Field of Science

Re: Is evolution 'scientific'?

Creation Ministries International has a article by a Calvin Smith this Christmas Day: Is evolution 'Scientific'?

I was going to comment on the article there, but the form says that
Your comments on this web articles are welcome and may be considered for publication on our website, together with a response. Comments may be edited for clarity and brevity.
May and may. I didn't like the possibility of my comment being edited by someone who doesn't understand evolution, so I decided to post my reply here instead.

The article lists the National Science Education Standards criteria for a theory to be scientific as

1-Observational data
2-Accurate predictions
4-Open to criticism
5-Accurate information
6-No presuppositions

I do not agree that this is necessary, nor sufficient, for a theory to be scientific, and I have not been able to verify that the NSES actually says this (nor would I agree that what the NSES says on the matter is written in stone), but for argument's sake lets just address those six points quickly.

My comments are really made in response to a blog-post on this blog. If it seems spotty, it's because I couldn't make myself paste in all the text from that post, so you might want to go there and read the thing.

#1 Depends on what you accept evolution is. The old micro- vs. macroevolution. What you probably think evolution is (e.g. humans evolving from the common ancestor of human and chimp) takes too long to observe. However, evolution at the genetic level happens, and is observed, all the time. Blount et al. from Lenski's group published a paper this year on E. coli evolving the ability to metabolize citrate, while they were watching. E. coli is normally distinguished by it's inability to eat this sugar.

#2 Numerous predictions made about the fossil record have come true. Transitional fossils between land- and sea-living animals, and between fish and amphibians (read Your Inner Fish) have been found, for example. Go to for many more examples (seems like that site is down, so here is a Wikipedia entry instead).

#3 The question of origins in the example of the robot is not one of engineering, but of evolution. An engineer could say whether or not the robot could be designed by an engineer, but would not normally know enough about evolution to tell whether natural processes could have done it. The case of the robot is obvious, but to assess whether living organisms have evolved, one needs to know about evolutionary processes - something that most engineers, and certainly most laymen do not. Either way, the example does not even suggest (logically) that evolutionary theory is not logical.

#4 Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a bunch a lies. There is no such thing as Darwinian dogma. There is just evolutionary theory. It can be challenged, and has again and again. And stood up to every challenge. Evolutionary biologists continue to challenge the theory, and it is very much up for discussion. That's the way it becomes a better and stronger theory.

#5 There is and has been inaccurate information regarding evolution. And there is plenty of accurate information. The charge that all information must be "completely accurate" for it to be scientific theory is just silly. That some information is inaccurate does mean that nothing is accurate. And those hoaxes were done to fool scientists (Piltdown Man, etc.), and were subsequently exposed by scientists.

#6 No presuppositions within science, that is. Science is the study of natural phenomena. You suggest a hypothesis, and you test it. It has to be testable (the fact that neither 'testable' nor 'falsifiable' is on the list is very suspicious, by the way, as those are normally considered imperative for a theory to be scientific) . If you hypothesize that God did it all, then there is no way to test that. If you hypothesize that it didn't evolve, then you have to suggest another natural process which it came into being. Just saying that someone did it, without a way to test that, stifles the increase of knowledge.

I wanted to end by saying that there are X evolutionary biologists worldwide. While the fact that X scientists are working in a field doesn't by itself guarantee the validity of the field, so to speak, it does make it hard to explain how so many - atheists as well as theists, btw - could be deluded into thinking that what they do is science, if it is not. A much more parsimonious explanation would be that those who oppose the scientific facts of evolution (i.e. creationists) are trying to turn people against it. By misrepresentation and by lies.

What is the value of X? I can't find that anywhere. My best guess is 114,533. My second-best guess is 96,027. If it's neither of those, then I'd go for 805,646.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS