Our current theory of evolution in basic terms is that all living things come from a common ancestor and that natural selection caused the adaptions that created all the different species on our planet.
This is a huge claim- that everything on Earth is somehow connected. But, what evidence is there to support it? Fossils are time capsules for biologists. They are extremely solid (almost rock solid, get it?) evidence of evolution. Fossils consist of parts of deceased organisms that cannot decay or are replaced by minerals easily, such as shells and bones or preserved traces of organisms like footprints and burrows. There are points in the timeline where animals that should exist at that point, don’t in preserved form. This is because the organisms were unable to be preserved due to having a soft body and no preservable traces.
But, even with gaps, This backs up the theory of evolution. Why? Because the further we venture back, the simpler and more different fossils are compared to the same organism later in the process of evolution. Comparative anatomy is the act of taking a physical trait, like bones and comparing it to a possibly related species. This is to tell if the two species share similar anatomy, which could link them both to a common ancestor and show how the organism evolved/could have evolved.
Although, comparative anatomy can be incorrect. For example, wings- the structure of a wing is found throughout multiple species. Wings from bats, insects and birds are all wings, but they did not evolve from a common ancestor. They all differ structurally, proving that two or more species can be comparative anatomically and still be unrelated to each other. When comparative anatomy is done correctly though, especially with other evidence of evolution, it can help show relationships between species and prove evolution further.
Biogeography is used to track the distribution and movements of organisms across Earth during evolution. It shows us that broad groupings of organisms that evolved before the splitting of the supercontinent Pangaea tend to be distributed across the globe, rather smaller groupings of animals that evolved after the breakup are more likely to be exclusive to that region of the planet.
The societal impacts of gene therapy
Gene therapy is an experimental way of treating disease. It involves replacing mutated genes, inactivating dysfunctional genes and introducing new genes to help fight disease.
Some people believe this should become the new normal and others say it is unethical and too close to ‘playing God.’
I am for gene therapy. Why?
I believe that any medical advancement that improves peoples’ lives without interfering negatively, should be widely implemented. Although, I think that it should be within reason. Arguably, over-population can be partly blamed on medical advancements similar to gene therapy. In this world where the unfair distribution of resources causes overpopulation to be an issue, what would happen if the entire population started living for a decade longer than they would naturally? If gene therapy becomes that advanced, how will housing, food, the job market, the health and education system hold up? These are relatively unrelated issues, but when you are dealing with life and death, everything becomes something to consider. I believe that these issues shouldn’t even exist in today’s society, but to say they don’t is unrealistic.
Another reason people may be opposed to gene therapy is that it is interfering with the natural order and that it is ‘playing God’ in some cases. I disagree with this completely. I believe that if you don’t want to ‘mess up the natural order’ then you should stop using any modern medicine, any food you didn’t grow/make yourself or any technology. In today’s society, we take for granted the amount of human-created advancements we use in everyday life. I honestly struggle to see how gene therapy differs morally to vaccinations. They both prevent disease and illness, both are man-made and both are a result of modern medicine. Vaccinations have saved countless lives and I wholeheartedly believe that gene therapy could do the same if implemented thoughtfully.
In conclusion, gene therapy could be the next step in human evolution. My only concern is that we might not be ready for it.