Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?

From: Don Nield <>
Date: Wed Sep 14 2005 - 19:41:16 EDT

Cornelius is putting his spin on Dobzhansky's paper in saying that
"creation is falsified by the data". (A googol search on "Nothing in
biology makes sense" quickly produces a transcript.)
 Dobzhansky writes " It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as
mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist *and* an
evolutionist." Later he writes "I submit that all these remarkable
findings make sense in the light of evolution: they are nonsense
otherwise." He also writes "Seen in the light of evolution, biology is,
perhaps, intellectually the most satisfying and inspiring science.
Without that light it becomes a pile of sundry facts some of them
interesting or curious but making no meaninglful picture as a whole". He
also writes "Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith ?
It does not", and he goes on to explain that statement.
 Dobzhansky presents evidence that falsifies YEC but it does not falsify

Cornelius Hunter wrote:

> Terry:
> Actually, what Dobzhansky had in mind was that creation is falsified
> by the data. He makes this point several time in the paper, and that
> is what his famous quote (which is the title of his paper). The
> statement "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
> evolution" is a truth claim, outside of science. That is,
> evolutionists are saying that *no other* explanation works.
> --Cornelius
> */"Terry M. Gray" <>/* wrote:
> Hi,
> I want to echo what David said here about the Dobzhansky quote. It's
> not that particulars don't make sense without the light of evolution.
> Obviously, you can think about blood circulation, biomechanics,
> metabolic pathways, RNA transcription, protein synthesis, etc.
> without thinking much about evolution.
> What Dobzhansky meant when he said "makes sense" has to do with the
> big picture. Why things are the way they are rather than isolated
> "brute facts"? That's the sort of questions that evolution answers.
> Why are ducks more like chickens than monkeys? You don't need
> evolution to note the similarity or even to do research that takes
> advantage of knowledge of the similarity, but if you want the
> similarity to "make sense" rather then to be a "that's just the way
> it is" evolution is your answer.
> Same for a host of hi storical and biogeographical questions. Same
> for
> why similarities but why differences. For example, biochemical,
> genetic code, etc. unities, but also, the diversities. Evolutionary
> ideas give explanation to these things that go "beyond" that's the
> way it is or that's the way God made it. Why is argon different from
> gold? Atomic theory in its various dimensions allow us to "make
> sense" of the differences. You can do a lot of research on argon and
> gold without asking the question why are these substances the way
> they are and whether there is any unifying theory that explains that.
> Same idea in biology.
> TG
> On Sep 14, 2005, at 10:29 AM, David C Campbell wrote:
> >
> > Everything in biology only makes sense in the light of evolution is
> > true only in the sense of "everything at once". You can turn on a
> > light switch without having a clue about electricity, but if you
> > want a
> > full understandi ng of what's happening, you need knowledge of basic
> > physics. Likewise, I can count animals without worrying how they got
> > that way, but if I want to make sense of the numbers, I must
> have some
> > idea about the factors that influence animal populations, and these
> > tie
> > directly into evolution. Again, medical testing can be done on an ad
> > hoc basis of "this works OK", but evolution provides a number of
> basic
> > explanations, such as (a) due to their common ancestry,
> organisms have
> > basic biochemical and physiological similarities, with greater
> > similarity closely reflecting the degree of relatedness. Thus,
> > testing
> > medical procedures on animals, especially primates, is expected to
> > be a
> > good proxy for humans. (b) features of humans reflect their
> > evolutionary heritage as well as their current environment, so some
> > adaptations for past conditions may be problematic now (e.g.,
> ability
> > to consume a lot of food in case of irregular availability becomes a
> > problem in times of ready availability; sturdy teeth for raw food
> > gives
> > orthodontists opportunities now that our skeletons as a whole are
> > becoming less massive, including the jaws; our backs have only a few
> > million years of mainly upright use and are not as strong as we
> think
> > when trying to lift heavy stuff) (c) disease organisms are in a
> tight
> > competition to defeat the body's defenses enough to survive and
> > reproduce without doing so much harm as to kill the host before the
> > disease can be transmitted. Thus, pathogens are likely to respond
> > rapidly to challenges (new antibiotics, etc.), and the really deadly
> > stuff will be things that normally infest other organisms and
> > accidentally get into us (bird flu, ebola, larval tapeworms, etc.)
> > (d)
> > Cancer, to survive, must constantly evolve ways to evade the body's
> > controls and defenses. (e) People are strongly inclined to act in
> > their own selfish interests and have a drive to reproduce.
> > Expectations of human behavior and likely means of disease
> > transmission
> > that do not take these into account will probably be wrong. (f)
> other
> > things I haven't thought of off the top of my head.
> >
> > Evolution is a uniting theory for all of biology, allowing us to
> > connect every aspect of it into a coherent framework. While
> > working on
> > the details, it's not always necessary and may even be
> distracting to
> > focus on it, just as in the example of using Newtonian physics
> rather
> > than a more accurate and fundamental but more complicated
> relativistic
> > calculation in dealing with spacecraft launches.
> >
> > ----------------------------------------
> > Dr. David Campbell
> > 425 Scientific Collections
> > University of Al abama, Box 870345
> > Tuscaloosa AL 35487
> > "James gave the huffle of a snail in
> > danger But no one heard him at all" A.
> > A. Milne
> >
> ________________
> Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
> Computer Support Scientist
> Chemistry Department
> Colorado State University
> Fort Collins, CO 80523
> (o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

Donald A. Nield
Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Science
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
ph  +64 9 3737599 x87908 
fax +64 9 3737468
Courier address: 70 Symonds Street, Room 235 or 305
Received on Wed Sep 14 19:43:26 2005

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