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The return of evolution - a chapter from the book "Why evolution is true" by Jerry Quinn

The book was published by Aliyat HaGeg Books and Yediot Books, translation from English: Adi Marcuse-Hess

The cover of the book "Why evolution is true"
The cover of the book "Why evolution is true"

After a sleep that lasted for a hundred million and hundreds of years, we finally opened our eyes to a wonderful planet full of goodness, glowing with many colors, teeming with life. In decades we will return and close our eyes. Is there a nobler, more enlightened way to spend our short time in the sunlight, than in an effort to understand the universe and how it happened that we overestimated our sleep in it? This is how I answer when I am asked - often surprisingly - why I bother getting up in the morning.
Richard Dawkins

A few years ago I was invited by a group of businessmen in a glamorous suburb of Chicago to give a lecture on evolution versus intelligent design. I must say to their credit that they had enough intellectual curiosity to want to learn something about the alleged "controversy". I presented them with the evidence for the existence of evolution, and then I explained why intelligent design is a religious explanation for life, and not a scientific explanation. After I finished speaking, one of the listeners came up to me and said, "Your evidence for evolution sounded very convincing to me - but I still don't believe in it."

This sentence exhausts a deep and very common ambiguity that many feel in relation to evolutionary biology. The evidence is compelling, but it does not convince. how is it possible? Other fields of science do not suffer from such problems. We do not doubt the existence of electrons or black holes, despite the fact that these phenomena are far removed from everyday experience compared to evolution. After all, you can see fossils in any natural history museum, and we read every day about bacteria or viruses that have developed drug resistance. So what's the problem with evolution?

The problem is not a lack of evidence. If you have read the book this far, I hope you are convinced that evolution is much more than a scientific theory: it is a scientific fact. We looked at the evidence from many fields—the fossil record, biogeography, embryology, vestigial structures, instances of suboptimal design, and so on—and saw that all of this evidence indicates beyond a shadow of a doubt that organisms have evolved; And it is not just about small, "microevolutionary" changes: we have seen new species in the making, both in real time and in the fossil record, and we have found transitional forms between large groups, such as whales, and land animals. We have watched natural selection in action, and we have no reason to think that it cannot produce complex organisms and characters.

We also saw that evolutionary biology can make testable predictions, although it is not, of course, about being able to predict how a particular biological species will develop, since this depends on a huge number of factors about which there is no certainty, such as, for example, which mutations will emerge and how environments may change in the future. But we can predict where fossils will be found (for example, Darwin's prediction that human ancestors will be found in Africa), we can predict when (that is, at what time in the past) common ancestors appeared (for example, the discovery of the "dagregel", a fish with leg buds in the skeleton, Tiktallik, in 370 million year old rocks, described in chapter 2), and we can predict what these ancestors will look like even before we find them (one of them is the impressive "missing link" between ants and wasps, also described in chapter 2). Scientists predicted that they would find fossils of marsupials in Antarctica - and indeed they did. It is also possible to predict that if we find a species of animal whose males are very colorful and the females are not, it will be a species with a polygynous mating pattern (multiple females to one male).

Every day hundreds of observations and experiments are added to the database of scientific literature. Many of them have no real touch with evolution - these are observations and experiments concerning details of physiology, biochemistry, embryonic development, etc. - but many have such a touch. It turns out that any fact that has any bearing on evolution confirms its correctness. Every fossil we find, every DNA molecule we sequence, every organ system we analyze - they all support the idea that biological species develop by evolution from common ancestors. Although there is, in principle, an infinite number of possible observations that could prove that evolution is not true, but so far not even one such observation has been discovered.

We do not find mammal fossils in rocks from the Precambrian era, nor human fossils in the same layers where dinosaur fossils are found, nor any other fossil that does not fit the evolutionary order of development. The DNA floor supports evolutionary relationships between species, which were first inferred from the fossil record. As natural selection predicts, we do not find species with adaptations that only benefit another species. We find dead genes and residual organs that cannot be understood within the framework of the idea of ​​"special creation" - the essence of the creationist position - according to which each species of living creature was created for itself in a separate and special act of creation, regardless of all other species of creatures. Even though it has a million chances to be wrong, evolution gets it right every time. It's the closest thing to scientific truth we can imagine.
When we say that "evolution is true", we mean that the most important general assertions of Darwinism have been verified. Organisms underwent and undergo evolution, this happened and happens gradually, lineages branch into different species from a common ancestor, and natural selection is the main engine for the appearance of adaptations. No serious biologist would question these assertions. However, it does not follow that Darwinism has exhausted its scientific statement to the end, and that there is nothing left to understand. The distance from this is great. Evolutionary biology is full of questions and controversies. How exactly does sexual selection work? Do females choose males with good genes? What is the extent of the role played by genetic drift (as opposed to natural or sexual selection) in the evolution of DNA sequences or characters of organisms? Which fossil hominins are directly related to Homo sapiens? What caused the "explosion" of life as the Cambrian, in which many new forms of life appeared in the span of a few million years?

Critics of evolution cling to these controversies and claim that they show that something is wrong with the theory of evolution itself. This is complete nonsense. There is no disagreement among serious biologists about the main claims of the theory of evolution, but only about the details of how it occurs and the relative roles that different evolutionary mechanisms play. The "controversies" not only do not damage the credibility of evolution, but on the contrary, they are a hallmark of a vibrant and thriving field of research. Ignorance, debate, and the examination of alternative theories through observations and experiments are what push science forward. Science without controversy is science that is not advanced.

At this point I could simply say, “I have presented the evidence, and it shows that evolution is true. parable." But if I do, I will not complete my work, because, like the businessman who approached me after my lecture, many people require more than evidence before they will agree to accept evolution. For such people, evolution raises such deep questions about purpose, morality, and meaning that they cannot accept it, no matter how much evidence is presented to them. It is not the fact that we evolved from apes that bothers them so much, but the emotional consequences of confronting this fact. If we do not address these concerns, we will not make progress in making evolution a universally recognized truth. As the American philosopher Michael Ruse noted, "No one lies awake at night worrying about a gap in the fossil record. Many people can't fall asleep worrying about abortions and drugs and the deterioration of the family and gay marriage and all the other things that are contrary to what are called 'moral values'."
Nancy Pearcy, a conservative American philosopher who publicly supports intelligent design, expressed this common fear:

Why is the public so passionately engaged in biological theory? Because people intuitively sense that something much bigger than a scientific theory is at stake. They know that when evolution is taught in nature in a science class, the naturalistic view of ethics will be taught down the hall, in the history class, in the sociology class, in the family class, and in all the other subjects in the curriculum.
The evolution of the crustaceans. Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada. From Wikipedia
Piercy claims (and many American creationists agree with her) that everything that is considered the evils of evolution originates from two worldviews that are part of science: naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the view that the only way to understand the universe is through science.

Materialism is the idea that the only existing reality is the material reality of the universe, while all other things, including thoughts, will and emotions, arise from the action of the laws of physics on matter. The message of evolution, and of all science, is a message of naturalistic materialism. Darwinism tells us that human beings, like all species, appeared due to the action of blind, aimless forces that operated over infinitely long ages. As far as we can determine, the forces that led to the existence of ferns, mushrooms, lizards and squirrels, are the ones that also created us. It is true that science cannot completely rule out the supernatural explanation. There is a possibility - although very unlikely - that our entire world is under the control of elves. But there is simply no need for supernatural explanations like this, because we manage to understand the natural world quite well by using reason and materialism. More than that, supernatural explanations always mean that we have reached the end of the investigation: this is what God wants, and eliminated. Science, on the other hand, is never satisfied: our studies to understand the universe will continue until humans become extinct.

But Peircy's concept, according to which the lessons in the theory of evolution will eventually spill over into the studies of ethics, history and "family life", arouses unnecessary panic. How can one derive meaning, purpose or ethics from evolution? impossible. Evolution is only a theory of the processes and patterns responsible for the formation of the diversity of life forms, and not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life. She can't tell us what to do or how to drive. This is the big problem for many believers, who want to find in the theory that deals with our origin a reason for existence and a point on the right way to follow it.

Many of us do need meaning, purpose and moral direction in life. How will we find them, if we see in evolution the true story of our origin? This question is outside the realms of science. Nevertheless, evolution can shed some light on whether our morality is limited by our genes. If our bodies are the product of evolution, what about our behavior? Are we carrying the psychological baggage of our millions of years in the African savannah? And if so, to what extent can we overcome it?

19 תגובות

  1. Banal note: I would be happy if you would attach to the book review, which is excellent in itself, biographical details such as - a photo of the back page, recommended price, something about the author / translator, etc. In any case, a fascinating and important section, thank you.

  2. Although the process of evolution exists today, nothing contradicts the assumption that the world may have been created in one moment 100 years ago, including all the fossils in the ground, ancient cities that are supposed to show us that there is a history, and perhaps creation also includes a memory in the minds of the people who live so that we all think we remember events from before creation even though we were created that way .
    The answer to creationism is that it is possible that the world was created as it is with ancient fossils, creatures and us, but from the moment it was created, the fact is that evolution is a factual process and therefore the starting point is not important at all.
    Like a function that exists, it can be recorded from any point and if someone is on the curve, he cannot see whether it was recorded from time 0 or minus infinity

  3. Haim,
    I quote: "They cannot prove otherwise, this is the truth for the truth"
    This is what is called "go prove you don't have a sister". Prove that you don't have a weightless transparent lufricon telling you to write what you wrote and actually you yourself are unable to think.
    I can't prove that there isn't, you can't prove that not everything in life is black and white. There are things that to this day no one has been able to prove. So what, the doesn't make them right or wrong it just makes them things that can't be proven. In any case, based on things that cannot be proven, it is not acceptable to build an entire life system (well yes, it is acceptable but illogical)

  4. Extraterrestrials and other nonsense come on people. For every "scientist" who publishes a book for a living there are two scientists who say the opposite. Make yourself a rabbi is a motto that should be followed. My opinion is that there is a God who created everything and everything is related to him in one way or another. Those who think otherwise, let them be perfumed and because they are. They cannot prove otherwise that this is the truth

  5. I didn't read because the answers are known, but, try to see it like computers that humans have in them, they have viruses and they develop according to versions, in addition, Gogol invented intuition and it is possible to transfer the feature of the computer from computer to computer after it dies, and after the computer dies, the person remains. Thanks

  6. Funny, a religious person believes that they took sand mud and boom we become a human being they took a rib and oops there is a woman. And someone no one has seen or heard of did all this. Whereas scientists and people with curiosity look for solutions in a scientific way and show proofs but do not find any grain of doubt. And all evolution is wrong. I sometimes don't believe this joke. I have another theory, maybe a spaceship came with an intelligent creature with high intelligence, took any animal that he performed a genetic experiment on, and there is a person. It's smart planning :-)

  7. I believe that evolution is not a theory but a conclusion, based on observations and thinking.
    Creationism is, in my opinion, an expression of subjective desire, of believers in the Creator, who want things to be this way.
    One of the differences between scientific thinking and religious thinking is, again, that science is based on observations, experiments and thinking, and is ready to accept changes in approach (such as accepting Einstein's relativity that replaced Newton's theory) as opposed to wishful thinking conservatives are anxious about any change and fight it

  8. If the creationism, miracle stories and mysticism that people of faith accept as obvious truth are true why does all the evidence always point to the victory of science. Why are the answers always given by science and the mystical interviews are refuted one by one? In other words, why does God make it so "difficult" for those who support creationism, mysticism and other religious vegetables? Why do they always scoff at any argument that adheres to the logic and consistency that is characteristic of healthy science.

  9. Mathematical Biology
    Your sources of information are Christian preachers?? Jerry Keenan's source of information are scientists.
    I will ask you again - are your sources of information Christian preachers?

    All the "refutations" you bring are a big jumble of lies, lack of understanding and stupidity.

    You are doing an injustice to those who truly believe in God. Just pathetic…..

  10. "But a whole salad, which in a rather funny way is actually predicted by the creationist theory."

    'Anonymous user', the creationist 'theory' is a salad?

  11. Mathematical Biology. The Intelligent Design Movement These are simply Protestant Christian preachers in disguise. If I need to hear their opinion about Jerry Quinn I also need to hear what they think about a talking snake and a man who walked on water.

  12. Just as an example, I will bring two claims from the article that are disproven quite easily. Jerry's quote from the book:

    "We can predict when (that is, at what time in the past) common ancestors appeared (for example, the discovery of the "Dagregel", a fish with leg buds in the skeleton, Tiktalik, in 370 million year old rocks, described in chapter 2),"-.

    are you sure jerry Because the last time I checked, they found a fossil of a terrestrial reptile about 19 million years before Tiktallik even existed:

    Let's move on to your next claim Jerry:

    "Every DNA molecule we sequence, every organ system we dissect - all support the idea that biological species evolve from common ancestors." - Are you sure Jerry? Because the last time I checked there were some pretty serious molecular contradictions. For example, in a study published in 2009 in genome research, a group of 20 different genes from armadillos, elephants and humans were examined. The phylogenetic test revealed all the possible contradictions:

    According to a certain group of genes it turned out that the armadillo is closer to the elephant than to humans, according to another group it turned out that the armadillo is closer to humans than to the elephant, and according to another group it turned out that the elephant is actually closer to humans than to the armadillo. In short, not a coated tree but a whole salad, which, in a rather funny way, is actually predicted by the creation theory.

    "It is true that there is, in principle, an infinite number of possible observations that could prove that evolution is not true, but so far not even one such observation has been discovered." - as stated above. This is simply not true. It turns out that evolution was also disproved according to the criteria that Jerry himself brought. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

    We do not find mammal fossils in rocks from the Precambrian era, nor human fossils in the same layers where dinosaur fossils are found, nor any other fossil that does not fit the evolutionary order of development.

  13. For the sake of all the debaters and commenters who will come,
    Note that he writes: "Evidence for the existence of evolution"…….
    "Evolution is much more than a scientific theory: it is a scientific process. "
    And one of the "believers" says "but I still don't believe in her."
    And to that I say that:
    A - Again and again I tried to differentiate between theories
    that try to explain the process called evolution,
    and the process itself,
    B - If there is faith and believers there is no point in arguing.
    A list illustrating the things will be published later.

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