Today is the 201st anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. For anyone familiar with science, you know that Darwin has been one of the most influential scientists in history. His theory of evolution by natural selection has been so profound that, still today, we are finding new ways that it can be applied to the study of our world.
Before Darwin, everything on our planet was viewed through the lens of design because it was all that humans knew. Our ancestors began making and using tools around 2 million years ago, and our ability to do so has increased in dramatic fashion since that time. Therefore, it is understandably difficult for us, as a species, to fathom the gradual increase in complexity that brought us to where we are today. There was no set path, no blueprints, and no final destination – a complete reversal in how our brains have evolved to view the world.
However, any psychological bias we may have against the initial understanding of the process should quickly be eliminated when presented with the evidence supporting evolution.
Darwin’s theory, since its proposal, has received an overwhelming convergence of evidence from geology, archeology, biology, psychology, chemistry and genetics. Evolution is, undoubtedly, a scientific fact. Whether you use the fossil record to observe the transition of species, molecular genetics to find relatedness, geology and carbon-14 dating to find a fossil’s age, or simply look at the obvious “design” flaws in our own bodies, you should begin to understand that these things can only make sense using evolutionary theory.
So why is it that the 2006 Pew Research Center’s poll showed that only 26% of Americans thought that life evolved “through natural processes” when this view is held by nearly every scientist in the country? What could possibly keep a rational and open-minded person from accepting more than 150 years worth of undeniable evidence? I honestly don’t know.
After talking to hundreds of people about the topic of evolution over the past few years, it is obvious that religious ideology plays a large part in society’s refusal to accept the theory. However, there are many religious people who have no trouble believing in both God and evolution, but some people reject it for entirely different reasons. The common ground among all deniers seems to be some sort of preconceived ideology. They then use their ideology to shape their worldview, and any evidence that doesn’t fit into it will immediately be rejected.
Using this approach to reach conclusions is the exact opposite of the scientific method. Science is objective and is based on criticism and changing one’s views based on good evidence. So please, if you do not accept evolution or have just never looked into, then use today to do some research with an objective and open mind. To view the world through the lens of design may seem comforting, but to approach it with an evolutionary mind-set is fascinating.