“Seen in the light of evolution, biology is, perhaps, intellectually the most satisfying and inspiring science. Without that light it becomes a pile of sundry facts — some of them interesting or curious but making no meaningful picture as a whole.”
—Theodosius Dobzhansky, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution
This book reminds me of Dobzhansky’s brilliant classic essay, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution (1973)*. Dobzhansky clearly and beautifully stated that evolution is not only just a scientific theory that applied in biology field, but also a ‘light’ that give us new insights of our life meaning and its place in universe. It implied to not only scientific method but also philosophical method to understand our life’s meaning. You can interpret it as physical or spiritual perspective. No matter what your belief is, atheism or religion, evolution will give you an elegant way to look at life.
First of all, Evolution is not just a ‘theory’, but it’s a fact, an undeniable fact. Charles Darwin did not only showed us how evolution works, but also proved that evolution is the only possibility how nature and life works. Zillions of evidences have been proved that we, human, evolved as life itself evolved. Evolution also proved that we are just one of millions species as ‘product’ of evolution. We are not at the top of ‘ladder of evolution’; we are just like other animals or lichens. Humans are not special compared to flies or even bacteria.
The only real difference between human and other organisms is human able to think and reason. Thus, reason has to be what we have to use to evolve further. We have to use what sets us apart from other animals. What we have to do with other animals? What is our purpose in this life? And of course, the most challenging question since our ancestors saw sky at night for ‘first’ time millions years ago in Africa, who we are? The book tried to answer these questions in provoking way. There is no supernatural power that control and force the life; it’s simply just natural selection. What we are, where we come from, and where we are going to, are some of classic questions that are tried to answer in this book.
As I said before, evolution is the most elegant way to understand and to answer those questions. And I think that evolution perspective is a pure interpretation from scientific facts, it’s not based on your belief. Thus, acceptance this vision doesn’t mean we need to become an atheist or Christian or secularist. Dobzhansky, whose his quote I wrote above, was an Catholic although he was an evolutionist—perhaps the greatest evolutionist in our time. This issue seems failed to be caught by the author, I think. You can accept evolution and religion at the same time. For those people, religion is not a rigid and outdate thing. It can be changed and interpreted with times without lose its meaning.
Yes I know, we’re faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, pogroms, crime, slavery, assassinations, gruesome punishments, child abuse, deadly quarrels, genocide, and terrorism, but blame all of them to religion is just too naive. The author doesn’t allow for variances in thought, beliefs, or practices. He seems to ignore the many positive aspects of religion.
Another point that I want to point out is the content of the book. For a book which is claimed as based on scientific facts (in this case evolution), this book is poor of facts, data, references, foot notes, or any related items so that we cannot crosscheck his arguments. Are they based on scientific facts or just pure his ideas/interpretations. To enjoy this book, you should understand, at least, evolution knowledge at basic level. You will not find (or a few) any descriptions or terms of evolution related. There is no ‘gene’, ‘mutation’, ‘gene-drifting’, ‘heredity’, or any terms in science meaning.
I mean, this book is good for you who familiar with evolution concept and idea. But, we also know, evolution is the most misunderstanding science all time. Many people (especially the fundamentalists) think that evolution is a fraud and blasphemy science. This wrong perception caused by many books of evolution was looked as atheism propaganda instead of science concept that can be applied in major aspects. For example, Richard Dawkins’s books are considered as good popular science books because he wrote his argument based on a solid science explanation. For people who have lack understanding of evolution, Quanology seems like only another atheism propaganda.
However, whoever you are, if you are open-minded person, you can enjoy this book very much like me. This book has a beautiful way for noticing and explaining of evolution to understand our existence and way of life. Khoury offers up a post-enlightenment vision of what an open-minded approach to evolution might look like; evolution (and science generally) is not just a bunch of experiment or observation data. It can offer, to its believers and humanity, how we understand our life and its existence.
Khoury writes confidently, intelligently, and well. His arguments are sound. Using evolution, the authors elucidate mechanisms by which human intra-and-inter-relationships—a form of competition and working together in which one individual benefits at the cost of another—arises through natural selection. It is a bit more philosophy than biology but I would recommend this book if you are interested in this stuff. Equally thought-provoking as it is informative. Maybe, you will see life in a new way!
And ah, Khoury is very funny guy! He has a great sense of humor. Have you ever imagined if Zach Galifianakis writes God Delusion? It must be Quanology. I have a lot of LOL-moments while reading this funny book.
PS: * You can read the entire essay here: http://www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/dever/Dobzhansky_light.pdf