Darwin’s legacy: why biology is not physics, or why evolution has not become a common sense1Award Lecture, Genetics Society of Canada P. Moens and W.F. Grant Award of Excellence, 2010. / Conférence du récipiendaire, Prix d’excellence P. Moens et W.F. Grant de la Société de Génétique du Canada, 2010. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Cosmology and evolution together have enabled us to look deep into the past and comprehend evolution-from the big bang to the cosmos, from molecules to humans. Here, I compare the nature of theories in biology and physics and ask why physical theories get accepted by the public without necessarily comprehending them but biological theories do not. Darwin's theory of natural selection, utterly simple in its premises but profound in its consequences, is not accepted widely. Organized religions, and creationists in particularly, have been the major critic of evolution, but not all opposition to evolution comes from organized religions. A great many people, between evolutionary biologists on one hand and creationists on the other, many academics included, who may not be logically opposed to evolution nevertheless do not accept it. This is because the process of and the evidence for evolution are invisible to a nonspecialist, or the theory may look too simple to explain complex traits to some, or because people compare evolution against God and find evolutionary explanations threatening to their beliefs. Considering how evolution affects our lives, including health and the environment to give just two examples, a basic course in evolution should become a required component of all our college and university educational systems.

publication date

  • October 2011