TaN: There is no such thing as evolution. “”Evolution”, as defined conventionally, does not happen. Evolution is commonly understood as the natural process of changing and adapting to the environment for the purpose of survival. This change and adaptation is considered to be “permanent”, probably, because there are cycles in nature and the one that causes or drives evolution is “permanent”. “Permanent” because the time duration, though slow in terms of immediacy and noticeability for living things, is far lengthier – far exceeding several life spans of said living things – than most and the changes and adaptations becomes, in a way, “irreversible”.
A case in point are Charles Darwin’s Galapagos finches, where he theorized that, due to the limited food resources in the islands, finches cannot afford to feed on the same food. By necessity of survival, they began to “evolve” and adapt to feed on other available foods. This is evidenced by the different and variety of beaks that developed in order to exploit other food – long pointy ones for nectar from the flowers, short stubby ones to crack seeds and nuts, and everything in between, thereby ensuring greater chances of survival as they will no longer be competing with each other for the same food sources.
In support, there was a recent project done – if I recall correctly, somewhere in Germany – where they tested the theory that dogs came from wolves. They bred dogs to make them (physically) resemble their “ancestors” and, to their surprise, they discovered that, as the dogs came to look more and more like wolves, they also began to “behave like them”. Among other things, this shows that physical characteristics have a direct relationship with behavior. It further shows that certain closely-related living organisms can “devolve” back to their “origins”. [But, this can be debated as to whether dogs came from wolves or the other way around.]
Anyway, this begs the question, “If dogs and wolves can ‘evolve’ from one to the other, then why is it not happening?” This is because the conditions that caused the “evolution” no longer exist. It had to take man to replicate (approximately) the “same conditions” to enable “backwards engineering” process. [However, the same cannot be said for man and even our so-called “nearest” relatives – i.e., the apes.]
In this sense, there is evolution, but not the way it is understood. However, the understanding goes deeper and it is where the error lies. We made the mistake of “over-extending” our understanding to include other creatures and everything else in nature to have “progressed” from past origins when, the truth is, evolution does not apply to all (or to anything that we want it to apply to). And, the ultimate error is when we surmised that man came from apes or ape-like ancestors – i.e., homonids and humanoid creatures.
But, permit me to posit an alternative theory, that living things change because their DNA changed – more precisely, certain “genetic switches” are “turned on or off” by chemicals, chemicals in the form of nutrients in the food we eat. It is in the changing of the positions of these genetic switches that changes us – both physically and behaviorally. [As in the “dog back to wolf” experiment, breeding is one manner of changing the genetic switch positions. Another is eating. A variation of the nurture and nature issue.]
The changing of the genetic switch positions is among the primary triggers of our sickness and disease. [At this point, I prefer to differentiate sickness and disease from the origin – i.e., if the cause is external, it is sickness, while disease is internal, hence dis-ease.] This gives rise to the argument that so-called modern lifestyle diseases originated from inside us, from changes in genetic switch positions due to food and physical activities. The food and the physical activities either rob us of certain essential nutrients (deficiencies) – such as scurvy from vitamin C deficiency and as rickets from vitamin D deficiency – or flood us certain detrimental nutrients – such as sugar (diabetes mellitus) and as man-made trans fats (cardiovascular diseases).
This is the basis for the argument that our health problems and our longevity is rooted in our lifestyle and cannot be inherited – in the sense that the simple act of heredity cannot pass lifestyle diseases from one generation to another. This is further supported by the fact that, although Okinawans (and other peoples) known to live long and healthy lives, they quickly exhibit the same health problems – and degenerate into shortened and disease-ridden lives – if and when they live or emulate the unhealthy Western lifestyle/s. There is no heredity there, yet the same sicknesses and diseases “miraculously migrate” – as if by osmosis.
In evolution, in the strictest definition of the term implies that there is “no turning back” – i.e., you can only go forward; you cannot revert to what you were in the past. However, in the case of adaptation, if the conditions are returned or conducive, one can go back – as in the case of the dog-back-to-wolf experiment. What we usually refer to or mean is adaptation rather than evolution. But, there are, nevertheless, instances of (true) evolution – like the Big Bang, but this is just as an example because there are increasing evidences that even this theory is starting to show inconsistencies and unprovable declarations.
Finally, to go back full circle, the term “evolution” has been hijacked and commandeered into various (mis-)applications and “bastardized” to such a degree that people no longer really know what it truly means and how and/or when to apply. BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE!