RE: [asa] MN and Falsifiability

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Mon May 11 2009 - 14:10:25 EDT


Yes, I realize that PE doesn't imply instantaneous or truly "spontaneous"
changes. But I assume you understand the gist of my comments? When the
naturalist prediction of slow, gradual changes over vast geological time
failed to be confirmed, naturalists instead suggested that biological change
could happen in relative bursts over relatively short amounts of geological
time. I'm not even suggesting that PE is necessarily wrong or outside the
range of possibility -- there are evidences that adaptation occurs more in
cases of ecological distress, and that rates of mutation & adaptation have
been observed that are higher than the rate required by the broad timeline
of biological history. This could well support the idea of faster than
normal biological change in certain situations.

My point was that naturalism, empowered by past successes, seems capable of
adapting in whatever ways necessary to explain whatever naturalists want it
to explain. That's why I asked how MN, as philosophy or as scientific
proposition, could ever be modified or replaced if there were evidence to
warrant it; and what evidence could prevail in the question. Could the
propositions suggested by Intelligent Design advocates ever have a chance in
the marketplace, if science met enough dead ends to warrant the idea that
some "outside" designer had to be invoked as an explanation?

(And this does seem to be a common thread -- just like with MN and
naturalists, creationism can explain whatever creationists want it to
explain. ID can explain whatever IDers want it to explain. Is this a good
reason to question the soundness of the underlying philosophy of MN,
creationism, or any other philosophy? Here I acknowledge that in most ways,
naturalism has the advantage that its propositions have increasingly been
confirmed by new discovery, whereas creationism has been negatively
confirmed. But we are far from being able to conclude that it will explain
100% of the mechanisms.)

Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Dave Wallace
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 10:47 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] MN and Falsifiability

Tandy wrote:
> Scientists have maintained that species can make radical
> macroevolutionary changes spontaneously (naturally; i.e. punctuated
> equilibrium), even though very little evidence can be given to show
> how those jumps occurred.
Punctuated equilibrium does not mean instantaneously but that the changes
occurred in a relatively short geological period of time and that on both
sides of the events there was little organic change in the species involved.

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Received on Mon May 11 14:12:35 2009

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