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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Evaluating Nature's 2009 "15 Evolutionary Gems" Darwin-Evangelism Kit

Here's something worth knowing if you don't want your kids spending a lot of time on Darwin worship when they could be learning something useful:
Last year, during the bicentennial anniversary of Darwin's birth, Nature released a free online packet titled "15 Evolutionary Gems." Its subtitle was "A resource from Nature for those wishing to spread awareness of evidence for evolution by natural selection." It might have been better subtitled 'A evangelism packet for those wishing to spread the good news about Darwinism.' After all, when Nature announced the packet, they said they were heeding a prior call which "urged scientists and their institutions to 'spread the word'" about evolution and "highlight reasons why scientists can treat evolution by natural selection as, in effect, an established fact." The packet is to be used not just in schools, but also in home evangelism or relationship evangelism.

[ ... ]

The packet is simply an extension of Nature's "campaign" for Darwin. But it is quite useful in one important respect: the packet is from the world's top scientific journal and purports to show us "just what is the evidence for evolution by natural selection." So if the evidence isn't very strong, then that should tell you something.

As we'll see, far from being "incontrovertible," most of the "evolutionary gems" in the packet do not show any significant amount of evolution and might be best views as "microevolutionary" gems. A couple of the "gems" have little to do with evolution, but an evolutionary interpretation is added in after-the-fact.
Right now, Darwinism is right up there with "recovered memories" in believability, which is the main reason I would want it minimized in tax-funded schools. Maybe my local used car salesman can spout it, along with extolling the glories of the used Lada he is trying to unload before it falls to pieces on the sales lot.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


From the "Now what?" Department: How the fish grew its legs?

Must have been a slow news day in Ottawa.
This is a tough one to understand. How could a fish just grow legs? It mystifies us, and so this part of evolutionary theory is a common target for cheap attacks from creationists. Therefore, it's extremely valuable that a scientist has now found a way in which a genetic tweaking makes a zebrafish embryo stop growing fins, and start growing an appendage that looks like a leg. If she can tweak a gene in the lab, maybe one of the many mutations that pop up in nature could do the same.

- Tom Spears, "How the tetrapod got its legs" (June 27, 2010)

Read more here.

Priceless. You can't make this stuff up.

In fairness to journalist Spears, he is properly uncertain about just what has been discovered here, for good reason. "An appendage that looks like a leg" is what, exactly?

It only counts if it acts like a leg. Ask an amputee.

And it better act soon, too, because otherwise the fish is a cripple. What happens when predator fish arrive, as would happen in nature, if not in a lab?

Oh, we did remember to install quills among the gills, didn't we? And a system for making them stand up ...

Obviously, fish moved onto land some time (and do today), but legs are not the point. (If they were, snakes and legless lizards would not exist.) The critical issue is breathing apparatus.


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