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Human Evolution - EssayLab.com
Evolution is one of the most controversial topics of our time. Almost two hundred years since the theory was first proposed by Charles Darwin, it is still being contested not only among members of the scientific community but by conservative Christians who want the Theory of Creation to be taught in schools just like the Theory of Evolution. It must, however, be stressed that unlike the Theory of Creation, the theory of Evolution is supported by scientific evidence, to wit:
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“Evolution is the central organizing theory of biology and has fundamental importance in other sciences as well. It is no more controversial in scientific circles than gravity or electricity is. . . . And, regardless of whether the changes in plants and animals are gradual or sporadic, the facts remain that plants and animals have evolved over time. There is no scientific dispute that evolution has occurred and continues to occur; this is why evolution is regarded as a scientific fact.” (Robert C. Newman, 1)
A review of the existing literature about the theory of evolution reveals that there are some scientists who are unconvinced. Some scientists say that there are some inconsistencies and that this theory cannot still account for some basic and important questions. One of those who spoke against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is Professor Behe, an associate professor of the biological sciences at the Lehigh University. He is also the author of “Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.” He argued that though Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has succeeded in explaining how living organisms and life forms have evolved the theory still does not account for the origin of any particular living species. He added that “Even present-day researchers have published thousands of articles on the evolution of organisms, yet, absolutely none have emphasized research on the actual origination of the species.”
If scientists themselves contradict each other on the theory of evolution, it is not surprising that this theory is met with greater criticisms from conservative Christians. Conservative Christians have stepped up their efforts to question the status of the Theory of Evolution. For several decades they had aspired that educational institutions should also teach the Theory of Creation in classrooms. But in the past years, the Conservative Christians have changed their approach and started discrediting the Theory of Evolution. According to Steve Abram, a member of the Kansas Board of Education, neither theory is more scientific than the other. It is admitted that even theologians cannot prove God’s existence, but scientists must also admit that they can neither prove monkeys became men. Both these theories cannot be tested empirically and cannot be observed directly.
Not only are their disagreements among scientists, there also exists controversy among educational institutions on how evolution will be taught inside classrooms. In Nebraska and New Mexico, evolution is still taught in classrooms, but it is presented as a theory, not as a fact. In Texas, the state school board has cut references to evolution from a standard biology textbook while in Alabama, every biology textbook includes a sticker that characterizes evolution as an unproven theory. (“Evolution Gets Dismissed from Some Classes” 2) The controversy surrounding the teaching of the theory of evolution in classrooms is highlighted in the case of Biology teacher Rodney LeVake. He used to teach the theory of evolution to his students. However, after immense study on this topic, he changed his approach to teaching evolution, questioned its veracity and introduced in his class the intelligent design theory that there is an intelligent creator as the origin of all life. (“Evolution Gets Dismissed from Some Classes 2)
The arguments supporting and criticizing the Theory of Evolution are presented in this research paper using scholarly articles from established, respected and reputable websites. Some books were also utilized as the basis for the opinions written on this paper.
Human life is believed to have started in Africa. (William Howells 175) Around ten million years ago, Africa is believed to have a wet climate. Due to the continuous movement of the land formation on Earth, tectonic forces caused a portion of Africa’s land territory to split and to drift away. This is now called the Great African Rift Valley. Changes in the weather condition resulted because of the differences in the climate between the west and east of Africa. The East Africa began to dry out while the West Africa’s tropical rainforests continued.
As a result of the geological shift and the change in the climate, the organisms living in the West and East Africa got separated. (Brook Ellen Hall 3) Because of the differences in their climate conditions, the organisms that got separated had to adapt to the new environment which is open and dry. The Theory of Evolution believes that this started the chain of events that led to the evolution of the early chimpanzees to modern humans. (Brook Ellen Hall 4)
Charles Darwin is said to have authored the idea of the Theory of Evolution. (“Evolution”) Few, however, know that long before Darwin, Anaximander, a Greek Philosopher, had already theorized that man originated from animals. John Baptiste de Lamark, on the other hand, can be considered as the first evolutionary theorist to publicly proclaim his theories about the processes leading to biological change. He conceived of the idea that creatures’ body parts change as they use these body parts to adapt to their natural environment during their lifetime. These changes in their body parts are then inherited by their offspring. (John Wilkins 2) Giraffes, for example, acquired their long necks as an adaptation from their natural environment as it is necessary for them to be able to reach leaves hanging from high trees. According to Lamar, evolution is the result of the inheritance of acquired characteristics as creatures adapts to their natural environment. His view, however, was not easily accepted as it had several loopholes.
It was Charles Darwin who perfected the concept of evolution and gave scientific basis for this idea. Among his inspiration for this idea are the specimens he gathered from the Galapagos Islands after his voyage. He collected 13 species of birds or finches. He noted that despite their differences each finch had a distinctive bill which it uses for locating food. He also found fossil remains of mammals which are strikingly similar to the present mammals.
Darwin used these findings to show that living organisms including humans have changed or evolved, over long periods of time. He theorized that new organisms could have evolved from monkeys and apes. (Charles Oxnard 213) The reason for this change or evolution is the need for survival. All living organisms need food and space for it to survive. They also need to have mates for them to transmit their genes to their offspring. The supply of resources, however, is always scarce and it is necessary for every living organism to compete with each other not only for survival but also for the perpetuation of their own species. According to Darwin, the most successful organisms that have the capacity to compete will have the greatest capacity of survival and transmitting their genes to their offspring. One way of surviving is for the organism to be able to adapt itself to the extreme and harsh condition of their environment. Anyone who cannot adapt to his own environment will surely perish. This is how over thousands of years one form of life can evolve and change in one or more forms. This was subsequently called the process of natural selection.
Darwin’s findings have been confirmed by Anthropologists who have discovered remains of our early ancestors. The fossil record found millions of years ago prove that our early ancestors followed an orderly sequence which started from one form and then changed to another form. These scientists confirm that there is a variety of adaptations that showed the transition from ape to human.
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