Excellent! A clear explanation of evolution that should settle the argument for all thinking creatures. Keith Blanchard tells us in The Week why we should stop believing in evolution. Read the entire article but here are some clips:
Humanity, after all, is but one ugly branch on the big tree of life. Go back far enough, and you’ll find an ancestor common to you and to every creature on Earth. You are related to your cat — which may help explain why you get that stare all the time. You are related to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and to the mosquito you just murdered, and to your houseplants. At any given meal, you may eat all or part of a dozen extremely distant relatives.
It’s remarkable how poorly understood evolution is today — how easily “debated” it is — given that its rules have been in place at least since life on Earth began, and that the truth of it is easily demonstrated. In fact, the basic theory has been in a state of continuous reconfirmation since Darwin proposed it in 1859, with geology, biology, anthropology, carbon dating, Pangaea, and every dinosaur bone ever found providing a nonstop barrage of additional proof points.
Here are the rules, in a nutshell:
- Genes, stored in every cell, are the body’s blueprints; they code for traits like eye color, disease susceptibility, and a bazillion other things that make you you.
- Reproduction involves copying and recombining these blueprints, which is complicated, and errors happen.
- Errors are passed along in the code to future generations, the way a smudge on a photocopy will exist on all subsequent copies.
- This modified code can (but doesn’t always) produce new traits in successive generations: an extra finger, sickle-celled blood, increased tolerance for Miley Cyrus shenanigans.
- When these new traits are advantageous (longer legs in gazelles), organisms survive and replicate at a higher rate than average, and when disadvantageous (brittle skulls in woodpeckers), they survive and replicate at a lower rate.
… As advantageous traits become the norm within a population and disadvantageous traits are weeded out, each type of creature gradually morphs to better fit its environment. …
It’s that incredibly slow pace that makes it hard for people to grasp intuitively. When you only live long enough to see three or four generations — a few ticks of evolution’s clock — any tiny generational changes, like humanity getting marginally blonder or taller, are dwarfed by differences in the members among any one generation. Pile on enough eons, and tiny pidgin horses gradually become rideable by gradually less hairy apes. But it’s impossible to see for yourself. …
We invented the dog, starting with wolves and quickening the natural but poky process of evolution by specifically selecting breeding pairs with desirable traits, gradually accentuating particular traits in successive populations. Poodles, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Hollywood red-carpet purse dogs — all this fabulous kinetic art was created, and continues to be created, by humans manually hijacking the mechanism of evolution.
So if someone asks, “Do you believe in evolution,” they are framing it wrong. That’s like asking, “Do you believe in blue?”
Evolution is nothing more than a fairly simple way of understanding what is unquestionably happening. You don’t believe in it — you either understand it or you don’t. But pretending evolution is a matter of faith can be a clever way to hijack the conversation, and pit it in a false duality against religion. And that’s how we end up with people decrying evolution, even as they eat their strawberries and pet their dogs, because they’ve been led to believe faith can only be held in one or the other.