and that they are as results from the non-human ancestors. There is the availability of the evidence from the human anatomy, paleontology, and genetics which human species to the animal kingdom especially the great apes not to be disputed (Mickleson, 2010).
One of the main problems with the explanation of the evolution is that the book does not separate the question of the process through which evolution and truth of evolution. The reason behind this seems that it is useless dealing with unnecessary complications thus fighting irrational creationists. All that is needed is a genetic mutation and natural selection where the former side has neo-Darwinians. However, this is a gross misinterpretation and oversimplification of the position of the people criticizing neo-Darwinism. Additionally, this oversimplification comes at a cost.
Some of the information from the book might not be believed because of the disservice the author pays to science. The author dedicates the book to Richard Lewontin, who is one of the greatest and influential geneticists and evolutionary biologists over the last 50 years of research besides being a serious unconventional thinker. Therefore, it is expected some degree of unconventional and unorthodox from the author having been under the training of Lewontin and Stephen J. Gould. It can be seen the author defending neo-Darwinism using unconventional and unorthodox means which do not satisfy the increasing contingent of serious biologists who increasingly think that time is finally ripe to have a new kind of evolutionary biology (Mickleson, 2010).
The most important thing in the light of the book is that the author’s equation of Darwinism and evolution theory is detrimental in how they fight the creationists. This way, it is unlikely that it will convert many people into thinking that man and other species evolved into what they are today. This is the right time that people and other scientists can draw from the richness of biological research to deal with the evils of irrationality and insanity to sticking to the jingle of neo-Darwinian. Even though the author is in a good position of delivering a book comprehending such richness, he unfortunately declines but ultimately successfully argued for some time (Mickleson, 2010).
The paper has discussed why evolution is true, a book by Jerry A. Coyne. The book is a must read for any person who would like to take sides in the popular conversation between creation and evolution. One is likely to find that those people opposed to the idea of evolution have read very few books and thus have very little knowledge about it. This makes them dogmatic, ignorant, whimsical, and arrogantly dismissive. Without considering attitudes, ignorance is the problem here. It is a grotesque problem that the book remedies partially. People need to consider reading the book while debating creation and evolution theory. Although the book is recommended, it has some shortcomings as has been shown. However, the book remains relevant in showing and supporting why people should think human and animal species evolved.
Coyne, J. A. (2009). Why evolution is true. Penguin.
Mickleson, K. (2010). Why Evolution is True Jerry A Coyne. Science and Christian Belief, 22, 2, 176-177.