Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Darwinian Evolution Coming Right Up!

PLOS Biology presents a paper that essentially blows a large hole in the anti-evolution agenda of many fundamentalists. This new paper details the experiment that moves the so-called 'theory' of evolution to reality. The anti-science crowd has acused Darwin of only having a theory rather than proof of evolution. Although this paper will not satisfy the anti-science people, it is refreshing to watch them wiggle, squirm and spin themselves towards their 'truth.'

NewScientist reports:

Researchers have created an automated device that evolves a biological molecule on a chip filled with hundreds of miniature chambers. The molecule, which stitches together strands of RNA, became 90 times more efficient after just 70 hours of evolution."It's survival of the fittest," says Brian Paegel, a biochemist at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California, who led the study with colleague Gerald Joyce. The experiment could be used in the future to evolve molecules – or even cells – to sense environmental pollutants, Paegel says.

The article continues:

And by demonstrating natural selection in real-time, the device could also help dispel doubts over evolution in the classroom and beyond, says Joyce. "There's a whole bunch of people who think evolution is only theory, including some former presidential candidates."
While Darwin used natural selection to explain differences between species, his principles also work at the level of molecules.

Of course, the scientific community has long embraced the Darwinian model while hte fundamentalists believe that it all took place by magic.

In the book Science and Nonbelief by Taner Edis, he makes the important point that one reason for the failure of science to displace religious belief is that science, particularly physics, is hard. To think as a scientist does not come naturally to the human brain. Thus, it is easy to accept magic because it is easier to 'understand.'

Edis says that Darwin did away with the need to postulate direct intervention by the Creator to produce the world of living things, although there are still some Biblical fundamentalists, especially in the USA, who refuse to accept this. The extreme form of this is frank Creationism, but there is also a more sophisticated version, Intelligent Design. Other Christians adopt a less extreme position and find it possible to accommodate Darwinism within their religious framework.

The author says: "it also no surprise that opposition to evolution so consistently appeals to religious people. Though creationists are masters of the bad argument, their basic intuition that modern evolutionary theory has a corrosive effect on religion is correct. Liberal assurances that Darwin's ideas are no threat to spirituality are at best evasive. So anti-evolutionary reactions are not about to go away; we can expect creationism to flare up with regularity in deeply religious cultures like the US and the Islamic world. "

Yes, the Islamic world and the fundamentalist Christian world are kissing cousins.

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