Evolution: Why It Matters

This is part three of a series covering the evidence of evolution and why it matters. In this article, we cover the immense importance of evolution. If you like, you might want to read part one and part two discussing the evidence.

We cannot hope to touch on all the reasons why evolution is important. We will cover many of the most interesting or important reasons. Obviously, we cannot do the subject full justice. Nonetheless, this article will amply demonstrate that evolution is of immense importance.

Evolution is undoubtedly true. We saw that in the previous two parts of this series. It answers hugely important scientific mysteries largely unanswered before the advent of The Origin of Species.

It is a theory with almost unparalleled explanative power. Without evolution, much of biology would not make sense or be knowable. And so, it should not be surprising that it has the greatest abundance of evidence one could hope for.

Few theories could ever hope to have the abundance of evidence evolution has. The evidence is the natural world outside your window. It is also in your own body.

It is thus a paragon of science with applications that often seem almost as abundant as the evidence for it. Our knowledge of evolution has greatly enriched our lives. It has also saved many lives.

Evolution As a Cure for Religiosity

And on top of all of that, for a time it helped many people overcome or diminish their religious convictions. To this day the facts of evolution help people overcome religion. There are many reasons why religious people overcome their religion.

It would be a mistake to say that evolution is the primary reason. But, for many, understanding biodiversity and how biology works serve to weaken the hold religion has on them. As it has since it was first proposed.

It should be noted that all of science is a good candidate to help people shake off the last vestiges of their religious conviction. For those who have embraced faith but are still open to reason, scientific study is very often a cure to religion. Evolution is an area of science with easy to grasp evidence. And that evidence is extremely convincing.

That is why few educated people deny that evolution took place. Only the most ardently religious and ignorant Creationists deny that evolution happened. Only the most evasive and ignorant can allow themselves to embrace the delusion that it did not happen.

Even Lord Kelvin, a very religious person, eventually accepted that evolution is “not unscientific”.

The rest of us are free to marvel at the wonder of evolution and its many amazing applications. So, for that reason alone, we can say evolution is important.

Let us look at some more all the same.

Evolution is the Cornerstone of Biology

It is only through our understanding of the theory of evolution that we can make any sense of much of the field of biology. If we did not understand evolution, we would not have made most of the remarkable progress we have made in this field.

If we did not understand evolution, the remarkable biodiversity we have observed would make no sense. By some estimates, over 1.5 million species have been identified. Why are there over 5,000 identified mammal species? And why are there over 81,000 mollusc species? There are more than 1 million insect species. Including over 400,000 species of beetles!

Consider that some experts believe that 80% or more of species remain unidentified. It has been estimated that we might have 8.7 million or more species on Earth. So, the remarkable biodiversity of Earth is more astounding still.

Without evolution, we cannot understand this remarkable biodiversity or how it came about.

We cannot understand how most of these organisms came to be. Without evolution, we cannot understand why these organisms have the relationships that they seem to. Why do Homo sapiens seem to be related to apes? Why do humans look so similar to juvenile apes?

Without evolution, we cannot understand why animals have many of the features and behaviours which they do. Why, for instance, do whales have vestiges of what appear to be hind legs?

Why do human ears have tiny muscles that seem to try to turn our ears towards sounds? Even though these muscles are too weak to do so. And why do birds have several dinosaurian features?

Why do humans and other apes have such similar genes? Why do all living humans have shared mitochondrial DNA?

How did eukaryotic life forms arise for that matter?

evolution of cells
Animals and plants both have complex cells which have incorporated simpler forms of life. How this happened is not difficult to grasp in the light of evolution.

How did any of the various groups of life that we know about now arise?

There would be a great deal about species we would not be able to understand without evolution, including the countless analogous features found among many seemingly very different creatures.

We cannot answer any of these key questions without understanding evolution. It is not a stretch to say that without a grasp of evolution a great deal of the natural world would make no sense.

If we did not understand evolution, we would not properly understand the importance of genes. We would not be able to understand the countless genetic similarities between species and groups of organisms.

Nor would we understand the various functions of many genes and how they came to exist as they do. Nor would we understand the many important effects of changes or duplication in these genes.

Much of genetic engineering and biotechnology would be a mystery to us since we would lack a proper understanding of genes. Genetic engineering would not be as well understood as it is. As a result, many forms of genetic engineering would be impossible. And many forms of biotechnology would be unknown to us.

It is not an exaggeration to say that evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. Without it, much of our modern knowledge of biology would be impossible.

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