Re: This is bizarre

Arthur V. Chadwick (
Fri, 27 Aug 1999 08:33:49 -0700

At 09:46 PM 08/26/1999 -0500, Susan wrote:

>there has been no debate--in the scientific community--that evolution has
>occurred for more than 100 years.

That is a debate. Hmmm, sounds like a religion to me. During
that more than one hundred years, Newtonian Physics was completely
revamped, optics has been revolutionized, etc. but not evolution. We
certainly have engaged in all kinds of debate on that subject on this
listserve, and I consider myself a part of the scientific community. As
the previous posting (from Miller's book) demonstrates, there are really
two definitions of evolution and this of itself suggests there ought to be
some debate of the subject, unless it is a totally resolved issue. When I
looked in a science textbook for the overwhelming evidence that this is a
closed subject, the data presented were the peppered moth story
(referencing the first half of Miller's definition) and the fossil record
(referencing the second half of Miller's definition). The first is dubious
evidence for anything at best (it is still an unfolding story), and the
latter is not subject to experimental verification, and thus is outside the
normal bounds of rigorous empirical science.

>*How* it happened and the details of *what* happened is up for grabs. But
that evolution happened >has been demonstrated over and over so many times
that only die-hard creationists can deny that >evolution is a fact of life.

O.K. I'll bite. The details of *how* evolution works and *what* evolution
does are unknown. But that evolution is the only allowed mechanism for
explaning life, is dogma that can only be questioned by a tyro. You must
base that on some pretty compelling data. And that data must have been
available over 100 years ago. Personally I haven't seen such data.
>evidence that it has not occurred, would be something like finding all
>modern forms of all species present in all levels of the geological strata.
>Which, of course, is not the case.

Naturally, since you have already decided how things should be if any other
mechanism were the correct explanation (answer: other than the way they
are!). This reminds me of a famous quotation I like to share with my
philosophy of science students, from our Biology textbook by Villee:

"If the kinds of animals and plants were not related by evolutionary
descent, their characteristics would be present in a confused, random
pattern, and no such hierarchy of forms [taxonomic relationships] could
be established."

If you need help interpreting that, please read: " If things are not the
way they are, they would be some other way, and since they are not,
evolution is the explanation."