Evolution is one of those topics that evokes strong emotions in many people. That’s how humans and life in general came to be, many argue. Others brand evolutionists as heretics, anti-God atheists. I suspect most people just don’t think about it much either way. But for some reason I spend a great deal of time pondering it, studying it. And what I have learned is that, like many complicated topics, it’s just not that simple. There are in fact, 5 types of evolution. So in order to have a discussion of this emotional topic, we need to have 5 separate discussions.
Chemical Evolution – Scientists claim that billions of years ago there was a primordial soup of chemicals that gurgled and bubbled and slowly over time from this primordial soup evolved the pre-chemistry of life, or protochemistry such amino acids, nucleic acids, peptides. These protochemicals then combined to form primitive life, which evolved over time into more complex forms of life, unicellular bacteria, protozoa, animalia, humans. Scientists right now are working feverishly in laboratories world-wide to duplicate this. They are trying to create life in the lab. They combine just the right chemicals in just the right environments for just the right times and they are making life, or proto-life, or are close to it, perhaps 5 years away by some estimates. Of course it takes a mind, a designer, a chemist, to control the chemistry and environment for this very complicated process to occur. It will not happen in the very tame laboratory environment just by random chance. It is doubtful that it could have ever happened in the harsh environment of the early earth. In fact there is no archeological or other evidence for a primordial soup to have ever existed. I believe there is good reason to be skeptical of chemical evolution.
Microbial Evolution – In 1917 the swine flu virus developed a mutation allowing it to infect 28% of the human population of the time, killing millions. It had at that time evolved into a more virulent germ that primarily targeted the 20-45 year old population. Today we are well aware that bacteria have evolved and are evolving to become resistant to our drugs we call anti-biotics. There are two traits of microbes that allow for them to evolve. First, they have very large population sizes, billions in a small petri dish. Second, they have very quick reproduction cycles. These two traits are very important for any sort of evolution. Evolutionists teach that populations evolve, not individuals. Viruses and bacteria make for the perfect populations to evolve. Microbial evolution is a fact.
Microevolution – In England there lives the Peppered Moth that has made its home in and around groves of birch trees for thousands of years. As you may know birch trees generally have white bark with spots of black and brown. Not surprising the peppered moth is predominately white with black spots. This makes it difficult for predatory birds to see it around and among the white birch trees…until the industrial revolution. England was blessed with large coal deposits which it has burned incessantly for the past 200 years for heating and electricity. Over the decades soot from the coal plants coated the otherwise white birch trees turning them all into various shades of gray and black. As you might imagine, the birds began to pick off more and more of the whiter moths while the moths that tended to have more black coloring survived to make baby moths. Within a short period of time the population of white moths with black spots became black moths. The Peppered Moth was no longer peppered. Late in the 20th century they figured out how to more cleanly burn the coal. The soot eventually washed off the trees, and now the Peppered Moth population is back to its old black and white ways. This is a perfect example of natural selection operating on a population favoring a particular trait, in this case color. Clearly microevolution is a fact of life.
Speciation – This is a similar process to the above in which a particular species of animal evolves into a different, but closely related species. The new daughter species is no longer able to breed with the parent species. They may look very similar but they are now two distinctly different animals. There are many examples of this in nature. The most classic example is the Galapagos Finch, first discovered by the founder of the concept of natural selection, Charles Darwin. To make a long story short, the Galapagos Finch did evolve into a separate species due to geographic isolation. The population became separated from each other on different islands due to geological activity. The natural selection process of this split resulted in one population becoming so different from the other due to the pressures of surviving in their separate and distinct local environments that they became unable to mate with each other. They became different species. In the Peppered Moth story one population changed its spots but was still the same species. In the Galapagos Finch story one population was forcibly separated into two populations and they went down different genetic pathways to eventually become two similar but distinct species. Like microevolution and microbial evolution, speciation is a fact.
Macroevolution – I save this for last as this is the form of evolution that there is so much controversy over. When teachers are teaching evolution this is what they are referring to. Macroevolution is the idea that one species evolves over time into a completely different species. The overall concept of macroevolution is that the primordial soup evolved the first chemicals of life that evolved into the first primitive life forms, similar to bacteria, that united to form the first multi-cellular organisms, who went down various pathways to become plants, insects, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and finally mammals, including humans. The evidence for macroevolution is the archeological record, which is spotty, with no evidence of real transitional species to show a clear-cut line from fish to mammals, or dinosaurs to birds, or even hominids (such as Neanderthals) to man. So while microbial evolution, microevolution, and speciation are scientific facts, macroevolution remains a theory. I find that people are divided into four groups in dealing with macroevolution. The first group accepts it as fact, that life evolved from the simple to the complex diversifying over time. These are evolutionists, also called naturalists. The second group accepts it as the best explanation, but argues that the divine hand of a creator must have guided the process to lead it to the ultimate creation, humans. These are theistic evolutionists. The third group rejects it arguing that this creator created life de novo, anew, fresh from nothing. He uses common designs in his creations, but life forms do not evolve from one type to another unrelated type. This group are the creationists. For the record creationists are subdivided into two smaller groups, those that trust the scientific record that the universe is 13.8 billion years old and those that follow the idea first promoted by Bishop Ussher that the universe is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old (old earth versus young earth creationists). And the fourth group really could care less about the whole issue anyway. These are probably most Americans.
In the big picture which group you fall in probably really doesn’t matter too much right, or does it? I would argue that how we got here determines why we are here. And why we are here determines how we should live. And how we should live determines what we do every day. And what we do every day is who we are. Are we random chance? Or are we purposeful? The great thing is we each get to decide. That’s how it works.
For my part, I am my wife’s husband, my children’s father, and Jackson’s grandfather. I am your chiropractor. In those things I will give my all until I can no longer. The rest is just passing time. As always thanks for reading.