Michael Ruse: Why Darwin is remarkable

THIS IS an article by Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy at Florida State University. It appears in the Rome News-Tribune (Georgia): Why Darwin is remarkable. It’s not technical, but it’s worth reading as a very general introduction to the subject. We’ll give a few excerpts:

What fascinates me about the theory is the way that Darwin realized that he had a problem and how he set out to solve it. The problem is that of convincing people of something that they could never see. Short of having a time machine and traveling into the past, no one is ever going to see the change of fish into amphibians, and then on to reptiles, mammals, apes, and, finally, to humans.

Good point. Creationists are forever saying: “Were you there?”

Darwin realized full well that often we don’t have direct evidence, but that doesn’t stop us from talking about facts. Indirect evidence can be overwhelming.

[…]

What were the clues of evolution — what were the DNA fingerprints pointing to the claim that all organisms come from the same primitive ancestors by a long, slow, natural process of reproduction and development? The fossil record, obviously. Why do we find that the order is roughly progressive, from the primitive down deep to the modern and complex near the surface? Because the older forms are ancestors, that’s why!

Somewhat simplified, but yes — that’s certainly the general idea. One more excerpt:

Why — and this was really powerful evidence — are the front leg of the horse, the arm of the human, the wing of the bat, the flipper of the porpoise, the paw of the mole, all apparently molded from the same bones connected in the same order when the functions that these forelimbs serve are so very different? Because these animals share common ancestors …

Consider sending the article to someone who wants to begin learning what evolution is all about.

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