Biological Evolution: What Makes it Good Science?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

As this article is a repost from 2013, the original author is not available to respond to comments. However, please feel free to discuss the article.

As the author notes, some of the most profound evidence for the theory of evolution is genetics. Genomes hold a direct record of that species ancestry, and the information that those genomes hold far outweighs the information we can find in the anatomy of living and fossil species. I don’t mean to discount organismal biology, but as the author of the article states:

“During the molecular biology revolution that began with the discovery of the structure of DNA by Franklin, Watson and Crick in 1953, the explosion of new data could have shown contemporary evolutionary theory to be wrong. However, some of the most powerful evidence for the theory of evolution has come from a field of science that did not even exist during Darwin’s time. The ability of a theory to withstand such intense scrutiny is a clear sign it is robust and enduring.”

That, more than anything, illustrates why the theory of evolution is good science. I also like Ernst Mayr’s take on it:

“By the end of the 1940s the work of the evolutionists was considered to be largely completed, as indicated by the robustness of the Evolutionary Synthesis. But in the ensuing decades, all sorts of things happened that might have had a major impact on the Darwinian paradigm. First came Avery’s demonstration that nucleic acids and not proteins are the genetic material. Then in 1953, the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick increased the analytical capacity of the geneticists by at least an order of magnitude. Unexpectedly, however, none of these molecular findings necessitated a revision of the Darwinian paradigm—nor did the even more drastic genomic revolution that has permitted the analysis of genes down to the last base pair.”–Ernst Mayr, “80 Years of Watching the Evolutionary Scenery”