Sunday, August 21, 2005

Was Darwin Wrong?

I'm fed up with this "intelligent design" pseudo-science trying to roll back scientific knowledge to a hundred years BCD (Before Charles Darwin).

Darwin, as a theologist, was fully aware of how his revolutionary theory of 'evolution through natural selection' would impact on humanity's view of its place among Earth's 5 million or more living species. For this reason he delayed publishing it for two decades while he checked his facts. (Moreover, during this time, another researcher, Charles Lyell, came up with a very similar theory independently.) As such, the book presents painstakingly detailed scientific evidence (unlike the "intelligent designists") of how diversification in nature happens. The ideas presented in it are now supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and "one would be hard pressed to find a legitimate scientist today who does not believe in evolution." (National Geographic, 18th October, 2004)

Scientific evidence shows that the universe was actually formed about 13.7 billion years ago, while the Earth was formed around 4.5 billion years ago. The first humans date back only a hundred thousand years or so.

Yet, in a 2001 Gallup poll, 45 percent of U.S. adults said they believe evolution has played no role in shaping humans.

National Geographic published an all-encompassing special feature on "Was Darwin Wrong?" back in November 2004:

"[R]elativity as described by Albert Einstein is "just" a theory. The
notion that Earth orbits around the sun rather than vice versa, offered by
Copernicus in 1543, is a theory. Continental drift is a theory. The existence,
structure, and dynamics of atoms? Atomic theory. Even electricity is a
theoretical construct, involving electrons, which are tiny units of charged mass
that no one has ever seen. Each of these theories is an explanation that has
been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that
knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. ...

"The essential points are slightly more complicated than most people assume, but not so complicated that they can't be comprehended by any attentive person. Furthermore, the supporting evidence is abundant, various, ever increasing, solidly interconnected, and easily available in museums, popular books, textbooks, and a mountainous accumulation of peer-reviewed scientific studies. No one needs to, and no one should, accept evolution merely as a matter of faith."

And, from New Scientist and, bizarrely, the 24 eyes of a box jellyfish, here's an intriguing glance at Darwin's famous little problem with... eyes.

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