ADDRESSING MISCONCEPTIONS


WHAT EVOLUTION IS NOT

  1. It is NOT a fact...(it's a theory: a highly probable explanation for a collection of biological phenomena).
  2. It is NOT something one should believe in...(it's based on science, not faith).
  3. It is NOT concerned with the origin of life... (it deals only with the origin of species).
  4. It is NOT just concerned with the origin of humans...(no more than any other species).
  5. It was NOT discovered or first explained by Charles Darwin...
  6. It is NOT the same thing as natural selection...(this deals with how evolution takes place).
  7. It is NOT something which happened only in the past... (it's still going on).
  8. It is NOT something which happens to individuals...(it happens to populations).
  9. It is NOT an accidental or random process...(there are built-in limits, constraints and selective elements).
  10. It was NOT developed to undermine religion...(rather it was developed to explain many observations of life in a testable way).
  11. It does NOT deny the existence of God...(It is neutral; God is neither required nor eliminated).
  12. It does NOT conflict with any religion...(It can't, since it is only another way of trying to explain a collection of natural phenomena, based on scientific observation and critical analysis. Most religions have no problem with evolution, and those which say they do actually express a distorted version of science and evolution).

EVOLUTION: WHAT IT IS

MICROEVOLUTION TO MACROEVOLUTION

Evolution is essentially the idea that new species develop from earlier species by accumulated changes. This is sometimes referred to as "descent with modification". It is also sometimes called "microevolution".

Microevolution is a term often applied to the process whereby a species (or a population) undergoes significant changes over time, such that certain new traits or groups of traits characterize the group sufficiently that it could be called a “sub-species”, “race”, or “variety” of the original species. This term may also be extended to include the formation of new species, the process of speciation. The mechanism currently considered to play a major role in microevolution is natural selection, but may also involve other elements.

By extension, as this process of speciation proceeds with time, increasing numbers of species appear, becoming increasingly different. All the species we see today are like the growing tips of a branching tree: close clusters of tips have most recently branched (evolved); more distant tips would be traced to much lower (earlier) branchings in the tree. What we call a "genus" would be a close cluster of tips. The "family" level of classification (which may include several genera) refers to a group of several closely branched clusters. And so on. Evolution at these "higher" levels is sometimes called "macroevolution", but it should be obvious that this simply results from microevolution continued over long periods of time.

Macroevolution refers generally to the formation of major groups of organisms from other groups that are distinctly different. For example, the evolution of mammals from earlier non-mammalian tetrapods, or the evolution of whales from terrestrial mammals. The mechanism for this process is generally considered to be the same as for microevolution, but carried on accumulatively over many millions of years, resulting in the everincreasing diversity of life we see today.


The idea of evolution was developed from many observations of life. It has been tested and challenged many times and in many ways, and has survived largely intact. There are also many independent lines of evidence which are consistent with evolution as a real process. There is NO observed evidence against evolution. Evolution therefore holds the high status of near certainty: it is a scientific theory.

Evolution at different scales: Micro to macro
Microevolution and macroevolution encompass change at very different scales, but both work through the same basic processes.

Materials adapted from http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/ev.not.html