November 13, 2005

On Evolution

I really wasn’t going to write about this, because I think the whole debate” has gotten way to much press. But now can’t stand it anymore and I have to say this: The definition of evolution is A change in the genetic structure of a population over time.” That’s it. That’s all there is to it. I can recite it forwards and backwards, because I had to answer the question What is evolution?” on at least 5 exams when I was a biology undergrad. Notice how there is absolutely no reference to the origins of life, Darwin, Natural Selection, or any higher being in the definition of evolution. A change in the genetic structure of a population over time.” This is also not a theory. We proved it in my first biology lab in college, which took about 4 hours. We had a bunch of petri dishes with cultures of bacteria on them which were all taken from the same population. We subjected some of the petri dished to ultraviolet radiation, which is known to cause DNA mutations. We then subjected all the petri dished to an antibiotic. In the ones that had not been radiated, all the bacteria died. In the ones that had been radiated, almost all the bacteria died. But some lived. Then we waited a while, and on the plates where some bacteria lived, there was soon as much bacteria living there as there was before we added the antibiotic. We then added the same antibiotic to these plates again. All the bacteria lived. The bacteria of that population weren’t susceptible to that antibiotic anymore, because bacteria that had radiation-caused mutations that made them resistant to the antibiotic had thrived in that population. The genetic structure that bacteria population had changed over time. By definition, the bacteria had evolved. There is no question about this, and it assumes nothing about how the bacteria got here in the first place, or any goal that they were evolving toward”. Evolution is not a theory, and is provable with very simple experiments. Natural Selection is a theory about the mechanism that causes evolution. It is a theory that has so much support that it’s right up there with gravity, electricity, and other scientific theories that have made important contributions to our understanding of our world, and that really aren’t theoretical anymore. I don’t have kids, and don’t plan on having any, but if I did you would be welcome to teach them about Intelligent Design in school. In fact, I would expect you to— in the same comparative religion class where you teach them about Christianity, Judeaism, Bhuddism, Islam, Jainism, Wicca, Voodoo, and at least a few Native American religions.

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