Friday, February 3, 2017

Genetics, Evolution & Mysticism

When Charles Darwin developed his theory of natural selection, the role of chromosomes would not be discovered for another fifty years, the structure of DNA would not be determined for another century (Watson and Crick released their findings in 1953) and the human genome would not be mapped for more than 150 years (2003).

Indeed, Darwin's projections were based solely on his powers of observation and deduction.  Noting the diversity of species within a genus and the variation of individuals within species, Darwin concluded that these findings were due to inherited factors, the persistence of which was determined by their relative importance in ensuring the survival of that species.  Many years later, we would discover the role of genes, sexual recombination and genetic mutations in this process.

While Darwin faced his skeptics and dissenters, modern science has since confirmed the validity of his theory.  Nevertheless, the power of religious mysticism, fueled by fear and threatened by objective data, continues to influence human society.  After all, the science of evolutionary biology indicates that all plants and animals, humans included, are species on the ever-expanding web of life; having evolved from ancestral species they will all either become extinct or evolve into future species (assuming the environment is not destroyed beforehand).  The simplistic story of creation, conceived by man, is no longer viable.