Thursday, March 8, 2012

Science and The Big Question

Science is ever evolving. New evidence is presented all the time that either supports current hypotheses or casts doubt on our long concepts of reality. This is a tricky thing to juggle. The human mind likes foundations, categories and absolutes. It is not comfortable to leave things unknown – especially when those things unknown are so essential to our understanding of our selves. Thus we have the great debate over evolution and its validity. I, myself, am a hard lined believer in the theory of evolution. Although, I understand (philosophically) why not everyone is agrees with me on this one. Therefore, I think it is important to continue to research our origins and gather evidence to usher the more skeptical of us into the fold of scientific truth. Fortunately, this is what is happening. Recent research has unlocked more information regarding our evolutionary relationship to gorillas – and we are a bit more alike than we previously thought.

Over the past decade researchers have been trying to fully sequence the genomes of all the great apes. Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos are our closest evolutionary ancestors still extant (we, of course, are great apes as well) and their genomes hold clues as to our evolutionary past. It is well known that chimpanzees are our closest extant relative - their genome being only 1.37% different than ours. But did you know that gorilla’s genomes are merely 1.75% different? Beyond that it appears that 15% of the human genome is closer to the gorilla’s genome than that or the chimpanzee’s. The lead researcher or the study, Aylwyn Scally, says: “Some of our functional biology is more gorillalike than chimplike.” Additionally, this research is allowing researches to paint a better picture of when and how the great apes diverged. As well as, increasing knowledge of how the basic mechanics of evolution work.

This research is, of course, incredibly important to understanding our past and maybe even our future. There are legal battles and societal splits occurring all over our nation about the nature of our existence. It is possible that research like this can bring us to a better picture of our existence? I think so. Some find a sense of completeness and spirituality from the arguments made by the creationists. Which, is not so crazy – it is what we all want. I, however, find completeness and a sense of spirituality from science research like this.

Posted by William Mohn


  1. I took a evolution class in biology last semester and we learned all about the closeness of chimps and gorillas too humans. I was taught that chimps are the closest to humans. I, myself believe most in evolution instead of any other theory which is interesting because i grew up with the bible. Science is amazing and can prove things that religions and some other theories can't-quote "theories". I wonder what we find next and if chimps will evolve more.

    Posted by: Jen Silva

  2. Evolution is a pretty cool field. I also took an evolution class last semester. From sequencing the gnome we found out that there really isn't that much different between homo sapiens and the other great apes. They stayed relatively the same, while we have experienced such rapid changes. It makes you wonder if it ccould happen too another of the highly intelligent species given enough time.

    posted by Dorian Pillari

  3. It's amazing to me how many people are still willing to deny the cold hard evidence that has been presented for the theory of evolution. It is terrifying to see presidential candidates try to dismiss the theory. Anyway, someone will definitely find a problem with this study and thus consider it "inconclusive". As soon as we find one missing link, two more are created.

    Posted by Michael Thomas

  4. Evolutuion provides evidence and examples as to how the world, especially humans have evolved over time. Evolution made the correct comparision between us and chimps, not creationsim. I am a cathlioc and I grew up with the bible yet I find it is extremley hard to ignore the fact that evolution exists. Evolution is a theory that will lead to more discoveries and comparisons through additonal research which will benefit all.

  5. The idea of people rejecting evolution is a testament to our country's huge foundation in religion and is honestly pretty disgusting. If you believe something other than fact fine go ahead and believe it, but "intelligent design" is not a theory. It is a religious farce created out of nothing to soothe the people who aren't intelligent or rational enough to realize that they can stay true to their faith and still not deny facts, truth, and progress. It is not something that should be taught in public schools. Separation of church and state and all that.

    Mike Selden (C)

  6. This is a pretty interesting article. Mapping the genome of our closest relatives is a long and arduous task. Are they close to completing that at all or no? With all we know about evolution it seems like we may never get the full picture or every little detail correct. This however is one step closer and I think that we should continue this research and take it as far as we can.

    Posted by Nicco Ciccolini

    1. The article suggests that the genomes are completely sequenced - and it certainly was an arduous task. And I agree with you that we may never get all the facts of evolution straight but this type of research is getting us there. As someone who has spent several years living in a state that is highly religious-centric (Utah), it is refreshing to hear all the support for the theory.

      Posted by William Mohn

  7. i always find these debates very intriguing. i personally think that science has come a long way in discovering our past, and it has hard evidence of our origins. As for religious beliefs on how we were created, we only have scriptures to rely on, not that I discredit any of these beliefs. I just feel evidence is a stronger tool to proving the truth.

    -Hermann Kam