Monday, September 26, 2005

Evolution Provides Predictive Powers Lacked By Intelligent Design

The Washington Post reports on a suit by parents in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to prevent the teaching of intelligent design as science. They argue (correctly) that intelligent design is not science, but a form of creationism, the teaching of which has been found by the Supreme Court to violate separation of church and state.

The Washington Post also has a lengthy discussion of the science of evolution, and the lack of a scientific basis for intelligent design. They review the ramifications of the recent study we mentioned here a few weeks ago on the mapping of chimpanzee DNA. While intelligent design cannot be studied by scientific experimentation, the mapping of chipmpanzee DNA allowed further tests which could either verify or refute the validity of evolution:

If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species’ DNA and the two animals’ population sizes.

“That’s a very specific prediction,” said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

Their analysis was just the latest of many in such disparate fields as genetics, biochemistry, geology and paleontology that in recent years have added new credence to the central tenet of evolutionary theory: That a smidgeon of cells 3.5 billion years ago could — through mechanisms no more extraordinary than random mutation and natural selection — give rise to the astonishing tapestry of biological diversity that today thrives on Earth.

While this is just one of many examples of evolution being subject to experimentation to verify its predictions, intelligent design lacks any similar evidence of its validity.


Post a Comment

<< Home