[Home] [Site map] [Updates] [Projects] [Contents; 1. Introduction; 2. Philosophy (1), (2), (3), (4) & (5); 3. Religion (1) & (2); 4. History (1), (2) & (3); 6. Environment (1), (2) & (3); 7. Origin of life (1), (2) & (3); 8. Cell & Molecular (1), (2) & (3); 9. Mechanisms (1), (2) & (3); 10. Fossil Record; 11. `Fact' of Evolution; 12. Plants; 13. Animals; 14. Man (1) & (2); 15. Social; 16. Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography A-C, D-F, G-I, J-M, N-S, T-Z] [Book "Problems of Evolution"]
"PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION": 5. SCIENCE 1. Evolutionists are not open to all the evidence 1. The problem of equifinality 2. Evolutionists work with only one hypothesis 2. Evolution excludes rivals 1. Use of demarcation criteria 1. Science vs religion 2. Failure of demarcation criteria 3. Evolution fails its own demarcation criteria 1. Tentativeness 2. Testability 3. Falsifiability 4. Repeatability 5. Predictability
"PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION": 5. SCIENCE 1. Evolutionists are not open to all the evidence 1. The problem of equifinality Evolution, being a largely historical science, is faced with the same "problem of equifinality" as physical geography, "that different processes can lead to similar end-forms" and "their form may be an inadequate guide to their origin." (Goudie A., 1989, p.340). Therefore, to help counter this problem of equifinality, "One should not be dogmatic as to the origins of ... natural phenomena" and "When conducting one's own ... investigations ... it is necessary to adopt the principal of multiple working hypotheses, seeking to formulate and test as many explanations as possible" (Goudie, 1989, p.340. Emphasis in original). [top] 2. Evolutionists work with only one hypothesis Evolutionist geologists Glenister & Witzke claim they are "committed to the principle of multiple working hypotheses ... "Rather than running the risk of becoming too attached to a single hypothesis or model" (Glenister & Witzke, 1983, p.55, emphasis original; Bird, 1991, p.2:372). They cite "Chamberlin" who "calls for the use of multiple working hypotheses rather than letting science fall into the grasp of a "ruling theory" (Wilcox, 1990, p.1:5; Chamberlin, 1897, 1965). Yet, while conceding that "evolution" is just one of those "hypotheses," they exempt it from this "principle of multiple working hypotheses" on the grounds that "evolution" has "been tested and supported repeatedly so that their rejection may now be accepted as statistically improbable" (Glenister & Witzke, 1983, p.55). Glenister & Witzke then criticise "creationism" for being a "one-hypothesis approach to earth history" (Glenister & Witzke, 1983, p.56)! The late Carl Sagan also included in his "baloney detection kit," a "Darwinian selection among 'multiple working hypotheses'" in which "If there's something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this , has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy," adding that "Retrospective studies show that some jurors make up their minds very early- perhaps during opening arguments and then retain the evidence that seems to support their initial impressions and reject the contrary evidence," because "The method of alternative working hypotheses is not running in their heads" (Sagan, 1996, pp.196-197). A leading Biology textbook emphasises that, "Multiple hypotheses should be proposed whenever possible. Proposing alternative explanations that can answer a question is good science. If we operate with a single hypothesis, especially one we favor, we may direct our investigation toward a hunt for evidence in support of this hypothesis" (Campbell, et al., 1999, p.14). Yet, quite clearly evolutionist work with only one basic hypothesis, namely evolution! Evolutionists may indeed debate how evolution occurred, but they never debate that evolution occurred (Scott, 2000; Gould, 1983, p.14; Gould, 1991, 1992, p.458; Dawkins, 1986, pp.287-288). Indeed, evolutionists, having declared evolution to be a fact, state quite openly that there is no need to produce evidence to support it. For example, Savage asserted, "We do not need a listing of evidences to demonstrate the fact of evolution any more than we need to demonstrate the existence of mountain ranges" (Savage, 1963, p.v), and Mayr flatly states, "That evolution has taken place is so well established that ... a detailed presentation of the evidence is no longer needed" (Mayr, 2001, p.xv). And when alternatives to evolution (e.g. creation or intelligent design) are considered, ever since Darwin evolutionists have used the `straw man' tactic of comparing their strongest theory, with the weakest alternative (Pearcey, 1998, p.86 ; Geisler & Brooks, 1990, p.101; Gale, 1982, p.139; Gillespie, 1979, p.20; Walton, 1995, p.176; Johnson, 1997a, p.41). As Johnson observes, "A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story," but rather it "would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and ... would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men" (Johnson, 2000, p.141). [top] 2. Evolution excludes rivals 1. Use of demarcation criteria 1. Science vs religion Evolution protects itself from falsification by inventing a "science vs. religion" false dichotomy and then marginalising its opponents as "religion". For example, see Price J.H., "Researcher claims bias by Smithsonian," Washington Times, February 13, 2005. Sternberg http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20050213-121441-8610r.htm. [top] 2. Failure of demarcation criteria"The search for a rigorous criterion for demarcating the scientific from the metaphysical and ungroundable has been a major quest in the philosophy of science in this century. Some would even say that the discovery of an ironclad method for severing the scientific from the metaphysical is the very purpose of the philosophy of science. Nonetheless, it is now generally accepted that we can never have a perfectly rigorous demarcation criterion. Similarly, it is generally agreed that science can never have at its disposal a method for arbitrating competing scientific theories possessing the persuasive force that logic possesses in mathematics. It may be that both the demarcation criterion and the method of arbitration owe their impossibility to the fact that science, unlike mathematics, does not derive its truthfulness solely from its own internal consistency, but from an external system (`nature') as well." (Goldberg S., "When Wish Replaces Thought: Why So Much of What You Believe Is False," Prometheus Books: New York NY, 1992, p.155)"The victory in the Arkansas case was hollow, for it was achieved only at the expense of perpetuating and canonizing a false stereotype of what science is and how it works. If it goes unchallenged by the scientific community, it will raise grave doubts about that community's intellectual integrity. No one familiar with the issues can really believe that anything important was settled through anachronistic efforts to revive a variety of discredited criteria for distinguishing between the scientific and the non- scientific. Fifty years ago, Clarence Darrow asked, a propos the Scopes trial, `Isn't it difficult to realize that a trial of this kind is possible in the twentieth century in the United States of America?' We can raise that question anew, with the added irony that, this time, the pro-science forces are defending a philosophy of science which is, in its way, every bit as outmoded as the `science' of the creationists." (Laudan L., "Science at the Bar-Causes for Concern," (1982), in Ruse M., ed., "But is it Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, 1996, p.355)"Through certain vagaries of history, some of which I have alluded to here, we have managed to conflate two quite distinct questions: What makes a belief well founded (or heuristically fertile)? And what makes a belief scientific? The first set of questions is philosophically interesting and possibly even tractable, the second question is both uninteresting and, judging by its checkered past, intractable. If we would stand up and be counted on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like `pseudoscience' and `unscientific' from our vocabulary; they are just hollow phrases which do only emotive work for us. As such, they are more suited to the rhetoric of politicians and Scottish sociologists of knowledge than to that of empirical researchers. Insofar as our concern is to protect ourselves and our fellows from the cardinal sin of believing what we wish were so rather than what there is substantial evidence for (and surely that is what most forms of `quackery' come down to), then our focus should be squarely on the empirical and conceptual credentials for claims about the world. The `scientific' status of those claims is altogether irrelevant." (Laudan L., "The Demise of the Demarcation Problem," (1983), in Ruse M., ed., "But is it Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, 1996, p.349).[top] 3. Evolution fails its own demarcation criteria "More precisely, the essential characteristics of science are: (1) It is guided by natural law; (2)e explanatory by reference to natural law; (3) It is testable against the empirical world; (4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word; and (5) It is falsifiable. (Ruse and other science witnesses.)" (Overton, 1982, p.176; Laudan, 1996, p.351; Meyer, 1994, p.77). 1. Tentativeness"Dr. Michael Ruse, professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, testified concerning the nature of science, particularly biology. Ruse defined science as consisting of four essentials. First, science must explain events by means of natural law, or `unguided natural regularities.' Also, science must be `explanatory,' `testable,' and `tentative.' Ruse said `explanatory' means that science must predict and confirm events, so that science is self-generating, it is constantly moving into new areas. To say that science must be `testable,' or `falsifiable,' means there must be at least potential for evidence against a scientific belief. As an example, Ruse cited the theory of evolution. Evolution is thought to be unidirectional, that is evolution is thought to continually lead to more and more complex forms of life. If scientists were to find evidence that evolution sometimes proceeded in the direction of less complexity, this aspect of the theory would be falsified. The fourth essential of science is that it be `tentative.' This means that a scientist must always be willing to modify his understanding of the data." (Geisler , 1982, p.68). "On recross examination, Williams asked, `is evolution a fact?' Ruse replied in the affirmative. Williams asked, `How then is it tentative?'" (Geisler, 1982, p.72). [top]2. Testability Evolutionists have themselves, on rare occasions, conceded that the theory of evolution does not meet their own scientific criterion of testability. For example, leading biology professors Birch and Ehrlich candidly admitted in Nature, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals that, the "theory of evolution ... cannot be refuted by any possible observations" since "Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it" and "No one can think of ways in which to test it," making it "outside of empirical science" and "an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training" (Birch & Ehrlich, 1967. Emphasis mine). The late Colin Patterson, a senior paleontologist in the British Museum of Natural History, observed of modern evolutionary theory, which combines both "Darwinian evolution, by natural selection" and "Non- Darwinian ... evolution" by "genetic drift", that "When these two theories are combined, as a general explanation of evolutionary change, that general theory is no longer testable," because any "failures of selection theory are explained by genetic drift" and vice-versa. (Patterson, 1978, p.70). The late Karl Popper (one of world's leading philosopher of science and originator of the falsifiability criterion), noted that "Darwin's own most important contribution to the theory of evolution, his theory of natural selection, is difficult to test" in that although in "some tests ... such as the famous phenomenon known as `industrial melanism,' we can observe natural selection happening under our very eyes .... Nevertheless, really severe tests of the theory of natural selection are hard to come by" (Popper, 1978, p.344). Earlier, in 1974, Popper had concluded in his book, "Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography," that "Darwinism" (that is the modern Neo-Darwinian theory of evolution), "is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme" which at best was only a possible framework for testable scientific theories" (Popper, 1982, p.168. My emphasis). For this Popper was attacked by Darwinists, so in 1978 he issued what he called a "recantation" (note the language of religious persecution!) but in which he stood by his claim that "the doctrine (note again the religious language) of natural selection is a most successful metaphysical research programme" but had "changed [his] mind about the testability and the logical status of the theory of natural selection; in that "In its most daring and sweeping form, the theory of natural selection" was "not only refutable but actually refuted" (Popper, 1978, pp.344-345). The clear implication being that Popper considered "the theory of natural selection" (the cornerstone of the modern theory of evolution") was either: 1) testable in "its most daring and sweeping form," but failed that test; or 2) untestable in any less "daring and sweeping form," which is the form it is in science today. In 1980 Popper responded to a further attack by a Darwinist by clarifying that he regarded "the theory of evolution" as among the "historical sciences" having "scientific character: their hypotheses can in many cases be tested ... by deriving from them testable predictions or retrodictions" (Popper, 1980). But again, it is clear that Popper had not really retracted his original 1974 claim, and in fact in the 1982 revised edition of the book, his original conclusion that "Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme" remained. Commenting on this, leading Darwinist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse acknowledged, "Since making this claim, Popper himself has modified his position somewhat; but, disclaimers aside, I suspect that even now he does not really believe that Darwinism in its modern form is genuinely falsifiable." (Ruse, 1982, p.133). [Private email 1-Jan-06] .... I agree with your point about unique, unrepeatable origin events like the Big Bang not being repeatable, and therefore not being testable, and therefore not being "science" on Judge Jones' (following Judge Overton's) testability demarcation criterion. See Stephen Meyer's writings on the failure of demarcation criteria of what is, and what is not, "science":Meyer S,C. , "Expert Report Part 3: The Failure of Demarcation Arguments," Intelligent Design the Future, October 31, 2005; Meyer S.C., "Laws, Causes, and Facts: Response to Michael Ruse," in "Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?," Chapter 3, 14 July 2002; DeWolf D.K., Meyer S.C. & DeForrest M.E., "Is Design Theory Science? - Darwinism, Design, and Demarcation," in "Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula:A Legal Guidebook" Access Research Network, June 21, 2000 & Meyer S.C., "The Scientific Status of Intelligent Design: The Methodological Equivalence of Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic Origins Theories," in "Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe," Ignatius Press, December 1, 2002. On my own blog I have commented on how evolution does not meet its own demarcation criteria (go to CED and search on "demarcation"). See also my "Problems of Evolution" book outline, PE 5.3.2 "Evolution fails its own demarcation criteria ... Testability" and PE 5.3.4 " ... Repeatability." I will update these with Judge Jones' decision, to show that evolutionists are still using false demarcation criteria that evolution its does not meet, to disqualify its opponents' arguments from receiving a fair hearing. ....[top] 3. Falsifiability Evolution itself cannot be falsified, at least in the minds of committed evolutionists. For example, "Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection provides a framework theory for biologists" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). It "encourages them to interpret their observations in a certain kind of way" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). It "suggests particular hypotheses to test" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). These "subsidiary hypotheses may or may not be right, but their disproof is not itself evidence that the framework theory is wrong" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). It merely tells us that the framework theory does not produce its effects in quite the way we supposed" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). "The theory of evolution provides us with a framework theory that allows us to make sense of the scattered fossil record" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). But, as the example of Ramapithecus showed, when "The tree of human evolution had to be redrawn ... the theory of evolution itself remained unaffected" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). "In fact, contrary to common popular belief, the theory of evolution cannot be disproved by any evidence from the fossil record" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). The "fossil record can only tell" evolutionists "how evolution occurred and which particular pathways it took, not whether or not the theory of evolution is true" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23. Emphasis in original). "In trying to make sense of the fossil record," evolutionists "assume that the theory of evolution is true, relying on other scientists to test the validity of the framework theory" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). This is the "Ask the Professor Down the Hall" (Pittman, 1996) assumption, i.e. `I see little evidence for evolution in my area of expertise, but if you ask the professor down the hall, I am sure he can provide you with plenty of evidence for evolution in his area of expertise'! Dunbar claims that "Disproof of the theory of evolution can only come through studies of the mechanisms of evolution (for example, natural selection), and these can only be done on living species" (Dunbar, 1995, p.23). But since the major transitions are in the past, it is difficult to see how any amount of "studies of the mechanisms of evolution ... done on living species" could falsify evolution itself. Committed evolutionists would just appeal to unknown (and even unknowable) naturalistic mechanisms that, according to them, simply must have occurred in the past! Nevertheless, "the mechanisms of evolution" and in particular "natural selection", is evolution's Achilles heel. In fact Dunbar contradicts himself, when he adds that leading philosopher of science, the late Imre "Lakatos made an important practical point when he observed that there is no point in rejecting a framework theory just because there is evidence against it" (Dunbar, 1995, pp.23-24). "Without a framework theory, we cannot ask questions or design experiments" (Dunbar, 1995, p.24). So there is no point in abandoning a framework theory unless we have a better one to replace it with" (Dunbar, 1995, p.24). Abandoning a framework theory in the absence of an alternative is about as useful as making a series of diary engagements when you don't have a calendar" (Dunbar, 1995, p.24). It is much better to carry on using the old discredited theory until such time as an alternative appears" (Dunbar, 1995, p.24). So the theory of evolution will continue, even as a "discredited theory" unless and until evolutionists have "a better one to replace it with." But how could there ever be, to evolutionists, a better "framework theory" than "the theory of evolution"? In other words, evolutionists would always prefer a false "theory of evolution" to a true "alternative" "framework theory", e.g. creation or intelligent design."Is intelligent design falsifiable? Is Darwinism falsifiable? Yes to the first question, no to the second. Intelligent design is eminently falsifiable. Specified complexity in general and irreducible complexity in biology are within the theory of intelligent design the key markers of intelligent agency. If it could be shown that biological systems like the bacterial flagellum that are wonderfully complex, elegant, and integrated could have been formed by a gradual Darwinian process (which by definition is non-telic), then intelligent design would be falsified on the general grounds that one doesn't invoke intelligent causes when purely natural causes will do. In that case Occam's razor finishes off intelligent design quite nicely. On the other hand, falsifying Darwinism seems effectively impossible. To do so one must show that no conceivable Darwinian pathway could have led to a given biological structure. What's more, Darwinists are apt to retreat into the murk of historical contingency to shore up their theory. For instance, Allen Orr in his critique of Behe's work shortly after Darwin's Black Box appeared remarked, `We have no guarantee that we can reconstruct the history of a biochemical pathway.' What he conceded with one hand, however, he was quick to retract with the other. He added, `But even if we can't, its irreducible complexity cannot count against its gradual evolution.' The fact is that for complex systems like the bacterial flagellum no biologist has or is anywhere close to reconstructing its history in Darwinian terms. Is Darwinian theory therefore falsified? Hardly. I have yet to witness one committed Darwinist concede that any feature of nature might even in principle provide countervailing evidence to Darwinism. In place of such a concession one is instead always treated to an admission of ignorance. Thus it's not that Darwinism has been falsified or disconfirmed, but that we simply don't know enough about the biological system in question and its historical context to determine how the Darwinian mechanism might have produced it." (Dembski W.A., "Is Intelligent Design Testable?," Access Research Network, January 24, 2001)"Now, one canít have it both ways. One canít say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable. In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwinís Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum canít be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellumor any equally complex system-was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven. How about Professor Coyneís concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design. Letís turn the tables and ask, how could one falsify the claim that, say, the bacterial flagellum was produced by Darwinian processes? ... If a scientist went into the laboratory and grew a flagellumless bacterial species under selective pressure for many generations and nothing much happened, would Darwinists be convinced that natural selection is incapable of producing a flagellum? I doubt it. It could always be claimed that the selective pressure wasnít the right one, or that we started with the wrong bacterial species, and so on. Even if the experiment were repeated many times under different conditions and always gave a negative result, I suspect many Darwinists would not conclude that the claim of its Darwinian evolution was falsified. Of complex biochemical systems Coyne himself writes `we may forever be unable to envisage the first protopathways. It is not valid, however, to assume that, because one man cannot imagine such pathways, they could not have existed.' (Coyne 1996) If a person accepts Darwinian paths which are not only unseen, but which we may be forever unable to envisage, then it is effectively impossible to make him think he is wrong." (Behe M.J., "Philosophical Objections to Intelligent Design: Response to Critics," Discovery Institute, July 31, 2000) [top]4. Repeatability Another of the special pleading demarcation criteria that evolutionists erect to disqualify competitors to evolution as even being science, is repeatability. For example, leading evolutionary biologist Douglas Futuyma asserts that "An observation is accepted as a scientific `fact' only if it can be repeated by other individuals who follow the same methods" (Futuyma, 1982, p.166). Similarly, Stansfield, in a book titled "The Science of Evolution," stated that "to have scientific validity the [scientist's] observations must be capable of verification by others using the same observational techniques, i.e., they must stand the test of repeatability" (Stansfield, 1983, p.8). But as Theodosius Dobzhansky, co-founder of the Neo-Darwinian modern synthesis (the modern theory of evolution) conceded, evolution, in the macroevolutionary sense (which is the only sense that is disputed), is unrepeatable: "These [macro]evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible. ... Experimental evolution deals of necessity with only the simplest levels of the evolutionary process, sometimes called microevolution" (Dobzhansky, 1957. My emphasis). The paleontologist Kitts cites as "another difficulty" for evolution that, "The temporal ordering of biological events beyond the local section may critically involve paleontological correlation, which necessarily presupposes the non-repeatability of organic events in geologic history." (Kitts, 1974. My emphasis). So again, on their own criterion by which they seek to eliminate competitors to evolution as even being scientific, evolutionists, if they were consistent, would also eliminate evolution (except in a trivial micro- sense) as being scientific! [top] 5. Predictability Evolutionists claim that their theory is scientific because it makes testable predictions, such that evolution would be falsified if the prediction failed, the prediction is tested and evolution then passes that test. For example, Gould, responding to the creationist charge that "evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science" (Gould, 1995, p.409), claimed that, "We make and test risky predictions all the time ... every time I collect fossils in Paleozoic rocks (550 to 225 million years old), I predict that I will not find fossil mammals-for mammals evolved in the subsequent Triassic period ... If I find fossil mammals ... in Paleozoic strata, our evolutionary goose is cooked" (Gould, 1995, p.409). But ReMine points out that "evolution does not predict mammals ever. ... evolutionary theory never predicted any particular organisms. Mammals happen to be here, and evolutionists merely accommodate that fact. ... evolutionary theory is plastic and can accommodate dramatic changes in our knowledge of the fossil sequence" (ReMine, 1993, pp.417-418. Emphasis original). ReMine continues, "For example, Eldredge ... uses Peripatus, (a ...wormlike creature that lives in rotting logs ...) as an intermediate between two of the major phyla ... the segmented worms and the arthropods" (ReMine, 1993, p.418; Eldredge, 1982, p.66). But "Gould ... removes Peripatus from its status as an intermediate." (ReMine, 1993, p.418; Gould, 1993, pp.342ff). "Thus evolutionists have dramatically altered their conceptions of ancestry to accommodate new evidence from fossil sequence," and "this happens often, without anyone even raising an eyebrow. ... contrary to Gould, if mammals were found in Paleozoic strata it would not falsify evolution. ... evolutionists would merely change their story" (ReMine, 1993, p.418) In a joint interview on Australian television, leading evolutionist Richard Dawkins was asked, "... if the earth was hit by an asteroid tomorrow and everything but simple microbes were destroyed and we came back in another 3 or 4 billion years, would we expect to find Homo sapiens here again?" and Dawkins replied, "If you wiped our life and started again .... I tell you what you would get, you would probably get a great diversity of living form. You'd probably get plants, animals, you'd probably get parasites, you'd probably get predators. ... You might well get flight, you might well get sight." (McKew, 1996, pp.72-73). That is, evolution cannot even confidently predict plants,and animals," let alone flight and sight! It was this lack of prediction that led the late Karl Popper, then the world's leading philosopher of science, to "come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory" (Popper, 1982, p.168). For example, "assume that we find life on Mars consisting of exactly three species of bacteria ... Is Darwinism refuted? By no means. We shall say that these three species were the only forms among the many mutants which were sufficiently well adjusted to survive. And we shall say the same if there is only one species (or none). Thus Darwinism does not really predict the evolution of variety. It therefore cannot really explain it" (Popper, 1982, p.171)."The Problem of Prediction. The third great problem of causality in biology is that of prediction. In the classical theory of causality the touchstone of the goodness of a causal explanation was its predictive value. This view is still maintained in Bunge's modern classic (1959): `A theory can predict to the extent to which it can describe and explain.' It is evident that Bunge is a physicist; no biologist would have made such a statement. The theory of natural selection can describe and explain phenomena with considerable precision, but it cannot make reliable predictions, except through such trivial and meaningless circular statements as, for instance: `The fitter individuals will on the average leave more offspring.' Scriven (1959) has emphasized quite correctly that one of the most important contributions to philosophy made by the evolutionary theory is that it has demonstrated the independence of explanation and prediction." (Mayr E., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist," [reprint of Mayr E., "Cause and effect in biology," Science, Vol. 134, 1961, pp.1501-1506], Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.31-32)"Scientists are fond of running the evolutionary clock backward, using DNA analysis and the fossil record to figure out when our ancestors stood erect and split off from the rest of the primate evolutionary tree. But the clock is running forward as well. So where are humans headed? Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says it's the question he's most often asked, and "a question that any prudent evolutionist will evade." But the question is being raised even more frequently as researchers study our past and contemplate our future." (Boyle A., "Human evolution at the crossroads: Genetics, cybernetics complicate forecast for species," MSNBC May 2, 2005)"Chomsky noted that we utter words one at a time, in a linear fashion. But we could conceivably have acquired the ability to emit one set of sounds from the mouth and another from the nose. The ability to utter two separate sequences of noises through both the mouth and nose would provide us with a `much more complex and rich communication. We wouldn't be bound by temporal linearity.' If humans had developed such a capacity, Chomsky said, evolutionary psychologists would no doubt have `explained' it as a product of natural selection. Actually, Darwinian theory neither prohibits nor demands language, nor does it constrain how the language capacity should be designed. `It doesn't predict anything!' Chomsky exclaimed." (Horgan J., "The Undiscovered Mind: How the Brain Defies Explanation," , Phoenix: London, 2000, pp.178-179) [top]
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Created: 3 November, 2003. Updated: 12 March, 2006.