Is Cancer Research Dependent on Evolutionary Ideas?

Curiosity got the best of me when I read an article on the Raw Story website responding to a blog post written by Ken Ham about the recent White House Science Fair. Scott Kaufman, the author of the article, claimed that Ken was incorrect when he stated,

I have a question about the fair and its experiments: Please tell me what the role of a belief in evolution played in any of these experiments and innovative ideas? The answer is none! Evolution is not mentioned. The students could all be biblical creationists and that wouldn’t change even one aspect of their experiments and ideas.

Kaufman in reply stated,

The link he included to the projects presented at the White House Science Fair, however, lists two studies of the behavior of cancer cells, both of which depend on theories of cellular development that are themselves predicated on evolutionary theory.

As a molecular geneticist and having worked in a lab that did cancer research, I was curious to see how these White House Science Fair projects were based on “evolutionary theory.” My own expertise and experience (and that of many, many others that I have researched) has not shown that molecules-to-man evolution (historical science) is foundationally important or even remotely related to cancer research (observational science).

In one of the cancer studies exhibited at the White House Science Fair, a young lady found a common genetic mutation in patients with fibromellar cancer by sequencing and comparing DNA from the patients’ tissue samples. In the other study, a young man developed a potential treatment for glioblastoma multiforme by engineering cells to secrete an anticancer microRNA. These smart young people used the tools of good observational science to seek solutions to problems that affect many in our world today. But in both cases, whether referring to the students’ experiments, the “behavior of cancer cells,” or “theories of cellular development,” the historical science of evolution, that all living things evolved by random chance over billions of years, has nothing to do with it!

Perhaps I should cut the author of the article some slack since his PhD is in English Literature and not a scientific field, but the public needs to be aware of the continual false equivocation of observational science with historical science. Bill Nye and others often lump these two types of science together and convince people if they don’t accept evolution they are being anti-science. Christians need to understand the differences between the two types of science and make every effort to equip our young people to do the same.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!