Re: Evolution Statement

From: Terry M. Gray (grayt@lamar.colostate.edu)
Date: Wed Dec 31 1969 - 19:45:55 EST

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    At first glance this seems like a perfectly fine statement to me.

    TG

    >Here is the opening statement on the web site:
    >
    >http://www.evolutionandsociety.org/
    >
    >Can we improve on this?
    >
    >"When biologists refer to the theory of evolution, they use the word
    >"theory" as it is used throughout science. It does not mean a mere
    >speculation or an unsupported hypothesis. Rather, as The Oxford
    >English Dictionary puts it, "a hypothesis that has been confirmed or
    >established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or
    >accepted as accounting for the known facts; a statement of the
    >general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed"
    >(our italics). The complex body of principles that explain
    >evolutionary change is a theory in the same sense as "quantum
    >theory" in physics or "atomic theory" in chemistry: it has been
    >developed from evidence, tested, and refined, and it accounts for
    >literally thousands of observations made throughout the entirety of
    >biological science and paleontology.
    >
    >Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is a current
    >best explanation. It has withstood innumerable tests and attempts to
    >disprove it, but it is still being refined, modified in the light of
    >new knowledge, and extended to account for newly discovered
    >phenomena. The theory of genetics has had such a history,
    >progressing from Mendel's simple early principles to the complex
    >body of molecular principles that constitute today's theory of
    >inheritance, and it is constantly being refined and modified, even
    >though its core principles have remained valid for a century. So it
    >is with the theory of evolution.
    >
    >Is evolution also a fact? All but the most trivial facts begin as
    >untested hypotheses—such as the hypothesis that the earth revolves
    >around the sun. They acquire "facthood" as more and more evidence
    >accrues in their favor, and as they withstand attempts to refute
    >them. The evidence and attempt at refutation may take many forms
    >besides simple observations; indeed, the most powerful evidence is
    >not mere observations, but conformity to predictions that the
    >hypothesis makes about what we should see if the hypothesis is true
    >or false. We do not observe the earth making a circuit around the
    >sun; we accept this hypothesis because of the numerous, verified
    >astronomical observations—and more recently observations from
    >spacecraft—that conform to the predictions of the hypothesis. So
    >Copernicus's hypothesis is now a fact—a statement supported by so
    >much evidence that we use it as if it were true.
    >
    >Biologists accept as fact that all organisms, living and extinct,
    >have descended, with innumerable changes, from one or at most a few
    >original forms of life. For Darwin in 1859, this was a hypothesis,
    >for which he provided abundant evidence from comparative anatomy,
    >embryology, behavior, agriculture, paleontology, and the geographic
    >distributions of organisms. Since that time, all of the many
    >thousands of observations in each of these areas have supported
    >Darwin's core hypothesis. To these observations has been added
    >copious evidence that Darwin could hardly have dreamed of,
    >especially from paleontology and molecular biology. A century's
    >accumulation of such evidence establishes descent, with
    >modification, from common ancestors as a fact of science. How we
    >explain this fact—what the principles and causes of it may be—is the
    >theory of evolutionary process, parts of which are subject to
    >various amounts of scientific debate, modification, and extension.
    >
    >To claim evolution as a fact is to confront controversy, for
    >probably no claim in all of science evokes as much emotional
    >opposition as biological evolution. Nonetheless, no scientific
    >hypothesis other than common descent with modification can account
    >for and make predictions about the unity, diversity, and properties
    >of living organisms. No other hypothesis of the origin of biological
    >diversity is supported by such overwhelming evidence, and no
    >competing hypothesis spawns such richness of scientific study and
    >has as many implications for the biological sciences and their
    >applications to societal needs."
    >
    >Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution - www.orisol.com
    >"The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"

    -- 
    _________________
    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    grayt@lamar.colostate.edu  http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
    



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