Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Fri Oct 15 2004 - 23:58:36 BST

  • Next message: Scott Roberts: "RE: MD A bit of reasoning"

    JIm, Scott, et al,

    On 15 Oct 2004 at 9:33, Scott Roberts wrote:
    > >But why is Darwinism
    > >treated as scientific? The theory is untestable, as far as I can
    > >see.
    > >

    > 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
    > 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 found.

    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.

    msh says:
    But isn't the fossil record loaded with examples of biological false
    starts, goofy non-viable mutations, and dead ends? (I bet Jim can
    provide plenty of examples.) If this is so, then wouldn't this be
    evidence (retrodictive tests, to use Jim's phrase) supporting the
    idea of random mutation rather than design, which (design) is what
    I'm assuming you mean by "some other way."

    As for testability, since when must ALL elements of a scientific
    theory be immediately testable? General Relativity wasn't completely
    testable for, what, 10 years before science was able to measure the
    warp of starlight passing through the Sun's gravitational field.
    Does this mean the theory wasn't scientific?

    Besides, what sort of test would one conduct to show that life and
    consciousness can arise randomly? I suppose we could cook up a
    primordial soup and bombard it with random flashes of lightning for a
    million years, then wait around for a few billion years for self-
    aware life to start tapping on the glass. But even if such an
    experiment were possible, there would be no scientific defense
    against the claim that we had in no way excluded the possibility of
    divine intervention. It's a no win situation for science because,
    ultimately, the question is not a scientific one.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

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