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Evolution Research Takes Top Honors in Science

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Written by Basil on 12/23/2005 1:47 PM. Filed under:

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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Evolution takes science honours

The top honors awarded by the journal Science have been jointly awarded to “several studies that illuminated the intricate workings of evolution.” Although these honors were awarded the same week that a judge disallowed a pseudo-scientific philosophy from being taught in public school classrooms as science, the journal’s editors affirm that the awards were based on merit, not any desire to make a political point.

Colin Norman, news editor of Science, said the choice was based solely on the merits of the research, not the battle over [Intelligent Design®].

“I suppose if [that debate] influenced us at all, it was in the realisation that scientists tend to take for granted that evolution underpins modern biology,” he told the BBC News website.

“The arguments about [ID] just made us a little bit more aware of it.”

Mr Norman said he hoped the choice would send a message to scientists and the public: “Evolution is not just something that scientists study as an esoteric enterprise,” he explained.

“It has very important implications for public health and for our understanding of who we are.”

For example, by studying the differences between the human and chimpanzee genome, scientists may be able to pin down the genetic basis for many diseases. And studying the behaviour of the 1918 flu virus could help us combat the next avian influenza pandemic.

Why would studying the 1918 flu virus be listed under evolution?

Viruses and bacteria evolve at a much higher rate than more devoloped organisms. The diseases of today are not the same diseases faced by scientists a century ago. The 1918 flu virus had to be recreated because it doesn’t exist any longer. It is extinct, its descendants already some new species of influenza. Studying the evolution of diseases helps us to learn how to fight them.

It fascinates me that the BBC article refers to the shared subject of these studies as “the intricate workings of evolution.” Evolution is intricate, complex, and only barely understood. Wouldn’t the existence of such a complex and sophisticated mechanism for generating complex forms of life from simpler ones itself be an indication of a design, a signature of an intelligence beyond the realm of the scientific?

Indeed. Call the ID folks. Tell them we want the phrase “intelligent design” back. They’re welcome to use “thinly veiled creationism” instead.

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