Why evolution is true

One of the things that has a great potential to irritate is the denial of basic and proven scientific truths. A lot of confusion can come from the fact that a theory in science is something very different from the regular understanding of the word “theory”. We touched upon this already.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, pre-defined, protocol of observations and experiments. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.

Wikipedia

So, to cut through this confusion, here’s a MEME to show what evolution is:

Evolution is a Fact

First of all, I am not a scientist, but I do know how to read and how to think for myself. Also, when something matters to me, I will take the time to study it, to read about it, to make myself at least a bit more familiar with it than I would have been if I relied on my education alone. The sad fact is, education in my time (and even today) is not focused on teaching critical thinking, but memorizing facts, which makes students more robots than educated citizens. But I digress.

So, how do scientists know that evolution really happened?

Amonite_Cropped

By Zephyris at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

When you think about potential evidence for evolution, you immediately think FOSSILS. But, as we shall see, fossils are actually only extra, bonus, icing on the cake … however you wish to call it. The case for evolution would be air-tight without any fossil evidence whatsoever!!

How? Well, let’s just see.

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Happy #DarwinDay!

On today's date, 12. February 1809., Charles Darwin was born. Charles Darwin has put the world at the great debt with his contributions to science and understanding of our natural world.

Darwin formulated the scientific theory of evolution which he published in his book “On the origin of species” (now available for free in digital form).

HappyDarwinDay

Simply put, evolution means process of change, or adaptation if you will in all life forms over countless generations.

The theory of evolution gives us scientific explanation as to how did all the amazing variety of species come about. It is the explanation for the complexity of apparent design of life. It it a huge scientific accomplishment of humanity to be able to explain the Origin of species and regard that explanation as a simple fact of life.

As Richard Dawkins would say, Darwin with his brilliant theory showed us that no scientific problem is unsolvable. He showed us that even the very problem of huge variety of species in the world can be solved without the need for supernatural or magic.

In short, Charles Darwin is a person we cannot thank enough and we cannot honor enough.

Putting It Into Context: Darwin and the Eye

Taking stuff out of context and using it to strengthen your views is … let’s just say, not nice. This is one of the things creationists and various religious apologists like to do very much.

A particularly blatant example of this is misquoting Charles Darwin’s “On the origin of species” to make it seem like Darwin himself had huge doubts about his theory.

684px-Charles_Darwin_seated_crop

Photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull (1829–1914) and John Fox (1832–1907) (Maull & Fox)

Case in point:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.

Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)1

 

This in one of the quotes Creationists love to use to try to show that supposedly Darwin didn’t trust his own theory. This is, of course, very far from the truth.

People who use this quote to try and show that there are problems with the evolution, happily ignore the continuation of this text about the evolution of the eye:

Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.

Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)

 

This is the quote taken from the first edition of the “The origin of species”. How about later editions? Well, Darwin went even further and the previous quote started with:

When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.

Charles Darwin, The origin of species (1872.)2

 

As you can see, in the later edition Darwin even tells us that it’s reasonable to think  that minor, gradual changes are responsible for the development of the eye. He even compares doubting the evolution of the eye to the fact that once was doubted that the Earth orbits the sun. I would say this is the writing of a man with confidence in his ideas.

This means, whenever you see someone posting nonsense that Darwin himself had huge doubts about Evolution, you can rest assured this is not true.

Nice try, though.

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Look up from your phone and see that there are problems in the World

Sometimes I feel the world really needs a reminder that it has problems, so I'm going to spell out a few of them here. Generally it helps if you have problems spelled out, as humans tend to forget what things are important and just focus on the newest, shiniest phones and apps. Even as a developer, I must admit that apps are not going to change the world. Not really. Not in any REALLY, I mean REALLY important way.

OK, this was a gross generalization, as our precious phones and apps all help us to lead better and more comfortable lives in some way. You can connect with your long-lost friends. You can send messages to people more cheaply. Of course, sometimes these wonders of technology will save somebody's life. This is all great. But I sometimes feel that humanity in general has lost sight of the fact that there are REAL, bigger problems in the world.

1. Water Crisis

Water crisis or water scarcity means that there's a huge amount of people (even as high as 2 billion) that don't have access to clean water. There's a huge amount of people that don't have enough for their daily needs. "One in five people in the developing world lacks access to sufficient clean water (a suggested minimum of 20 litres/day)" (source - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Taken by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=729941

Projections of population growth predict that by 2024 world population will reach 8 billion and 9 billion by 2040. (wikipedia). Humanity must work hard to ensure that there will be enough clean water for everyone.

Currently, there doesn't seem to be a global scarcity as such, but there are regions that are very short on water. So, basically, humanity is currently simply unable to govern properly all the water resources on this planet. For example, one in five people in "developing world" don't have access to enough clean water, while citizens of Europe and US have access to more than necessary.

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