Re: Evolution & Identity of the ID designer

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Sun Dec 01 2002 - 11:19:40 EST

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    First caveat -- I have no problem whatsoever with
    Second caveat -- I think that "evolution" is an
    imprecise term that encompasses a lot of data from a
    vast array of biological science. In that sense, it
    is not a theory or a fact -- neo-Darwinianism,
    punctuated equilibrium, and lamarckianism -- are all
    theories regarding how evolution occurs. Data support
    or do not support those understandings of the
    mechanisms. Evolution becomes a broad term that
    overarches a set of facts -- genetic similarities
    among species, a fossil record which displays changes
    in types, numbers, and shapes of species, etc.
    However, evolution, is so broad that it, in and of
    itself, is not falsifiable. This does not make it
    non-scientific. But talking about "evolution" as such
    is not particularly useful, because evolution does not
    specify mechanisms or causal patterns, simply a
    general proposition that encompasses data. The
    underlying theories are constantly refined in light of
    new data. As described below, each of the
    "falsifications" proposed can be worked in or
    dismissed as need be. Of course, that doesn't mean I
    think biological science good science, I do. It also
    doesn't mean that I think "evolution" occurs, because
    I also think it does.

    --- Michael Roberts <>
    > Evolution is easily falsifiable.
    > 1.) Find human fossils in the mid-Tertiary or
    > earlier

    With tongue only slightly in cheek.
    First response would be to claim there was error in
    the dating or otherwise discredit the results.
    Assuming widespread confirmatory fossils were found,
    the next step is to encompass this into existing
    knowledge of the fossil record, resulting in lots of
    articles and books and research grants on a reanalysis
    of the fossil record and development of life on earth.
      The quest would immediately begin for hominids before
    the mid-Tertiary or earlier, etc., etc.

    > 2.) Find palaeozoic mammals
    > 3) Precambrian vertebrates.

    These are just variations on no. 1. Essentially the
    response is the same. Assuming that the presence of
    such "more advanced" creatures at an earlier time
    could not be explained and remained anomalous, the
    answer of course would be that the fossil record is
    always incomplete and we are likely to find precursors
    to these animals if we had a complete fossil record...

    > 4) A young or a youngish earth i.e less than 100
    > million - consider what
    > Kelvin nearly did to evolution after 1860

    This just requires an assumption that the rate of
    mutation is faster than we necessarily believe. Good
    evidence shows that it does vary over time, so not a
    big problem.

    > 5)0 our DNA more like insects than rats

    More apt, that our DNA does not share any similar
    features with other creatures -- this would put a
    crimp in common descent, but I suppose we could always
    hypothesize and independent line of descent to man
    that did not involve any branching that survived at
    any stage during the line of descent.

    This challenge is where we actually get into something
    that is more empirical and thus seemingly scientific
    than the other assertions as to what would falsify

    > We could go on.

    Yes, indeed. But some are less troublesome than
    others. The underlying hypotheses regarding how
    evolution occurs, like any scientific hypotheses, are
    flexible and accomodate new data more or less easily.
    Biological laws certainly are not as rigid as laws of
    physics or chemistry. The phenonemna are more
    complex. Biology has always been a "softer" science,
    and hence these kinds of concerns. But general
    relativity is an approximation to reality. Hypotheses
    for how evolution works are approximations to reality.
      The game that is played on both sides is one of
    semantics rather than trying to portray the status of
    things accurately.

    > Hasn't anyone got the skill to falsify evolution on
    > these points

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