Re: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Jun 01 2009 - 16:45:07 EDT

>Isn't the REAL question here "What discovery or experiment could falsify the fact of evolution." Or perhaps, "could falsify the fact of common descent?"<

Not exactly. The question is more one of "what evidence would support
the conclusion that biological evolution does not provide a good
explanation for this particular phenomenon?" Young-earth,
anti-evolutionary, anti-religious, etc. arguments often fall into the
error of "here's a problem, therefore we can throw the whole thing
out."

For example, discovery of some obscure microbe that appears to not
share common ancestry with any other known organism would suggest an
exception to common descent, but it's possible for two different types
of life to have evolved independently (especially if there's a chance
one came from a different planet).

Evolution works very well at scales amenable to experimental
manipulation. Rejection of biological evolution in toto is
untenable-we see pathogens evolving responses to drugs, new species
emerging, etc. The "microevolution"-"macroevolution" difference
promoted by many in the antievolutionary camp gets at this a little
bit, although the given definitions of "macroevolution" leave much to
be desired.

> PS Will that make David clam up:)
No, it will take more mussel to do that (e.g., focusing on the mussels
rather than on email).

The discovery of a bunch of rabbit fossils in the Precambrian would
tend to support scenarios like the Far Side cartoon of dinosaur bone
as discards from giant alien picnics, but it would not affect the fact
that the overall fossil, genetic, anatomical, etc. evidence fit with
evolution for other organisms.

-- 
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 Mon Jun 1 16:45:28 2009

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