“Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution” (Dobzhansky, 1973). This statement is as true today as it was forty-three years ago. In fact, the influence of the Theory of Evolution has spread to include geology, ecology and much more of the natural sciences. The gradual change of Earth’s living biota over time in response to selective pressure has been shown time and time again to not only be the most viable and appropriate explanation for past and present biodiversity, but the ONLY viable explanation.
And yet, on Darwin’s 207th birthday, we are still fighting for universal acceptance of one of the most validated concepts in science. I’m fond on telling my students that there is a wider array of TANGIBLE evidence for evolution than for gravity. The evidence for evolution literally surrounds us in the form of biodiversity, the fossil record, gene theory, antibiotic resistance, embryology, ontogeny, biogeography, homology, vestigial organs; the list goes on and on.
But as scientists, we still have to battle for public acceptance of what should be considered one of science’s greatest explanatory triumphs. Since 2010, the legislative record in South Dakota is littered with a number of proposed bills intended to inhibit the free dissemination of evolutionary theory throughout public education venues. Although not as persistent an effort as elsewhere, some in our home state are consistently working to limit the spread of scientific knowledge among our population. These efforts lie in stark contrast to the immense body of tangible evidence to support the theory, in the form of the unparalleled fossil record contained in the western part of the state. Evidence for evolution is not only blatant in South Dakota, but contributes, in no small way, to the immense tourism revenue our state enjoys.
So as scientists we have a duty, not only as educators, not only as thinkers, but as the intellectual legacy of Charles Darwin himself, to continue to inform, educate, and disseminate one of the greatest accomplishments of natural science. Keep fighting the good fight, colleagues and friends, and keep informing the public of the wonder that is evolution and science!
Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1973. Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution. American Biology Teacher. 35 (3): 125–129.