Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dawkins Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The greatest show on earth is a must read for any educated person. It not only outlines the evidence for evolution, it also is an excellent book to debunk creationism, and intelligent design. From fossils to DNA, from embryology to comparative biology, from ecology to genetics, all signs point to evolution by way of natural or artificial selection. One of the best parts of the book is when Dawkins explains, that even without the fossil evidence, using only contemporary species, comparative biology, DNA evidence, and embryology, we still have a perfectly valid case for evolution. As a matter of fact, the entire idea of missing links is completely misleading. Every fossil ever discovered is a missing link to some other species, unless the species represented by the fossil went extinct. If it did go extinct, it still has characteristics that are represented by many organisms of the time.

But one of the most important chapters were the chapters where evolution has tried to compensate an adaptation from the past that no longer is valid. For example: how the vas deferans wraps around the urethra on it's way to it's final destination, as opposed to a direct route. Or how our bodies are not fully adapted for bipedalism, which brings about problems such as back aches, and foot problems.

One of the most shocking chapters was the appendix, when Dawkins talks about studies that have been done to poll the populations of the U.S. and Europe to gather their opinions on evolution. I consider this chapter the most telling of all. While it measures simple things, such as, how many people believe in young earth creationism vs intelligent design vs evolution, the deeper implications are astounding. In reality, once the evidence is presented, in such a way as Dawkins has presented it in his book, it is obviously unquestionable. Evolution is a fact, whether individuals believe it or not. It is my personal belief that such studies are not really a poll on the publics opinion on evolution, but a poll of ignorance in general. The more people in a population do not believe in evolution, the more ignorant the population is.

It is a shame that Dawkins didn't spend more time going over the implications of these polls in the appendix. I suspect it may be because he wanted to stick to the facts and not insert his personal opinion about God into the argument. It was obvious that the study from Turkey, the most religious state in the poll, also had the lowest percentage of the population believing in evolution. It seems to me that intelligence and religion are inversely correlated. There were only 3 or 4 studies mentioned in Dawkins book, but I am sure there are more. If your interested in the implications of these studies from the U.S. you should see Dawkins TED talk on militant atheism:

Overall, I think anyone with the language capable of understanding this book should read it. There is a need for biologists to reach out to the general population. There is a gap between common knowledge in the professors of this world, and the common knowledge of the common people. The two need to be merged either with seminars available to the public, or something of that nature. Dawkins and others have taken a major step by actively giving seminars and writing books.

I would imagine it would be difficult for someone in the sciences to reach out to the general public precisely because of the misconceptions. What types of mind numbing questions will be posed, and more importantly, who will be offended. I stand on Dawkins side, we NEED to offend people. And we NEED to answer each of those questions as best as we can, each and every time, with the patience as if it were the first time the question was posed. Ignorance needs to be eradicated, for the sake of peace. Peace through knowledge, knowledge through learning, and as always, patience prevails!


  1. Educated people also know not to be as myopic as thinking that Creationism and Evolution are two opposing forces but rather both tell different pieces of the same coin.

    I believe there IS intelligent design/creation, and evolution is merely the means by which we arrived in our current state.

  2. Hi Jmejia1!

    I think your blog is about such a superb topic, Evolution is something that is happening for sure, but how?

    Good vibes!