I know my facts and stuff about evolution, there's just one thing that I honestly don't know how to explain to her and was wondering if any of you know... I'm sure you probably know I just haven't done research on it.
My mother keeps arguing with me about the races in the world. She keeps telling me that if evolution is so real why are there people around the world located at a certain location that have a certain feature different than others.
For example, in Africa people are dark. In Asia, people are light with their eyes different, in the middle East people are somewhat dark, etc.
I honestly cannot explain to her why this is the case because I honestly don't know.
Could you guys help me out here? Thanks!
This should help. You understand that evolution defined simply is just, descent with modification (or changes) right? This definition encompasses things on the small scale, (there are changes in a gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and also on a large scale (the descent of a different species from a common ancestor over many generations).
You said your mother asked why there are people with different colors and features. It is funny that she doesn't think that has anything to do with evolution because it has EVERYTHING to do with evolution. There are various reasons people have developed different features over time. Things such as mutations, gene flow (migration), genetic drift, and natural selection mechanisms for evolution. In human history, isolation from others groups because of different barriers (such as land, oceans, and many other things) plus these mechanisms I just mentioned, caused changes and modification in people over time.
If anyone else reads this and has a better explanation than my attempt please help.
Another thing Kari, is that it's tough to explain this stuff to others (especially those who go into the argument ready to disagree anyway). I mas a bio major in college and it's STILL tough for me. I felt like the more I learned, the more I didn't know and had to learn. It's great that you ask questions. And sorry if you didn't quite understand any of this.
I guess if she says something again, you say: Mom, evolution is exactly the reason there are differences all over the world. People have been evolving for thousands of years and slight changes have occurred within these populations over time that separate each from the others.
Look at the bottom of that link I sent you. There is an outline of human racial classification, then a chart that shows the genetic differences in races. It shows how close each group is related to each other. People can disagree all they want about it, but it doesn't change genetics. Many people can't grasp the concept of evolution. They can't imagine it on a large scale over a large period of time. And many don't want to. If your mother is like mine, then God made everything as is a few thousand years ago. No arguing.
Hope this helped:)
Maybe it would help to try to let her get some grasp of deep time to illustrate it with a little field trip by distance analogy with linear time, using some data from your link.
Suppose we equate a centimeter with 100 years, approximately human life. (Lets be optimistic.)
Then to stay close to a Christian world-view, 20 cm further (not quite a foot length) Christ walks the Earth (not really, but like I said staying close to a Christian world-view.)
60 cm further, an average step for a not too tall person, we see God creating the heavens and earth according to young earth creationists.
Leaving the realm of fantasy behind, lets walk 20 meters to go see the first modern humans.
Then let's continue to walk a 530 meters further along the way while watch human evolution in reverse to see where our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees lived and what later would become humans started to diverge from what later would become chimpanzees. (Keeping it simple.)
From there we set off on a healthy walk for about 5-6 km watching spectacular changes of earth's surface, to go look where the last dinosaurs walked the earth.
If you are really in good shape, you could walk yet another 17-18 km to go look at the onset of the age of dinosaurs, leaving you in exhausted awe for how long they kept going.
You could make up a lot of other data-points along the way, but if we go to the where the first life-forms started to emerge in the Earth's seas, it's better to get in your car and drive about 300 km in the same direction. From there it's yet another 150 km evading the bombardments of rock and ice to go look where the Earth's crust first solidified.
All the while showing off the superiority of the metric system ;-) [Seriously... though]
You could also ask her why there are different colors of dogs, cats, horses, finches, etc...
It all comes down to adapting to an environment. If an animal is born with stubby legs and cannot run from a predator, the stubby legs will eventually become a recessive gene because animals with that gene will rarely get an opportunity to breed. Animals that have longer legs and can run faster will have a better opportunity pass on that gene, and the gene will become dominant.
Teri explains the skin color thing better than I can. It all boils down to environment, and the survivability of traits in those environments. A gene will become dominant when it is an advantage and recessive when it is a disadvantage... simply because animals at a disadvantage are unlikely to procreate.
In our modern society, however, human evolution has actually slowed. Technology has allowed "disadvantageous" genes to survive, like poor eyesight, because of things like glasses. Poor eyesight will never be bred out because humans are able to survive with the assistance of glasses/contacts/surgery. This could be said of cancer as well. Whatever we are now, we will ultimately remain so until something drastic changes (like global warming finally takes its toll). The only real changes we'll see are when different races intermarry.
Myopia is actually unusually common in some populations. Singapore is the prime example. Up to 80% of the population is affected by it to some degree, with maybe 10% having a high degree of it. Some other east Asian countries also have a higher prevalence than western ones
You can easily see that in pictures of army conscripts:
It seems to me, the existence of different "races" (an illusion, I might add) is actually evidence of the validity of evolution. I don't know your mom's educational level. But perhaps you'll wanna throw that her way. "The Race Myth - Why We Believe Race Exists in America" by Joseph L. Graves is a great book on the topic. (I might have the title off by a bit.)
Tell your mother it has to do with a chemical known as melanine. Exposure to sunlight causes our bodies to produce it, and the people of Africa were located for millions of years at a point on earth where the sun's rays are most direct, and thus, more intense. Those people have what we know as kinky hair for the same reason - the coils in the kinks allow for body heat to escape more easily. Further north from the equator, people needed less protection from the sun, hence lighter skin and straighter hair, which would serve to hold heat in, rather than let it out. Those furthest north received far less sunlight, shorter growing seasons, more frequently cloudy skies and less direct sun rays, so they tended to be lightest, almost melanine-free in fact, and with usually straighter head hair and more facial hair generally, to retain more heat.
I've read many of the responses below, and some point to dark people in the higher latitudes, but if their skins are dark, you can be sure they originated in areas nearer the equator and only relatively recently - by recently, I mean thousands of years compared to millions - migrated to their present locality.
I hope this helps you clear things up with your mother.
On the other hand Kari, if her issue is more with evolution in general, than with racial differences, that's a different subject.
I suggest you remind her that evolution normally works very slowly, one genetic mutation at a time, but that it can be and has been artificially sped up. Evolution works through natural selection, but we Humans have intervened in that process and through our own Human, rather than natural, selection, have managed within roughly 100,000 years, to evolve every species of dog known to Man from a simple species of wolf. The ancestor of your teacup Chihuahua may well have been a Timber wolf - we know evolution works because we've done it ourselves.
pax vobiscum, archaeopteryx in-His-own-image.com
Technically, dogs are just a subspecies of wolfs. Dogs are of the subspecies canis lupus familiaris while gray wolfs are canis lupus. They can still interbreed. So all dogs and all wolfs belong to the same species
I agree completely, Steve. But "dogs" do not occur normally in Nature - we Humans, via our own rather unNatural Selection (for what possible circumstances would Nature have selected a Pekingese?), have added the familiaris to the canis lupis within thousands of years, as opposed to the millions of years it would normally have taken for Nature to accomplish the same feat.
pax vobiscum, archaeopteryx in-His-own-image.com
Yes, I agree. Dogs are purely our own adapted species. From tamed wolves to lap dogs.
It just shows the process of evolution and how it works (obviously outside of human selection processes) in a quicker way.
People evolved to be white to absorb more sunlight.