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

From: Cornelius Hunter <>
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 08:33:20 EDT


In addition to the fossil evidence, you mentioned the nested hierarchy evidence from comparative anatomy. Let's have a look at this one, according to the criteria:

A. The evidence should not include problems for the theory (obviously).

B. The evidence should be the fulfillment of a somewhat narrow prediction of the theory. That is, if the evidence as well as several other outcomes are all accommodated by the theory, then the evidence is not compelling.

C. The evidence severely damages all alternative theories (need to be careful not to misrepresent or ignore the alternative theories, of course).

The nested hierarchy data suggest or reveal:

1. The designs of the species seem to be clustered, and the clusters seem to cluster in larger groups, and so on, in what is called a nested hierarchical pattern.
2. There are a great many exceptions that violate the pattern, at all levels, such that, for example, a paper out of Doolittle's lab has called for a "relaxation of tree thinking."
3. There is massive convergence, meaning similar designs show up in distant clusters.
It seems obvious that 3 fails on A, but I realize you may disagree. Setting that aside then, obviously 2 fails on A and 1-3 all fail on B. Also, none succeed on C. So as with the fossil evidence, I don't see how this can be compelling evidence for evolution.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Terry M. Gray
  Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 12:51 PM
  Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?


      If we "assume" that evolution is true, it's because there is significant warrant for doing so.

    Yes, evolution is supposed to be a fact. What we need are compelling evidences though. How about this: start by supplying *one* compelling evidence.

  Back to where we've been before. I and most biologist, palentologists, think that the "textbook" examples are compelling especially taken together. So there's a bunch of them there: fossil record, homologies of all sorts (nested hierarchies), biogeography. It seems what's compelling to me is not compelling to you. (By the way, I also like some forms of punk rock and there's no better music in all the world than progressive/classical rock!)

  I'll even leave out the small-scale evidence that you're fond of criticizing, because I agree that it doesn't address directly "macroevolutionary" questions. However, it does show us that the genetic variations that are observed in the large-scale tree of life are for the most part "more of the same" as what is observed in virus, bacteria, fruit flies, zebrafish, mouse, pigeon, dog, cows, pigs, horses, and humans. Are you going to tell me that all of the instances of hemophilia or sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis or whatever mutation you want to track arose independently? Maybe some did, but who cares? The vast majority are examples of descent with modification of single base pair. That's how a good chunk of modern molecular genetics actually works. Traditional pedigrees based instances of disease identify "families". Detailed genome analysis of these families identifies regions of the chromosome where the modified gene exists. Further analysis usually locates a single base pair modification.

  BTW, I still owe you a response to something from Saturday night. Hope to get to it soon.


  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
Received on Wed Sep 21 08:35:40 2005

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