There are plenty of skeptics in the world, but whenever you find yourself confronted by one, there’s plenty of evidence you can share that’s hard to ignore.
Evolution is a controversial topic in some circles. Some folks just don’t see the evidence as compelling enough to deny religious views that the world was created by an almighty God or series of deities.
However, at this point in history, it requires a willful disregard for science and the hard facts it provides to continue to deny that the Theory of Evolution is by far the most likely scenario for how life on our planet came to be in its current form.
There are countless books, articles and web sites devoted to this topic, written for everyone from scholars to toddlers. But for those looking for a quick and easy summary, here are ten good reasons to believe in evolution.
1. The Theory of Natural Selection – This concept, popularized by Charles Darwin in his seminal work “On the Origin of Species,” refers to the process by which animals and plants with traits better suited to survival are more favored in reproduction and become more common over time. This only makes sense—those with the characteristics that help an organism survive and thrive naturally are able to procreate better than those more vulnerable to predators and the environment. Darwin’s work is worth a read, since it has influenced so many others, but if you don’t have time to devote to that at least remember that “survival of the fittest” is an evolutionary concept that has withstood the test of time.
2. Fossils – There are countless examples of evidence for creatures that once existed but no longer do. We have dinosaurs, land-living ancestors of whales , the wooly mammoth … all of which have long since died out (far longer than the Bible would allow, which we know thanks to radiocarbon dating). It’s particularly interesting to note how species change over time by studying the fossil records to compare, say, the saber-toothed tiger to the modern housecat. The evidence offered to explain fossils in a non-evolutionary context is so convoluted that it’s impossible to take seriously.
3. Genetic Engineering – Obviously this is hugely controversial, and this listing isn’t intended to endorse everything that the field of genetic engineering does. Rather, it’s to note that scientists and researchers in a controlled setting are able to illustrate the evolution of desired traits in a particular organism in a quest to help us better cope with today’s environment.
4. Homologies – These are the similar characteristics that related organisms share because they are descended from a common ancestor or ancestors. For example, vertebrates with legs, whether they’re frogs, rabbits, lizards or birds, each have evolved to have different forelimbs to suit their particular environment, but the legs all share the same set of bones, the result of all of them evolving from a common ancestor. This is clear evidence of organisms evolving over time.
5. Scopes Monkey Trial – Known formally as “The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes,” this case pitted a high school science teacher against a state that did not allow for the teaching of evolution in schools. Two of the most brilliant minds of their generation went head to head, with Williams Jennings Bryan arguing for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow representing Scopes. The battle between theology and science ended with Scopes being found guilty and sentenced to a $100 fine, but the verdict was later overturned on a technicality and the state elected not to retry him. The United States Supreme Court explicitly prohibited a ban on the teaching of evolution in 1968, but Tennessee had already repealed the offending statute. While Scopes may have lost the initial skirmish, Darrow’s arguments ultimately carried the day.
6. The Global Distribution of Animals – There are plenty of examples of species that are found in regions that they could not conceivably have migrated between within the past few thousand years, which would need to be the case for Creationism to the valid. For example, how could similar fossils of ancient marsupials be found in both Australia and South America, when the two are so far apart and the animals would presumably be unable to get from one to another? That would only be possible if the continents had once been joined as most now believe was the case … millions and millions of years ago.
7. The Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program – This is a comprehensive and compelling compilation of both field and lab research on human adaptations throughout history. You can spend hours and hours on the Smithsonian website , but even a few minutes should be convincing enough for anyone with an open mind.
8. Evolution Is Still Happening – For decades, scientists have been able to provide evidence that evolution is continually occurring . Novel traits have been noted in the wild and created in controlled experiments. The most obvious examples come when creatures in the wild are observed adapting to changing circumstances.
9. Why Do We Get Sick? – If you’ve found antibiotics to be less effective recently than they were in the past, you’re not alone. Pathogens are constantly evolving to survive against the latest threats, and unfortunately for us they tend to be able to do so faster than our doctors and scientists can come up with better ways to fight them off.
10. No Evidence to the Contrary – Perhaps the biggest reason to believe in Evolution is that the theory has facets that can be proved or disproved. Creationist arguments are faith-based. Believers must accept “Creation as the Truth” simply because their religious tracts say so. Evolution has more elements that are testable, allowing the scientific theory to prove or disprove a particular aspect. Evolutionary theory produces the research design that can illustrate the issue in a way that doesn’t lend itself to skepticism, while Creationism does the opposite.
Alfablue, February 2013