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Dangerous ideas: Evolution

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Title: Dangerous ideas: Evolution


1
Dangerous ideas Evolution
Jeremy Pritchard School of Biosciences
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Cratægus oxycantha.A dark pink hawthorn has been
known to throw out a single tuft of pure white
blossoms18 Mr. A. Clapham, nurseryman, of
Bradford, informs me that his father had a deep
crimson thorn grafted on a white thorn, which,
during several years, always bore, high above the
graft, bunches of white, pink, and deep crimson
flowers.
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Hillside Court, Ilkley
White Wells Bath House, Ilkley Moor
Darwin was staying in Ilkley and taking water
cure treatments when On the Origin of Species
was published in November 1859
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http//www.biosciences.bham.ac.uk/links/teachers/t
eachers.htm
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Darwins theory of evolution
  • Many are born
  • Individuals vary
  • Not all survive
  • Useful variations increase
  • Variations are inherited

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Diversity is the consequence of the non-random
survival of randomly varying replicators
  • Random Mutation
  • Non random Natural selection
  • Replicators Inheritance

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  • Evolution was one of the first Darwin beers
    produced.
  • The strange thing was that a mistake was made on
    the original recipe
  • yet the resulting beer was (and still is) better
    than we could have imagined..
  • hence the beer evolved into one of our best
    sellers.

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students
Support evolution
Dont support Evolution
Subject specific views of evolution 2nd year
students University of Birmingham, Autumn 2007
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Young Earth Creationism is the idea that God
created the world sometime in the last 10,000
years. In your opinion is Young Earth Creationism
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The diversity of organisms, similarities and
differences between kinds of organisms, patterns
of distribution and behaviour, adaptation and
interaction, all this was merely a bewildering
chaos of facts until given meaning by the
evolutionary theory. Mayr
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Science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of
Gods possible superintendence of nature. We
neither affirm nor deny it we simply cant
comment on it as scientists. Gould
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The issues
  • Organising diversity - trees
  • Evolution as dangerous
  • Design and complexity from chance
  • Science and intelligent design

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10s of years
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100s of years
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1000s of years
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Millions of years
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There is a lot of diversity out there Where
does it come from?
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Organising diversity Taxonomy and trees
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So.. Whats the reason some things are more
similar than others? Descent with modification
from a common ancestor Whats the
mechanism? Natural selection
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The issues
  • Organising diversity - trees
  • Evolution as dangerous
  • Design and complexity from chance
  • Science and intelligent design

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Change
  • Fact ?
  • Mechanism ?

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The Great Chain of Being
  • Ideas of organisation and direction in evolution
  • Complex is better

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The middle ages
  • Change is dangerous

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AL-BIRUNI 973 - 1048
  • Gradual changes
  • But change is dangerous

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  • Change? Stasis!!

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Classification - Linneaus
  • Species descriptions
  • But some things are more similar than others...

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Explaining complexity
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Intelligent design
  • Explaining complexity

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Irreducible Complexity Intelligent design
Michael J. Behe
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Is Intelligent Design a Science?
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The emergence of change
Stasis ? Change
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Voyages of discovery
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  • Wedgwood
  • Small changes improve things
  • Experiments are needed

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Erasmus Darwin
But change is dangerous
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Stasis ?.... Change!Mechanism?
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Lamark
  • Inheritance of acquired characteristics
  • Desire to improve

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Charles Darwin
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Malthus An Essay on the Principle of Population
Noted 1. Overproduction of young 2. Rising
population outstrips resources 3. Lower classes
are irresponsible. Solution Family size of the
lower class regulated so that they do not produce
more children than they can support

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Replacement of religion ?
Who trusted God was love indeed And love
Creations final law Tho Nature, red in tooth
and claw With ravine, shriekd against his
creed
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Replacement of religion?
  • Evolution explains mechanism
  • It does not explain purpose
  • Ask What? and How?
  • Be careful with Why?

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Are we still evolving?
Microevolution change in gene frequency -
YES Macro evolution formation of species - NO
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Are we still evolving?
  • Some parts of Africa have seen an increase in the
    frequency of a gene called CCR5-32
  • Protects against infection with HIV-1.
  • May have been selected for during bubonic plague

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Human

Chimp
H. erectus
H. habilis
A. afarensis
Monkey ancestor
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Two legs good, four legs bad?
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Humans are not top of the tree
  • Bad back
  • Flat feet
  • Varicose veins
  • Heart disease
  • Piles

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http//www.biosciences.bham.ac.uk/links/teachers/t
eachers.htm
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http//www.biosciences.bham.ac.uk/links/teachers/t
eachers.htm
74
1.A Historical perspective One strategy for
confronting creationists views is to take a
historical perspective. Explaining how the
theory of evolution by natural selection
developed allows the teacher to take a more less
2.Human Evolution A practical that explores
human bipedalism and larger brain size.
Measurements are performed on hominid fossil
material and the students themselves. The
necessary pictures needed to do the exercise can
be downloaded. 3.Taxonomy Phylogenetic trees
provide a powerful image/metaphor to explain some
important evolutionary concepts. Students choose
phenotypic characters for a range of organisms
and these are fed into a computer programme
reveals the similarities and differences between
the organisms. The practical can be delivered in
a variety of ways, from the class room through to
zoo visits. 4. Evolution in action Variation,
mutation and selection in plants An experiment
that demonstrates some of the components of
evolution. Arabidopsis plants are grown in the
presence or absence of sodium chloride and
measurements of rate of development demonstrate
both variation and the selective effect of
stress. 5. Evolution of complexity Evolution
theory is often critisised for being unable to
explain how chance can generate complex organs
such as the eye. However Natural selection is a
combination of random mutation and non-random
differential survival. An 'Excel' exercise to
demonstrate how complexity can be rapidly
produced by chance plus selection is available.
6. Dealing directly with Creationist arguments
A creationist document arguing that plants cannot
have evolved by Darwinian evolution has been
annotated with over 80 the counter arguments and
can accessed online.
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