The article begins with a quote from a respected biologist.
“The field of evolution has never been a field of scientific inquiry,” says Professor Robert J. Latham, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan.
“It’s a field that has always been about speculation and hypothesis.
It’s a little bit like science fiction.
I think the real science is out there.”
The Irish Times article ends with a question: Are we witnessing a new, emerging trend of biologists attempting to interpret evolutionary events?
The answer is no.
“I don’t think it’s a new thing, I don’t know if there’s been a big shift,” says Jens Fuchs, a professor of evolutionary biology at University College London.
“I don and don’t see it as a trend.”
Fuchs has studied evolutionary biology for decades and is well known for his books, which are published by Oxford University Press.
He is the author of The Origin of Species, the first book in the series, which is set to be released in October.
“It’s interesting because evolution is a very, very difficult science to understand,” Fuchs says.
“Evolution is a pretty complicated thing.”
Finesse and simplicity are two words that describe Fuchs’ approach to the subject.
He believes evolution is an evolutionary process that is “simple and elegant” and he has found that many biologists, particularly evolutionary biologists, are less familiar with the science of the natural world than they would like to be.
“Evolution isn’t a science,” Fumes says.
“We don’t have the same sort of expertise as we used to have, we don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about evolution.”
Fumes and other evolutionary biologists like Latham agree that the field has a long way to go before it is fully understood.
“There is a lot of work to be done, I think we are still at the beginning of it,” says Fuchs.
Fuchs says it’s easy to think of evolution as a “scientific mystery” because the field is so young.
Evolution has been studied since the 1800s and its only been recently that biologists have begun to look at the mechanisms of the development of species and how it evolved.
“The field has been in its infancy for a long time,” says Latham.
“There is no textbook on evolution.”
The evolutionary sciences are often criticized for focusing on theories and theory alone.
The field of evolutionary theory is very different from the one that surrounds genetics, Latham says.
He says evolutionary biology has been the focus of much of the field’s progress and understanding.
“Our evolutionary theory in evolutionary biology is very sophisticated and it is based on a very broad range of theory,” Latham explains.
“We don’s not a scientist with one theory.
We have a variety of theories.”
Latham believes evolutionary theory can be helpful to biologists because it allows them to draw on the insights of other disciplines.
“This is where I think there is a little less of a focus on theories alone,” Lathan says.
But Fuchs thinks that the recent resurgence of evolutionary science will only serve to diminish the importance of theory.
“You are not going to have a scientific revolution unless there is an appreciation for the theory of evolution,” Fukes says.
That appreciation could come from the field itself.
Fuchs has long been a proponent of the idea that evolution is both a process and a state of the world.
“All evolution is about selection,” Fusch says.
That is why he thinks it’s important for biologists to think about evolutionary processes and state the state of evolution.
“What we need is to look to the state in which evolution is occurring,” Fuss says.