Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

From: Jim Ledbury (
Date: Fri Oct 15 2004 - 21:08:23 BST

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    I wasn't contesting that point - simply the one that you said that
    Darwinism was 'untestable'. Darwininsm has made certain retrodictions -
    albeit of a highly general character - and has been proved to be right.
    However I do accept you accusations of tautology have some validity.

    With regard to the "solely through chance" assertion: I am not sure that
    this is really an article of faith. Granted certain neo-D evangelists
    seem to emphasise the random nature of evolution given that the only
    mechanism they see underlying change is random mutation. Even given
    this faith in the random, they accept that each and every mutation is
    subject to selectionary criteria - whether of the strictly basic
    adequacy of a particular genetic strategy (the hackneyed "survival of
    the fittest") or of the more aesthetic sense of various kind of sexual
    selection (either in terms of mating - fitness, dare I say charm?, of
    partners - or in terms of propagation - prettiness of flowers). A lot
    of problems arise subsequently to this by the refusal to ascribe an
    internal state to the black boxes that necesarily make the choices.

    Personally, I find most of the problems that people find with evolution
    are down to a "dumb matter" interpretation of materialism. I am a
    materialist in that I think that we are composed of matter and that
    "spirit" is only a reflection of how matter behaves in certain
    circumstances: it is very obvious to me that there must be some degree
    of manipulation of quantum emissions in my ability to type this email
    (impression in state of brain evoking finger muscles to depress keys).
    I find that is is a problem of science in general to shy away from
    trying to find out about the nature of particles and molecules with
    regard to this manifestly evident property and treat with them only on a
    statistical basis. Similarly I have no problem with the crossover
    between intent and randomness: if social statistics say that en masse
    humans behave like random entities, it is to me no different than saying
    electrons have certain probabilities of behaviour. Perhaps the problem
    with science at the moment with finding a rationale for volition is that
    it will only investigate the constancies of statistical behaviour rather
    than trying to explain how variations this 'random' behaviour underpins
    intent. MoQ at least tries to do this.


    Scott Roberts wrote:

    >>>But why is Darwinism
    >>>treated as scientific? The theory is untestable, as far as I can see.
    >>Sorry for butting in...
    >>Not strictly true. There are a few retrodictions that constitute tests,
    >>although not in the standard set-up experiment & compare results to
    >>theory basis.
    >>Darwin 'predicted' that there would be soft bodied Precambrian species
    >>whose imprints were less readily preserved than the mineralized
    >>skeletons of animals living in the Cambrian. These have subsequently
    >>been found. He also 'predicted' that there was a land-water precursor
    >>to the whale, again the fossil of such a creature has subsequently been
    >>Okay, I appreciate that these retrodictions are quite general in their
    >>nature but their accuracy (although not proving neo-Darwinism) does
    >>indicate some form of evolution as opposed to creation. Of course you
    >>can never rule out the existence of a parameter so arbitrary it can be
    >>fitted to any data by this method but here the basic premise that
    >>something does not come from nothing stands up withough having to invoke
    >>such a parameter. And such retrodictions are considerably more testable
    >>than the vague assertions of the ilk "I can't believe a human evolves
    >>from a fish".
    >As far as I know no one is supporting creationism here, nor is anyone
    >denying natural selection as a way of weeding out non-adapted forms (which
    >is practically tautological). When I say Darwinism, I have been explicitly
    >using it in the sense of evolution solely through chance and natural
    >selection. I don't see how the evidence you describe indicates that
    >evolution comes about through "solely through chance" and natural
    >selection, rather than in some other way.
    >- Scott
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