Re: Testing in historical science

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Sun, 16 Nov 1997 18:51:49 -0500 (EST)

At 11:17 PM 11/14/97 -0600, Keith B Miller wrote:

>The historical sciences (including evolutionary science) certainly do make
>specific testable predictions. Many past theories have been disproven -
>evolutionary science is quite different than it was 100 years ago. You
>should not think of "evolution" as a single theory - it is composed of a
>myriad of subsidiary theories which each rise of fall based on how their
>predictions stand the test of time. Evolutionary theories have proven
>extremely productive as an organizational framework for understanding the
>history of life and modern genetic, morphological, and biogeographic data.
>No other theory presently exists that has this explanatory power.
>The general concept of common descent could be easily disproven but it has
>not been. If the fossil record did not show trends through time consistent
>with common descent, evolution would be convincingly disproven. But, by
>contrast, continued fossil discoveries have validated expectations. One of
>the more recent examples being the discovery of whales with limbs found in
>the fossil record in the expected time interval and showing morphological
>trends consistent with the derivation of whales from a primitive ungulate.
>If the similarities of sequences of genetic code did not generate branching
>patterns consistent with common descent, evolution would be convincingly
>disproven. If the pattern of diversification of taxa through geologic time
>were not consistent with the Earth's changing paleogeography as determined
>from geologic investigation, common descent would be disproven. The
>scientific community was driven toward the concept of common descent
>because of accumulating evidence from diverse sources.

Dear Keith,

All the successes of physics, both in explaining nature and the resulting
technology, have nothing to do with the origin of the universe. Isn't that
precisely the same in biology, geology, etc. vis a vis evolutionary theory?
Besides studying the history of man itself, is there really any specific
discovery in those areas that could not have been made without positing
common descent?

Take care,