On Evolution

A demonstrable process.
A portrait photograph of Gareth Latty.

I am an atheist - and it’s important to me. Not in the way a religion is important to someone religious, but more because it bugs me that atheism isn’t just the norm. It’s weird. I imagine the feeling is similar to how someone would feel if they were to go back to a time where racism or sexism was accepted - it’s just so obviously wrong that it would feel crazy that it was normal behaviour.

Every now and then, I see something and it bugs me, because it doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to try and tackle the existence of a God here - there are a huge number of bases you have to cover. What I am going to try and cover is the idea that evolution is somehow ‘wrong’. Of course, evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive - but some people still think that is the case, and they “don’t believe in evolution”.

The reason that this is so unbelievable to me is that evolution is completely provable. I think one of the core issues of understanding is that people hear evolution and think of monkeys turning into humans.

Evolution is a process. You can see evolution works right now. Let’s begin by asking what a process is - and the easiest way to do that is to give an example. Erosion is a process. Imagine a canyon. If I were to say that the canyon exists because of water running over land and removing rock and soil until the canyon was formed, no one would debate that fact. It’s obvious that the process works - take a hose and try it - you’ll quickly see that it works. Anywhere you have that scenario, erosion will happen.

Evolution is the same thing. Take a collection of items that reproduce with slight random variations, and somehow make the ‘better’ items by any criteria reproduce more effectively, and the items will trend towards being better. That is a process that is guaranteed to happen. We can simulate this - write a program (hell, paper and dice would even work) that runs this process, and you will see it happen. Genetic algorithms are used a lot now, and they rely on the fact this process works given enough time. Likewise, ask a farmer if selective breeding is true - of course it is, it’s a cornerstone of modern agriculture.

We know that animals reproduce. We know they have DNA which varies randomly in offspring. We know that the world ‘selects’ creatures that are better at surviving. The conditions for evolution are met, and so the process occurs. Suggesting it doesn’t is like suggesting the river definitely didn’t form that canyon.

Evolution is fact - it’s a process with only one logical and provable outcome, and all the requirements for the process occur in life.