Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
Previous Claim: CA212   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CA220

Claim CA215:

The theory of evolution is useless, without practical application.


Lindsey, George. 1985. Evolution -- Useful or useless? Impact 148 (Oct.).
Wieland, Carl. 1998. Evolution and practical science. Creation 20(4) (Sept.): 4.


  1. Evolutionary theory is the framework tying together all of biology. It explains similarities and differences between organisms, fossils, biogeography, drug resistance, extreme features such as the peacock's tail, relative virulence of parasites, and much more besides. Without the theory of evolution, it would still be possible to know much about biology, but not to understand it.

    This explanatory framework is useful in a practical sense. First, a unified theory is easier to learn, because the facts connect together rather than being so many isolated bits of trivia. Second, having a theory makes it possible to see gaps in the theory, suggesting productive areas for new research.

  2. Evolutionary theory has been put to practical use in several areas (Futuyma 1995; Bull and Wichman 2001). For example:
    Evolutionary theory is being applied to and has potential applications in may other areas, from evaluating the threats of genetically modified crops to human psychology. Additional applications are sure to come.

  3. Phylogenetic analysis, which uses the evolutionary principle of common descent, has proven its usefulness:
  4. Directed evolution allows the "breeding" of molecules or molecular pathways to create or enhance products, including: Directed evolution can also be used to study the folding and function of natural enzymes (Taylor et al. 2001).

  5. The evolutionary principles of natural selection, variation, and recombination are the basis for genetic algorithms, an engineering technique that has many practical applications, including aerospace engineering, architecture, astrophysics, data mining, drug discovery and design, electrical engineering, finance, geophysics, materials engineering, military strategy, pattern recognition, robotics, scheduling, and systems engineering (Marczyk 2004).

  6. Tools developed for evolutionary science have been put to other uses. For example:
  7. Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity. Much of astronomy, geology, paleontology, natural history, and other sciences have no practical application. For many people, knowledge is a worthy end in itself.

  8. Science with little or no application now may find application in the future, especially as the field matures and our knowledge of it becomes more complete. Practical applications are often built upon ideas that did not look applicable originally. Furthermore, advances in one area of science can help illuminate other areas. Evolution provides a framework for biology, a framework which can support other useful biological advances.

  9. Anti-evolutionary ideas have been around for millennia and have not yet contributed anything with any practical application.


  1. Arnold, Frances H. 2001. Combinatorial and computational challenges for biocatalyst design. Nature 409: 253-257.
  2. Barbrook, Adrian C., Christopher J. Howe, Norman Blake, and Peter Robinson, 1998. The phylogeny of The Canterbury Tales. Nature 394: 839.
  3. Benner, Steven A. 2001. Natural progression. Nature 409: 459.
  4. Branca, Malorye. 2002. Sorting the microbes from the trees. Bio-IT Bulletin, Apr. 07.
  5. Bull, J. J. and H. A. Wichman. 2001. Applied evolution. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 32: 183-217.
  6. Cherry, J. R., and A. L. Fidantsef. 2003. Directed evolution of industrial enzymes: an update. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 14: 438-443.
  7. Conover, D. O. and S. B. Munch. 2002. Sustaining fisheries yields over evolutionary time scales. Science 297: 94-96. See also pp. 31-32.
  8. Cummings, C. A. and D. A. Relman. 2002. Microbial forensics-- "cross-examining pathogens". Science 296: 1976-1979.
  9. Dunn, M., A. Terrill, G. Reesink, R. A. Foley and S. C. Levinson. 2005. Structural phylogenetics and the reconstruction of ancient language history. Science 309: 2072-2075. See also: Gray, Russell. 2005. Pushing the time barrier in the quest for language roots. Science 309: 2007-2008.
  10. Eisen, J. and M. Wu. 2002. Phylogenetic analysis and gene functional predictions: Phylogenomics in action. Theoretical Population Biology 61: 481-487.
  11. Futuyma, D. J. 1995. The uses of evolutionary biology. Science 267: 41-42.
  12. Galvani, Alison P. 2003. Epidemiology meets evolutionary ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(3): 132-139.
  13. Gaschen, B. et al.. 2002. Diversity considerations in HIV-1 vaccine selection. Science 296: 2354-2360.
  14. Howe, Christopher J. et al. 2001. Manuscript evolution. Trends in Genetics 17: 147-152.
  15. Marczyk, Adam. 2004. Genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation.
  16. Nesse, Randolph M. and George C. Williams. 1994. Why We Get Sick. New York: Times Books.
  17. Relman, David A. 1999. The search for unrecognized pathogens. Science 284: 1308-1310.
  18. Searls, D., 2003. Pharmacophylogenomics: Genes, evolution and drug targets. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 2: 613-623.
  19. Sutherland, William J., 2002. Science, sex and the kakapo. Nature 419: 265-266.
  20. Taylor, Sean V., Peter Kast, and Donald Hilvert. 2001. Investigating and engineering enzymes by genetic selection. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 40: 3310-3335.
  21. Vogel, Gretchen. 1998. HIV strain analysis debuts in murder trial. Science 282: 851-852.

Previous Claim: CA212   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CA220

created 2005-3-26, modified 2005-10-4