You Don’t Have to Believe in Evolution

…And yet you can still benefit tremendously, just as we benefit every day from Newtons “Laws,” even though they have been found to be not precisely true in all circumstances.

I never make any bones about the fact that I don’t believe in any supreme being, and I’m as convinced of the overwhelming evidence in support for evolution as I am that the universe is heliocentric and not geocentric, as was believed by virtually everyone until only about 1,000 years ago.

And evolution is observed to happen all around us. Dr. Stephan Guyenet experiences it every day in the lab.

What many people don’t realize is that the facts point overwhelmingly toward evolution. American teachers have been tying their hands with the same wimpy anecdotes for decades. Evolution is not just about the fossil record and a few moths somewhere; it’s a dynamic process that’s happening around us at all times.

I’m constantly dealing with it in the lab. For example, sometimes by chance I’ll create a mutant strain of yeast that grows slowly. I’ll streak it out on a petri dish. Five days later, one out of twenty of the colonies growing on that plate will have mutated into faster-growing strains. These mutations are called ‘suppressors’ because they suppress slow growth. If I then take all the yeast on that plate and put them in liquid medium, by the next day, 99% of the cells will be of the faster-growing variety. The slow ones get left in the dust. That’s natural selection.

Another example is antibiotic resistant bacteria. All you need is a selective pressure, in this case an antibiotic, and over time if an organism survives it will rise to the occasion. Bacteria are frighteningly rapid at adapting because there is a huge population of them and they have an extremely short generation time. But the same process applies to all organisms, usually on a longer timescale.

Then, of course, you have all manner of fruits, vegetables and livestock that have been intelligently selected (as opposed to naturally). And how about dogs and cats? It used to be thought that dogs, for instance, were selectively bread from wolves 10-15,000 years ago (inbreeding eventually causes the vast array of breeds within species). However, the evidence now points to a quasi-natural selection with the advent of human agriculture. Dogs are the result of some wolves self-selecting to follow humans and subsist on their garbage dumps (as well as the vermin those dumps attracted). Several generations of no longer needing their keen hunting skills, we had relatively docile dogs that make for excellent human companions. That’s quick evolution.

That said, it is not my purpose to convince anyone, or even to belabor the whole point. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. What I provide is a whole range of integrated living techniques that just happen to logically conform to an evolutionary model. It works. You can benefit even while you maintain your faith in alternate origins. What would be helpful, however, it to actually put in the effort to understand natural selection and the logic behind it. That will help you in your quest for vibrant health. If that leads, ultimately, to implicit contradictions in your thinking, it’s your problem to deal with. Nonetheless, what I provide is a model based on evolution, and it really works.

You’ll never know unless you give it a try for yourself.


Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.

6 Comments

  1. Steve on September 16, 2008 at 12:37

    …the universe is heliocentric and not geocentric…

    I'm guessing you meant solar system.

  2. Adam on September 16, 2008 at 12:52

    "American teachers have been tying their hands with the same wimpy anecdotes for decades"
    I am not sure when the last time Stephan was in a high school classroom but I am in one every day and the vast majority of biology teachers are very current on their examples of evolution. We have been talking to students about antibiotic resistance (caused by rapid evolution) for years.
    This kind of post that Stephan has produced is just as bad as what the mainstream media (man’s selective pressure) does on a daily basis. Using statements like, “Evolution is not just about the fossil record and a few moths somewhere…” is a typical media tactic where they use a common piece of information and make it sound irrelevant or even infantile. If a student has never actually seen evolution take place then the peppered moth example is simple, obvious and poignant.
    We often feel the need to share what we feel is important, but lets try to be fair and as accurate as possible.

  3. Naomi on September 16, 2008 at 12:53

    Richard, I'm wondering- do you pay any special attention to your salt intake or acid-base balance?

  4. Richard Nikoley on September 16, 2008 at 14:04

    Steve:

    I'm using it in a very general, wide integration sense. I meant to say universe, as I've meant when I've used it for 15-20 years.

    Adam. Fair enough. I wonder how things differ between your experience and those of, say, people in, say, the southern US.

    Naomi: nope. I think it's far more important to eat real food, in good variety and your sensitivity to salt adjusts real quick anyway (I cannot take salted butter anymore, for example). Sometimes I salt stuff, often no. I like to use a lot of hot spices like peppers, curries and so forth, and I find adding salt quite pointless in that instance. Eggs? Gotta have some salt & pepper.

    I'm not up on acid-base balance, though I was on prescription for acid reflux for years and years and now am off, now with only the occasional heartburn discomfort.

  5. Stephan on September 16, 2008 at 16:04

    Adam,

    Well I certainly hope things have changed. My high school evolution education was literally about the fossil record and a few moths. I think hands-on natural selection experiments on microorganisms would be a good addition to the classroom. The utility of actually seeing evolution was my main point.

  6. Paulie on August 4, 2009 at 08:45

    My wife is an infectious disease doc, and she sees evolution at work in resistant bugs all the time. But that is not really the hardest problem she has to solve. The risky behaviours of her patients are relatively insoluble. People don’t want to change their ways.

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