A Critique and Personal Reflection on the Text Book Why Evolution is true
Evolution is a scientific theory that explains how the living creatures changed over a long period. According to Bonner (2015), it has seen the fundamental changes in biological classification that includes species, molecules, and organism. The difference is demonstrated by the similar morphological and biochemical traits that the species share. These features are common in species, which have a common ancestor and can be used in the establishment of the tree life, which is based on the evolutionary relationships. Evolution does not explain the origin of life but explains how the simple forms are evolved into complex forms. Moreover, it focuses on the difference between generations and the process undergone by the organisms. Humans are believed to originate from chimpanzees through various stages- from Homo habilis to Homo sapiens to the modern Homo sapiens.
Charles Darwin developed the theory of natural selection to discuss how different organisms have evolved from their ancestors. Today the concept of evolution has become a unifying force and ties with other disciplines such as paleontology, microbiology, and genetics. Darwin argued that individuals struggle to survive in a world which has limited resources. Organisms with small and heritable differences have a higher chance of reproducing because they have greater evolutionary fitness and important traits to become common in the population. On the contrary, traits that are harmful are eliminated during the process of evolution because organisms that possess them are less likely to reproduce. Natural selection is thus important in helping create a highly suitable environment that favors = organisms. The process of survival of the fittest drives this. This paper discusses the different understandings of evolution. It will focus on the theological, sociological, scientific, and philosophical beliefs.
Philosophers have been probing on the ways to relate evolution to how humans interact in the society, live, and think about the places they live. Most scientists ‘wondered why development of the evolutionary theory had created complex and developed creatures which survive from conception to adulthood (Bonner, 2015). There were attempts in 1880 to explain why it is beneficial to have a limited lifespan. The theory of programmed death stipulated that the old species would die to reduce competition for food with younger species. Evolution has set the upper limit to the lifespan of an organism since the biologists have confirmed the number of times that a cell can divide.
Studies have shown that animals living in harsh conditions only live for a short period compared to those that live in the captivating areas (Bonner, 2015). Additionally, other studies have shown that animals living in captivating conditions do not have a particular age when they start dying off more quickly. It is expected that if death were programmed, the rate of death would increase in the extreme old age. Philosophers argue that sexual reproduction is complicated because an organism needs to find a mating mate in addition to producing sperms. Additionally, they argue that plants and animals would not reproduce if an evolutionary change did not occur. Philosophers claim that sexual reproduction permits for chromosomal recombination. With sexual reproduction, natural selection acts upon individual genetic traits. Everyone has their ideas on what a society constitutes. In essence, there has been an evolution from the small tribes to a global community who are connected to the internet. In the past, people would be seen as barbarians if they did not believe in the same thing. Through the discovery of the printing press, political revolutions, and rediscovery of science, new theories about culture were developed. Philosophers had a consensus that philosophical thinking and scientific discovery were ushering a new period of cultural advancement. They believed that this would result in social progress because the hereditary social structure would be eliminated and that all citizens would gain equal rights. There were attempts to get rid of political corruption and the various forms of social discrimination. In the late 1800s, most of the philosophers believed that the scientific explanations had replaced the religious explanations and the minds of most people would be slowly liberated.Furthermore, researchers have not been able to understand how the human brain works. Most anthropologists believed that those foreigners who behaved differently from the conservative Christian culture were either culturally or biologically inferior. They developed different ways of thinking and viewed all human beings as the same. People would adapt to make most of the local environment. Finally, anthropologists recorded the lifestyles and languages from all over the world to obtain insights into the human psychology.
Theological reflection focuses on understanding the natural world in a religious perspective. Theistic evolution views evolution as real but set in motion by God, since evolutionist believes that God created all the things in the world and guided the process in which life has evolved from a simple cell to sophisticated forms (Lamoureux, 2017). Theistic evolution explains that God only created the non-living things such as the buildings blocks and eventually life emerged from the non-living material. Additionally, God performed miracles, which brought about the origin of life. Through miracles, he led life from a primitive simplicity to contemporary complexity.
Theistic evolutionists believe that many creatures died before the arrival of man (Lamoureux, 2017). They believe that God created certain creatures such as the land animals, birds, the moon, stars, and the sun in an orderly manner. Francis Collins concurred with the biologists but under the direction of God. Scientist such as Carl Linnaeus claimed that new varieties of plants would emerge through hybridization but only under the limits of God. Additionally, he argued that the Divine Being evolved from a simple to a more complex one through orders from God. In essence, it is through orders from God that different plants originated. Furthermore, he explained that it is through nature that plants have mixed and multiplied into the existing species. He attributed the biological change to God who created single species for every type of plant and placed them at different locations in the world. This understanding strives in understanding the Darwin evolution and the evolutionary characters.
Evolutionary theories explain how societies change from simple to complex forms. Through and by the organic evolution driven by Charles Darwin an understanding of the social changes emerged. Other sociologists such as Auguste Comte expounded on the three phases of the advancement of human thought and society. These stages include, theological, metaphysical and positive. Most of the sociologists were captivated by Darwin’s theory and applied it to the human society. They argued that societies evolve from simple to complex and advanced forms of western society and Herbert Spenser adopted this analogy and argued that societies are organisms. He further applied Charles Darwin’s theory of endurance for the best in the society. He claimed that societies have been developing towards a better state because of evolution from a military [ to an industrial society (Cartwright, 2016). Social Darwinism view developed because the western races adopted evolution rapidly.
According to Emile Durkheim societal evolution was because of moral density. He saw societies as developing towards interdependence, precise control and changing towards greater differentiation. Additionally, he claimed that societies had evolved from an undifferentiated social structure with no division of labor to one with a differentiated structure and maximum division of labor (Cartwright, 2016). American Sociologists like Talcott Parsons emphasized the importance of cultural patterns in stabilizing the society. According to Talcott Parsons, societies have the capability to fit in with the disruptive forces and at the same time, maintained stability. Furthermore, he stressed that change should not disrupt the social equilibrium but result in new equilibrium levels. Furthermore, he stated that changes might arise from inside the society or from interaction with other cultures. He also argued that the simple societies have a single institution, which serves many functions while the compound societies have many systems, which serve different functions. The many systems have led to the establishment of new norms, which govern the relationship between them.
More advanced institutions such as the law courts have been established to solve the conflict between the components in societies. Ralf Dahrendorf explained that every modern society experiences social conflict. Every element of the society is subject to change, and every member has a role to play. Furthermore, he stated that evolution has led to the development of social classes in the society such as rich and poor, capitalism and communism among others. Like Ralf, Marx stressed that conflict is a normal process that helps in social change. He claimed that conflict is a permanent feature in a society and that it encourages people with the same interests to come together to realize their set objectives.
Spengler, Sorokin, and Toynbee developed cyclical theories, which focused on the rise and fall of civilization. They pointed out that civilization was a matter of destiny and similar to the biological organism. Furthermore, civilizations had the same life cycle of birth, maturity, old age, and death. They studied the western societies and observed that they were in their last stage of old age. According to the theories developed, societies are gradually submerging into social disorganization that included wars, conflicts, and total breakdown.
Evolution discusses the origin of plants, animals and other living things on Earth. Research has shown that over two million existing species have been named and described. These species vary depending on size, shape, and their way of life- from bacteria to fungi and algae and from tube worms to spiders and Larkspur plants, which exist on the slopes of Mount Everest. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace introduced the concept of natural selection and variation. The ideas indicated that organisms do have common lineage and descent, for instance, human beings do have mammals instigate from shrew-like organisms that lived more than one hundred and fifty million years before. On the other hand, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds do have and share similar ancestral roots with aquatic organisms that lived over 600 million years before. Additionally, according to Coyne (2010), different plants and animals came forth from bacterial that lived more than 3 billion years. The biological evolution process changes through generations as more lineages emerge. Charles Darwin provided scientific explanations on why different species have features like kidneys, ears, wings among others. He based his explanation of the concept of natural selection. This concept explained why human beings have useful features such as swifter legs and accurate vision. Moreover, Darwin emphasized that species have gradually evolved to new and diverse species.
Darwin’s theory of Darwinism can be broken to six components such as speciation, evolution, gradualism, common ancestry, natural selection, and the non-selective mechanisms. Evolution means that species endure inherent change to something different because of variations in the DNA, which is caused by mutation. For example, humans evolved from a being which was an ape like but not similar to modern apes. Species evolve at a different rate, which depends on the evolution pressure. For example, humans and whales evolve fast while coelacanth evolves slowly. The idea of gradualism explains that evolutionary change requires many generations for it to take place. For example, development of teeth and jaws in humans, that are different from those of reptiles does not occur in one generation. Gradualism does not imply that species evolve at an even pace. When a plant or animal colonies find itself in a new environment, the process of evolution can be fast. When a species adapts to a stable habitat, the process of evolution becomes slow.
The idea of common ancestry helps in making predictions about evolution. For instance, if one sees the reptiles and the birds together based on their similar features and DNA sequence, one may predict that they have common ancestors. These predictions provide the strongest evidence that evolution has occurred. The natural selection idea expounds that if individuals within a species have different genes, the difference affect the individuals when reproducing and surviving in their environment (Coyne, 2010). Additionally, in the next generation, the good genes will become dominant while the “not so good” genes will diminish. Over time, the population will become suited to the environment, and the bad genes weeded out. Charles Darwin predicted how the natural selection would make a land mammal turn into a whale. He emhasized that it is through the process of natural selection that aquatic bears become whales. Finally, he said natural selection depended on the ability of an organism to attract an opposite mate.
There is an objection to Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Firstly, evolution is founded on unreliable evidence. Evolution cannot be relied on when analyzing the history of evolutionary thought. Furthermore, the application of the radiometric dating technique when determining the material age based on the rates of radioactive decay gives inconsistent results. The results are inconsistent because the radioactive decay depends on unwarranted assumptions such as consistent decay rates and the principle of uniformitarians. It is also unlikely for life to have arisen by chance. Therefore, evolution cannot contribute directly to the establishment of the complex structures that exist in the world. This is because the development of complex structures requires an intelligent designer who develops certain variants that are useful. Since only God has the capability of creating beings with a reasoning faculty and thus evolution would lead to the establishment of unreliable beings (Michalewicz, 2013). Evolution does not explain all the aspects of the natural world. Additionally, it cannot explain various structures and systems such as morality, homosexuality, music, language, photosynthesis, and emotions among others. Most of these aspects remain mysterious, and people cannot explain where they originated from and how they occur. Certain non-evolutionary processes such as abiogenesis and the Big Bang cannot be explained.
For evolution to be termed as scientific, it must be based on the empirical and measurable evidence. It should be so because scientific hypotheses must be testable. Certain issues such as the age of the earth, relationships of the organisms and the geological history cannot be tested. Evolution can be compared to an architect who cannot build a building from scratch but must depend on the existing buildings. This is because the evolution theory does not demonstrate the origin of the fossils, rocks, and monkeys that later become humans. Additionally, creationist argue that the earth was created 6000 years ago while anthropologist and geologists claim that it is 4.5 billion years old. Supernatural explanations provided by the evolution theory should be excluded because it functions as a religion rather than a science. Furthermore, the assumption that the creatures that have similar genes have common descent is vague. By arguing this way, it suggests that they have a universal creator who is God.
Evolution is one of the important ideas of the modern science. It is supported by ample evidence from various fields such as theology, sociology, science, and philosophy. Societies are thus making wise decisions that may have broad consequences for the future generations. These decisions include how to preserve the plants, animals and the environment against the pressing concerns. Through the sociological understanding of evolution, people can know how societies have evolved from simple to complex societies. Simple societies have a single institution, which performs all the functions while complex societies have different institutions, which perform different functions.
Theologies claim that God created different species of plants. These species reproduce through natural interaction to give rise to the new species. In this understanding, God interceded at various stages of natural development and periodically created new kinds. Theistic evolution believes in a God who uses evolution as a means of creating life and wholly natural processes, which are responsible for life. Moreover, the scientific understanding helps know how humans, animals, and plants have evolved over the years. It shows animals common ancestors and the various stages of development. It explains the different ways in which genes are transferred from one population to another and their frequency. Darwin showed how the process of natural selection helps in preserving and adding up the beneficial mutations and how to reject the bad ones. According to Darwin’s theory, the process of natural selection aids in beneficial mutation that only take up the best that fit the environment.
Philosophical understanding focuses on how people live in their environment and how they interact with the society. This understanding helps understand why organisms living in harsh conditions are more prone to death than animals living in good conditions. All understandings help people know where the different organisms originate from and how the various processes occur. However, there are objections to Darwin’s scientific knowledge because his theory does not provide enough evidence of how certain aspects began. Additionally, the natural selection process does not explain various complex structures and systems like photosynthesis, homosexuality, and morality. The assumption that earth has existed for 4.5 years is vague and cannot be proven. In addition, evolution focuses on supernatural features, which are controlled by God and not other forces.
Bonner, J. T. (2015). Life Cycles: Reflections of An Evolutionary Biologist. Princeton University Press.
Cartwright, J. (2016). Evolution and Human Behavior: Darwinian Perspectives on the Human Condition. Palgrave Macmillan.
Coyne, J. A. (2010). Why Evolution Is True. Oxford University Press.
Lamoureux, D. O. (2017). Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 69(1), 55-57.
Michalewicz, Z. (2013). Genetic Algorithms+ Data Structures= Evolution Programs. Springer Science & Business Media.