Evolution is the theory that creatures adapt to their environment, some dying out, some becoming better suited to face their challenges. There are two layers of this, if you will: microevolution, in which creatures adapt to their environment to survive better (such as bunnies becoming white in winter or dogs getting a thicker fur coat), and macroevolution in which creatures adapt and change until they become new and divergent species.
We have thousands of examples of microevolution in the world, this is undisputed. Humans adapt to their environment (your hair grows faster at certain times of year, paler skin tans in the sun to protect from sun damage, if you are in high altitudes your body adjusts to handle the lower oxygen content, and so on). Adaptation to the environment was the basis in fact that Charles Darwin started with, he looked at what was observable and speculated on what that might mean.
Macroevolution, on the other hand, we have no examples of. Now, part of the reason is that it is believed that this process would take millions of years (that's hundreds of thousands of generations) to be perceptible. It's just outside the realm of empirical science to measure this concept. Another reason this has not been measured or seen is that so far no creature has adapted outside its genetic code
. In other words: no creature has changed in a way that it is not "programmed" in its DNA to react to its environment.
What these scientists have observed is fascinating and interesting, it will help us understand ecosystems and how creation reacts to changes, it may even help us fight disease and infestation. But what they have not
observed is what Glenn Reynolds is looking for: macroevolution. None of these creatures have become another species, they have simply become adapted versions of their previous species.
The scientists in this article plainly point out: if you remove the stress and put them in their original environment, within a few generations, they are back to where they started.
This social behavior costs Myxococcus energy that it could otherwise use to grow, Dr. Velicer discovered. He and his colleagues allowed the bacteria to evolve for 1,000 generations in a rich broth. Most of the lines of bacteria lost the ability to swarm or form spores, or both.
This is true of any creature, if you take a dog and put him in the arctic, if he survives, his offspring will be furrier. When you take those offspring back to warmer areas, their offspring will not be. The problem here is that if creatures return to their previous state when things change to be less stressed, that sort of throws a monkey wrench into the whole concept of macroevolution. Let's say that creature get furry in response to some cataclysm such as a meteor strike that chills the earth a while. What happens when the earth warms up again? They revert to what they were before, because fur is not very helpful. Thus, the divergent species die out and we return to the previous, simpler versions - at least that's what the theory dictates.
Yet that's not what happened. So either macroevolution has some serious flaws, or there's some mechanism that preserves these changes and maintains the evolved creatures even after the stress that triggered their changes have ended. So by its very definition and the theory its self, this experiment did not show macroevolution.
Now, briefly, I have to mention Intelligent Design here because that's something most strong evolutionists mock and deride and attempt to dismiss (almost always without a clue of what it says and why). This needs to be repeated again, because it apparently eludes most people who scoff at ID: most Intelligent Design advocate scientists also believe in evolution. There is nothing about the theory of Intelligent Design that negates the possibility of or opposes evolution. All it says is that however
creatures developed or came to be, an intelligent theistic force was guiding that process.
In other words: even if this did somehow demonstrate macroevolution, it would not mean Intelligent Design was not valid. In fact, it might help to demonstrate ID, depending on your presupposition about existence.
Here's what I mean: if you start out with the presumption that there can be no theistic creator
and that the only thing that exists is what you can measure with science and your senses, then no amount of evidence or demonstration will ever matter. You simply reject the possibility a priori
, before you make any sort of statements or examine any evidence. This is like the idea that the world is flat, and when someone points out evidence that it is not, you simply shrug and explain it away. You cannot and will not admit the possibility that you might be wrong here, because before the discussion even takes place, you've assumed that position and based everything you believe upon it.
However, if you presuppose that it is at least possible
that there is more beyond what we can measure with science and our senses (something that every sane person lives their lives in the assumption of, even if they are not aware of it), if you admit that it could be true that there is a theistic creator, then the regulated, orderly, and dare I say it, designed behavior of creatures in an experiment sort of support that possibility.
See, Intelligent Design is simply the recognition that the world certainly looks designed, something even Dr Richard Dawkins admits:
"Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose"
-Dr Richard Dawkins
Now, if the world appears designed to the point of even the most virulent anti-theistic creator advocates admit it, then there has to be a pretty good explanation as to why this appearance is here when it is not so. When I find a cave drawing of a guy hunting a beast, I don't speculate on how the mineral deposits and water flow over millions of years developed into this amazingly art-like design on the wall. I wonder who drew it and why. Because the evidence of design, without clear and strong evidence to the contrary, presumes a designer.
And that's all ID says. If it looks designed, then it probably was. Why reject this? Well, first, not because of bad science, there's nothing bad or good about the theory in a scientific sense - except that it's willing to accept the evidence no matter where it points us
. I'll let these fellows explain why to reject Intelligent Design as a theory:
"Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic."
-Dr. Scott Todd, immunologist at Kansas State
"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
-Professor Richard Lewontin, Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at Harvard University
ID is rejected not because of bad science. Not because it is unreasonable or the evidence does not support this theory. ID is rejected because it opens a door that they do not care to consider. Just something to think about.