RE: [asa] Predictive Power: Astronomy vs. Evolution

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Wed Dec 06 2006 - 15:09:22 EST

I do not think the predictive power of Newtonian gravitational theory is
the same as that of evolutionary theory. In physics there are
variational principles, e.g. Hamilton's variational principle in
mechanics, Fermat' principle in geometrical optics, that lead to
dynamical equation that can be solved for the motion of particles and
that light travels between two points along a path that the time taken
is the least. These principles are not vacuous but are based on models
that lead to explicit results. I view evolutionary theory as a
variational principle governed by the requirement that "organisms will
adapt to environmental and competitive pressures." However, such
requirements do not lead to any specific dynamics. Hence, the predictive
power of evolutionary theory is not there as in Newtonian gravitation.

Moorad

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Ted Davis
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 1:57 PM
To: asa@calvin.edu; dopderbeck@gmail.com
Subject: Re: [asa] Predictive Power: Astronomy vs. Evolution

>>> "David Opderbeck" <dopderbeck@gmail.com> 12/06/06 12:56 PM
>>>writes:
Second, it seems to me that evolutionary theory does make some general
predictions. The basic one is that organisms will adapt to
environmental
and competitive pressures. This is a very general prediction, but it
has
specific application in areas like disease resistance. This kind of
prediction may not have the granularity of predictions about the
locations
of the planets based on Newton's laws of motion and gravity, but that is
just a matter of degree, not of kind.

The author of the original argument didn't really address my first
point.
As to my second point, he accused me of dishonesty or ignorance. ID, he
said, recognizes the type of microevolution I described, so that doesn't
count as a prediction based on evolutionary theory. After some further
exchanges about this accusation of dishonesty, I was banned from the
forum
(!).

So here is my question for this group: was my instinct about this
comparison of the predictive power of astronomy and evolution right?
Are
there better ways to frame / address this argument?

Ted replies:
My sense is that you were dead on target, David. I would add the
general
prediction that "transitional forms" would be found as more of the
fossil
record is revealed. Darwin specifically predicted that, and he appears
to
have been correct. This argument seems to defy closure, of course;
every
time a good candidate for a transitional form appears, all of a sudden
it
creates two new "gaps" to be closed rather than filling an existing one.
Or
so it seems, as we all know. When a position -- that there must be
"gaps"
in the fossil record -- is not falsifiable, it is not falsifiable.

However, there are many others on this list far more qualified than me
to
respond to your comments. I don't know why microevolution doesn't count
as
a prediction for Darwin's theory; the fact that ID (and YEC) both accept
it
simply means that they agree that Darwin predicted at least some
thing(s)
right! I wasn't there and don't know why you got tossed, but I got
tossed
from a similar list once myself before I even had a chance to respond to
those who did the tossing. This issue can be pretty hot, obviously, and
it
doesn't tend to bring out the best in people....

Ted

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Received on Wed Dec 6 15:10:25 2006

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