Dispelling Some Common Misconceptions About Evolution

Here are some frequently made claims evolution followed by why they are false.

Evolution claims that humans are descended from monkeys

While it is true that humans are somewhat closely related to modern apes, it is not true that we are “evolved from dang-dirty monkeys.” The truth is that humans share a common ancestor with monkeys; it is believed that this ancestor existed between 5 and 8 million years ago. At some point in time, this ancestor’s species evolved into two separate lineages.

So, to provide an analogy, monkeys are more like our cousins than our parents.

Evolution is entirely random

Evolution is the result of natural selection; this means that organisms are more likely to pass on dominant gene traits than recessive gene traits.

Now, to clarify—natural selection does not determine dominance of genes directly based on interactions with the environment.  What happens is very simple—

Organisms with “dominant” genes survive.

Organisms with “recessive” genes do not survive.


Evolution is just a theory

Yes, evolution is classified as a scientific theory—this doesn’t mean that it has not been proven. It is it is important for one to note the difference between the scientific definition of theory and the contemporary definition of theory.

Contemporary definition of theory: A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.

Scientific definition of theory: A scientific explanation of an observed phenomenon. 

The theory of intelligent design is as feasible a theory as evolution

This is false; if not for many reasons, then for one:

Evolution is backed by empirical evidence.

Intelligent is not backed by empirical evidence.

More science!


Harding, Ken. (1999). But it's "just a theory!". Retrieved from http://www.evolution.mbdojo.com/theory.html

PBS. (C 2001). Evolution: frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/faq/cat02.html