Wonders of Life: Evolution


I have just finished watching last Sunday’s episode of Wonders of Life, the new series from Professor Brian Cox – courtesy of the i-Player. It is somewhat misleadingly titled ‘Expanding Universe’ because although it does touch on Hubble’s astonishing discovery in the early part of the twentieth century that our Milky Way was just one of billions of galaxies, the main part of this episode (episode two) deals with how animals evolved.

In particular, Cox tackles the evolution of the mammalian ear and the eye. It is wonderfully intelligent film-making and makes you very grateful that we have the BBC! There really is a lot of splendid footage in this episode and as many reviewers have pointed out, Cox has a very infectious enthusiasm for his subject that encourages you to persevere even when he is explaining some tricky concepts.

In light of my recent series of posts on evolution, it worth pointing sceptics of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the direction of this episode because as Cox points out, all mammals have evolved the same set of bones which they use for hearing, including humans. This is an important point because it is common to hear some Muslims argue that they believe in the evolution of all animals, except for human beings.

Episode two of Wonders of Life can still be seen on the i-Player for another three weeks. Alternatively, you can buy the book (available now) or the DVD (on sale from March 9 2013).

Update: Actually, I have realised I was wrong about the title of episode 2. ‘Expanding Universe’ does indeed make sense if looked at in the context of creatures evolving eyes and hearing. Sorry for being dim!

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2 Responses to Wonders of Life: Evolution

  1. The matter of evolution, in general, cannot be rejected except by a person ignorant of what it means, for as long as we have differentiation and selection and heredity, then certainly there must be evolution; and this is an issue which is almost self-evident, and almost does not need fossils or comparative anatomy to prove it.

    And the genetic differentiation among individuals of one species was and is still existent. And the nature which surrounds the individuals and suits some individuals of one species, those who carry the favored genes, more than it suits other individuals [of the same species] is usually existent. And heredity definitely exists whenever there is reproduction. And if these three, which the earth was never free of ever since life began, are found then there is evolution.

    And what some men of religion do, if not due to ignorance regarding the meaning and details of evolution, then mere stubbornness because they believe evolution conflicts with the religious text. And the truth is that they do not even know the meaning of creation and progression, yet you find them responding falsely or denying with utter shamelessness.

    For instance, some of them think that evolution means progression from one species to another, whereas current biologists do not say, not even Darwin, that evolution occurs directly from one species to an entirely different species.

    Thus there is no one who says that a fish evolved directly into an amphibian. Moreover, even at the level of fish that walk on the mud with their fins; nobody says that the fish directly transfer from an aquatic fish to an amphibious fish (mudskipper).

    And some of them say there is a problem with evolution because habits do not transfer, and he does not know the basics of evolution, and that the intended differentiation is a genetic differentiation and not a differentiation of habits or behavior. So for instance, walking on two feet ,which distinguishes human beings, did not happen as a result of habit, as habit alone has no value because it is not inherited. Rather, what happens is a process of natural selection for the individuals holding the favored genes.

    So in general, denying evolution today has become like denying the rotation of the earth previously.

    -ahmad alhassan

  2. Khalid says:

    People quote scientific evidence to support homosexuality , stating that people are born homosexual rather than adopting that particular lifestyle. That stance clearly contradicts islamic teachings which forbids such behaviour. How do you reconcile your islamic faith with science in this regard? Would you oppose those who take islamic teaching literally and advise them to accept scientific findings? Please explain. Thank you.

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