Whats Darwin Got to Do With It?
Is evolutionary theory useful? We saw Donald Kennedy et al. claiming last week (see 02/24/2006) that doctors need training in evolutionary thinking. This week, Christopher Beard (U of Pittsburgh Medical Center) claimed that a study of dinosaur evolution can help doctors understand human lower back pain (see EurekAlert). These, however, are announcements after the fact. Medical science was doing fine before these suggestions came along.
It seems that much of evolutionary literature deals in speculation of doubtful utility. Consider these examples:
- Meet Your Friend, Clay: A press release from UC Riverside speculated that clays formed at just the right time to provide oxygen to evolving primitive life forms.
- Hen’s Teeth: Scientists at Max Planck Institute mutated a gene in a chicken egg and produced what they claim look like the beginnings of teeth. The story in Science Now was cheerfully reported by EurekAlert. If these were teeth, they were not made for biting. Nevertheless, the press release said “The findings strongly suggest that the birds were initiating developmental programs similar to those of their reptilian ancestors.” Interestingly, this was a story about losing teeth, not evolving new teeth, because some early birds did have teeth.
- Elephants Never Forget, but Evolutionists Do: An essay that can be considered typical of evolutionary speculations on phylogeny was published in Nature (439, 673 (9 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439673a) about elephants and mammoths. It tried to decide which group was the ancestor of which.
Many scientific reports, by contrast, mention nothing about evolution and talk about design so much you would think an ID advocate wrote them. Some examples:
- Wow, ID in Butterfly LEDs A UK team was so astonished at the light-emitting diodes in butterfly wings (see 11/18/2005), that they called it “intelligent design” (see the report in IEEE Spectrum). The E word didn’t even make the final cut. One engineer interested in making better LEDs remarked, “Who knows how much time could have been saved if we’d seen this butterfly structure 10 years ago.”
- Outdoing Darwin: “Intelligent Design” was used in another press release (or rather, abused), in a story that turned the phrase to glorify evolution. Lawrence Berkeley Research News reported, “Evolutionary paths to new therapeutic drugs, as well as a wide assortment of other enzyme products, have been created through, of all things, intelligent design.” The irony is that they intended to make the evolutionary process sound good. Actually, they sifted varieties of molecules toward a predetermined goal: a form of artificial selection, where the “intelligent design” was good old human ingenuity. Though the E word was used throughout the article, this was really another application of taking a design in nature and modifying it with intelligence: in short, ID science.
- Fish Sharpshooters: No mention of evolution was made in another article about archer fish. In Current Biology (16:4, 21 February 2006, Pages 378-383, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2005.12.037), scientists found that these amazing sharpshooters (see 09/07/2004) can actually learn each other’s tricks, and perform them without practicing.
These are mere samples of many papers that study design in nature and mention nothing about Darwin’s theory. They seem to prosper as scientific works without relying on what Darwinists call the foundation or cornerstone of biology: evolution. Phillip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, underscored this point in a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He illustrated a point made by Darwinist A.S. Wilkins: “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.” Everybody is taught that it is the cornerstone of biology, but in actual practice, no one really uses it.
I examined the great biodiscoveries of the 20th century – the double helix, the mapping of genomes, the characterization of the ribosome, research on medications and drug reactions, improvements in food production and sanitation, new surgeries.
I even queried biologists in areas where you’d expect Darwinian theory to most benefit research, as in the emergence of antibiotic and pesticide resistance (antibiotic resistance was first recognized in the clinic, from fatal relapses among tuberculosis patients). Darwin’s theory provided no discernible guidance. Instead, it was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
He also asked them if they would have done their work differently if Darwin was wrong. They all said no.
Ironically, in the very same issue of Science that contained two articles defending Darwinism and attacking intelligent design (see 02/10/2006), the editors also awarded the Grand Prize for the Young Scientist essay contest. The winning entry? A wonderful piece by a Turkish grad student, Ahmet Yildiz (Science10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, p. 793, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125068) that not only avoids evolution, but has intelligent design written all over it – figuratively if not literally. The subject: “How Molecular Motors Move.”
Darwinism is the most useless, empty collection of vain speculations in the world today. It doesn’t help medicine, it doesn’t help engineering, it doesn’t help biology or physics or chemistry or anything, yet this is the theory that liberal theologians step all over themselves to embrace and defend (see 02/11/2006). Despite its worthlessness and the evil inherent in its core principles, its defenders shield it from criticism and race to attack alternatives with more zeal than any Grand Inquisitor. Isn’t it time for a breath of freedom?