Evolution: the greatest show on earth

In his review of  The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins,Nicholas Wade explains scientific Theory in a way that has really helped clear up my thinking about evolution. When I tell somebody that I have my doubts about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, I usually get looks that I would expect if I had said that I think the earth is flat.

Evolution is one of those things that I have thought about – alot. I picked up a book on human evolution about 25 or 30 years ago and, after reading it, realized that I really didn’t get how the whole thing worked. So I got another book, and another until I had gone through at least 20 books without getting any closer to really understanding the “why” of evolution. It seems to me that Natural Selection is a tautology: the fittest survive and pass on their genes and we know they are the fittest because they are the one who survive. That does not seem to explain why amoebas have evolved into cats and dogs.

It does not explain to me why everything evolves towards complexity. Atoms become molecules, molecules become cells, cells become animals, flatworms become monkeys, monkeys become sentient. The Universe seems to have a direction. Wade says, “science consists largely of facts, laws and theories. The facts are the facts, the laws summarize the regularities in the facts, and the theories explain the laws. Evolution can fall into only one of these categories, and it’s a theory.”

I have no problem with the facts – I believe what we see is real. I have no problems with the laws – the world is changing, it is not fixed. I am just not convinced that Natural Selection is all that is causing the change. I have no idea what is causing the change: not God which seems like an even less reasonable reason. But something more.

Wade goes on to say “If a theory by nature is liable to change, it cannot be considered
absolutely true. A theory, however strongly you believe in it, inherently holds a small question mark. The minute you erase the question mark, you’ve got yourself a dogma.” I am willing to leave it at that.

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