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

From: Cornelius Hunter <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 15:51:46 EDT

Douglas and Pim:

Douglas:

>
> Cornelius,
>
> Are you engaged in this debate with Terry and David for the sake of
> critically evaluating epistemology as it relates to evolutionary biology,
> or do you in fact think that evolution did not take place? I'm just
> wondering.

My main point is that we need to be far more circumspect about evolution,
both pre and post Darwin. Historically, the development and subsequent
justification of evolution incorporated theological assumptions. For me,
those assumptions are unorthodox. It also seems abundantly clear that the
scientific claims of evolutionists are exagerrated and problematic. I am
unaware of a single type or category of evidence for evolution that is
compelling, yet we are told it is a fact. Something is wrong with this
picture.

Do I think evolution took place? I really don't know and when it comes to
that level of speculation I really don't want to go there. Obviously the
evidence is against it. And most damning, historically the movement is
rooted in unorthodoxy. On the other hand, there is *some* evidence for
evolution. Who knows, maybe God bridges the evidential problems and the
residual legitimate evidences reflect the secondary causation that took
place. This would be kind of a BB Warfield brand of evolution, which is
unacceptable to evolutionists because it entails detectable and efficacious
divine action.

But for me such speculation is pretty non productive. What is far more
important is to undertand the history of thought behind evolution and the
science of biology. We need to get educated on this crucial issue rather
than ignoring obvious facts or relying on the "experts."

> I think you need to realize that once a theory has been established as
> fact
> (I use "fact" in the lowercase, understanding that all scientific
> knowledge
> is provisional on some level), every application and new investigations
> involving that theory are not really constructed for the purpose of
> testing
> the theory, per se. For example, applications of general relativity to
> understanding differences in space-time at different elevations on the
> earth's surface or to charting the positions of stars are not specifically
> constructed as tests of the hypothesis "The theory of general relativity
> is
> true/false". However, when those applications of the theory "work" well,
> those occurrences do rightly become additional "evidences" for the theory.

Yes, agreed. Good point and I do realize that. The evidential problems with
evolution are far more serious than merely being retrodictions (which are
perfectly legitimate in my view).

> In the same way, all these data that Terry, David and others have been
> describing are evidences in favor of evolution even though they may appear
> circular in the sense that they were obtained and analyzed assuming
> evolution in the first place. It is valid and right that evolution
> textbooks should list and describe all these kinds of data as evidences
> for
> evolution even thought they were not obtained by strict Popperian
> constructions of the scientific method for testing evolution, per se.

Let me give you a textbook example, pun intended. A well known prediction of
evolution that has been falsified is that homologous structures should
derive from homologous genes and embryonic development pathways. Similar
designs, in cousin species, come from *different* genes and development
pathways. Sadly, a very popular, current high school biology text cites
homologous development pathways as *an evidence* for evolution. It could
hardly be more misleading. The fact of the matter is that this is yet
another prediction that has been falsified. Of course, the text is also
writing from an evolution-is-true perspective, so there is a circularity to
their discussion of evidences. The theory is true, so all observations must
support the theory, one way or another.

> I've said this before (and I'm sure it is not original with me), but
> Darwin's theory of evolution required a specific form of inheritance to
> work, and this requirement constituted a bold prediction that amounts to a
> Popperian test of evolution. No one had ever conceived of inheritance in
> the manner predicted by Darwin, yet we later found (thanks to Mendel and
> the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis of the 1930s) that inheritance works in
> precisely the manner that allows for evolution to work. I think if one
> thought about it, many such historical examples could be described.

Actually this prediction was not quite so bold. Darwin was simply using the
well known fact that populations contain some level of variation. In any
case, if we want to evaluate how Darwin's notion fares with later findings,
let's not stop at 1930. Even then it was well understood (though routinely
ignored) that evolution had no explanation for how the Mendelian machine
could have evolved. How remarkable, evolution somehow creates an intricate
machine which, in turn, makes evolution possible. How clever nature is.
Today, the details of this story are being filled in. Adaptational changes
are somehow preprogrammed in a phenomonally complex adaptation machine.
Small-scale changes for adaptation are not the result of a unguided, random
machine. This hardly suggests Darwin had it right.

--Cornelius

Pim:

I admire your steadfast faith and strong defense of your theory. And this is
common amongst evolutionists. Very rarely can one find an evolutionist
admitting to any sort of evidential problem. All the evidence supports the
theory, and the theory is a fact. Consider this exchange:

>> This is
>> an unambiguous falsifier and, needless to say, was very surprising to
>> evolutionists.
>
> Surprising yes, falsifier... Until we understand UCE it seems a bit
> early to reject a solid theory especially since data are hinting that
> UCE's are not functionless. [...]
> Let's not blow this out of proportions just because of our ignorance.
> Such gaps have more than once shown to be poor places to hide one's hopes.

Can we imagine this sort of leniency being granted to, for instance, special
creation? Of course, it goes without saying that future research may provide
new surprises that overturns what seems obvious now. But this is not license
to overturn a falsification. The theory has been falsified. You can patch
the theory or you can hold out for future findings to overturn the
falsification. That's fine, but that doesn't change the fact that right now,
once again we have evidence against the theory. Unfortunately, evolutionists
routinely respond to problems with this conservativism. Nothing is really an
evidential problem, just a research problem. Is it any wonder people say
evolution is not falsifiable?

Or again,

> I find your claim to be highly at odds with what science suggests how
> this universe works. Complexity under variation and selection is hardly
> surprising. And the more we learn about life, the more it seems to support
> evolutionary theory.

Hardly surprising? Well I guess anything is possible at this point. The
trilobite eye, an all-time feat of optimization is "hardly surprising." The
DNA code, hemoglobin, echolocation, the brain, and a thousand other wonders
are now "hardly surprising." This is not science.

Or again,

>> Evolution would be just fine if there was no such complexity increase,
>> no extinctions, a nice clean gradual succession of species with ever
>> so slight changes between each, consistently evolving species, and
>> gradual diversity increase (or no diversity increase for that matter).
>> None of these observations are predicted by evolution. They are
>> accommodated.
>
>
> Your point being?

My point being that an observation cannot be held to be compelling evidence
if the theory can accomodate a range of alternative observations.

--Cornelius
Received on Wed Sep 21 15:56:17 2005

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