I was reading this BBC article yesterday and came across an interesting statistic:
"Today, more than 20% of the British public and the majority of US citizens, either tentatively or explicitly reject evolution, according to surveys published in the journal Science."
It reminded me of a recent clip of Miss USA beauty contestants I'd seen circulating on the internet. You might've seen it. In the clip the young women are asked "Should evolution be taught in schools?" Their answers do seem to represent the statistics above, with most respondents saying that they're against evolution being taught in schools.
(note: the clip below is an edited compilation of the full interviews, which can be found here).
As a 'believer' in evolution, I've got to side with the YES camp and say that evolution should be taught in schools. However I can understand why some people would have trouble accepting evolution as a worldview. I mean, it's not something that's immediately apparent in our everyday experience. I've never seen a fish grow legs, or a monkey write a poem. And none of us were around to see the hair fall from our bodies or hear our neighbour's larynx begin to form complex speech. Nope, as far as physical evolution goes, it's hard for a normal person to relate. But there may be other types of evolution.
The realness of evolution really sinks in for me when I think about my little sister. Born twelve years her senior, I had the privilege to watch her grow from compulsive infant, to curious toddler, to rambunctious kid, and now an individuating teenager (something I'm sure any parent reading this can relate to). Looking back on it, the process strikes me as an everyday example of evolution all around us - in us even. Because we've all travelled this same trajectory. This to me is the interesting part.
If you're reading this website, you probably already believe that evolution is a real phenomena. But how many of us consider it seriously as a phenomena that's occurring in us right now. We are still evolving. Our lives seem so still and unchanging yet we're part of an evolutionary stream that's been continuing on for billions of years. And it's presently - as I'm typing and you're reading - still in mid-swing. That's pretty amazing. When I think about it in this way, it makes me wonder if I could actually have some input into this process of evolution. I mean, why not? We already know that evolution isn't happening "out there", it's happening to us right now. Or rather, it is us right now. We're the process in motion. So why not see if the steering works.
Choosing to grow legs is hard. But I can choose to do things that over time change who I am as a person, to such a degree that the cultural ramifications for the future could be untold. Culture is the collective expression of we individuals (our minds, personalities, and preferences). In the same way that our individual psyches have developed since infancy, so have our cultures developed since their origins (the basic tribal arrangements of yesterday were not as complex as the multi-layered social stratifications of today). If we take evolution seriously we should also take seriously that we actually have the power to change it's course, culturally, through everything that we chose do.
Everything that we do impacts the people around us and therefore culture, in some small way. Making the long-term effort to grow from weak to strong, from dull to bright, from ignorant to enlightened, is something that might occur naturally in a millenia, but that we have to power to choose to do today. Right now. And every day for as long as we live. For me, starting to experiment with adopting this evolutionary perspective has been life changing. I don't want to waste a single day anymore. Everything is becoming an opportunity to push my own limits and I feel like I owe it to life to use the most of everything it's given me. That might come off as elitist or privileged to some. And maybe it is. But the more I think about it the more I think that people of my ilk - wealthy, privileged, middle class Western citizens of the 21st Century - have an obligation to make the most of our lives. We're some of the first to not only understand the science of evolution, but to have the wealth and ability to actually engage in it by choice. If God does exist, the greatest gift he may have given us is evolution.
(and here's a follow-up to the last video... unrelated to the opinion above, but irresistible nonetheless)