Some of the strongest evidence that evolution is indeed a fact.
The theory of evolution is a concept which many people are aware of, but few actually have a proper grasp of. Most people associate it with Darwin and humans coming from apes, which is the basic school science version. However, evolution is vast and is still occurring today. The amount of evidence in favour of evolution is numerous, and I personally can’t see how anyone could deny that the theory of evolution is a scientific fact. I’m a Christian and there is no way I’m ever going to turn my back on evolution and swear by creationism and the ideas of everything being created perfectly with no changes needed to it. Not when there are so many imperfect and weird creatures out there. There’s just too much evidence in favour of evolution to deny it, and I’m going to outline some of what I believe are the strongest pieces in this post.
Everyone has seen an alien looking animal in rock at a museum or on the TV. If you’re really lucky you’ll have also had the pleasures of tramping up and down a rocky coastline turning over promising looking rocks and tapping at them to try and unearth an imprint of a creature for the first time in millions of years. You may or may not have been successful. I, on the whole, have been unsuccessful. Though I can dream of one day accidentally discovering entire prehistoric marvels on the beach like Mary Anning did (fun fact: she’s the basis of the horrifically complex she sells sea shells… tongue twister!) It is hard to see how some of these creatures are even remotely similar to ones we know and love today – like the ichthyosaur, or the plesiosaur which some believe triggered the Loch Ness Monster conspiracy theories (there’s a great blog post on the discovery of the first plesiosaur fossil here, if you’re interested). However it is indeed true that these fossilised beasts are the ancestors of creatures which we see today. Surprisingly, one of the creatures which has a really stable (sorry for the bad pun) fossilised evolutionary history is the horse. Fossils show how the creature has become more like the equine we see today rather than a large dog-like animal. Fossils are definitely real, and in my opinion they’re the most obvious evidence we have for evolution. We can carbon-date rocks and see how similar creatures change over time. Sure, not all creatures are fossilised so we can’t prove the evolution of all animals through fossil records, but surely we have enough for people to accept evolution as scientific fact?
Another equally obvious piece of evidence is the similarities which can be seen between animals. There is no denying that there are physical similarities between humans and apes, between dogs and wolves, between cats and tigers. There’s no point trying to think up ways of explaining this that don’t include science or evolution coming into play to show how over time different versions of the same animal have arisen in order to cope with the various climates and environments they find themselves in. This is essentially the essence of Darwin’s finches – while they were all similar, their beaks altered based on their diet. This doesn’t actually fall true for everything, and there are different types of evolution that exist to make things look similar even if they are not closely related through history. If you’d like me to go into further details about these in a future post then please do ask me over on twitter.
One of the coolest things (in my opinion, anyway) about modern science is that you can show that evolution exists inside a lab. You can grow bacteria on antibiotic containing medium and see how only a few resistant strains are able to survive and so eventually colonise. The antibiotic resistance we see splashed over news pages on a regular basis is indeed evolution in action. The more we overuse antibiotics, the more bacteria that are resistant to them are able to survive and reproduce. This is why it is so important that people understand why they shouldn’t be begging doctors for antibiotics when they don’t really need them. We know of scare stories of antibiotic resistant diseases and how they’re going to be the superbugs that science can’t handle at a rapid enough rate. And it is true, to an extent. Bacteria are evolving and becoming more sophisticated at resisting the medications which we use to try and kill them. Just like weeds are becoming more resistant to the chemicals we try to eliminate them with. In fact, we ourselves are technically furthering evolution ourselves via the selective breeding of livestock or plants.
I find it hilariously ironic how many of the anti-evolution groups throughout history are the ones which are actually doing the most promotion of borderline eugenic selection of those they wish to include in their ‘traditional’ communities. Diversity is a good thing, and is the product of the evolution of species to adapt and have the best chances of survival in their environments. Those that refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence in favour of evolution and who also push away certain types of people are the ones who are, evolutionarily speaking, putting their community at the greatest risk of dying out. Well, at least that will mean there’s a few less racists in the world, right?
Evolution is real, and there’s a lot of evidence to support it. In this post I’ve only touched on what I believe the most alarmingly obvious pieces of evidence are, the pieces that surely nobody with half an ounce of common sense can deny. So if you do find yourself conversing with somebody who is refusing to believe that evolution is true, please do feel free to link them to this post, or have a go at defending the science yourself.
And, as always, don’t be afraid to talk to me on twitter about anything you want (within reason, obviously…)