–Research Paper –
What is Evolution 4
Written in the Rocks 5
Remnants: Vestiges, Embryos. And Bad Design 6
The Geography of Life 7
The Engine of Evolution 8
How Sex Drives Evolution 8
Recentlythere has been growing interest over the topic of evolution withdifferent diverse explanations and contentions over the concept ofcreation (Hitchens,2008). The book, Why Evolution is True, covers both the biologicaland other aspects of life in persuasive form. In the first chapter,Coyne brings to light the various conceptual framework of evolutionand then seeks to clarify the various misconceptions about howscience works. The second chapter is brief overview of the fossilevidence of evolution. This chapter coverage advances throughfamiliar examples. Even though Coyne appears to insist on the conceptof gradualism, overall he gives one of the best summaries as far asfossil evidence for evolution is concerned that has been given by anon-paleontologist.
Thethird chapter presents what would be referred to as the mute sectionof evolution as it covers various forms of vestigial organs and theissues of bad designs. It gives various examples known to man andthus brings the argument of the design. Some of the examples that headvances include whale hips and legs, human tails and kangaroo wings(Diamond& Zimmer, 2006). In the fourth chapter Coyne covers all theessential evidence from biogeography. This are evidence from islandsand even very unique biotas to the unique patterns that are observedfrom Pangaea breakup.
Chapter5 and 6 cover the neontological arguments though in classical aspect.This include the various arguments that arise from genetics,speciation theory and various evidence documented by biologists. Theareas covered are Engine of Evolution and How sex drives evolutionrespectively.
Thispaper brings out the concept of Evolution and reflects upon each ofthe chapter themes supporting the main title, WhyEvolution is True. The paper covers the reflection on the development and understandingof what comprises evolution and what does not comprise evolution. Itdetails the personal journey of discovery that is related to theconcept of evolution. In doing so, there are philosophical,theological and sociological aspects of reflections that are covered.Additionally, the scientific understanding of evolution has also beenbrought out.
Moreover,a critique and evaluation of various ideas presented in the bookusing the scientific understanding of evolution process is donecomprehensively. An introduction to each chapter is given and thenthe discussion of the main ideas advanced. Relevant references andquotations have been used to support the main idea. Contradictionsthat arise in the arguments have also been highlighted and supportedby necessary research.
Usually,grasping the modern theory of evolution is a bit easy. In severalinstances, individuals can summarize evolution in a single thoughlong sentence. Evolution can be inferred to that process that allowedlife on earth to gradually commence from the known primitive species,almost 3.5 billion years ago which then branched out over tiethrowing a number of new and diverse species. This process in the endis facilitated by natural selection mechanism. Thus through a lenslook at the definition, evolution is basically made of six componentswhich include evolution, gradualism, speciation, common ancestry,natural selection and the various nonselective mechanism ofevolutionary change.
Iwould give Coyne a credit for the first chapter of the book whichclearly defines the main propositions of evolution theory. This isquite in contrast to a number of treatments of evolution which oftenconfuse the readers by bringing out different and unclear meanings ofthe term. In his work, Coyne concentrates and brings out theDarwinism into six various components. The six components includeevolution, gradualism, speciation, common ancestry, natural selectionand the various nonselective mechanism of evolutionary change.
Infact all the scholars agree that frequencies in variant form of thegenes that are in the population changed over time. Clark et al.,(2007) reinforce that different organisms have occupied the earth atdifferent times. Further, Dawkins (2009) agrees that the process ofnatural selection and the nonselective mechanism like the geneticdrift plays a role in evolution process, a position that is shared bynearly every other scholar. Thus the common ancestry part of theexplanation of the evolution enjoys common support in terms of thedefinition within the scientific prism. However, the areas ofcontention in my own view are two. First there is lack of orinsufficient explanation on the truth of gradualism. Second there isno conclusive explanation that have been tendered as far as thesufficiency of natural selection and random mutations that accountfor the life complexities are concerned.
Writtenin the Rocks
Inthe second chapter, the fossil evidence for the common descent isaddressed. In the beginning of this Chapter, Coyne gives acomprehensive summary of the process of fossilization and introducesthe concept of radioisotope dating. This is a concept that would beapplicable in estimating the age of the rocks (Dawkins, 2009).
Ishare the idea of Coyne that fossil record usually show a generaltendency of simpler organisms coming before we have the complex ones.A case in point, the bacteria is known to have been the existing formof life on the earth for the first two billion years. This is indeedthe expectation as far as common ancestry is concerned. Nonetheless,under the Darwin’s theory, one feature that should not and cannotbe seen to be happening is the observed design of morphologicaldiscrepancy or disproportion prior to diversity (Clark et al., 2007).
Usuallythere is the manner in which taxonomists group organisms and thisbegins right with species at the lowest end to the kingdom and domainin the highest order. Phyla are the other higher group though itcomes before kingdom and domain. Phyla bring out the morphologicaldisparity which occurs between the different animal body plans. Phylaallude to the different categories like arthropods, echinoderms andchordates.
Accordingto Darwin theory, prediction of the diversity was possible where thevarious morphological disparities would only occur in the variousfossil record as a result of a number of lower-level speciationevents. However, the fossil record portrays the aspect of the highertaxonomic groups first, something that appears to be contradictory tothe norm. Thus, from the major phyla skeleton, they appear inCambrian without any clear transition antecedents just in a veryshort period of time, geologically.
Thispoint is further asserted by Roger Lewin (1988) and Erwin et al.(1987) in their study of marine vertebrates. From their variousviewpoints it appears that the being of the various numerous smalland soft-bodied animals in the Precambrian strata virtually dents andchallenges the famous notion that the transitions missing can beaccounted for. The accounting could be possible only by them beingtoo small and also too-soft bodied that can be preserved.
Remnants:Vestiges, Embryos. And Bad Design
Inthis chapter Coyne brings out the notion of certain genes, mutationsand even body parts found in animals proving the occurrence ofevolution. Further, he discusses how the various faults and errors inthe human and animal design occur such flaws include the humanappendix, the useless wings of the kiwi bird that makes itflightless. These are indicators that animals and humans evolve.
Coyneasserts that new parts indeed evolve from old ones and they have tobe in synch in their operations with the various parts that havealready evolved. He goes further asserts that owing to this thenindividuals should expect some parts to work pretty well and othersshould not work at all. In this case, Coyne appears to allude thatanimals that come about by means other than creation could not beindeed true given the flaws in their design (Hitchens, 2008).Therefore according to him, if the creator had designed both animalsand humans then there would be no flaws and in fact they would beperfect.
Iagree with Coyne given that organisms have flaws that apparently theywould be better off without and that the flaws have occurred mainlybecause of the process of evolution. On the other hand, theanti-evolution may claim that a creator often put the organisms onpurpose (Diamond & Zimmer, 2006). This kind of argument would betrue nonetheless the errors and faults found in organisms indeedcome from the various features that were exhibited by the ancestors.For instance, the ancestors of kiwi bird could employ the use oftheir wings to help them run away from predators and also find food.Currently, their wings are just useless and serve no purpose and areeven likely to extinct.
TheGeography of Life
Accordingto this notion, the geographic distribution of various organisms onearth can be best expounded using certain pattern of evolution and inconjunction with the movement of tectonic plates over certaingeological period (Dawkins, 2009).
Itasserts that broad groups which evolved prior to the breaking up ofthe supercontinent Pangaea have their distribution found globally.This is a process that occurred nearly 200 million years ago. On theone hand, the groups that evolved since the break-up are very uniquein their various regions of the planet. Such groups that are uniqueinclude flora and fauna that occupied the northern continents whichformed from the Laurasia supercontinent. They can be compared tothose that are found in the southern continents which formed from theGondwana supercontinent.
Theimmense diversification witnessed in Australia as a result of themarsupials and the apparent lack of other mammals in the region is areflection of the long isolation of such areas. Australia is known tohave several endemic species which are mainly known and associated tothe islands whose isolation through the large and expansive waterbodies deters them from migrating. With time, the species indeeddiverge evolutionarily into some sort of new species that areabsolutely different from their ancestors that may be found in themainland (Dawkins, 2009). The uniqueness of the marsupials ofAustralia, the finches on the Galapagos and the several numbers ofspecies on the Hawaiian Islands are an exact and true reflection ofthis concept by Coney. Indeed this would be true explanation of theevolution differences in the areas.
TheEngine of Evolution
Thischapter indeed expounds on the causal power that existed in drivingthe evolutionary change that was observed. This is something that hasbeen contented in the origins debate. Coyne seems to give in thatevery place individuals look at in the nature there are animals thatare beautifully designed so that they are able to occupy their placein the environment (Dawkins, 2009). Thus, it is no surprise to saythat the early naturalists tended to believe that animals were as aresult of celestial design created by God to do their jobs (Hitchens,2008).
Accordingto Coyne, Darwin argued against this notion in the Origin (Dawkins,2009). He says that in a single chapter Darwin fully did thereplacement of centuries of certainty concerning the divine designand brought up the idea of mindless and mechanistic process which wasknown as the natural selection. Natural selection was designed in amanner that would ultimately achieve the same results. The effect ofthe concept is huge both in biology field and outside and impacted somuch on the world view of individuals.
Inthis chapter, Coyne spends considerable amount of time explaining thenotions of random mutation, natural selection and the concept ofgenetic drift and then concludes by showing that each of theprocesses clearly operate in nature. In this chapter, Coyne totallyfails to address the challenges of the various evolutionarymechanisms that can be accomplished when he requires (Coyne &Orr, 1998). The challenges could be the isolation of the stableprotein foods that are in some sequence space or even the challengeof irreducibly systems.
HowSex Drives Evolution
Thischapter concentrates on the questions that are relevant to thevarious sexual selections. It also covers the advantages of evolutionthat come with sex differences. I tend to agree with most part of thefirst half of this chapter. May be the point to note is the validityof Coyne’s appeal to the different arguments in regards to thecreator (Dawkins, 2009). The theological arguments, concerning whatthe creator can do and what would not do. Further, Coyne brings outthe evolutionary aspect of sex and expounds on it (Coyne & Orr,1998).
Coynebuilds his argument in this chapter by describing the evolutionarycosts of sex. First, he asserts that there is resource waste in theproduction of males (Coyne & Orr, 1998). This he explains bysaying that in the event that there are equal numbers of males andfemales given birth to then only females would be significant.Therefore, averagely it is anticipated that the asexual females wouldaveragely proliferate twice as the sexual species. Owing to thedisadvantage there are high chances that they would out-compete thesexual though that is not the case. Though it must be put in mindthat the females of sexually reproducing species are able to giverise to only half of their successful genotype. Therefore to movefrom state of asexuality to sexual reproduction there are halfchances available. Owing to the fact that the goal of naturalselection is to ensure that organisms which pass their gene testsuccessfully are preserved then I tend to support this notion fully.
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Coyne,J. A., & Orr, H. A. (1998). The evolutionary genetics ofspeciation. PhilosophicalTransactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,353(1366),287-305.
Dawkins,R. (2009). Thegreatest show on earth: The evidence for evolution.Simon and Schuster.
Diamond,J., & Zimmer, C. (Eds.). (2006). Virusand the whale: exploring evolution in creatures small and large.NSTA Press.
Hitchens,C. (2008). Godis not great: How religion poisons everything.McClelland & Stewart.