The Theory of Evolution…is it True?

There is no doubt at all that evolution is a fact. That may upset you or not depending on what religious affiliation you have or don’t have. Bear with me though…I’m not talking about Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection right here.  I speak of the changes to the gene pools of all species that occurs every day due to births and deaths.  Members of a species do not all have the exact same DNA, which can be demonstrated easily, and sexual reproduction combines the DNA of two parents to form a little bit different combination of genes. Also, not all creatures survive to reproduce and some little bits are lost.

If you can understand and accept these facts that this is an observed, common, natural fact of life then you are understanding evolution at its basic level. This has been known and fully understood for over a hundred years, and there is NO doubt about it-at all-in the scientific community that it is working.

When you talk about the “Theory of Evolution” though, what you are talking about is the attempt to describe how and why life is doing what it is doing. You come up with the theory when you observe the facts and posit the reason behind them.  When you are talking or experimenting on live things and how they came to be and what changes they have, or are, going through and you find common threads then you are talking about evolutionary things, and when large numbers of your observations show many similarities then you make a theory to cover what you are seeing.

The theory that C. Darwin proposed to cover the observations he made in his long voyage on the HMS Beagle was the most eloquent and simple theory that seemed to work…and it worked so well that here we are 150 years later and it’s still the only “theory” that has any credence and continues to explain how life worked in the past and continues to work today.

The religious right continues to attack Darwin and his work precisely because it is the one explanation for life that really works, makes sense, unlike the error filled Bible, and it has tremendous explanatory power in the areas that it is used in, and is constantly being corroborated by dozens of different scientific disciplines.

A good theory can be used to produce predictions about future findings about known facts, and the theory of evolution has proven to be able do this…over and over again for 150 years.

The religious right, the evangelical fundamentalists have a big problem in that they have to advance magic/supernatural causes to explain natural phenomena and since this is not testable in any degree it has no real explanatory power. If a naturalistic explanation is capable of totally explaining natural phenomena on earth…what need is there for some lame…my magic God did it!

Evolution is a fact of nature…just like gravity.  I propose we now call it the Fact of Evolution.  🙂

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About the word of me
Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

15 Responses to The Theory of Evolution…is it True?

  1. I thank you for your clarification! 🙂

    While i can mostly go along with your argument as far as individuals not all having identical DNA structure and parents passing on only part of their own DNA in combination with the other parent DNA which will occasionally provide a mutation not contained in either set of DNA and i understand the concept/theory that such a mutation in a limited gene ‘pool’ could result either in the death of said mutation as it is unable to live long enough to breed and pass on it’s ‘defect’ or could also result in a better suited to it’s environment, more beneficial (stronger?) mutation and so ‘change’ the species. Are you able to point to any specifically observed case ( new species) in the last 150 years since Darwin proposed his (frequenltly modified in an ongoing fashion) theory of evolution (as compared to THE theory of evolution – the latter implying their must only ever be ‘one’)

    A theory is simply the best statement of known observations that is best able ( not necessarily perfectly able) to ‘explain’ them in a coherent phrase or paragraph.

    All theories are always subject to constant ‘review and few ever prove to be perfectly accurate and constant. – such as a Fact is required to do.

    Facts don’t change with time – theories do – this is why when talking about how life ‘evolves’ on this planet or where it ultimately came from we use the word Theory – since no facts actually describe this process.

    I should point out for your edification i am in the process of writing a book that attempts to debunk so-called ‘Intelligent design’ as it reallly grinds my nuts ! 🙂

    Even so anyone who attempts to confuse people over ‘Evolution’ versus simple evolution i find a ‘challenge’ also .

    The english language is confusing enough without us adding to the problem further.:-)

    <B

  2. An Atheist friend of mine posted on his blog the age old question: which came first? the Chicken or the egg.

    I won’t trouble you for an answer to that one but it has lead me to ask if you could be so kind as to use your ‘fact’ of evolution to inform me of:

    The first animal that ‘evolved’ – what it evolved from and what it evolved into as a secondary step that i might be able to ‘follow’ and verify for myself this fabled ‘fact’ of which you promote?

    Please understand… i am not denying the minor variations resulting in AN ‘evolutionary’ process. I do however have some problem with the massive leaps some people use this process to ‘explain’ in ‘creating’ life at the ‘beginning’. when there is no actual evidence showing what actually produced a new species ( and the ‘original’ species in the first case) The genes may have slight diferences but the reasons that caused those changes are not well understood – mostly the ‘explanation’ appears to be a simple molecular ‘factory’ made a mistake that was replicated over and over thereafter. The reason for the mistake? it may come down to the sub-atomic level – it may go all the way down to the quantum level – and when we get that far down we could very well be in the REAL ‘domain of God’. – completely unpredictable and unknowable by ‘mankind’ but not necessarily ‘uncontrolled’ by some thing, some force, some sentience of a far greater (and lesser) level than our own?

    <B

    Thank you 🙂

  3. thewordofme says:

    The last universal ancestor (LUA, also called the last universal common ancestor, LUCA, the cenancestor or “number one” in slang) is the most recent organism from which all organisms now living on Earth descend. Thus it is the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all current life on Earth. The LUA is estimated to have lived some 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago (sometime between the Basin Groups and Paleoarchean eras).

    Based on the properties shared by all independently living organisms on Earth,[2] [3] it is possible to derive the features that the LUA must have had before it branched out:

    * The genetic code is based on DNA.
    o The DNA is composed of four nucleotides (deoxyadenosine, deoxycytidine, deoxythymidine and deoxyguanosine), to the exclusion of other possible deoxynucleotides.
    o The genetic code is composed of three-nucleotide codons, thus producing 64 different codons. Since only 20 amino acids are used, multiple codons code for the same amino acids. These choices are arbitrary and are shared by all eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Archaea and mitochondria use a similar code with minor differences.
    o The DNA is kept double-stranded by a template-dependent DNA polymerase.
    o The integrity of the DNA is maintained by a group of maintenance enzymes, including DNA topoisomerase, DNA ligase and other DNA repair enzymes. The DNA is also protected by DNA-binding proteins like histones.
    * The genetic code is expressed via RNA intermediates, which are single-stranded.
    o RNA is produced by a DNA-dependent RNA polymerase using nucleotides similar to DNA with the exception of Thymidine, replaced by Uridine.
    * The genetic code is expressed into proteins. All other properties of the organism (e.g. synthesis of lipids or carbohydrates) are the result of protein enzymes.
    * Proteins are assembled from free amino acids by translation of an mRNA by ribosomes, tRNA and a group of related proteins.
    o Ribosomes are composed of two subunits, one big and one small.
    o Each ribosomal subunit is composed of a core of ribosomal RNA surrounded by ribosomal proteins.
    o The RNA molecules (rRNA and tRNA) play an important role in the catalytic activity of the ribosomes
    * Only 20 amino acids are used, to the exclusion of countless non-standard amino acids; only the L-isomer is used.
    o Amino acids must be synthesized from glucose by a group of specialized enzymes; the synthesis pathways are arbitrary and conserved.
    * Glucose can be used as a source of energy and carbon; only the D-isomer is used.
    o Glycolysis goes through an arbitrary degradation pathway.
    * ATP is used as an energy intermediate.
    * The cell is surrounded by a cellular membrane composed of a lipid bilayer.
    * Inside the cell, the concentration of sodium is lower, and potassium is higher, than outside. This choice is arbitrary. This gradient is maintained by specific ion pumps.
    * The cell multiplies by duplicating all its contents followed by cellular division.

    The Chicken

  4. All very interesting – but i did not ask for a very brief synopsis of molecular biology.

    You gave some sort of answer to a question i did not ask and an (unverifiable) answer to a question i asked you not to answer and completely ignored the actual question i did ask.

    Hardly a very ‘reasoned, logical’ answer is it?

    Sort of thing some religious types might try on a person. 🙂

    So again – if you would be so kind ( and can research wikipedia?) what was the first animal (as opposed to organism i.e. living creature able to be distinguished from a plant/bacteria/single celled organism) science knows existed?

    What did it evolve from? (direct ancestor)

    And what did it subsequently evolve into ? ( i.e what was the second ever animal? direct descendant?)

    Simple enough questions for the fact of evolution – surely?

    i mean this is the kind of thing they teach in science class – is it not? just the facts? and a well explored theory or six?

    <B

  5. thewordofme says:

    Hi lovewillbringustogether, thanks for writing.

    Sorry couldn’t resist 🙂

    “So again – if you would be so kind ( and can research wikipedia?) what was the first animal (as opposed to organism i.e. living creature able to be distinguished from a plant/bacteria/single celled organism) science knows existed?

    What did it evolve from? (direct ancestor)

    And what did it subsequently evolve into ? ( i.e what was the second ever animal? direct descendant?)

    Simple enough questions for the fact of evolution – surely?

    i mean this is the kind of thing they teach in science class – is it not? just the facts? and a well explored theory or six?”

    I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to this offhand, and at the moment I don’t have the time to research it. I’m sure the answer is available though.
    What are you getting at here?

  6. Thanks for responding (in a way) 🙂

    I was endeavouring to show that what we may think of as ‘facts’ are not always that ‘clear cut and dried’ as we may wish they were..

    We should rarely be as ‘certain’ as we are of what we think is ‘true’ or is the way it is..

    Basically it is my contention that putting the two words ‘fact’ together with ‘evolution’ is a decidedly inappropriate combination in any discussion concerning ‘our’ evolution, or for that matter the evolution of one living creature ‘into’ another.

    Most human minds hold at best ‘shaky’ connotations concerning the ‘e’ word and i don’t believe the repeated insistence on it being ‘a’ fact is helping anyone get a better grip on what it actually means.

    There is no doubt that there is a ‘process’ to which the word refers(and which at it’s core inviolves simple mutation at the genetic level), but extrapolation of that process into some kind of ‘fixed fact’ story-board of one species evolving into the next and the next is far from being as reliable as a single ‘fact’..

    Would you agree?

    <B

  7. thewordofme says:

    Hi lovewillbringustogether, thanks for your reply.

    The only ‘theory’ that might come close to explaining our world and all that is in it, as the ‘fact’ of evolution does, would be creationism.

    The trouble with creationism is that it relies on magic. Another problem with creationism is that you have to go through hoops to make a lot of stuff fit because trying to explain something with the supernatural that we know occurs naturally is really dumb, whereas evolution explains more, without going through illogical contortions of observed facts.

    And, as you know, the scientific use of ‘theory’ is just a basket to fill with facts, and science has been filling this particular basket for 150 years now…and it still holds, and still makes sense out of a hugely disparate bunch of scientific disciplines.

    I know it’s still called the theory of evolution, but I think its just about time to switch. 🙂

  8. Philippa says:

    I assume we’re talking about the common ancester theory, not just biological modifications?

    I have way too little knowledge on this stuff, but TWOM, how do you explain things that have to occur simultaneously? For instance, it’s impossible the human eye and ear evolved, because of parts that interact. The chances are billions to one.

    Another question is a bat’s sonar – to be evolved it must have developed the ability to project and the ability to receive at the same time. Again, billion to one chance.

    And lastly, how can blood clotting have evolved? At the first cut or major bruise, creatures would have died.

    There’s also the rapid appearance of phylum-level differences from the Cambrian explosion. Prior to Cambrian, there were jellyfish, sponges and worms, but bang! afterwards there are things like insects and crabs, starfish and sea urchins, modern vertebrates, and later the mammals. It was too quick to be explained by Darwin’s tree.

    Java Man consisted of a skull cap, a femur and a few teeth. And this is where we get the ape to human linkage? Pretty poor, even if they are all from the same creature.

    I believe in God and intelligent design, and I also believe in micro-evolution. There just isn’t enough evidence for me to believe in macro-evolution.

  9. thewordofme says:

    Hi again Philippa, glad you’re still here.

    You got stuck in a Michael Behe book you poor thing. Here let me help you out of there. 🙂

    The stuff you are talking about came from Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box. Here are some excerpts from Wikipedia about Irreducible complexity and Mr. Behe.

    “Irreducible complexity (IC) is an argument made by proponents of intelligent design that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler or “less complete” predecessors, through natural selection acting upon a series of advantageous naturally occurring chance mutations.

    It is one of two main arguments intended to support intelligent design, the other being specified complexity. It is dismissed by the scientific community and intelligent design has been referred to as pseudoscience.

    Biochemistry professor Michael Behe, the originator of the argument of irreducible complexity, defines an irreducibly complex system as one “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”.

    These examples are said to demonstrate that modern biological forms could not have evolved naturally. Critics consider that most, or all, of the examples were based on misunderstandings of the workings of the biological systems in question, and consider the low quality of these examples excellent evidence for the argument from ignorance. In the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, Behe gave testimony on the subject of irreducible complexity. The court found that “Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.”Nonetheless, irreducible complexity continues to be cited as an important argument by creationists, particularly intelligent design proponents.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity

    I should also add that within four or five years after his book scientists demonstrated that two of the several examples he provide were not only possible but were in fact happening. Look up the bacterial flagellum and the ‘evolution of the eye’ on Google.

    “Behe is a primary advocate of the Intelligent Design and although he holds a professorship at professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and as a senior fellow of the
    *** Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Behe is best known for his argument for irreducible complexity, a concept that asserts that some structures are too complex at the biochemical level to be adequately explained as a result of evolutionary mechanisms and thus are the result of intelligent design.
    Behe’s claims about the irreducible complexity of essential cellular structures are roundly rejected by the scientific community. The Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University has published an official position statement which says “It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe

    *** The Discovery Institute is well known for trying to ‘wedge’ its way into secular school science classes and basically teach religious dogma as science.

    Intelligent Design has no real science going on; no research happening, no foundations that are doing science to prove their ‘theories’ they have no peer reviewed scientific papers on the subject. All they do is propose theocratic creationist dogma and try to pass it off as science by removing references to God. It depends on magic to work.

    I don’t want to sound harsh on this subject and I certainly don’t want to dump on you, but the stuff proposed by ID is well known junk-science and they keep regurgitating the same old disproven crud to those people they think they can get away with it.

    In regard to the pre-historic people and the ‘missing link’ there is no missing link in the line from ancient hominids to us, and is pretty well established…evangelical fundamentalist just don’t want to believe.

    I can guess that you have probably been taught that anyone trying to tell you your religion is wrong is probably Satan, and that scientists have an evil plot to disrespect religion…no true. All one has to do is open your eyes and minds and truth can be seen.

    I tend to rave on…sorry…Peace

  10. Philippa says:

    It wasn’t Behe, but I did a bunch of googling and found out what you mean.

  11. Hi again TWOM 🙂

    Leaving ID and Creationism alone for a time ( i have not finished my book yet, barely begun in fact and i’ve only really got as far as the ‘establishment’ of the fundamental atoms and isotopes and basic organic carbon-based molecules and compounds – am a long way from demonstrating just how what we would call ‘life’ began) I wish to challenge your statement that there can only be one ‘alternative’ to the Theory of Evolution (namely Creationism) that ‘might come close to explaining our world and all that is in it, as the ‘fact’ of evolution does,’

    Let me state that i believe science has it’s place in human knowledge – i would not suggest we ever try to going back to living without it ( not that that is an option, of course 🙂

    What i find most objectionable however is the insistence of some people in believing through a misplaced and poorly understood FAITH that Science can and will provide us with ‘all’ the answers – it’s just a matter of time…

    Science cannot ever provide ‘all’ the answers because it cannot detect a great deal of the stuff of life’s complexity.

    Science has no way of establishing the ‘why’s of life in anything other than a physical version of a far greater reality.

    Sure, in a few instances it might be preferable to resorting to ‘magic’ and ‘inexplicable mystery’ as ‘answers’ but in truth – it never comes close to investigating, or for that matter detecting in any way through experimentation that is ‘reliable’ and infallible or unquestionable wat life is in total or what factors are really at play behind the physical ‘Laws’ we mostly think we recognise nowadays.

    Basically – at tTHE most fundamental levels of AScience and logic and reason – it all falls apart as there is no one solid ‘base’ upon which all else can be successfuly argued and built upon – yet.

    Frankly, until man is able to measure such things as love, consciousness, awareness, and explain some if not all the baffling problems of the Quantum world and how it relates to or defines our physical as well as all other ‘worlds’ then it never will.

    The axioms upon which Science and all the many forms of logic depend are all incomplete and fail the basic standards of scientifif reasoning. They are all arbitrary and assumed – not a single fact that covers all cases among ’em.

    Science has no more real foundation than religion or God.

    it merely has a set of rules that are partially ( ie not in every case) self-justifying.providing the initial set of asumptions are taken on Faith as true.

    Religions do that also.

    For me, real truth lies somewhere in between the two.

    There is far more ‘grey’ than either Black or White.

    Certainty is for fools.

    All is ‘illusion’ – or should that be DElusion 🙂

    magic is illusion 😉

    <B

  12. Philippa says:

    Hi twom,

    Found an article http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/columnists/story.html?id=2ad2c1e7-65e2-4a30-b1b5-55bd24221099 that I thought you might find interesting. Probably nothing new, but interesting. Is evolution taught in US public schools?

  13. thewordofme says:

    Hi Philippa, Thanks for the info.

    I visited this site and read the article. This is a very devious piece of writing and most people would/will not see what is going on here.

    There are *not* 12 different theories of evolution. The actual theory of evolution is the top one mentioned, and Richard Dawkins is tied to it in the article.

    Several of the other ones are minor disputes over small points in the theory, but there is a sneaking in of Intelligent Design as one of the “12 theories” and this is pure lies. Intelligent design is just creationism repackaged so that the religious right can get their foot in the door of secular schools and teach God instead of science. There are several famous court cases on ‘ID theory’ and it has been recognized by our courts that it is purely creationism in sheep’s clothing. Look up Dover vs. Kitzmiller.

    You know the more I think about this writers article, the more I’m thinking that the Discovery Institute is behind it. They are the ones behind the American attempt to wedge religion into school science classes, and the using of ID and meta-physics and some other wacky theories is right up their alley.

    From the article:” Another spiritual explanation for evolution is associated with the New Age movement. It supports the esoteric form of evolution promoted in 1877 by Madame Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy.”

    There is no spiritual explanation for evolution…this is just creationism and meta-physical mysticism.

    From the article:” One of these evolutionary theories, “conscious evolution,” is based on the work of rebel Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. It proposes that humans are called to evolve in self-awareness. It has inspired everyone from Al Gore and Marshall McLuhan to Brian Swimme and Barbara Max Hubbard.”

    Biblical mysticism.

    From the article: “Process philosophy” is another member of this group blending science and spirituality. Biologists such as Charles Birch and progressive Christian theologians such as John Cobb maintain the divine is “the creative advance into novelty,” the source of the universe’s process of change.”

    And:” “the Integrationalists.” “These thinkers follow the lead of philosopher Ken Wilber. They attempt to thoroughly integrate science, developmental psychology and mysticism into a comprehensive form of evolutionary understanding.

    Both of the last 2 entries from the article are nothing more than trying to integrate religion into a naturalistic explanation of evolution. They are not recognized as being in the same category as Darwin’s thesis.

    I know you are on the side of religion and I respect that, but what bothers me is that religion is using false pretenses as a weapon against science…because they don’t have a legitimate or lawful right to do what they want, they stoop to misdirection.

    Very devious writing on the part of Mr. Douglas Todd, of the ‘Vancouver Sun’

    Thanks Philippa…have a good day/night 🙂

    Updated info on Doug Todd:Internationally, Todd has won numerous writing prizes. He has twice taken first place in the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, which goes to the top religion reporter in the secular media in North America. Todd is the only Canadian to have received the Templeton. As well, Todd has won the highest award for opinion writing from the American Academy of Religion, the organization representing more than 6,000 North American religion scholars. In addition, Todd took first place in 2006 for the James O. Supple Religion Feature Writer of the Year Award, which honours the best in-depth writing and analysis of religious issues on the continent.

    Yeah, he’s trying to sneak religion into science.

  14. Philippa says:

    I’m curious how you see this as an attempt to sneak religion into science. I don’t know about all the “different” theories, but Todd definitely complains about evolution not being taught in schools and how the general public blindly believes in ID without knowing enough about evolution. At least, that’s how I saw it, and that’s why I thought you’d be interested.

    Todd is a religious and ethics columnist, and his blog is pretty neutral. At best I think he’s a courteous cynic, with leanings to Eastern religions. Here’s a quote on his blog: “My piece looks at the often-inadequate way evolution is taught in Canadian schools and universities. But the organizers of the Vancouver Evolution Festival and related events show some people are clearly trying to make a difference in that regard.”

    I think he’s presenting options of evolution, including shades where Darwinism and ID are combined.

  15. thewordofme says:

    Hi Philippa, thanks for your reply.

    I’m sorry I did not explain adequately. It sounds like Mr. Todd is purposely mixing together evolution and what he calls the other 11 versions of the same theory. Those other 11 he puts on the side of the true theory of evolution and they are *not* variations of same…they are religious creationism in disguise.

    He is either sadly lacking in knowledge of the theories he is proposing as evolutionary, or he is trying to confuse the people reading this work and make them believe one of the ‘other 11’ is a serious contender for using in school as real science…that is not true.

    I guess I have a devious mind because I don’t think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. With his short bio I came across of his professional writing and awards, I’m inclined to think this piece he wrote is seriously on the side of the Discovery Institute. Of course I may be wrong, and I will follow him some more and apologize to you if necessary. 🙂
    twom

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