Mar 31, 2014
Jerry Coyne is a professor of biology at the University of Chicago and the author of the brilliantly articulate Why Evolution is True. Piece by piece, Coyne lays out the overwhelming support for evolution. In this interview Professor Coyne explains to us not only why evolution is true but why religion or a desire for mystery causes so many people to reject well-established science. Far from decreasing our sense of wonder, evolution increases our ability to marvel at the natural world. Professor Coyne said it so brilliantly in his book, we’ll share a little excerpt here: But there is even more cause for wonder. For the process of evolution—natural selection, the mechanism that drove the first named replicating molecule into the diversity of millions of fossil and living forms—is mechanism of staggering simplicity and beauty. And only those who understand it can experience the awe that comes with realizing how such a straightforward process could yield features as divers as the flower of the orchid, the wing of the bat, and the tail of the peacock. Again in The Origin, Darwin—imbued with Victorian paternalism—described this feeling: “When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as at something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, nearly in the same way as when we look at any great mechanical invention as the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, will the study of natural history become!” Pretty amazing, huh? For more on Professor Coyne’s work, you can visit him on the web at whyevolutionistrue.com or follow him on twitter at @evolutionistrue. Why Evolution is True is available everywhere, but if you buy it by clicking on the Amazon link here you’ll be supporting the show.