Just recently, the Collegian ran an opinion piece that stated how evolution was just a theory and it should be taught next to other theories as well.
The column generated an enormous number of community responses and many people seem to be knowledgeable about the subject. There were many others, however, who still seem unable to fully comprehend what evolution really is.
First and foremost, it is necessary to clear up the apparent muddiness surrounding the definition of a theory. There are indeed many definitions, but in the scientific sense, a theory is an encompassing set of principles that explain natural phenomena.
Its validity is not in question by mainstream scientists and it is not up for debate any more than the Theory of Gravity.
Next, it is necessary to realize that evolution does not itself deal primarily with the creation of life or the origin of the universe.
Instead, the theory is meant to explain the changes that life on this planet undergoes over time.
Explaining how species change over time in response to their environment is the primary purpose of the theory, not saying that we all came from monkeys and that God does not exist.
This leads perfectly into the next misconception, which is that evolution states that Homo sapiens came from monkeys. This is entirely false and is not what evolution shows at all.
Instead, the last common ancestor that humans shared with our primate brethren likely lived about four and a half million years ago and was not a monkey at all.
Human beings have changed several times over millennia, evolving into different sub species (like Homo erectus), all of which have died out except for us.
Humans were just one of several forms of upright walking primates; we even lived and interacted with Neanderthals, who were separate from us entirely.
These different primates have walked the earth at various times throughout our history; this is an indisputable fact and is backed up by genetic research and archaeology.
It is really an insult to the intelligence of humanity to believe that two people copulated and created humans.
Instead, evolution shows us how over time our lineage changed and adapted to their environment, which has happily resulted in our existence. But our existence is not a necessity –– it’s a matter of chance.
Evolution does not necessitate intelligence, nor does it mean that species continually change and adapt to progress forwards toward some imagined end line.
People often mistakenly believe that evolution states species evolve to become better, but this is not always the case. In fact, evolution can occur within a species and still simply die off.
Mutations, environmental factors and sexual preferences result in new species rising and old ones dying off, for no reason other than one was more responsive to change than the other.
I am really just tired of people throwing around the idea that evolution can somehow be false or totally incorrect or is just one elaborate lie, which just is not true.
Evolutionary theory is on the same grounds as gravity and atomic theory; it is testable, identifiable and sound. Debate over whether it is true or not is futile in the academic world, and thus it deserves to be taught as the explanation for how life on Earth has arrived at this moment.
There is no scientifically viable substitute for evolution, thus no other theory is worthy of mention.
Furthermore, the line between religion and evolution does not need to exist at all; the two are not mutually exclusive. Even the Vatican admits that Darwin’s theories are not incompatible with the Christian view of Creation, so at least there is a step in the right direction.
Hopefully you all will take something away from this column, having learned something or at least begun to realize what the facts really are. If you are still not convinced, I encourage you all to debate this online with me in the comments or send me an email. I would love to hear a scientifically-backed rebuttal.