Evolution is the process of species changing over time and, more controversially (see below) one species transforming into one or more others. The current favoured mechanism is change bt natural selection - that is, that organisms possessing traits that make them better suited for their environment will prosper and reproduce those characterisitics in their offspring more effectively than others with less advantageous traits. These traits should then become reconcentrated in the population and re-inforced. Speciation is then said to occur when a specific group of individuals become sufficiently different from another group with a common ancestor that they can no longer reproduce effectively with them.
Controversy aside, this model seems congruent and in line with observable evidence.
Theories of Evolution
- Darwinian Evolution - now evolved itself into Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. This is, more or less the model proposed above. Previous theories, now more or less superseded include:
- Transmutation of Species
Alternatives to Evolution
- Eight-armed animal preceded dinosaurs
- Freaks Survive Because They Are Strange
- Human Species May Split In Two
- Living Fossil
- Rapid acceleration in human evolution described
- Research Show Robots Forming Human-like Societies
- Single Celled Giant Upends Early Evolution
Arcanawiki really isn't the place for scientific or religious debate, so I'll try to keep it short and relatively inoffensive. There's a vocal minority that likes to repeat that evolution is "only a theory", in an effort to discredit it. Evolution is not only a theory it is also a fact. The overwhelming majority of scientific evidence supports evolutionary theory, and it can be (and has been) observed in our lifetimes.
In the same sense, Newton's Theory of Gravity is "just a theory". When Einstein came along with his General Theory of Relativity, it shook things up a bit, and parts of Newtonian Gravitation had to be adjusted to match it. That did not change the fact that gravity exists, it can be observed and measured, and that gravitational theory has predictive abilities to solve "what will happen if" questions.
Likewise, modern evolutionary theory is not perfect, but it represents the best understanding of the data yet. No doubt, future research will turn up insights that will continue to refine what we know about evolution. That does not change the accepted scientific fact that evolution can be observed and measured. Evolutionary theory has predictive abilities to solve "what will happen if" questions.
Evolutionary theory doesn't comment upon the existence of God. You certainly can believe in God while observing natural selection in action, just as you can believe in God while observing that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Take care with your characterizations, especially if you don't know your play group very well. Not every scientist is an aethiest, nor is every Christian a creationist. Belief in something does not make you stupid, and lack of faith does not make you immoral.
Game and Story Use
- Just because all the science supports Darwinian evolution and the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, doesn't mean you can't fudge things for the sake of a good game. Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Orthogenesis can all make for very exciting magical settings.
- I once ran an Amber DRPG Campaign where the Courts of Chaos were defined by Lamarckism. The Chaosites were limited shape-shifters, and a strong persona could result in developing a new form and passing it on to your offspring. Approaching it from this angle helped give flavor to the different houses of Chaos.
- The principles of evolution can also be used as a form of computer programming. This is a good excuse for programs too advanced to be understandable even by their "programmers", and is in fact used to try to create Artificial Intelligence. It is notable that this technique and the ability of powerful computers to "brute force" solutions with millions of iterations has already led to several outcomes previously though to be impossible in fields including printed circuit board design.