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

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Dec 08 2006 - 14:48:09 EST

The position of the writer on the forum begs a couple of questions.
First, relating to the nature of science and information: does science
have to be predictive, or can it be descriptive? Is there nothing
besides science and speculation, or is history a valid source of
information? (Note that an affirmative answer is necessary to
Christianity, but negative answers are often given in purportedly
Christian efforts to attack evolution).

Secondly, what is microevolution and what is macroevolution? In
practice, macroevolution as used by ID or young earth advocates is
"evolution I don't believe in" and microevolution is "evolution I
accept". Thus, any evolution can be labeled as macro or micro
according to the inclination of the individual.

Thirdly, what is ID? Some fine-tuning advocates recognize all
evolution as an example of design (e.g., Denton's current view); Behe
accepts quite a lot of evolution; etc.

Given a relatively simple system, evolution can make fairly specific
predictions, population genetics for example. However, there's also
the role of contingency. Evolution can't predict whether a certain
mutation will happen, not to mention the vast biochemical knowledge
that would be necessary to fully predict the consequences of any given
change and the uncertainties regarding what the exact environment will
be. That doesn't prevent determination of general patterns, just as
the inability to predict when any one radioactive atom will decay
doesn't prevent making nuclear power plants or weapons. For example,
evolution predicts that species with short generation times and high
genetic variability will be quicker to adapt to change such as ongoing
global warming. Some species with longer generation times and lower
genetic variability may be able to adapt by moving, changing behavior,
etc., and some with high variability and short generation times may
loose out-it's probabilistic rather than linear.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Dec 8 14:48:40 2006

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