Thursday, May 5, 2011

I am what I am: religious edition: evolution

So, inevitably when you make the statement I made in the last post you get the same question: "So you believe in evolution?"

Yes, yes I do.

It's not that I really "believe" in it either. I just accept it. After you spend enough time researching the subject with an honest and open perspective you can't help but realizing that it's not up for debate anymore. Science has tried extensively for over a century to debunk this thing and it just comes back stronger. More over, it has actually become the basis for the majority of medical knowledge. That's right, the Theory of Evolution has extended your life span without you knowing it. People figured out what was killing us based on how it evolved and they've been fighting it accordingly. Recently there was even a discovery that humans have a dormant gene in their genetics that, if activated, could cure AIDS.

And how did we figure that out? Because several breeds of ape are immune to HIV.

So the scientists studied these apes who were immune and found that they had a specific genetic code that made them incompatible with the virus. So the obvious conclusion to the researchers was that the gene was something we were lacking or was inert. But, of course, thanks to SCIENCE! they knew that there was a chance we were compatible with the genetic code since we're cousins to the apes in question. They looked and found that...we had the same damn gene. Sometimes genes go inactive over time, evolution gradually causes them to shut down or become useless. In our case, this was true for the HIV thing up until about three decades ago. Then the virus met with us again long after our genes had thought the coast was clear. Boom, we got sick.

"But that's just something in our genes, that can't prove evolution! You're expecting me to believe that stuff will change shape and size over time?"

Well, yeah. We've been doing it artificially since the dawn of civilization through breeding.

If you weren't made aware of it early on in your life, you never would have connected Chihuahuas to Wolves. But this is just the amount of change that has happened to these creatures over the course of human civilization. We're talking only tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Life has existed for millions to billions of years. What kind of change could have happened in that length of time if we can turn a big, bad wolf into a shivering little rat-like thing? Heck, genetically, the damn things are nearly identical and could (theoretically) breed still. That means they haven't even drifted as far apart as Horses and Donkeys yet. But we know that Horses and Donkeys are related because they too can breed. So, obviously, there's still room for Chihuahuas to diverge away from wolves still.

"But that just means they're stuck in their kind. We've never seen something become anything that hasn't existed before."

Wrong. We totally, totally have.

Take a look at Nylonase. Nylonase is one of the best proofs of evolution out there since this:

Somehow grew the ability to digest compounds that only exist as a byproduct of making this:

That's right, somehow, bacteria has the ability to digest something that didn't exist until the 1930s! Something that didn't even randomly pop up in nature. This stuff was created strictly by human invention. For this to even remotely make sense without evolution you'd have to believe that the world would be created specifically with a kind of bacteria that could eat a material that would not exist for (according to the bible) 6000 years. Then you'd have to ask yourself...why?

To put this into perspective for you on just how insane that is as a concept. This material is ONLY created as a byproduct of the creation of nylon. So there's no real necessity for this bacteria to have this ability in order to survive in nature and...there's no real benefit to their survival either. So this would essentially be like you being born with a complete immunity to toxic gases for the eventual case of needing to survive... an attack by the Joker.

Doesn't make sense, does it? But then there's that nagging feeling in the back of your head, you imaginary reader you. There's a thing nagging at you because you've heard it from someone before (I know because I've heard it countless times from hundreds of people). "But Evolution is JUST a theory, even science doesn't believe it's fact."

That's a bit of a misunderstanding on what exactly science means when it says "theory". See, in science, theory is Theory. A "Theory of" something happens to be a collection of facts and hypotheses on a topic that is slowly evolving as we learn more about it. You start with a hypothesis, you prove the hypothesis, that becomes a fact which is included in your overall theory of how the thing works. Eventually you prove other hypotheses about the same thing and you include those facts into the evolving theory too. It's not called a theory because they don't think its true, it's called a theory because it's their current best estimate of the collective facts about it. To put this simply, there's other things out there which you know for a fact are true which science considers a "Theory".

Evolution isn't 100% figured out, nothing ever is. But what we do know is that it happened and it's continuing to happen. We just aren't completely sure about the hows, whys and whens to an absolute certainty. But, as far as science is concerned, we are 99.9999% sure this happened.

Though, not exactly like that...

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