Thursday, February 14, 2013

May a Theory of Evolution Ever Be 'Complete'?

Ever since human beings became sapient, we have wondered where we came from, and in the absence of obvious solutions, we settled on the simplistic explanation of a divine origin. Then came 'On the Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin, which tried to offer a scientific explanation to the variety of creatures on Earth, and their origins.

The basic principle of his theory of evolution simply put is this: species have originated from a single common ancestor, and have evolved into what they are today through changes in inherent characteristics that have been passed down through numerous generations.

Although, at the time it was first propounded, evolution as an explanation for origin of species attracted great controversy, it is far more widely and commonly accepted today. However, there is agreement on the fact that there are still gaps in the theory, primarily due to the shortage of tangible evidence on which evolutionary theory depends. This material evidence primarily takes the form of fossils, which are remains, or impressions, preserved in rocks, of plants or animals that lived in a past geological age. Over the years, billions of fossils of different species have been found, which are like pieces of a giant puzzle that, when complete, would present the picture of how life has originated and evolved. The problem with fossils is that not all organisms fossilise well. Besides, fossils are often buried deep beneath the earth's surface and frequently remain undiscovered for decades. Therefore, while fossils clearly demonstrate evolutionary connections between species, there are sometimes missing links due to the unavailability of sufficient remains.

However, the reasons for the crisis in evolutionary theory are much deeper, contrary to the impression given by most popular writing on the subject. On the other hand, a current crisis in evolutionary science does not imply complete rejection of the paradigm. Rather, it involves a major, progressive reorganisation of the existing knowledge, which require new philosophical frameworks, without undermining the fundamental beliefs,

This brings us back the starting point. Profoundly rethinking the theory of evolution without doubt appeals to the attention of creationists, who delightedly announce that if professional advocates of Darwinism cannot agree, the theory itself must be rejected.

Therefore, while it is impossible to deny evolution and natural selection as the most plausible and rational explanation for the creation and development of life, the study of evolution is far from complete.The origin of life itself is still shrouded in mystery. Even though much has been discovered about the 'how', a great deal of the 'why' (which supposedly does not belong to science) still remains intangible.

However, as Darwin himself said, there is no reason to assume that natural selection is the only imaginable mechanism of evolution. Darwin, who wrote before the discovery of DNA, knew that his work began the journey to comprehend the roots and development of life. As some mysteries of life are solved, others will arise.

No comments:

Post a Comment