The Buffoon that is Tucker Carlson

"There's no evidence that evo ... in fact, I think we've given up on the idea of evolution, the theory of evolution articulated by Darwin is, like kind of not true ... the idea that, you know, all life emerged from a single cell organism and over time and there would be a fossil record of that and there's not."

― Tucker Carlson

No, we haven't.

About a month ago, entertainer Tucker Carlson stated the above on Joe Rogan's podcast questioning the validity of the theory of evolution, specifically targeting the concept that all life emerged from a single-celled organism and the evidence that supports this theory. Carlson's comments reflect a broader debate that has persisted for years, particularly among those who reject robust scientific theories, and not just biological evolution. 

The theory of evolution, first articulated by Charles Darwin, has indeed undergone significant refinement since its inception. Darwin proposed natural selection as the mechanism by which species evolve over time, and this foundational idea remains central to evolutionary biology. However, it's important to note that Darwin's work did not address the origin of life, known as abiogenesis, but rather how species evolve once life has begun. Modern science has expanded upon Darwin’s work with advancements in genetics, molecular biology, and paleontology. These refinements, which enhance and build upon Darwin's original theory, have provided robust evidence that supports and extends the understanding of evolution. Importantly, these refinements are not replacements but rather complementary advancements that provide a deeper and more detailed picture of evolutionary processes.

One of the key components of evolutionary theory is the concept of common ancestry, which posits that all life on Earth shares a common origin. This idea is strongly supported by genetic evidence, which reveals remarkable similarities in DNA across different species. DNA sequencing has uncovered a genetic blueprint that links all living organisms, demonstrating the interconnectedness of life. Such genetic evidence provides compelling support for the theory of common ancestry, even beyond the fossil record. Additionally, the integration of Mendelian genetics with Darwinian natural selection, known as the Modern Synthesis, has offered a comprehensive framework for understanding how genetic variation and evolutionary forces shape populations over time.

While Carlson contends that the fossil record does not adequately support the theory of evolution, this perspective overlooks the extensive fossil evidence that has been discovered. The fossil record, although incomplete, contains numerous examples of transitional fossils that illustrate the gradual changes in species over millions of years. These fossils document the evolutionary history of life on Earth, showcasing clear stages of development from simple to more complex organisms. Radiometric dating techniques have allowed scientists to accurately date these fossils and provide a timeline for evolutionary events. Despite gaps due to the rarity of fossilization, the existing record robustly supports the theory of evolution.

What Tucker Carlson is promoting is the flawed theological argument known as "The God of the Gaps" theory, a perspective where gaps in scientific knowledge are taken as evidence or proof of God's existence. Historically, many natural phenomena were attributed to divine intervention before scientific explanations were developed. For example, lightning and disease were once commonly ascribed to the actions of gods or supernatural forces. This argument is often criticized because it relies on current ignorance rather than positive evidence for divine intervention. As science advances and fills in these gaps, the space for this argument shrinks, making it a form of argument from ignorance, which asserts that a lack of evidence for one explanation is evidence for another. That just doesn't work, my friends.

From a scientific perspective, invoking "God of the gaps" is an unproductive approach because it discourages further investigation and understanding of natural phenomena. In essence, the argument attributes unknown phenomena to divine action, but it's problematic both scientifically and theologically as our understanding of the natural world continues to grow.

So, while Tucker Carlson's skepticism about evolution reflects ongoing debates, the scientific consensus strongly supports evolutionary theory. The refinements in genetics, molecular biology, paleontology, and evolutionary developmental biology have strengthened Darwin's original ideas, providing a richer and more detailed understanding of the mechanisms driving evolution. These advancements highlight the robustness and adaptability of the theory of evolution, underscoring its foundational role in modern biology. 

It would be my guess that most readers of this blog don't follow Joe Rogan or pay much attention to Tucker Carlson these days, but if you do, you might want to further your understanding of science (especially evolution) from experts and not from morons. I recommend reading anything by the late Stephen Jay Gould, Sean B. Carroll, E.O. Wilson, Jerry Coyne, and even the controversial Richard Dawkins.