Re: [asa] Rejoinder 7D from Timaeus to Iain Strachan

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 18:13:02 EDT

I'd tentatively concur, John.

I acknowledge that I may have missed the point of the post to which you're objecting, but it seems to me like arguing that the credentials of a historian could be evaluated by testing their ability to predict future events. Which seems to me to involve call to extrapolate from history in a most unrealistic way.

Indeed, in respects of evolution I think this a very unrealistic challenge on two major grounds;

First, I think evolutionists are very clear that their interest lies in uncovering mechanisms AND that they still have a way to go. So I don't think that even the most enthused evolutionist would suggest that current understandings would allow the construction of a model which would allow of accurate future predictions.

Second, even IF evolutionists understood the mechanisms perfectly, I suspect their SOLE prediction regarding the long-term effect on populations would be that the mechanisms will continue to operate. This might seem evasive, but it is really all that evolutionists have been saying all along: that the results of evolution with respect to genotype are not predictable.

So, I personally suspect that IF evolutionists were to accept the challenge to make long-term predictions, then their claims would be very limited; that the evolutionary mechanisms will continue to operate and that the outcome of those mechanisms will simply have to be a matter of a posteriori investigation rather than a priori prediction.

A critic of evolution might well accuse the evolutionist of not being able to say very much without the assistance of "hindsight" but, again, I think any person dealing with historical analysis would be in the same boat.

In any case, I think one ought to keep in mind that "hindsight" is really just another way of speaking of "observation of outcomes" - an inherently scientific notion. And given that science ALWAYS values "hindsight" over "prediction" I'm not at all sure why this should be a problem for evolutionists. But, as I say, I may have missed the point.

Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

John Burgeson (ASA member) wrote:
> On 10/21/08, Timaeous <> wrote: "It would be
> interesting to ask the world's 100 leading Darwinists to predict what
> will happen to a population of lizards released into a new territory,
> 100, 200, and 500 years from now, and keep a record for posterity, and
> see how well the Darwinists would do without the advantage of
> hindsight. I predict that the Darwinists would do about as well as
> economists would do in predicting the economy over the next 20 years,
> i.e., poorly. But like the economists, the Darwinists of the future
> (if there are any), will have a thousand very good reasons why their
> theory is still sound, even though they were wrong."
> Tim -- I see this as a bogus argument. The reason I do so can be found
> in John Casti's analysis in his excellent book SEARCH FOR CERTAINTY
> that points out that evolution theory, like economic theory, is a
> rotten PREDICTOR of how things will go in the future. See my review of
> Casti's SEARCH FOR CERTAINTY on the ASA site or at
> on my own site. While you are there check
> out another review of CAsti's PARADIGMS LOST at
> Burgy
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Received on Wed Oct 22 18:15:05 2008

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