To The Daily Sun,
Evolution is taught in schools as established truth for the same reason that schools teach that the earth revolves around the sun. The molecular evidence for evolution is overwhelming and there is no evidence that supports any other explanation for the diversity of life. As noted scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky entitled one of his more famous essays, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
A recent writer speculated, "that there are scientists, somewhere out there, who in the course of researching ring species have found that there is a boundary beyond which micro-evolutionary changes cease to happen" because "That's the way they do it." So far (I say "so far" because scientists are always questioning), there is no evidence of such a limitation and I'm not sure who he's referring to who would want to suppress it. In fact, I can't imagine how you'd hide a scientific discovery like that which could happen anywhere in the world at anytime. Nevertheless, ring species are an interesting way to learn about evolution.
One path that leads to new species is called Allopatric Speciation. This occurs when two parts of a population get physically separated. Imagine, half a population of monkeys are living in a tree that gets blown across a river by a storm. As random mutations and other causes lead to genetic modification within the two populations they become more and more distinct over long periods of time and ultimately become unable to interbreed, thus becoming two separate species. Now, if that second population also splits the same process will occur again and three species will have emerged. These are "ring" species. If population two were to become extinct, which happens all the time, it might be difficult to see the physical relationship between one and three, think birds and dinosaurs, but you'd see it clearly at the molecular level in their DNA.
The writer also asserted the inaccurate statement that "macro-evolution has absolutely no effect on scientific discoveries that benefit mankind." Macro-evolution refers to the genetic changes that occur over geologic time — millions and millions of years. Micro-evolution is still evolution but on a smaller scale. It refers to the changes that occur over shorter periods like human lifetimes where we see genetic changes expressed in diseases like cancer but also in the process of getting physically fit (why do your muscles get bigger when you work out?) and even in the process of learning (how do those neurons decide to interconnect?).
Genes aren't just a blueprint. They also control the physical changes in our bodies that happen in response to our experience and our environment. The study of evolution has lead us to new ideas about how to treat cancer and activate muscle cells and neurons and a host of other discoveries.
Studying evolution in science class also allows students to learn about the process of scientific inquiry. How we know what we know in science is based on testing and retesting the evidence that supports competing theories. The history of the study of evolution reveals how well suited it is for that purpose.
Evolution belongs in science class. Competing ideas that lack supporting evidence do not. That's not to say that we should not study those competing ideas, like faith based explanations for natural phenomena. We should — just not in science class for the same reason we don't study science in theology class. I want my children to have the best education in science so they can compete and succeed in the world.
- Category: Letters
- Hits: 441