Friday, April 15, 2005

A grandeur in this view of life...

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 35% of Americans think evolution is "well-supported," this in spite of the fact that every important biologist on Earth considers common descent the bedrock principle of biology. Well, let's put the question this way: Are the following statements true or false?

1. Plants and animals replicate.

2. Genes mutate.

3. Plants and animals, as individuals, groups or alliances, compete for resources.

I can't imagine that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of biology would call these statements false.

If these statements are true, then evolution by natural selection is a logical necessity. Indeed, it would take the intervention of a supernatural being to keep it from happening.

Anything that replicates subject to inheritable modification and faces some sort of selection must evolve. This applies even to the most primitive self-replicating molecules, such as RNA or its precursors. Give me a self-replicating organism, no matter how simple, and enough time, and I'll give you a planet of astonishing biodiversity. But I won't take credit for it. It had to happen.