Richard Dawkins tries to provide a clearer evidence of the earth’s evolution together with all that is contained in it in his book, The Greatest Show on Earth. In his scientific research, Dawkins creates a combination of different elements of nature and brings these elements into one common fact that all organisms evolve from something that can be determined through research (4).
Since Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, many scientists after him came up with new theories criticizing his views, where they argued that his theory of evolution was fictitious and had no evidence (38).
Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, came up with other theories which proved that Darwin was right in his evolution, The Origin of Species (38). The aim of this study is to identify the facts that have been identified by Richard Dawkins in his book in connection with evolution, which make it unique from other theories brought out by other scientists.
One point worth noting is the fact that Dawkins, unlike other scientists, was able to differentiate between the facts and theories of evolution (4). According to him, it is a fact that the evolution of every living being on earth is connected with each other. This means that no evolution of living things is unique and independent of the other, but instead, evolution of one organism is connected to another.
Dawkins’ book (4) defines the term “theory” as a systematic group of ideas that tries to explain a particular fact or phenomenon. He also argues that the theory of evolution is based on the concept of natural selection, where the idea of natural selection is what leads to facts of evolution (7).
Some of the discoveries that Dawkins came up with, which make them unique and interesting to note in comparison with other scientists include:
In his book, in Chapter two (22-25), Dawkins states that all organisms changes slowly but definitely. This change may not be observed by merely following the line of generations but in the long run, when the complete line of the species is observed, we realize that there is change from one form to another. He even gave an instance that an animal that is too fearful and shy like a porcupine may eventually turn into a leopard after undergoing the small unobserved changes (24)! This has had a great impact because, I have never imagined that all organisms could be sharing one common fore parents.
In Chapter three of his book, Dawkins argues that the theory of natural selection and that of artificial selection, if handled concurrently, could give similar outcomes. In this concept, he argues that it is possible for animals to mate with plants and produce an organism. It proved hard to believe that domesticated organisms like insects could produce offspring through mating with naturally selected organisms like plants (36).
Another discovery that he came up with, which sounds absurd is the fact that evolution takes more that a billion years. He argues that determining, the age of trees, for instance, by merely counting the rings on its trunk is not enough to know its existence (48). For a species to be in existence it must have taken billion of years and this is difficult to determine even through radioactivity (decaying) of organism.
Dawkins also notes that despite the fact that it took billion of years for a species to evolve, it is possible to witness the evolution process through the observation of one lifespan. This is especially so if observation is carried out under the appropriate conditions. For instance, it was discovered that in Pod Marceau Island, lizards that were known to feed on insects eventually began feeding on leaves of plants. This is strange in my opinion because since evolution takes such a long time, and the process is slow, I would not imagine noting these changes within one lifespan (62).
Unlike other scientists who argue that there is some links missing among various species (34), Dawkins shows that all are related to one another and that there are no missing links in the evolution theory. In Chapter six (98) he notes that, all that is there is the fact that modern species evolve from those that existed many years ago and not those that are currently in existence. This means that a dog cannot possibly evolve from a rat but it can evolve into something else many years to come. Hence, in this case, there is no missing link between a dog and a rat; they share a common fore parent and they will evolve into something else after several years. This was strange because it seems like there is no common connection between some organisms.
Response towards “evolution deniers”
One key point that Dawkins set out was that there was a clear distinction between facts and theories of evolution. He noted that these two are related to each other and the theory of evolution, which is natural selection, is what leads into the facts of evolution.
Most scientists deny this fact and they argue that natural selection could never possibly be the driving force behind the fact that all living species are related to each other. According to other scientists, for example Plato, species only vary among each other and no different species is related to another (108).
According to Plato and other scientists, the reason why animals or plants that belong to a common species vary from the other only because they tend to project away from the essential being (108). In response, it may be true of Plato’s argument because a complete change of a species from one form into another is impossible and unrealistic. Hence, Dawkins theory of complete change is more unlikely than Plato’s concept of essential variation.
On the other hand, creationists argue that there is no such thing as the theory of evolution and that it is only a belief (109). However, despite the fact that species may not be changing from one form to another, the process of evolution is real and takes place continuously in our lives. It may not be seen because it is slow and possibly takes “billions of years” as quoted by Dawkins but it is actually a phenomenon that exists (26).
In this aspect, it is also necessary to note that there are no missing links between different species. Evolution takes place within a species and not between organisms that do not belong to the same species. For example, it is not possible for a frog to change into a leopard because they do not belong to the same species. However, a rabbit in the modern society may, after several years of transition, change into another organism that belongs to the species of rabbits (28).
Opinion towards Dawkins’ theory of evolution process
Initially, it was difficult to accept the fact that all species are related to one another. It seemed unrealistic that there could possibly be a connection between an animal like frog and a monkey or between a plant and an insect. However, through Dawkins’ evolution theory, it has become clear that organisms have one common ancestor and hence they are related to one another (16). This has helped to understand why the concept of natural selection is said to be the driving force behind the evolution process of all living beings.
My understanding towards the role of islands in the evolution process has also improved. This is because Dawkins explains in his book that an island, for example Australia, creates a great chance for the evolution of diversified species (262). Through the development of continents and islands, more species evolved which were unique depending on their location.
The biology of molecules in organisms has also become clear and I have been able to understand that the breaking down of molecules into a form is part of the evolution theory and does not instead replace it (276). They go hand in hand and where there is the splitting of molecules to make up something else, it means that evolution process is taking place.
On the other hand, there is better understanding that organisms in the same group have similar characteristics even with their different molecular composition (272). For instance, all mammals the same skeleton structure, even if they are of different sizes and shapes. This has changed my opinion of assuming that molecular composition of organisms in one group makes them unique and different even in their body structure.
Application of Dawkins’ theory in day to day interactions
Dawkins’ theory of evolution could greatly be used to explain why every human being’s DNA is unique from the other. This is because, since human beings evolve through the process of natural selection, our bodies are able to set its own “local rules/programmes” that bring out distinct characteristics and which therefore are able to tell that a person with a different parent has different molecular features and young ones tend to take up molecular composition of their parents (277).
The theory can also be used to show comparison among species. This means that organisms which belong to a particular species can be grouped according to their characteristics, for instance, their body structure (304). In this respect, biologists are able to easily come up with a classification of organisms without creating confusion as to which animal belongs to a particular class.
Dawkins’ ideas could also be used in the medicine field to come up with drugs that could be used to prevent plants and animals from getting diseases. This is because, if scientists are able to identify the change of a particular disease-causing organism from one form to another, then they can be in a position to make plants and animals immune through studying the disease-causing organisms’ stages of becoming resistant to drugs and hence coming up with more effective drugs (378).
In conclusion, it can be noted that the concept of life and evolution is a continuous process that originally developed from one common form (399). It was so simple in the beginning but through evolution, organisms have continued becoming more and more complex. It is also important to note that the evolution process does not end here but goes on and on to an endless form.
Dawkins, Richard, (2010). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution: New York; Simon and Schuster Publishers.