In chapters 9-11, Dr. Colling continues to present the basics of evolution and the history of life on earth in language that is comprehensible to the layman. I’m very glad to have found this book, if nothing else than for the clear explanation of what’s involved in the theory of evolution and the basic outlines. There is a certain amount about faith in this first section, but primarily these chapters are about the process of evolution and the history of life on earth, and the level of evidence involved.
Chapter 9, titled “The Platform of Life” discusses the basic genetic material that all creatures have in common and how changes occur. The basics of evolution, mutation and natural selection are introduced. In chapter 10 we go on to discuss good, bad, and neutral mutations, and how cells manage to copy accurately. There is a balance between changes and stability that allows life to continue to diversity.
Chapter 11 moves from a discussion of the mechanics and the details of cells and looks at the age of the earth and how life has developed. One thing that I noticed was that for 2 billion years bacteria were the sole inhabitants of the earth. I had known this, but it just hadn’t struck me before. The process of developing an oxygen atmosphere took a long time. In addition, I hadn’t realized that the cells had to develop a way to deal with one byproduct of oxygen.
Dr. Colling strongly emphasizes the strength of the evidence for all of this, including the lines of evidence from multiple fields. This may contradict a literal reading of Genesis, but it is clearly true, and thus we need to examine how we understand the scripture passages.
This takes us to Part II which deals with the issues of faith and evolution. I am likely to end up blogging more on that part than I did on this.