There's been a good deal of talk

  Forum Editor 23:44 25 Apr 09
Locked

about Charles Darwin in the media recently, and it reminded me that - nearly 200 years after his birth - a poll taken in 2006 revealed the astonishing fact that less than half the people in the UK accept evolution as a fact, despite DNA sequencing evidence which shows that all living creatures had a common origin.

I don't want to start arguments about religious convictions, but I got to wondering how many of you find it difficult to accept the idea of evolution, as opposed to creationism.

  rdave13 23:57 25 Apr 09

We have definitely evolved. There's no magic in this world just harsh nature.
Common sense, I believe, as hard facts are hard to dismiss.

  WhiteTruckMan 00:04 26 Apr 09

"I don't want to start arguments about religious convictions"

Maybe not, but if you were, you sure picked a heckuva good topic!

WTM

  Grey Goo 00:11 26 Apr 09

Homo Saps is the only species on the planet that dilutes it's good genetic material with inferior genetic material. This is called medical progress but can only end in our extinction if only by sheer overpopulation.

I too thought that, generally speaking, pretty much everyone accepted evolution as fact until recently when I was talking to someone at work who informed me that another colleague refused to believe it. I was astonished! (He's even studying a Biology degree so isn't exactly an anti-science sort of person).

I had no idea that more than half of our population did not accept it though. That's even more astonishing!

  DieSse 00:21 26 Apr 09

There's two aspects to evolution -

The fact of evolution, as evidenced by the fossil record, by DNA, and by observation of evolution actually taking place on some levels. As far as evidence goes, evolution is one of the most established "facts" in science.

The theory of evolution - that is how and why it happens, is more difficult, inasmuch as it's much harder to observe, due to the timescales involved.

That having been said, it appears to me as such a coherent explanation of how the natural world works, and ties in coherently with our other knowledge of the world, that IMHO it would be almost inconceivable that it wasn't the correct explanation. Even though many of the precise details of exactly how it has happened may be subject to revision in the light of new discoveries.

Not accepting evolution actually involves gainsaying the discovered fossil record, and pretty much most of the rest of the scientific discoveries and knowledge on which our life is presently based.

So much so, that to me at least it is wholly illogical to not accept evolution.

  DieSse 00:26 26 Apr 09

"...can only end in our extinction if only by sheer overpopulation."

Overpopulation may, and probably will, cause some horrendous effects.

There's no special reason to suppose that would lead to our extinction though.

There might be a good argument that such extreme environmental/habitat pressures may lead to further major evolutionary events.

  Forum Editor 09:05 26 Apr 09

at least if you're a virologist it can; viruses evolve rapidly to deal with changes in their hosts.

The peppered moth is probably the classic example of rapid evolution - or adaptation due to natural selection. The colouring of the moths found in the area of the country between Manchester and London darkened during the industrial revolution, as moths 'evolved' to match the dark background of the trees that were coloured with sooty deposits. By 1895 around 98% of the moths found in the Manchester area were of the darker variety. The changes in the moths' colouring have traditionally been thought to be a response to the fact that bird predation levels were lower where moths were darker - the process of natural selection worked to ensure the survival of the fittest, so to speak.

Modern evolutionary biologists generally confirm the idea, although they're cautious about placing too much reliance on bird predation as the sole cause of change; they prefer to cite it as one of the causes, although they confirm that natural selection was at work. Dark-coloured varieties of the moth have all but disappeared, now that the air in the affected region is far cleaner.

  carver 09:47 26 Apr 09

Definitely believe in evolution, you only have to look at my 14 year old son to understand that we came from monkeys,he's now at the one grunt for no and two for yes.

We are hoping that he will come out of the Kevin stage and become human soon.

  DieSse 10:10 26 Apr 09

I did say evolution can be observed on some levels - however the peppered moth effect, whilst it's clearly natural selection, is not species change. They're still peppered moths.

Major species change, would need a good deal more time and probably a good deal more environmental pressure. So the explanations for that come more under a "theory banner", whilst the evidence that it did happen comes under the "facts banner".

Most creationists cannot seem to recognise the distinction.

  Forum Editor 10:36 26 Apr 09

by MORI, and the 2000 participants were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

•22% chose creationism
•17% opted for intelligent design
•48% selected evolution theory

The rest didn't know.

Therefore, and based on the results of that survey, my original comment that less than half accept evolution as a fact seems to be true. Oddly enough, acceptance of evolution is at a lower level in America than in Europe, due mainly to widespread fundamentalism in the US, and the the tendency to politicise science.

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