Sunday, April 11, 2010

Accepting Evolution

On page 221 Coyne tells us that even though people believe that the evidence for evolution is strong, they still don’t believe it. He says that for many people “evolution raises profound questions of purpose, morality and meaning.” Many creationists agree that the study of evolution will “spill over into the study of ethics, history and family life.” This idea may cause people to link things like genocide to evolution. In general, many people simply do not wish to believe in evolution because of moral or social worries.

What would you say to convince a hesitant person, who is trying to decide whether to believe in evolution or not? This person expresses the doubt stated above and needs an AP bio student to convince him/her otherwise. (Use 224-233)


  1. I think that there is a possibility that no one seems to quite grasp. Although Coyne basically proves the theory of evolution in his book, people are afraid to connect the creation of the universe by god with "mindless" evolution. Yet if God is God, with all knowledge and power, couldn't he foresee where each and every species was to go according to the environment? He may have not created humans, yet he could have envisioned them, and then using principles of evolution worked out how they must begin on Earth to become what we are today. And if the creation of the universe was precisely carried out, maybe humans were always meant to be created, but through the lens of evolution, from the primate family. Coyne writes that "A common belief about evolution is that if we recognize that we are only evolved mammals, there will be nothing to prevent us from acting like beasts" (225). Yet "That just won't happen, as we know from the many European countries whose residents wholly embrace evolution yet manage to remain civilized" (233). Europe has been a test, and it remains stable. Evolution doesn't have to bring us down. We as a species are incredible. After all, "we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be " (233). I would tell that person that a person who embraces evolution doesn't necessarily have to throw morality and ethics out the window, because those are things that humans have created that differentiate us from every other animal. One might say that our entire history is of a species that thinks it isn't one, but as Mr. Coyne so insightfully reminds us, "Evolution tells us where we came from, not where we can go" (231). And I'll tell you where we can go. We can go to space. That's pretty awesome.

  2. People are perfectly free to believe what they want and believing in one idea over another will never provide all the answers that people seek but, to me at least, evolution is the more logical choice. The theory of evolution in general perfectly justifies almost all animal behavior, speciation, and cellular biology that exist in our biosphere. Intelligent design and its predecessor creationism claim to be able to explain everything, including the chemical evolution that neo-Darwinists have such a difficult time explaining, granted you take one key component as fact: that there is a deity. Regardless of any personal religious beliefs there is a fundamental flaw here, everything can be explained when you say that “God did it.” Let’s look at other perfectly accepted theories in the other scientific fields. Newton’s Theory of Gravity, very openly accepted by even the most staunch creationist; could be explained saying that God made all the items when dropped fall to the surface of the planet. The fundamental theory of calculus, even the whole field of math could be explained that God made this number plus the same number equal to the number multiplied by two. Both are very accepted and proven theories time and time again. When you put God into the equation, everything works every time and that is why it is not acceptable to prove a theory with God. So why is evolution any different? Because people are afraid, some people are afraid that we might be descended from a lower form of organism which goes against their beliefs that humans are unique and a gift to the world. Others yet fear evolution because it could potentially “do away with god and religion entirely.” Evolution and its proponents have no wish to do away with religion or disprove that a God exists but simply want the recognition that they deserve and the ability to work freely in their field without harsh criticism. Evolution is a strongly supported theory and it (like any other theory) cannot be disproved by God. My question to any I.D. or creationist supporters out there is why is it so hard to accept that perhaps God created evolution to explain animal behavior, speciation, and other facets of biology?

  3. Many people that believe in ID or creationism only doubt evolution because in their minds it goes against their faith. Evolution does not prove any religion or faith wrong. It simply shows another possibility to the creation of humans, one that in my mind seems much more logical and has much more evidence to support it. Believing in evolution doesn’t mean that there is no God. God may have created the process of evolution and just got it started with the first organism. He may watch over and control evolution to go in different paths, choose one selective advantage over another (almost acting as the force behind natural selection). There is no right answer, but evolution should not be put down because of one’s faith, it can simply be inserted into the faith. In fact, many religious denominations say that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. I would tell them that the truth is, there is numerous amounts of evidence for evolution and very little against it or for creationism. How is it that we share 93% of our DNA with primates if we don’t have a common ancestor? Why do fossils show that organisms have become more complex throughout time? The answer to both of these questions is evolution. Believing in evolution doesn’t necessarily mean that morals will change. It doesn’t mean anything will change, it is just the acceptance of the scientific evidence for evolution. Humans should be proud that we are the first species to be able to recognize where we came from and how. We should take pride in the fact that we are the most advanced and sophisticated of all evolved species around the world. Evolution from an ape-like ancestor isn’t something to frown about, it shows how far humans have come and how far we could be able to go in the future.

  4. I would tell a person that is deciding on either evolution or creationism to stay neutral for the most part. Evolution and creationism are both commonly thought to be vying with each other; however, they are just two different languages telling the same story. I would personally tell this person the idea that it is important to remember that when we say the "theory" of evolution, scientists don't mean it the way you do in your everyday life. In Science, “theory” is an explanation for observed phenomenon, it does not mean "well this could be how it works" or "this might be true". It is something that is testable, falsifiable, makes accurate predictions and has been proved. However when we say "Creationist Theory" we do mean "theory" as we use it in everyday use because the theory of Creationism is not testable and is based solely on faith.
    Creation and Evolution are the same thing, it's just that creation was written in a time when people didn't have the ability to understand something like evolution and how long it took to reach the stage we are now. God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, but how long is one of God's days compared to ours. One of God's days could be a million years to us or more. As for the parts of the Old Testament that speaks of what God has said or done: such as Genesis; had to be bestowed on the authors of the Torah (the original Hebrew text in which the Old Testament was pulled from) from a higher power, because they had no way of knowing. If it said God created the world, and then all the animals in it as well as humans by starting with single celled organisms and making us evolve into marine life, then land walking mammals would have confused people in those days. Basically we weren't ready for that knowledge. Evolution is just a perfect method to make us earn our existence in this physical world God has made for us.
    Overall, creationism and evolution can coexist. Basically, because they are the same story of our history and journey as a species, they're just told differently. People need to stop taking the Bible so literally, and realize that it's not a constitution; it's more like a handbook to read and draw our own conclusions from considering when and where we are in this space and time. It was written in a way so that it could be used through the ages, no matter what changes occurred; culturally, religiously, politically, and so on and so forth.
    Science is secular, or agnostic. It says absolutely nothing about the existence of any supernatural entities. There is no part of evolutionary theory that says God can't exist, and the two aren't at ends.
    The only area of science that opposes the concept of a god is in logic. Occam's Razor –that the answer with the fewest unexplained facts, or assumptions, is probably the best one –is the only thing standing in the way. Evolution works perfectly fine without any direct intervention from any god, needlessly saying a god had a hand in it is violating Occam's Razor, and is therefore inferior logic. But, fortunately for theists, faith isn't based on logic.
    All in all, I would tell the person that with the information given, I hope they could make a choice between the two, or simply both.

  5. I am going through this process right now. There is a lot of strong evidence for evolution, but I am not ready to believe in it. Before, I always used to avoid this question and hoped that I wouldn’t have to think about it. At least not yet. But reading this book has made me face this issue head on and it has exposed me to a variety of evidence that supports evolution. As of right now, I’m not sure of anything. I want to believe in both. I want to find a way to combine my deep religious beliefs with everything that I’ve learned about evolution, but it’s not easy.

    I think the reason why so many people are hesitant about evolution is because, to an extent, it requires you to leave behind everything you believed for so many years. Its scary to completely change your beliefs. When you do, you lose a sense of security because you let go of everything you’ve been told since you were a child, everything that had created a foundation for your beliefs, and you have nothing to hold on to. This is why people need time to decided whether or not they want to accept and believe in evolution. They have their belief in God, but it is a matter of whether the overwhelming number of facts outweigh their beliefs.

    Another fear about evolution is that if society believes in evolution, we will lose our morality and purpose. Coyne stated that "a common belief about evolution is that if we recognize that we are only evolved mammals, there will be nothing to prevent us from acting like beasts" (225). Yet, evolution is a theory about where we came from, not about our morals. The two are unrelated.

    I feel like I’m spilling out the contents of my soul, but this is a struggle for many people and I can relate. It’s hard to compare these two ideas because there is tons of tangible evidence in favor of evolution, yet creationism doesn’t have evidence. This is because you don’t need proof to believe. Its difficult to ignore the scientific finds that are showing up every day that point to evolution. For example, Neil Shubin found Tiktaalik rosea which is the “missing link” between water and land organisms. It has characteristics common to fish, like scales, fins and gills, but it also has key features that are found in modern tetrapods, like a functional neck, a fin skeleton, a flat head, ear notches and ribs. Therefore, the Tiktaalik show the evolution over time as fish were preparing to inhabit land. For example, the ribs would help support the body against gravity when it leaves the water.

    Although there is a lot of evidence in favor of evolution, may people accept it but are afraid to believe in it. Ideally, it would be nice to find a way for religion and evolution to coexist, but only time will tell as the theory of evolution and creationism continue to evolve.

    Why Evolution is True