July 14, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

But Is It Evolution?

Every week the news media cheerfully present the latest finding that is claimed to be evidence for evolution.  The following recent examples, though, might leave a perceptive reader wondering, “What’s Darwin got to do with it?”

  1. Slow? No!:  If you thought evolution was a gradual process too slow to watch, get a load of this: MSNBC News announced, “Butterflies fast forward evolution to evade death.  Within 10 generations, males developed immunity to deadly parasite.”  The males of the Blue Moon Butterfly seemed doomed.  A parasite targeted them but left the females intact.  Only 10% of the males were left, when bingo!  They hit on an immune response, and bounced back to 50-50 in just 10 generations.
        “We usually think of natural selection as acting slowly, over hundreds or thousands of years,” Gregory Hurst (University College London), co-author of the paper, “But the example in this study happened in a blink of the eye, in terms of evolutionary time.”  This illustrates “power of positive natural selection,” the article claimed.  “Evolution saves Samoan butterfly,” chimed in Science Daily, and the BBC News portrayed this as, “Butterfly shows evolution at work.”  But the blue moon butterflies were the same species before and after.  The males only bounced back to previous levels after a crisis.  Didn’t Darwin write about the origin of new species?
  2. Weird, but where?  Astrobiologists need to expand their horizons to envision what Darwinian evolution could create on other worlds, wrote Ker Than for Live Science.  “Experiments in synthetic biology have created structures with six or more nucleotides that can encode genetic information and also potentially undergo Darwinian evolution,” he said.  But without observation of such entities, and with intelligent designers on Earth doing all the work, where’s the evolution?
  3. The cat came up:  Without directly using the E word evolution, an article in the BBC News spoke of the origin and ancestry of the domestic cat.  “Ancestors of domestic cats are now thought to have broken away from their wild relatives and started living with humans as early as 130,000 years ago.”  This is based on mitochondrial DNA comparisons.  But without an observer to watch the process, how could they know what happened?
          The article says “At least five female ancestors from the region gave rise to all the domestic cats alive today, scientists believe.”  The article also says that scientists believe cats sought out human company.  No evidence was presented for these beliefs.
        Remarkably, one scientist even implied the cat chose to do its own evolution.  Other members of the cat family may be threatening to humans, “But this little guy actually chose not to be that,” said Stephen O’Brien.  “He actually chose to be a little bit friendly and also was a very good mouser.”  This sounds like little more than a tale told after the fact.  Evolution is not supposed to proceed by an animal choosing to be something else, but by the natural selection of random mutations.
  4. The Human Element:  Up to 10% of the human genome may have changed within the last 100,000 years, reported Science Daily.  Yet this is all within the time humans were Homo sapiens, and the article hastens to add that the claim implies no ranking: “It is important to emphasize that the research does not state that one group is more evolved or better adapted than another.”  But this seems to represent a study in variability within a species.  And if no one group is more evolved or better adapted than another, and all are interfertile, where is the evolution?
  5. Decorate the tree:  A new hominid jawbone from Ethiopia has been announced by National Geographic, but experts aren’t sure how to classify it.  It could “shake up the fossil record” the title says.  The claim that it could bridge a gap between other hominids seems tentative at best.  They’re not ready to say it is ancestral, or how it was related to other hominids, or whether it is different enough from other bones to have its own species definition.  The article bemoans the lack of fossils to answer these questions.  The BBC News also reported the story, quoting discoverer Yohannes Haile-Selassie claiming that it fills one of the “small gaps” in the record of human evolution.

Though these and other similar articles use the word evolution, they usually deal with either small-scale changes, which are not controversial even among young-earth creationists, or else they try to fit together pieces in an ancestral lineage that begs the question whether they truly are related, or even changed at all.

Evolution means anything the Darwin Party wants it to mean – so long as it achieves the desired effect: lull the public into thinking evolution from molecules to man is a proven scientific fact.

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