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Pennsylvania. To get around these rulings, schools in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia began pasting warning stickers in biology textbooks, as if learning about evolution could endanger one's mental health. A recent specimen from Cobb County, Georgia reads: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered." To laypeople--particularly those unfamiliar with the scientific status of evolution, which is actually a theory and a fact--the phrasing may seem harmless. But in 2005 a federal judge ordered the stickers removed. By singling out evolution as uniquely controversial among scientific theories, the stickers catered to religious biases and thus violated the First Amendment. But the creationists did not despair. They are animated, after all, by faith. And they are very resourceful. They came up with intelligent design. II. Intelligent design, or ID, is the latest pseudoscientific incarnation of religious creationism, cleverly crafted by a new group of enthusiasts to circumvent recent legal restrictions. ID comes in two parts. The first is a simple critique of evolutionary theory, to the effect that Darwinism, as an explanation of the origin, the development, and the diversity of life, is fatally flawed. The second is the assertion that the major features of life are best understood as the result of creation by a supernatural intelligent designer. To understand ID, then, we must first understand modern evolutionary theory (often called "neo-Darwinism" to take into account post- Darwinian modifications). It is important to realize at the outset that evolution is not "just a theory." It is, again, a theory and a fact. Although non-scientists often equate "theory" with "hunch" or "wild guess," the Oxford English Dictionary defines a scientific theory as "a scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or Avalide 300 25 Mg account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts." In science, a theory is a convincing explanation for a diversity of data from nature. Thus scientists speak of "atomic theory" and "gravitational theory" as explanations for the properties of matter and Avalide Hct the mutual attraction of physical bodies. It makes as little sense to doubt the factuality of evolution as to doubt the factuality of gravity. Neo-Darwinian theory is not one proposition but several. The first proposition is that populations of organisms have evolved. (Darwin, who used the word "evolved" only once in On the Origin of Species, called this principle Avalide Cost "descent with modification.") That is, the species on earth today are the descendants of other species that lived earlier, and the change in these lineages has been gradual, taking thousands to millions of years. Humans, for example, evolved from distinctly different organisms that had smaller brains and probably lived in trees. The second proposition is that new forms of life are continually generated by the splitting of a single lineage into two or more lineages. This is known as "speciation." About five million years ago, a species of primates split into two distinct lineages: one leading to modern chimpanzees and the other to modern humans. And this ancestral primate itself shared a common ancestor with earlier primates, which in turn shared a common ancestor with other mammals. The earlier ancestor of all mammals shared an even earlier ancestor with reptiles, and so on back to the origin of life. Such successive splitting yields the common metaphor of an evolutionary "tree of life," whose root was the first species to arise and whose twigs are the millions of living species. Any two extant species share a common ancestor, which can in principle be found by tracing that pair of twigs back through the branches to the node where they meet. (Extinction, of course, has pruned some branches--pterodactyls, for example--which represent groups that Buy Cheap Avalide died off without descendants.) We are more closely related to chimpanzees than to orangutans because our common ancestor with these primates lived five million versus ten million years ago, respectively. (It is important to note that
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