If you haven't read about it, I recommend PZ Myers' post on Lincoln and Joyce's paper, Self-sustained replication of an RNA enzyme. (Science Jan 8, 2009.)
The comment in question is a letter to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle (GA), and I quote it here in its entirety:
Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in La Jolla, Calif., have created a self-replicating molecule that they say has the ability to "evolve and compete to win or lose."Dan may say that he is going to take a look at what exactly has been accomplished, but he never gets around to it. Saying that they were created is a far cry from the details (it's a pretty technical paper).
Before we jump on the "evolution has been proven" bandwagon, let's take a look at exactly what has been accomplished here.
These molecules were created ; that is, they had an initial cause. Secondly, the La Jolla scientists say that the molecules can evolve. I'll suspend judgement until all the facts are in, but I suspect that what is really occurring is adaptation , not evolution.
In the end, this test will probably go down as another failed attempt to justify spending huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate our children in the disproved religion of humanistic evolution.
Dan Duncan, Aiken, S.C. [My emphasis.]
This comment is exactly what I was expecting someone to make. Yes, the scientists did something. What are they supposed to do to make you happy, Dan? Just nothing? In other words, someone somewhere will object that this kind of experiment is of no relevance whatsoever, as long as the scientists as much as add uracil to the broth. The required experiment is thus one where no one touches anything! And if that doesn't happen in the lab with new life-forms appearing out of nowhere, then it didn't happen 3.8 billion years ago either, I trust someone somewhere will argue.
Secondly, Dan Duncan seems confused about adaptation/evolution. True, adaptation need not imply evolution. If it's a script, or if it's a person adapting to a new work environment, for example. But if it's molecules and if there's heritability, then it's definitely evolution.
As for "the disproved religion of humanistic evolution." Eh? The what? Humanistic what? What did he say?