evolution in KS

John Grehan jrg13 at psu.edu
Thu Aug 12 22:22:58 EDT 1999

Bruce Walsh wrote 

>First and foremost, evolution, that all known organisms have the same
>common ancestor (and that groups of related organisms thus share a more
>recent common ancestor to each other than to other groups),  is a scientific

Whether or not one might consider evolution a fact does not describe
evolution as a scientific research program. The only fact that I am aware
of here is that
organisms share characters.

  How do we know the earth is round?  Because we have made
>measurements and tested to see if this were true.  

I would also agree with this view in that I believe the earth is round and
treat it as a fact even though I cannot see it to be true. The fact is really
a model of the real world that is consistent with certain predictions
and interpretations.

 However, the
>PREDICTION from evolution is the whale and that bat will have closer
>than the bat and the bird. 

A creationist could make the same prediction based on the view that whale and
bat share unique characters that represent "god's plan".

  Every time a new gene is sequenced, it is a TEST of evolution.  

Gene's are just another group of biological characters and so no more a 
"test" of evolution than any other.

The theory has been thus
>tested literally close to a million times, with all results showing that all
>organisms examined indeed share common ancestors.

All that has been shown empirically is that organisms share characters. If
one is an evolutionist this relationships is viewed as shared ancestry.

 In fact,
>evolution is the result of a scientific research program, one that is
>still very active today in that evolution is always being tested.

I would be interested to know what constitutes evolution as a scientific
research program. Is it just "testing" the reality of evolution?

Evolution is
>science because it (1) makes predictions and thus (2) is testable, in
>particular, it is (3) falsifiable

If one takes  a Lakatosian view of science, research methodologies are
not falsafiable. Also, witchcraft is science because it makes predictions, is
testable, and falsifiable.

 --- we can reject the theory if certain
>observations are found. 

Or one might erect ad hoc hypotheses in order not to reject the hypothesis!

 Evolution is science because be we always challenging it
>as to whether or not it is correct. 

Why should this be so? It seems that this is just a simple definitional
criterion that one may or may not agree with. Just because one might not
conform to this might just mean that one does not fit within that particular
definition of science.

 Contrary to the general view, it is
>not taken on faith.  Conversely, creationism works by not TESTING or
>trying to falsify their world view, but rather by making odd statements
>(usually incorrect and almost always misleading) about evolution. 

I would consider the possiblity that evolution is not testable.

>take their view on faith and try to knock down other ideas, rather than
>having the stones to test their own theory.

Perhaps, but maybe that just means they are doing bad science as 
opposed to not doing science.

>The reason this topic is timely for the leps-list is that when we say
>this butterfly is (say) a swallowtail or  a skipper, we are talking about
>groups of organisms with a recent common ancestor.  If each species of
>swallowtail were independently created with no shared ancestor to any other
>species, we would not expect them to share other features as well.  Yet they

This is where a creationist might argue that they share features because
god designed them that way

John Grehan

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