Evolution by Natural Selection has been called by some the greatest scientific theory ever developed. This story describing how life has changed over time, as initially proposed by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace over 150 years ago, has impacted people in profound and substantial ways. It's wide ranging influence results in part from the fact that this theory integrates the findings of scientists across almost all disciplines of science, but also because the implications for how humans view themselves with respect to the natural world are profound. Darwin's theory of Evolution pulls together data from anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, cosmology, geology, geography, paleontology, and physics, just to name a few (or many!) to form a coherent picture of how our world has evolved, and how life on that world has evolved.
Theodosius Dobzhansky coined perhaps the most famous justification for evolution in the title of his early 1970s paper when he wrote that "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". Today, that statement rings more true than ever, especially now that scientists have begun investigating evolution at the molecular level. Such investigations are opening up new vistas on the biological horizons that both complement and support the nearly two centuries of previous macro-biological work, and are allowing us for the first time to comprehend the mechanisms of evolution (mutation and selection) that operate at the smallest of all organizational levels. What is encouraging is that across all scales, from atoms to molecules, from cells to organisms and from organisms to landscapes, the data collected by the thousands of scientists who are studying evolutionary topics are totally congruent. There are no conflicting data either within or across disciplines.
Withstanding the Test of Time
This consilience of knowledge makes a major statement in and of itself. No other theory can claim such widespread and total support as that of evolution. When a theory has withstood the test of time for over 150 years; when it has been validated by never encountered a conflicting data point; and when it explains life's patterns, it is not difficult to see why evolution remains the best scientific explanation for how life has changed through time. And for this reason, we here at Appalachian State University feel the need to provide both the university and regional communities with an online resource that will help them understand evolution and its consequences.
Within these webpages the interested reader will encounter a variety of resources, including a full schedule of the activities for our own Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Series, as well as a listing of evolution courses being taught here at ASU, and links to excellent educational sites and to other Darwin festivals happening around the world. If there is something missing from these pages, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will consider adding material to the pages. Over time, we would expect, through your input, for these pages to "evolve"! We hope you find them both useful and entertaining.
Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, Chair Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee, Fall 2008
- "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection"
free audio download of the book
- Charles Darwin at 200
from Appalachian Today Magazine, Fall 2008