Evolution, the Dirty E Word That Refuses to Die

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Theologians as well as others have been trying to stamp out evolution ever since the term first reared its ugly head in 1859 with the publishing of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Everybody knows the drill on this: Species are immutable and man was the last one created by God. It’s easy to see how early folks could latch onto this belief because from their perspective, wolves, bears, mountain lions, giraffes, lions, you name it, never seemed to change from one generation to another throughout the entire course of historical time.

Ignorance from lack of knowledge is one thing, however, willful ignorance is quite another. This kind of ignorance is very prevalent in all human fields of endeavor and is sometimes referred to as “drinking the kool aid” or “brain washing”. I suppose a more PC term would be indoctrination. Call it what you will, it is still the same phenomenon. It is the stubborn refusal to accept facts or analyze new evidence as it is uncovered over time. It is an irrational fear of letting the evidential chips fall where they may because of an intellectual, emotional, or other investment in power, prestige, position, reputation, etc. Any acceptance of even a small portion of such evidence could be perceived as a dangerous slippery slope to be avoided at all costs. It might snowball into something capable of generating an irreparable crack in the current belief system, rendering it vulnerable to significant alterations or even total destruction. Such destruction would go beyond simply shocking personal belief systems. It would also affect the bottom lines of many “businesses” posing as religious organizations that prey upon the naive and gullible. The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky is a poster child for this kind of toxic relationship. Having said all of that, if you are still with me at this point, I assume you are ready for a lesson on evolution.

The Theory of Evolution includes both microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is no theory involved here. When we discuss microevolution we can call it the law of microevolution rather than a theory. It satisfies all of the requirements for elevating biological phenomena to the status of a law. It is reproducible in laboratories under tightly controlled experimental conditions and has been reproduced ad nauseam by numerous scientists in myriad laboratories. It involves manipulating microorganisms and simple multicellular plants and animals which have short enough generation times for scientists to study. Contrast this to larger, more complex plants and animals whose generation times may require 20 years or more to study, hence the reason early people might have thought these organisms were immutable.

If you wish to learn more about how scientists study microevolution, you can do so by reading up on any number of genetic microbial textbooks. The concept of evolution depends upon the interplay of two factors: nature versus nurture. Scientists describe this in terms of DNA versus natural selection. It is possible to generate almost any kind of bacterium you desire simply based upon artificial selection in the laboratory. This artificial selection works the same way as natural selection but it is under controlled (artificial) conditions. Humans have also inadvertently used artificial selection in the creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, DDT resistant flies, herbicide resistant weeds, the list goes on and on. Even ancient people knew they could select or breed in useful traits in livestock and plants while breeding out bad ones. They just didn’t understand the mechanisms behind it.

Macroevolution involves generation times beyond the scope of microevolution or even human existence. It requires extrapolating back in time based upon comparisons of sometimes sparse incomplete fossils discovered by chance. Comparisons of anatomy, embryology, DNA, and other biomolecules are also used. Unlike microevolution, macroevolution cannot be studied in real time because it has already happened and there are too many variables involved for controlled experimental testing. In this regard, it is very similar to forensic analyses. The inability to go back into time and study seminal events in macroevolution is the typical argument used by theologians in dismissing evolutionary theory, even going so far as to discredit it because nobody ever witnessed it happening. Based on such an argument, we may as well dismiss the Civil War as well, because no one alive ever personally witnessed it and everybody knows you can’t trust the dead, especially dinosaurs.

Perhaps my next post will go into more detail about the mechanics involved in studying microevolution. I am also considering the use of live streaming so people can ask me questions about what I am talking about or about previous posts that require clarification. All of my time-sensitive blog posts can be found under the page heading, “GENERAL POSTS”. I will announce any scheduled live streams on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for your interest.

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About frankabernathy

I am a retired cell biologist and alumnus of Ohio State University. I became interested in chromosomes as far back as the 1960's when I wrote a term paper on the effects of radiomimetic drugs on chromosomes. I was fascinated at how they could break apart and reform new structures so easily. I became further involved in the early 1970's after taking a cytogenetics course at the University of Arkansas. I took that knowledge with me to Ohio State in 1980 where I eventually worked on my research and completed my Ph.D. dissertation, "Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure". My studies and later research suggested that the DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome is not the simple, linear molecular thread so widely suggested in all the classic textbooks published today. Instead, it may be the culmination of a geologically rapid set of endosymbiotic events where microorganisms plug into each other to create something greater than themselves. Feel free to contact me at fabernathy@sbcglobal.net.
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