Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Evolutionary Biology and Charles Darwin

There will probably be another court case in the United States, perhaps two. Michigan and Kansas are looking like real possibilities. Then there are the other countries (Australia, Great Britain and South Africa, to name a few) where intelligent design is gaining some ground. I will be devoting some electrons to the court cases and the intelligent design movement in the time ahead as well as what the entire "Intelligent Design vs. 'The Theory of Evolution'" controversy is really about: the relationship between religion and science. However, at the same time, I would also like to devote this blog primarily to the discoveries in Evolutionary Biology.

There is a great deal which is going on, and the pace promises only to pick up. In 1990, they begun the Human Genome Project. This was completed in 2003. From what I understand, with the technology of today, the same project could be completed within a matter of weeks. With the same technology, we are analyzing the genomes of other species, and thereby coming away with a clearer understanding of the phylogenetic relationships which exist between them, or for that matter, a better understanding of the role of various genes and regulatory DNA. Moreover, there are the many different theories within Evolutionary Biology and even entire new branches of science, such as "Evolutionary Developmental Biology," which is usually called by its shorter name "Evo Devo." (There really isn't any "The Theory of Evolution" anymore -- when someone uses that phrase, the most charitable interpretation usually is that they simply don't know what they are talking about.) There is also our deepening understanding of the role of viruses (particularly retroviruses) on the evolution of life itself, and our growing understanding of how life itself originated.

However, it seems appropriate at this time to honor the fellow who started this all, so I will be adding a link to The writings of Charles Darwin on the web."

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