“Evolution is one of the most powerful and important ideas ever developed in the history of science. It describes all of life on earth. It describes any system in which things compete with each other for resources whether those things are microbes in your body, trees in a rainforest, or even software programs in a computer.”
– Bill Nye
I got Bill Nye’s new book Undeniable yesterday (actually, I don’t know if it’s his “new” book or not I just know it’s fairly recent) and even after only nine or ten minutes into listening to it I can already see it’s probably going impact me in a major way. Like, this book is probably going to influence the course of my life. Not that I was planning on a career not involving evolutionary biology, but this book is going to be and has been, so far, a wonderful new addition to my life. Not to get too sentimental, but it is a very sentimental thing. At least for me.
So for all you Bible banging, evolution rejecters out there I have news for you. All life on earth can be traced back to one organism. That should basically be the end of my explanation to you but just because I’m an amateur scientist who wants to be taken seriously by colleagues and peers I’ll elaborate just a little bit more.
All the lifeforms you’ve ever seen or know about have at least two things in common: a common ancestor, and genetic material. We are all chemically the same. Although we do not all express our genetic identities in the same way we all have them. Myself, a tree, a dog, a cat, a bear, a lotus flower, and that smelly tree in front of the Mütter Museum all have at least one thing in common; and we are all connected in this circle of life.
Evolution’s Historical Perspectives
In the sixth century BCE there was a Greek philosopher who observed fossils and speculated that life begun in the ocean. The only problem he had was understanding how it led to all the biodiversity we see today. It was a start. In the last two centuries two men radically changed the way that we humans feel about ourselves and everything else in general. Those men are Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. The first was an underachieving, free-spirited misfit who eventually came to be buried in the same cemetery as Sir Isaac Newton and featured on English currency. The last was a man also embraced ideas of evolution and made people feel uncomfortable when he proved that people were actually not the most important beings on earth. The two men competed to get their intellectual capital recognized and became immortalized in our history and science books.
Wallace proved that the natural world worked independent of human desires and dependency and the good wholesome Christians all throughout the UK gasped collectively in disgust. In his book The Malay Archipelago Wallace basically outlined and explained everything he had learned from his studies and travels from the Amazonian Rainforest, modern day Malasia, and other sources on his intellectual journey. However, Darwin being older and making his book The Origin of Species a little simpler to read was much more famous than Wallace and is much more credited. I just like to occasionally shout out the underdog, or whomever might seem like one, because it’s only fair.
We all come from the same amazing planet and we all embrace scientific principles (whether we realize it or not) to do better and be better than ever. That’s why people like myself can’t help but marvel at the possibilities that lie ahead in space in our own solar system! Just imagine what we’re missing out on right now. There’s probably an abundance of life on certain moons (Europa) that when we get the opportunity to discover it will immensely enhance our understanding of so many things. Like I said before ‘the possibilities are infinite’. It’s something that both genuinely excites me and something I desperately hope to be apart of someday.
Bill also talks about the contemporary rejection of science in general, and how that leads to our downfall. ‘Our’ meaning the United States of America, and ‘downfall’ meaning our resignation as a world super power. Something I hear Canada is wrestling with in the halls of their government buildings as well. Just ask the good folks at ASAP Science and they’ll tell you that a lack of government funding for scientific studies is no good. We need our future scientists and engineers to change the world but we should also desire people to be science literate. It makes a difference. If not now it will eventually but believe me it makes a difference.
So do me a favor. The next time you breathe the air think about evolution. Don’t undermine it because you’re too arrogant and blind to accept the fact that you share DNA with a Chimpanzee or Bonobo. I love Bonobos btw. They’re so cool. I don’t like Chimps as much. #makelovenotwar lol. Get it? Because Bonobos are known for their active sex lives and chimps are known to contrast because of their violent behaviors. Anyway, I hope you come to like Bonobos too and when you look into the eyes of a chimp or Bonobo I hope you see the reality of evolution.