Evolution in Action Breakthrough of the Year

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"Evolution in action" was Science Breakthrough of the Year for 2005, according to articles in Science, vol. 310, p1878, and BBC news, 23 Dec 2005. Every year the editorial staff of "Science" review the year's discoveries and vote for the one they consider to be the most significant scientific breakthrough. This year they voted for "evolution in action." Although they admit that Charles Darwin's theory has been around for 150 years, they claimed that "2005 stands out as a banner year for uncovering the intricacies of how evolution actually proceeds." The discoveries that led to this claim are the chimpanzee genome, the reconstruction of the 1918 flu virus and a study of European blackcap birds showing how two populations that share a common breeding ground can become two different species.

The "Breakthrough of the Year" issue of Science was published around the same time as the results of the Intelligent Design court case in Dover, and comes at the end of year that had many challenges to evolutionary theory from the Intelligent Design movement, but Colin Norman, news editor of "Science" claims the choice of breakthrough had nothing to do with challenges to evolution.

Editorial Comment: In spite of the protestations of the Science news editor, we suspect there is more politics than science in claiming evolution as the "Breakthrough of the Year." Whilst the scientific studies named in the "Breakthrough" article have added to our knowledge of living things, none of them are ground breaking discoveries and none of them are evolution.

The chimpanzee is not the first animal to have its genome sequenced, and the information revealed only shows us what genes a chimpanzee now has. It does not explain how the chimp genes got there. The fact that some other living things, including human beings, may have many similar genes does not prove chimpanzees have evolved from some other animal, or are evolving now.

The reconstruction of the 1918 flu virus only proves that it takes clever scientists who already knew about virus genes and proteins, and had the ability to manipulate biological molecules, to make a virus that in nature cannot exist without other more complicated creatures pre-existing it. As a virus is a far simpler than the smallest, simplest independent living cell, the virus reconstruction is good evidence for creation, not evolution.

The study of European blackcap birds may have revealed more details of the actual process of species splitting, but species splitting has been observed many times and is not evolution, since the blackcap turned into a blackcap. Dividing one large and varied population of birds into two smaller and less varied populations does not make a new kind of living creature. It simply reinforces the variation that was already present in the original population. As such it is good evidence that these birds were originally part of one created kind. (Ref. journalism, reporting, beliefs)

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