Proof Of Evolution Essay, Research Paper
Proof of Evolution
Evolution is a fairly simple idea. A broad definition of it is ?Species change over
time.? Evolutionary theory is supported by a huge body of evidence, including the fossil
record and observation of organisms alive today. That is the reason it is embraced by
most mainstream scientists. Theologists, whose arguments are based totally on faith,
base their theories on fiction not proven fact. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on
evidence, is the principal vice of any religion. And who, looking at Northern Ireland or
the Middle East, can be confident that faith is not exceedingly dangerous? One of the
stories told to the young Muslim suicide bombers is that martyrdom is the quickest way
to heaven. Given the dangers of faith, and considering the accomplishments of reason
and observation in the activity called science, it is ironic that a person could argue, “Of
course, your science is just a religion like ours. Fundamentally, science just comes
down to faith, doesn’t it?” Science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith.
Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based
upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence
from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
Considered the father of evolution, Charles Darwin has been the most respected
and reviled figures in history. While still a young man, he set sail aboard the Beagle to
see the world before returning to England to become, as planned, a parson (The Origin
of Species, vii). Legend holds that Darwin happened upon one of science?s most
important theories during his travels on the Beagle, through his unbiased observation
of nature. In fact, Darwin devised no great theory until his return to England, and was
not the first person to propose evolution. Evolution was widely discussed, at least in
scientific circles, long before Darwin published any of his theories. The question was,
How did evolution occur? The reason Darwin is a household name is because he
proposed a viable mechanism for evolution, natural selection.
Here is how natural selection works: In any population there will be variations.
Individuals born with certain characteristics like strong legs, keen eyesight, or
camouflage, will enjoy an advantage over their peers. If these individuals can pass
these traits on to their offspring, their offspring will enjoy the same advantages. If the
surrounding environment gradually changes, it may come to pass that the new
characteristics are more favorable than the old, for instance, a new color will make a
better camouflage. As the environment changes, individuals with the new
characteristics will fare better, live longer, and produce more offspring until eventually
the population looks totally different form the original version (Descent of Man, 210+).
When the population changes enough to satisfy some taxonomist, it will be classified
as a new species. In other words, new species arise when the environment favors new
characteristics over old ones (The Origin Of Species, 107+).
What sounds pretty simple was in fact very controversial for Darwin?s time, and
still is in many parts of the Western world. What his theory basically stated is that life
on earth is simply the result of billions of years of adaptations to changing
environments. What this theory implied, and what Darwin stated more clearly in his
book The Descent of Man, is that humans, like every organism on earth, were the result
of evolution (5-25).
When animals that live in fresh or salt water die, their remains settle to the
bottom. After a period of time, these remains can be covered by mud and sediment.
After many thousands or even millions of years these remains can become fossilized.
The space they occupied in the sedimentary layers that form through history become
filled with dissolved minerals that harden into fossils.
Since different types of fossils are found at different layers of sedimentary rock,
their presence at specific depths indicates the period in which the animals lived. The
fact that certain species are found in certain layers is taken as evidence for evolution.
In the 1870’s, the paleontologist O.C. Marsh published a description of newly
discovered horse fossils form North America. At the time, very few transitional fossils
were known apart from Archeopteryx. The sequence of horse fossils that Marsh
described was a striking example of evolution taking place in a single lineage. Here
one could see the fossil species Eohippus transformed into an almost totally
different-looking, and very familiar descendent, Equus, through a series of clear
intermediates. Some years later, the American Museum of Natural History assembled
a famous exhibit of these fossil horses, designed to show gradual evolution from
Eohippus, now called Hyracotherium, to modern Equus. Such exhibits focused
attention on the horse family not only as evidence for evolution per se, but also
specifically as a model of gradual, straight-line evolution, with Equus being the ?goal? of
equine evolution (Hunt).
As new fossils were discovered it became clear that he old model of horse
evolution was a serious over simplification. According to Colbert, The ancestors of the
modern horse were roughly what the series showed, and were clear evidence that
evolution had occurred, but it was misleading to portray horse evolution as a straight
line for two reasons. First, horse evolution did not proceed in a straight line. We now
know of many other branches of horse evolution. Our familiar Equus is merely one twig
on a once flourishing bush of equine species. We only have the illusion of straight-line
evolution because Equus is the only twig that survived. Second, Horse Evolution was
not smooth and gradual. Different traits evolved at different rates, did not evolve
together, and occasionally reversed. Also, horse species did not always come into
being by gradual transformation, anagenesis, of their ancestors; instead some new
species split off from their ancestors, cladogensesis, and then co-existed with those
ancestors for some time. Some species arose gradually, others suddenly. Overall the
horse family demonstrates the diversity of evolutionary mechanisms, and it would be
misleading, and a real pity, to reduce it to a straight line diagram (124+).
In addition to showing that evolution has occurred, the fossil record of Equidae
also shows that evolution does not occur in a straight line toward a goal, like a ladder;
rather evolution is like a branching bush, with no predetermined goal.
A question to Creationists. Creationists who wish to deny the evidence of horse
evolution should carefully consider this: how else can one explain the sequence of
horse fossils? Even if Creationists insist on ignoring the transitional fossils, how can the
unmistakable sequence of these fossils? Did God create Hyracotherium, kill them off
and then create another species similar then kill them off too? Each species
coincidentally similar to the one that came just before and just after? Creationism utterly
fails to explain the sequence of known horse fossils from the last fifty million years.
That is, without invoking the ?God Created Everything To Look Just Like Evolution
In Darwin?s autobiography he wrote about his religious views. This is an extract
from his autobiography:
During these two years, I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board
the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by
several of the officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible an
unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the noveltry
of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come, by this time, to see
that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the
tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, ect., ect., and from its attributing to God the
feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books
of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The question then continually
rose before my mind and would not be banished, ? is it credible that if God were
now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, would he permit it to be connected with
the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c, as Christianity is connected to the Old Testament.
This appeared to me utterly incredible.
By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any
sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, ? that the
more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles
become,– that the men at the time were ignorant and credulous to a degree
almost incomprehensible by us, ? that the Gospels cannot be proved to have
been written simultaneous with the events, ? that they differ in many important
details, far too important as it seemed to me to be admitted as the usual
inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; ? by such reflections as these which I give not as
having the least noveltry or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to
disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false
religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some
weight on me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can hardly be
denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put
on metaphors and allegories.
Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to, (although I do not
think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm
conviction of the existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In my
journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian
forest, ?Its is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of
wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.? I well
remember by conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his
body. But now the grandest scenes would not cause any convictions and
feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has
become colour-blind, and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness
makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This
argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward
conviction of the existence of one God; but now we know that this is very far
from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward Convictions and
feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind
which grand scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately connected
with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the
scene of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this
sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any
more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.
(Genesis 6: 14-21), ?Make yourself an ark of gopher wood, put various
compartments in it, and cover inside and outside with pitch. This is how you should
build it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its
height thirty cubits. Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and finish the ark a cubit
above it. Put an entrance in the side of the ark, which you shall make with the bottom,
second and third decks. I on my part am about to bring the flood on earth, to destroy
everywhere all creatures in which there is the breath of life; every thing on earth shall
perish. But with you I will establish my covenant; you and your sons, your wife and your
sons? wives, shall go into the ark. Of all other living creatures you shall bring two onto
the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you. Of all kinds
of birds, and all kinds beasts, and all kinds of creeping things, two of each shall come
into the ark with you, to stay alive. Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the
food that is to be eaten, and store it away that it may serve as provisions for you and
Problems with the Ark; Construction: the ark as described in the above quote
from Genesis 6 is a huge boat made of wood, which is not exactly prime shipbuilding
material. Considering the largest know wooden boats are three hundred feet long, have
to be reinforced with iron straps and require constant pumping, and neither pumps nor
iron were available to Noah, the Ark simply wouldn?t be very seaworthy.
Collection: First of all we must define what exactly Noah has to catch and put on
the Ark. ?Birds? are obviously birds. Or are they? One part of the Bible defines the bat
as a bird, which it is not. ?Birds? are apparently anything that flies and is not an insect.
That would mean that ?beasts? are all reptiles, land mammals (except bats and
humans), amphibians, and land dinosaurs, which are now extinct but would not have
been in Noah?s time, according to Creationists. Noah would also have to bring plants
and marine animals, which would never survive a global flood. He would have to also
bring microbes. Some might survive, but most would perish, because microbes often
occupy very specific environments, like legume roots or cow guts.
Noah must now catch one male and one female of every species. Scientists
have estimated five million distinct species of beetles alone. Some animals are
asexual, parthenogenic ( have only females), or hermaphrodic ( both sexes on the
same animal). Some animals even change their sexes. Some animals live in hard to
reach places. Some are poisonous or otherwise dangerous. Some animals would not
survive the trip to the Ark. And others would not be too easy to carry.
Now, add food exercise, habitat, and other care required for this mother of all
zoos. The equipment alone would take up several arks. How did Noah keep his animals
from getting at each other? There is now way a tiger is not going to eat a tasty sheep if
it can. Some animals require very special food, for example a Koala Bear only eats
Eucalyptus plants. Keeping the animals away from the food is also a problem. Mice,
rats, and, insects, all on the Ark. The animals would have to move around or their
muscles would atrophy and they would be too weak to repopulate the planet. Many
habitats would have to be created for these animals. All these animals would be
producing tons of waste which would have to be collected and disposed of. The story of
Noah?s Ark is just that: a story, and should be taken as evidence of Creationism?s
In conclusion, Darwin?s theory of evolution is fact based on scientific fact.
Creation is a fictional story created by theologists which cannot be proven by scientific
methods. In order for the human species to grow, evolve into a smarter mor fit being,
man needs to let go of fictional roots and begin finding the real answers.
Colbert, E. H. Evolution of the Vertebrates, 3rd edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons,
Darwin, Charles. The Evolution of Species.1872. New York: Random House, 1993
– - -, The Descent of Man: and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd edition. New York and
London: D. Appleton and Company, 1874
- – -, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin,1809-1882, with Original Omissions
Restored. ed. Nora Barlow. London: Collins, 1958.
Holy Bible, King James Version
Horse Evolution. Hunt, Kathleen. 4 Jan. 1995. 19 Feb. 2000.