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What Evolution Is...

Shannon's picture

I found Chapters 1-4 to be very interesting. I'm going to be completely honest: Before I read the material, the thought of reading 80-some pages about evolution made me sick, as I am a Spanish major taking this class for a Div. II requirement & by spark of interest. I'm glad I read now because I learned some new things that 1) I have always wondered about but never cared or remembered to research & 2) just never occurred to me. For example, I never knew that the young Earth initially consisted of methane, molecular hydrogen, ammonia, and water vapor, and finally, oxygen came in increasing quantities with the rise of cyanobacteria. I guess I just foolishly assumed that oxygen "came with the package" so to speak. I also appreciated how in Ch. 3, the author describes the domino effects of the first eukaryotes: they made more complex organisms (plants, animals, etc.) possible, and these multicellular organisms then achieved nucleated cells, sexual reproduction, & meiosis. I was surprised how detailed the reading was -- especially when the author writes about the origins of mitochondria & chloroplasts (very interesting). I did not, however, quite comprehend all of the aspects addressed in regards to evolutionary biology. I understand the fundamentals of population thinking, essentialism and finalism, but the sub-concept of transmutationism is a bit confusing.


marquisedemerteuil's picture

physics and time

Hey Ingrid --

I think your idea of combining the three theories is really interesting. What do you propose?

I actually think it's fine for scientists to feel that "their way is the only way." That just means they're convinced of their thoughts, and if they weren't, how would they be able to form the interesting opinions they do? When I make an argument about a book, I'm convinced that my way of seeing it is the best one and I often like other ideas much less. However, I keep in mind that there is no right or wrong here. I think you're right to point out that the scientists can forget that, or never thought of it that way.

I also have to argue with your last sentence: "Therefore, why should we believe in something that someone came up with years ago instead of something modern that could make much more sense to our modern world?" Evolution is a theory that is supposed to explain how humans came to be born, but humans have looked the same way for centuries, so there does not need to be anything "modern" about a new theory. Science is made to explain a problem, not to fit a time period. For example, Newton's theories of motion, made in the 18th century, are so persuasive that they still hold true today and everyone learns Newtonian mechanics in Intro physics classes. There's no need to replace Newton. Then there's quantum physics which is different, but I can't talk about that.

Calderon's picture

What Evolution Is?

As I was reading the first pages of “What evolution is” by Ernst Mayr I was struck by the first paragraph and how the three theories were exposed to the reader.  1) A world of infinite duration, 2) a constant world of short duration, and 3) an evolving world.  I was struck by it because I couldn’t get myself to agree absolutely with any of them. It almost felt like the three of them were like a ruler unwilling to bend but still not drawing a straight line that all mankind could follow.  As I have been taught in science that nothing is absolute, why are these scientists presenting theories that seem so narrow? It’s as if their way is the only way.  I must say that I felt like proposing my own theory of what evolution is by combining the three of them and having something with parts of each.  Furthermore, as I kept reading the book, it seemed to me that it was full of theories that scientists have proposed through his observations, but hasn’t time changed and mankind along with it? I believe so.  Therefore, why should we believe in something that someone came up with years ago instead of something modern that could make much more sense to our modern world?