Re: Evolution's Imperative (was Def'n of Science)

Tim Ikeda (
Sun, 21 Mar 1999 00:44:16 -0500

Hello Vernon,

You wrote to me:
>Thanks for your informative response. But how about 'pinning your
>colours to the mast' so that we know where you stand in this debate?
>My hope is that you're an atheist crypto-Christian!

Evolution, to me, is a theory of biological change. Earlier you asked
whether my regard for evolution was greater than that for God. The answer
is no. FWIW, my regard of evolution is no greater than my regard
for peanut butter sandwiches. Both evolution and two slices of bread
separated by a whipped paste of roasted legumes are simply "things" or
"events". I do not derive moral conclusions or spiritual comfort from
either scientific theories or foods that stick to the roof of my mouth.

If most of the observations and current understanding of nature pointed
to a <10,000 year old earth/universe, or if birds really did appear
to have originated before land animals, then I would be _much_ more
inclined to accept a more strict, literalistic interpretation of Gen-1.

>It occurs to me that our exchanges to date need to be placed in a
>broader context. You may remember that in an earlier response to Kevin
>I suggested that evolution (as defined there) was something unique to
>the world of science. For example,
[...four arguments posted previously, deleted...]

Yes, I saw that list of grievances against "evolution" the first time
you posted them. I also read the replies by others. FWIW, this is not
the first time I've seen this list of theological grievances (I think
I was about 10 years old the first time). I did not consider them
reasonable or convincing then and I do not now.

[I am commenting on the last argument, which has something to say about
>(d) Its validation is based purely on the interpretation of historical
>data - for which a 'common designer' explanation is equally valid.

I have to disagree here. I've have communicated with those in the
development of the ID/IC movement. The general consensus seems to be
that there is no good, positive theory of "common design" available
yet. While they are hopeful (or even certain) that one is "right around
the corner", most agree that any such theory is in its earliest stage
of infancy. "Common design" at this point is about neck-and-neck
with the IPU (Invisible Pink Unicorn) theory in terms of confirmable
validity and explanatory power: None.

>There is no concrete evidence that proves the alleged process to be
>ongoing or, indeed, that it has ever occurred.

Ongoing? Hmmm... I understand we see populations that are caught at
various stages of divergence from related populations. We've also
observed speciation events. Further, we have seen genetic mechanisms
which leave us with a good idea of how rearrangements could occur over
the course of organismal evolution.

No evidence that it has ever occurred? I don't think so. We see
a nested hierarchy of life that is generally consistent when
observed from studies of morphology & gross structure,
biochemical comparisons, molecular sequence comparisons, behavior
and etc. Most importantly, these hierarchies also correlate through
time (history).

I'm told that a pretty darn good evolutionary series of planktonic
foraminifera has recently been established. Have you examined this

>Faced with these considerations, the unbiased mind would surely infer
>that this must be some unsavoury religious doctrine, fiercely opposed to
>the gospel of Christ. I believe this to be the truth of the matter, and
>something that defies a naturalistic explanation. The answer is to be
>found not in the laboratory, but in the Bible.

I take the approach that one should try to learn or understand what
has been found "in the laboratory" before rejecting the conclusions
"from the laboratory".

>Accordingly, I believe 'evolution' and 'evolutionism' to be one and
>the same.

I believe otherwise. It certainly would make it an easier target
if they were the same, but sometimes circumstances present us with
difficult shots. For Christians who also happen to suspect that
evolution was a mechanism used in the creation of life, I don't
necessarily see how evolution and evolutionism could be equivalent.

>I am obliged to you for the examples of theories which might be amended
>to make them unfalsifiable. However, as I have shown above, there is
>more to evolution than immediately meets the eye; it is a special case,
>and needs to be treated accordingly.

Vernon, I believe that the way you position your case, rather than
the arguments themselves, illustrates how evolution can become a
"special case". Not a special case from the perspective of science,
but a special case for those who think it should be a special case.

Tim Ikeda (despam address before use)