People who deny evolution don’t understand evolution, whether due to complete ignorance or because they don’t want to believe that we ‘evolved from monkeys’ (wrong, and goes completely in line with the old and outdated “march of progress“), or that we evolved in Africa from paleo-Africans. Well, the funny thing about science is that things are true whether or not people believe in them or not. In the past ten days I’ve come across two people who’ve denied evolution (surprise surprise, both religious). Even in the year #2016 people still deny something that has tons of explanatory power behind it, it shows they do not want to believe it because ‘we came from monkeys’. Evolution deniers deny evolution due to ignorance and a need to believe the Bible, that we were created for a purpose and placed here by a Creator, however. there is no evidence for this viewpoint so I cannot personally believe it.
I was in Starbucks the other day when I was drinking my coffee working on something on the laptop when I heard someone say that evolution was wrong and that he didn’t believe in evolution. So I went over and started talking to the kid. He was no older than 18. I asked him why he denies evolution and he says because of his religion. Then I started to go through the natural selection process—how new variants are selected for in populations. I told him there is 4 ways that evolution can occur: migration, mutation, genetic drift and natural selection.
I then gave him this example: take a population of 100 wolves. They live in a temperate climate. 50 of those wolves migrates northward and stay genetically isolated for 100kya. Over time, they incur phenotypic changes and adapt to the environment. They then wouldn’t be able to interbreed when they became a new species. (Or if they did conceive, it would be sterile.) Evolution occurs through mutation, migration, genetic drift and natural selection.
Now take a species of bird with long beaks. They need long beaks to get nectar out of the flowers. Over time, the environment changes and the birds’ food source dwindles away. Now they need to find something new to eat. The way the birds’ beaks currently are, they won’t be able to crack open nuts. However, the ones with shorter and stubbier beaks will be able to crack open nuts and eat nuts. So, over time, the birds with the shorter beaks will breed and be more successful since they can eat more food. The birds with the long beaks then die out while the birds with the shorter, stubbier beaks prosper since they were more fit and able to survive better in the new ecosystem.
Natural selection can only select on what heritable variants are already in that population. So since the birds with the stubbier beaks could survive better than the birds with longer beaks, the stubby beak trait, let’s call it Gene B, gets selected for while the long beak trait, let’s call it Gene A, becomes less prevalent in the bird population because it’s not as useful.
Let’s just say that my examples didn’t sway him and he still disbelieves evolution “due to his religion”.
A woman started talking to me last week about some random things. Then we started talking about our interests. I told her of my interest in biology and evolution and she says “You don’t think we evolved from monkeys, do you?” I laughed and said no, that’s a huge misconception. I told her that we didn’t evolve from monkeys, we just share a common ancestor with chimps. This answers the oft-said “If we ‘evolved from monkeys’, why are they still around?” She then invited me to a Bible Fellowship this past Sunday, and I said yea sure, I’ll go. So I went to the Fellowship; there were a lot of nice people there. Two men gave some talks, speaking of some of their personal experiences all while citing different quotes in the Bible. The man speaking said “And I looked down at my hand and thought ‘Wow, this is amazing. How did my hand get like this? The only way possible is for it to have been designed.'” I facepalmed so hard hearing that. People who ask such simple questions like that, that can be explained by evolution, clearly have no understanding of biology, so they then make the leap that goddidit because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that evolution is the cause for how we came into being today.
I left the event shaking my head, how can people be so willfully ignorant in #2016? We have the answers to almost all of our questions in a few seconds, how can people be so ignorant about natural processes that occurred to have us humans arise from completely different organisms?
Finally, this brings me to those who deny evolution because evolutionary theory says we “descend from chimps” and that evolutionary theory says we all share a common ancestor in Africa going back a few hundred thousand years. People deny evolution due to this because they don’t want to admit that they “descend from a monkey”. Complete ignorance, and an emotional statement at that with no factual backing.
Intelligent Designers (IDers) may say there is a lack of transitional fossils to prove human evolution. This shows more ignorance. there are plenty of these fossils. This claim was made in the 1800s, when there were hardly any available. Since then, many have been discovered. Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo heidelbergensis are all ‘transitional fossils’:
Sometimes called “the only transition which matters”, this mustn’t be thought of as a transition from chimps to humans, but rather, as a transition from the-common-ancestor-of-chimps-and-humans to humans. Chimps themselves have had time to evolve and change since we parted ways, and so “the ancestor we last shared probably differed substantially from any extant African ape” (White et al, 2009).
Another way we can see that humans and chimps/apes descend from a common ancestor is looking at our chromosomes. Chromosome 2 is currently one of the most studied chromosomes, and for good reason. Apes have 24 chromosomes while humans have 23. Why do apes have one more chromosome? This signifies a fusion event sometime in the distant past in the LCA between humans and apes/chimps. Chromosomal evidence also proves common descent between ape/chimps and humans. Fossil evidence proves it, chromosomal/genetic evidence proves it; why they denial?
“We conclude that the locus cloned in cosmids c8.1 and c29B is the relic of an ancient telomere-telomere fusion and marks the point at which two ancestral ape chromosomes fused to give rise to human chromosome 2.”
Moreover, there is evidence for universal common descent as well:
Here I provide the first, to my knowledge, formal, fundamental test of UCA, without assuming that sequence similarity implies genetic kinship. I test UCA by applying model selection theory to molecular phylogenies, focusing on a set of ubiquitously conserved proteins that are proposed to be orthologous. Among a wide range of biological models involving the independent ancestry of major taxonomic groups, the model selection tests are found to overwhelmingly support UCA irrespective of the presence of horizontal gene transfer and symbiotic fusion events. These results provide powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life.
A process called allopatric speciation shows how genetically isolated organisms can become distinctly different. This occurs when biological populations of the same species are genetically isolated, no longer sharing a similar environment. If these geographic barriers are removed, the two may not be able to breed, denoting a new species. Speciation is not based on degree of morphological difference:
I analyze a number of widespread misconceptions concerning species. The species category, defined by a concept, denotes the rank of a species taxon in the Linnaean hierarchy. Biological species are reproducing isolated from each other, which protects the integrity of their genotypes. Degree of morphological difference is not an appropriate species definition. Unequal rates of evolution of different characters and lack of information on the mating potential of isolated populations are the major difficulties in the demarcation of species taxa.
When biological populations of the same species become genetically isolated with a geographic barrier, over time they will both diverge, incurring different pheno and genotypic traits and eventually, they won’t be able to breed anymore, denoting speciation. This is how macroevolution occurs.
To deny evolution because of religion or because you don’t want to believe that Man evolved from the same ancestor as apes/chimps makes no sense at all. It’s denying all of the facts we have on evolution, and human evolution. How could you willingly deny the fact of evolution and what facts you do accept you twist it into evidence for Intelligent Design? It makes no sense. People don’t understand evolution because they don’t understand biology:
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution—Dobzhansky