Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Bird Flu Argument Infects Darwinists

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer , Steven Salzberg argues that "the current assault on the teaching of evolution" undermines our efforts to protect ourselves against diseases like the bird flu. Why? Because flu viruses evolve.

Salzberg is repeating a new talking point against intelligent design, a modified version of an older tactic. Defenders of Neo-Darwinism again and again present non-controversial microevolution (change within species) as proof of macroevolution. They have long traded on the ambiguity in the word "evolution" to accomplish this. Now they're also trading on Americans' fear of a bird flu epidemic.

Microevolution says a microorganism can change over time; macroevolution says it can change into a marsupial. People were aware of microevolution long before Darwin, and even today mainstream biologists debate whether microevolution provides convincing support for macroevolution.

Salzberg also urges readers to "drop the artificial debate about evolution and intelligent design." But he himself encourages just such an artificial debate, for no design theorist questions microevolution, the sort of change that produces new flu viruses. Also, leading design theorists aren't leading an "assault on the teaching of evolution" but instead are encouraging schools to teach students more about Neo-Darwinism, both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory.

Why do so many Darwinists mischaracterize intelligent design in this way, use equivocation to defend macroevolution with microevolution, and do both in the service of frightening people into rejecting intelligent design? Is this how people argue who are defending a theory supported by overwhelming evidence? Of course not.

"Why has the debate about evolution reemerged?" Salzberg asks. "Perhaps because few people see the obvious effects of evolution that geneticists and evolutionary biologists see every day."

Or perhaps it has reemerged because most Americans recognize the bait-and-switch tactics and fear mongering that many Darwinists are using in place of sound argument.

For a detailed look at the issue of bird flu, evolution and ID, go here.