Mike Ko Personal Portfolio

 

Home-School Education
2001-2012
Hong Kong

University of Durham
Bachelor of Science
2014-2017
United Kingdom

University of Sussex

Master of Arts
2017-2018
United Kingdom



Writing - Commentary

The Greatest Show on Earth - The Evidence for Evolution

 

                                       

 

                        Evolution is a fact, and we have all the evidence to prove that it is. This simple statement sums up Richard Dawkins’ book, The Greatest Show on Earth - The Evidence for Evolution. The book is an effort to clearly establish that all life on Earth evolves through evolution, regardless of what skeptics might claim otherwise.

The Evidence for Evolution

                        Dawkins devoted the first chapter on defining what we mean by ‘theory’. This is necessary, as some people have argued against evolution because ‘it is only a theory’, in the sense that it is just a guess. The term ‘theory’ in the case of evolution means an educated guess supported by evidence. This is a basic fact, yet some people are still confused about it.

                        Next, Dawkins explains the concept of evolution. Familiar examples of modification of species over time are presented, like artificial and sexual selection. This paved the way for explaining the general idea of evolution: natural selection. Also, the methods that scientists use to accurately date and order organic matter, like fossils, are explained. After that, the reader is ready to see the evidence for why evolution is true.

                        Among the evidence were certain breeding experiments, demonstrating that we can actually see evolution occurring even over relatively short periods. The role of fossils in proving evolution was also explored, as well as the many misconceptions that people have about it. Further evidence for evolution includes the shift of continents, the many similar aspects of all life, the inefficiencies of evolution, and the changes in predators and prey. The observations in each of these areas all support the theory of evolution.

                        Lastly, Dawkins quotes and interprets a short passage from Charles Darwin, who first proposed the theory of evolution, stating that there is a sort of logical beauty in evolution.

                        All of Dawkins’ argument makes logical sense, and I completely agree with them. The examples shown demonstrate that evolution can reasonably explain many aspects of life that we observe today. To me, it is amazing that one simple idea, species modification over time with improved survival and reproduction, can explain how all life became as it is now.

Irrational Religious Denial

                        While the book’s main purpose is to present the argument and evidence for evolution, it also inadvertently highlights the long-standing dispute between evolution and religion. Periodically, Dawkins will bring up the arguments of so-called creationists against evolution. For a long time, creationists have casted doubt on the evidence for evolution. Disputed aspects which can undermine evolution include the age of the Earth, when life came into being, and notably their insistence that our incomplete fossil record is insufficient to validate evolution. However, Dawkins reveals the flaws or confusion of the concepts of evolution in each of these arguments, effectively dismissing them.

                        Although Dawkins is a well-known atheist, I do not see any bias in his counter-arguments. No degree of literary prowess can hide any flaws in logic, and so far the logic of evolution still stands. However, I think such religious opposition against evolution, and perhaps by extension to science as a whole, signifies a worrying trend.

                        Over the years, creationists and other followers of religion have actively rejected evolution, but only because it contradicts certain aspects of their religion. As a result they (desperately) try to find faults in the theory, without ever considering whether evolution is logical and supported, nor about their own religious views' validity. Such actions are irrational. Evolution, and science as a whole, is based on observations and hypothesis, with evidence to support it. In contrast, religious teachings and beliefs often involve events and assumptions that are not proven. Despite of this, religious followers continue their attempts to undermine scientific theories like evolution to maintain their religion’s unproven ideas.

                        Such irrationality can have bad consequences on society, compromising many, if not all, aspects of our lives. Society should be based on reason and evidence, which would allow us to make informed, and correct, decisions. If unsupported religious claims take precedence over scientific knowledge, they shall mislead people and affect their ability to make informed decisions. As such, I think society should promptly address the problem on religion and irrational thinking.

                        Of course, this would not be so serious if people only refused to believe in evolution. Scientists would happily attempt to convince skeptics about evolution, while at the same time use the theory’s principles to guide their own thinking and research. What certain individuals choose to believe is their decision, regardless of what it indicates about these individuals. But it turns out that things are much more severe. Many religious followers often preach outright that evolution is not true to other people, including children, while advocating their religious view on life. This is an act of active deception and exploitation. By misleading other people, children or otherwise, about evolution, religious followers are beyond the boundaries of rational debate. They have to deceive people about evolution to uphold their beliefs.

                        Personally I am not against any kind religion or anyone practicing a religion, but only as long as they do not replace rational thinking. If these religions overly promote irrationality in our decisions, then perhaps we should not allow such religion a place in society.


                                                                                                                                                                  Mike Ko
                                                                                                                                                                  ( 872 words )

 

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