Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is considered the father of evolutionary theory but apparently it was really his grandfather Erasmus who formulated the theory of evolution. (image source) Modern science, I was surprised to learn, seems to show that evolution cannot possibly be true.
When I was little I learned about evolution – the idea that as humans we evolved from lizards and microbes through a process of competition and violence, with the strong surviving while the weaker members of the species die off in the struggle for life.
As a child I initially found this theory depressing but then I accepted it and made it my own – I identified with it on a very deep level.
In high school I won the award for best science student in my graduating class, and later on, I found myself doing research in a genetics laboratory at a major university as an undergrad. I was hopeful that the answers to life’s most important questions would be discovered by science someday.
After graduation, when I met people who didn’t believe in evolution, I felt uncomfortable, like I was meeting someone from another planet. Did they use a fork and spoon to eat their food? Did they sleep upside down?
To reduce my anxiety, I developed the attitude that ridicule, contempt and avoidance were probably the best ways to relate to non-evolution believers.
More recently I stopped running away from people who didn’t believe in evolution, and started getting curious – what would happen if I didn’t dislike or fear them? Finally when I came across professors of biology (!) who didn’t believe in evolution, that was the last straw.
What I learned from those professors surprised me.
This article is written in an attempt to answer some lingering questions I still had about Darwin’s theory of evolution – what science has to say about it, what the theory’s effects are upon people like you and me, and then what kinds of politics surround the theory.
1. Please don’t freak out
For those of you who identify strongly with the theory of evolution, as I did, please keep in mind that disproving Darwin’s theory of evolution does not mean that a religious doctrine you once heard about on television must now become your own belief system. It doesn’t mean there’s an old man up in the sky, oiling his tools and cleaning his workshop. Continue reading