A request for help

From: bivalve (bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com)
Date: Tue Dec 03 2002 - 15:28:17 EST

  • Next message: bivalve: "Evolution as atheistic"

    >The essence of a theory is that is a proposed mechanism for HOW
    >something happens. Without that, it is just philosophy -- not

    I would consider a prediction of what will happen, even without an
    explanation of how, to be a scientific statement. Do you disagree?
    I am not certain exactly what you want here. For example,
    f=g*m*m/r*r provides a mathematical description of the interaction
    between two masses, but tells nothing about the means by which this
    interaction occurs. Is it a scientific description of gravity or not?

    In a very simple system, we can also predict the outcome of an
    evolutionary event. If we know the probability of a mutation
    occurring, its impact (the proportional advantage or disadvantage
    conveyed by one or two copies), the size of the population, etc. we
    can give a precise probability of the mutation becoming established
    in a population. Real life is not that simple for evolution nor
    physics. Detailed calculation of orbits over time with a sufficent
    number of objects involved becomes impossible. Nevertheless, it is
    good enough to get a space probe where you want it to be, as long as
    you use the right units. Likewise, the number of factors and the
    amount of missing data involved in trying to predict whether a given
    feature will evolve make such calculations impossible, yet this does
    not invalidate the basic assumptions of evolutionary theory.

    >For the most part, many on this list differ in practically no
    >respect from my close Deist friend: "God does not intervene in the
    >physical universe -- end of story". <

    George already noted the fundamental difference in belief between
    asserting that God is constantly and intimately involved in the
    running of creation, even though He usually uses the means of natural
    laws, as opposed to the deistic view that he wound it up and left.

    Although many do not especially like the word intervene, I do not
    think any list members who consider themselves theists would deny
    that God has occasionally superceded those laws, e.g. in the

    >(For Gravity: Release a balloon filled with helium)<

    It still demonstrates attraction to the earth.

    >For evolution: All that one has to do is show a species with no
    >evident chain from a previous species. (Of course you would then
    >claim incompleteness of the fossil record -- would you not?)<

    The fossil record is very good for common things with durable parts
    that live in good places to be buried. Molecular data provide
    evidence of links to other species as well, as do morphological
    similarities. Thus, we can find connections for almost any species
    for which we have adequate data. Mystery taxa are continually being
    assigned places (of course, new mystery taxa are continually being
    found, too). The ones that are truly problematic are usually the
    soft-bodied generic ones. A featureless worm could be a degenerate
    version of almost anything or a primitive form or an independent
    creation. DNA may help if it is a modern form.

    Thus, it depends on what you want. A full chain of fossils extending
    from a modern individual back to the common ancestor of all organisms
    is an unreasonable demand. By that logic, if I am unable to document
    my family history past my great-great-great-great grandfather, I
    should assume that he was independently created. Of course, lack of
    evidence does not automatically support evolution. However, lack of
    evidence that may reasonably be expected to be lacking is not
    evidence against it, either. Even with a full chain of fossils, it
    would be possible to claim that each tiny change was an event of
    independent creation rather than evolutionary transition, for there
    is no evidence that would refute it. Producing a new species in lab
    by exposing it to novel selective pressures would not prove
    evolutionary transition, for one could claim that God miraculously
    transformed the lab animals. However, the observed patterns (e.g.,
    similar but simpler organisms occur in the fossi!
    l record before more complex ones; molecular similarity is a good
    match for hypothesized morphological connections, etc.) match what is
    predicted by the hypothesis of evolutionary continuity. Independent
    creation is compatible with any pattern, but functional similarities
    rather than similarities in agreement with proposed evolutionary
    patterns would be more expected. E.g., why make whales dependent on
    air? Why make them biochemically similar to cows and hippos?

         Dr. David Campbell
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
         Biodiversity & Systematics
         Dept. Biological Sciences
         Box 870345
         Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    Droitgate Spa

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