Saturday, March 10, 2007

Charles Darwin: Myth from Reality

Through countless conversations with most intelligent people who are not well versed in topics of Evolutionary Biology, I have come across a thread of resistance because of who they think Charles Darwin Represents.

To many, Charles Darwin is an antagonistic entity, bent on destroying faith, and relegating mankind to nothing but oblivion. Some philosophers, having absorbed evolution and natural selection have become Nihilists, envisioning no purpose in life, and exhibiting the lack of hope associated with their lack of faith in anything. It's easy to fall prey to hopelessness when one's faith and beliefs are shattered, but as I have attempted to explain in my previous essay, just because we find ourselves insignificant to the universal order of things, it does not mean we are insignificant to each other. What matters is our relationship to those around us and our world. The Earth is our only home, and every human being who has ever existed was born here (paraphrasing Carl Sagan). Perhaps one day, there will be other worlds to inhabit and other places humans will be born, but until that day is here, our planet is the most significant thing in the universe because it is tied to our existence.

What Charles Darwin uncovered, was the process through which we came to exist on this planet that has and will, for the foreseeable future, be our home. The process of Evolution through Natural Selection has existed on Earth for Billions of years. In fact, it's possible that life on Earth in its infancy was seeded from perhaps rudimentary amino acids, or even something as complex as bacteria, from outside our planet. Yet, this does not change the fact that for at least the last 3.5 billion years, organisms have evolved to inhabit every corner of our planet. Darwin is vilified for any number of reasons, but all he did was uncover a process that had existed with or without his scientific contribution. Darwin did not invent Evolution because it had existed before him. Many religious extremists will deny these facts, but that is in large part to their ignorance as it pertains to science, and biology. We don't celebrate Charles Darwin's discovery because it destroys the faith in some people, but we celebrate it for helping us better understand the world that we live in. When Newton and subsequently Einstein described the laws and function of gravity, they only helped uncover forces that had existed since the dawn of the universe. Scientists are ultimately detectives who after coming across clues and evidence, eventually build a better picture of the world to help solve certain mysteries. We should appreciate the fact that those very same evolutionary processes that help a dolphin or bat to echo-locate, or a snake to swallow pray larger then their heads, also helped shape and force our minds to communicate through language. We can't fall into the trap of expecting a miraculous or divine process to suddenly develop language in an upright largely hairless ape. We were lucky enough to be shaped by our environment to communicate effectively and intelligently with each other. We can convey such complexities through words alone, that in of itself, is an amazing development. Just because it's amazing however, does not make it miraculous. It's true that some aspects of this development are still uncertain, but through rigorous testing, simulating and understanding, we will get that much closer to perceiving these natural processes.


1 comment:

AyyA said...

well said :)