The Meaning of Evolution

Is Evolution an outdated theory? The answer is No! The main problem I think people have, especially here in the United State of America, is that they don’t actually understand what evolution is. All evolution is “descent with modification”. Think of it this way, the reason children don’t look exactly like their parents is because they have inherited DNA from two different individuals. They have been modified from the parental type. Now take that principle the next step and apply it to the species level. Each species is derived from a parental species. It’s that simple!

What people get bogged down in is the cause of evolution. Most people have heard the phrase “natural selection” and automatically think “survival of the fittest”. By the way, Charles Darwin didn’t coin that phrase, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer did. Darwin borrowed the phrase for later editions of his “The Origin of Species.” “Survival of the Fittest” is a gross oversimplification of what Natural Selection is. Basically it means that individuals that possess traits that leave more descendants, pass their DNA on to the next generation, while other individuals that don’t have these traits, will have fewer offspring and less chances their DNA will be passed along.

There are also other mechanisms that cause evolution, like genetic drift. Most people think that all there is to evolution is the fossil record. While the fossil record does support evolution, genetics is the tool that a lot of evolutionary biologists use today to study evolution. Genetics explains how one species is related to another. Another thing people say about evolution is that ” it’s only a theory.” They misunderstand what a scientific theory is. A scientific theory is: a conceptual framework, tested repeatedly but not rejected, that explains the facts, observations, and measurements, and makes accurate predictions of how the system will behave in the future.”

Basically a scientific theory is a scientific law. To put this in perspective, gravity is just a theory, but yet people accept it as fact. I don’t see why people can’t accept evolution as a fact? Is it because our species-centric view of the world won’t allow us to see how we actually came to into existence through evolution? I see no insult that we came from and are a part of nature. In fact, I enjoy that we are a product of nature, and of evolution. I just wish others did. If you want to learn more about evolution, I suggest reading this book: “Evolution For Dummies” by Greg Krukonis and Tracy Barr.