Tuesday, December 06, 2005

HSTS415 - Final Paper

Why has the acceptance of Darwinian evolution become so strong and universal among biologists? Sketch the major factors that have led to this current situation and evaluate the current acceptance of Darwinian evolution.

The current acceptance of Darwinian evolution has become incredibly strong due to many factors, most of which being a huge influx of genetics-related discoveries about evolution. Scientists have been able to pinpoint the amino acid in humans and modern gorillas that varies, and it is only one amino acid. Further genetic research points out that the same kinds of genes are found in all living organisms indicating a common ancestor. Darwinian evolution does not have to apply strictly to human evolution, but can be seen around the world in different animals and plants. Evidence of both land iguanas and finches evolving on the Galapagos Islands (where Darwin himself studied) shows how evolution occurs on a minor scale, perhaps a few hundred years for some species. Scientists and anthropologists have made discoveries that fill gaps in the fossil record. Cuvier was the first to look at fossils in the early 1800’s and figured out that newer animals were buried on top of older animals. Later, Richard Leakey and his team found ancient fossilized bones of early hominids (Ramapithecus, Homo habilis, and Australopithecus to name a few) in Africa that narrows the gap between theory and fact about human evolution.

While the scientific facts are overwhelming, there are sociological factors that play into the acceptance of Darwin’s theory. Not believing in evolution in this culture can be socially unacceptable. I have friends who are deeply religious and do not completely buy into Darwin’s theory, but they do not say anything to anyone because they fear they will be openly chastised for their beliefs. They would rather have people think they believe in hard science facts than in God. Also, evolution and creation must be taught in schools (at least in Oregon) equally, but some teachers fear teaching creation due to the required separation of church and state.

Those who take the time to study the evidence find evolution convincing. Simply put, the facts point that evolution must have occurred. There are no alternatives to Darwinian evolution that fill the same gaps and prove so clearly how things change. Biology, without evolution, is simply life until life ends. Evolution represents, or rather signifies, the ability of life to change, and that suggests “future.”

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