Most of us hear the word “evolution” and think of the process by which species change and
物种变化 适应和突变的过程 或者灭绝
adapt and maybe turn into other species or go extinct – but that’s specifically the evolution
of life forms by means of natural selection.
The word “evolution” in general just means “change or development”, and there are plenty
除了生物以外 还有很多其他的事物可以通过各种各样的形式 达到进化或改变
of other things that can evolve, or change, and in plenty of other ways.
比如根据物理学定律 宇宙也可以进化 也就是改变
For example, the universe can evolve, that is, change, according to the laws of physics
– galaxies form, planets and moons orbit, stars explode, etc.
This doesn’t mean there’s any sort of cosmic “survival of the fittest” going on – that
would be natural selection, not evolution.
Similarly, the demographic makeup of the United States can evolve as children are born, young
儿童出生 青年进城 移民入境等变化
people move to cities, immigrants arrive in the country, etc.
In this sense, evolution just means change, and no one can deny that these these changes
are happening – the evidence is overwhelming!
Similarly, around the time Charles Darwin was doing his research, scientists (including
Darwin himself) had begun amassing piles – literally – of evidence that showed that the nature
of life on earth had changed quite significantly over time: our oldest rocks show no signs
of life, while newer and newer rocks reveal fossilized plankton, seaweed, snails, fish,
trees, insects, dinosaurs, mammals, and so on.
There absolutely was and is no denying the fact that life on earth changes – and change
over time is what “evolution” means.
What Darwin proposed with his theory of natural selection was an explanation for HOW this
change (which is stupidly well supported by evidence) could have occurred naturally.
You can think of it like the Challenger disaster of 1986: all the evidence showed that the
collection of molecules named “Challenger” had tragically changed/evolved from a space
shuttle and its rocket boosters into a cloud of gas and debris shortly after launch (though
we normally call this kind of evolution “exploding”).
The question for scientists at the time was to understand and explain HOW the explosion
had happened so they could prevent it in the future.
Ultimately, it was the Theory of Frozen O-rings in the Rocket Boosters, popularized by Richard
Feynman, that provided a satisfactory explanation for the cause of the disaster.
Now, you’re welcome to disagree with Feynman’s explanation for the explosion, or Darwin’s
explanation for how life on earth changes, but they’re pretty darn good explanations
for these incredibly well documented examples of change in the universe.
In the end, the universe will go on evolving regardless of whether you and I believe in
it or understand it, and perhaps the best thing to do is to remember that it’s ok for
our beliefs and opinions and understandings to evolve, too.
That’s part of life, and it’s the way