The story of evolution is long and has been told many, many times. It’s also been distorted many times, as well.
First things first: Evolution is as real as anything else you can see, touch, taste or smell.
But something else gets thrown in by people that have only a basic grasp of evolutionary theory: Darwinism. It’s related in that Darwinism is the basic idea of evolution upon which evolutionary theory builds.
These two ideas have become tangled in this seemingly ridiculous controversy in the worst way. People on the side of creationism seem to be convinced that the two are one and the same and it’s just a matter of semantics.
Anthropologists, on the other hand, often become infuriated at this blatant refusal to acknowledge them as two separate but related ideas.
It is easy to get caught up in the debate, one side going on and on and on about evolution and why it matters, poking holes in creationist “theories,” while the other points out glaring gaps in the fossil record.
To keep it simple, here are five big ideas that make the reality of evolution as clear as day.
- Although incomplete, the fossil record for hominid (our little twig on the great ape branch of the tree of evolution) is almost like a flipbook illustrating how we evolved from something a little bigger than a house cat to how we look today.
- Vestigial traits. Wherever you stand on the debate on vestigial traits, you cannot deny that we have them—even if what exactly is considered a vestige of evolution varies from person to person, pretty much everyone agrees that there are at the very least a handful of them.
- We are 98% (give or take a few decimal points) similar to chimpanzees. Like cousins that share a common grandparent or great-grandparent, humans and chimps both share bits of the same DNA leading to the realization that at one point, humans and chimps had the same ancestor.
- Ancient life shows a remarkable similarity to present life-forms.
- We can see evolution happening! Evolution may be a slow-going engine of change but when it comes down to organisms that reproduce quickly, we can literally see evolution happening before our very eyes. Just take a look at drug-resistant strains of bacteria: they didn’t start out drug resistant but, over time, certain strains of diseases have become immune to drug therapy over many generations.
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