What is the relationship between religion and evolution? Well, some religions deny evolution. But then there is also this recently discovered relationship: one religion has actually caused it. No, not in total via their supernatural hero. A religious ritual has caused one species to evolve.
From ScienceDaily we read about the cause -
Since before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, the Zoque people of southern Mexico would venture each year during the Easter season deep into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to implore their deities for a bountiful rain season. As part of the annual ritual, they release into the cave’s waters a distinctive, leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. Believing the cave’s fish to be gifts from their gods, they scoop up their poisoned prey to feed upon until their crops are ready to harvest. [emphases added]
And the unintentional effect -
However, a team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Tobler, an evolutionary ecologist at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Gil Rosenthal, a biology professor at Texas A&M, has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant’s powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren.
We human beings and our behaviors are part of the environment of many, many species. A sometimes toxic part. In this case, a religious ritual presented a selective pressure on a species of fish. And, as evolutionary theory posits, the genotype of the fish underwent change.
Hallelujah! Evolution exists.
As for the religious folks, they might want to change their superstitious ritual. If they don’t, they may be forced to conclude that their deity has become more frugal with his gift of fish in the off season.
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