Evolution and Human Nature

leaf representing lifeEvolution has influenced the character and nature of every thing that is alive. And while many people question this basic claim, such doubts run counter to an ever accumulating body of evidence.

On a side note, it’s somewhat ironic that the in the US, a country that has benefited the most from advances made by the theory of evolution (in agriculture and medicine), a higher percentage of its citizens have doubts about evolution’s validity (see Science Report).

But even though evolution is just a theory (a set of ideas about how things work), it also happens to be the most well-supported theory in the life sciences.

And all theories are "just theories." For instance, the theory of flight and aerodynamics is "just a theory" – an explanation about how objects pass through air – but people still get on planes everyday.

Not only is the theory of "evolution" the most supported theory in the life sciences, but our knowledge about life is grounded in the theory of evolution. Our current understanding of disease, health, nutrition, love, beauty, attraction, sex, infidelity, status, wealth, cooperation, competition, and so on, is all based on principles of evolution (see Alexander).

chimpanzeeAnd if you have doubts about the scientific support underlying the theory of evolution, the genetic evidence alone, is hard to dismiss. Consistent with an evolutionary account of life, humans and chimpanzees share a very similar genetic blueprint (95% overlapping DNA, conservative estimate – Britten). Likewise, the progression of diseases ranging from the common cold to HIV could not be understood without the theory of evolution.

very cute dog wearing bootsAt a more personal level, your family pet, the flowers and plants in your house or garden, and the food in your refrigerator, have all been influenced by humans exploiting the way that evolution works (see Pollen). In some cases, this can be as simple as "playing the favorites" – giving a helping hand to certain plants and animals, which over long periods of time, result in more playful dogs and more fragrant smelling roses, etc.