The assumption that evolution is true is baked into evolutionary studies. The results are not theory-neutral, and it would be circular to use the results as evidence for evolution. Nonetheless, evolutionists often cite the conclusions of such studies as powerful and compelling evidence for evolution. There is an incestuous relationship between the research work and the apologetics ministries, and it needs to be expunged. The practice of evolutionists explaining to us that the evidence leaves no other choice is reminiscent of the government that investigates it own misdeeds or the corporation that appoints its own auditor. What is needed is an independent audit.
Consider, for example, the problem of how the eye evolved. It might seem, Darwin agreed, “absurd in the highest possible degree.” But with evolution taken as a fact, whether or not vision systems evolved is no longer in question—they did. The only question is how they have evolved. As evolutionists explain in one paper, although Darwin “anticipated that the eye would become a favorite target for criticism,” the problem “has now almost become a historical curiosity” and “the question is now one of process rate rather than one of principle.” They estimate this rate using the usual heroic assumptions of evolutionary thought. They write:
The evolution of complex structures, however, involves modifications of a large number of separate quantitative characters, and in addition there may be discrete innovations and an unknown number of hidden but necessary phenotypic changes. These complications seem effectively to prevent evolution rate estimates for entire organs and other complex structures. An eye is unique in this respect because the structures necessary for image formation, although there may be several, are all typically quantitative in their nature, and can be treated as local modifications of pre-existing tissues. Taking a patch of pigmented light-sensitive epithelium as the starting point, we avoid the more inaccessible problem of photoreceptor cell evolution. Thus, if the objective is limited to finding the number of generations required for the evolution of an eye’s optical geometry, then the problem becomes solvable.
This paper and its results do not serve as evidence for evolution; rather, they serve as evidence for the rate of the evolution of an eye’s optical geometry, given that evolution occurred. Yet evolutionists cite this paper, and others like it, as powerful evidence that eye evolution is straightforward.
Another example of evolutionary heroics is the evolution of the cell’s intricate metabolic pathways which are constantly performing a wide variety of chemical gymnastics. For example, the Krebs cycle is a complicated and apparently optimal metabolic pathway that has been a problem for evolutionists to explain. One evolutionary study claimed to demonstrate the “opportunistic evolution of the Krebs cycle,” but what passed for a demonstration was really a series of speculations about what might have happened, with no actual details of the particulars. And again, the evolution of the pathway, one way or another, was assumed. The question was not if the pathway evolved, but rather how it evolved:
We have analyzed the Krebs cycle as a problem of chemical design to oxidize acetate yielding reduction equivalents to the respiratory chain to make ATP. Our analysis demonstrates that although there are several different chemical solutions to this problem, the design of this metabolic pathway as it occurs in living cells is the best chemical solution: It has the least possible number of steps and it also has the greatest ATP yielding. Study of the evolutionary possibilities of each one—taking the available material to build new pathways—demonstrates that the emergence of the Krebs cycle has been a typical case of opportunism in molecular evolution. Our analysis proves, therefore, that the role of opportunism in evolution has converted a problem of several possible chemical solutions into a single-solution problem, with the actual Krebs cycle demonstrated to be the best possible chemical design. Our results also allow us to derive the rules under which metabolic pathways emerged during the origin of life.
It is, in fact, typical for life science research to cast results in terms of evolution. And if the results don’t fit evolutionary theory very well, then they are described as informative. After all, we are learning more about how evolution really works. Here’s a representative example. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA and influence which genes are used to synthesize new proteins. Counter to evolutionary expectations, where exactly along the DNA these transcription factors bind is not well conserved across different species. But a paper discussing such findings claims that it “reveals the evolutionary dynamics of transcription factor binding” and provides “insight into regulatory evolution.” This would be like seeing a ship disappear over the horizon and claiming to be learning more about how and why the earth is flat. Nonetheless, it is papers such as these to which evolutionists refer when they claim there is overwhelming research proving evolution. From the claims of the paper it certainly seems as though they are substantiating evolution. Religion drives science, and it matters.