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Five reasons why evolution is important?

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Published: 27 April 2010(GMT+10)

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Syringes and vial

The Huffington Post ran an article on Five Reasons Why Evolution Is Important by Steven Newton, Public Information Project Director for the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It was run on 12 February 2010 to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 201st birthday.

Newton gives five medical examples of natural selection and claims that proves “evolution” is important. Everyone would agree that medical care and health are paramount, and so if evolution helps medical research then people will obviously think evolution is vital.

But his argument is misleading. In fact, the confused nature of his argument has been pointed out so many times that I’m sure Steven Newton and the others at NCSE are aware of it. They have to be deliberately muddying the waters here.

Why is it confusing? Ask yourself, “What does Newton mean by ‘evolution’?” He is confusing us because he is using the word in two different ways. It’s a trick. Newton gives examples of change by means of “natural selection”, which is one meaning of the word. Then he says those examples explain “the diversity of life on this planet”. Hold on—not so fast.

Yes, natural selection does produce change and it is important for medical research to understand how this works. But these changes are in the wrong direction to transform bacteria into bloggers (see The evolution train’s a-comin’). Let’s look at his five reasons.

Reason 1: H1 N1 and Emerging Diseases. Newton says that the outbreak of “swine flu” in 2009 reminds us that “viruses evolve”. Viruses certainly change but it is just a rearrangement of pre-existing genetic information. But molecules-to-man evolution needs new information for new organisms to come into existence (see Swine flu is not evidence for evolution).
Reason 2: HIV. Another virus that “evolves” so rapidly that no “vaccine” has been found. It is debatable whether a virus should even be considered to be living. Viruses cannot even reproduce themselves without the machinery of a fully functioning living cell (see Has AIDS evolved?). Once again, these changes are just an example of natural selection and not evolution in the molecules-to-man sense.
Reason 3: Vaccines. Steven Newton says we have to change vaccines because viruses like the flu virus evolve. This is just a repeat of reason 1 & 2. He surely knows that creationists accept natural selection because NCSE are continually fighting this issue in the courts in order to silence any discussion or criticism of molecules-to-man evolution. It almost looks like he is playing politics—using political spin for a political advantage.

The bacteria that survived already existed when the antibiotic was applied, and they already had the resistance.

Reason 4. Antibiotic Resistance. Newton says antibiotic resistance is a “textbook example of natural selection”, and that is true. At last we have a living cell, but nothing has evolved here. No new kinds of bacteria have suddenly popped into existence. The bacteria that survived already existed when the antibiotic was applied, and they already had the resistance. Natural selection has actually reduced the different varieties of bacteria leaving only the resistant ones. All the others are gone. (See Super bugs not super after all, and notice the date of the article. These answers have been around for more than a decade yet Newton keeps trotting out the same old argument. He must know about this. Makes you think there is more to this than science.)
Reason 5: Drug Development. Newton discusses variation within the Pacific Yew tree but this is just another example of natural selection—yawn. But then he plays a little trick. Newton says “we know from evolution that we share a common ancestor with animals.” This is what you call “bait-and-switch“. He has been using “evolution” to mean natural selection, which is uncontroversial and which creationists would agree with. Now he switches the meaning to refer to animals evolving into people. He then claims that the reason we can test drugs for humans on animals is because animals and humans share a common ancestor. But there are important differences between animals and people that drug researchers must take account of. And there are other explanations for the similarities. Animals and humans have similar cell structure and body configuration because they have the same Designer—God (see Common design argument).

It’s important to understand natural selection just like it is important to have some understanding of the first law of thermodynamics, Newton’s laws of motion and the gas laws.

So, is evolution important? If by evolution you mean natural selection then YES. It’s important to understand natural selection just like it is important to have some understanding of the first law of thermodynamics, Newton’s laws of motion and the gas laws. Our understanding of these principles has transformed our world. But we don’t see the birthday of Isaac Newton, Lord Kelvin or Robert Boyle celebrated every year. Why only Darwin?

If by evolution you mean bacteria changing into bloggers over millions of years then NO. This idea is not supported by the scientific evidence and it has produced no scientific insights or inventions. There is only one reason why this kind of evolution is important, and Dawkins explained why. He said evolution enables him to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. So, evolution, in the molecules-to-man sense, is all about dispensing with God. And that is why we see this endless adulation of Darwin.

Don’t be fooled by articles like this one from Steven Newton and promoted by NCSE. This issue is not about science, medicine or progress, about which there is no controversy. It’s part of their ongoing war against God.

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