Science, Just Science

3 April 2007

Why Evolution?

Filed under: Science — Kyuuketsuki @ 11:13 am

*** Originally posted by Chris Hyland of SJS ***

Andrea Bottaro at the Pandas Thumb explains exactly why evolution is the dominant theory.

  1. Biological organisms have unarguably changed and adapted in a multitude of forms over the course of Earth’s history, and continue to do so;
  2. all the phenotypic differences and adaptations of organisms that we have studied are due to genetic changes (plus what seem at this point to be exceptionally rare instances of heritable epigenetic modifications);
  3. these genetic differences (point mutations, deletions/duplications, recombination, rearrangements, aneuploidy etc) are similar in nature and pattern to those that routinely occur in experimentally observable situations;
  4. in these observable situations, when appropriately tested the changes in question have always been found to be random with regard to fitness;
  5. natural selection represents a demonstrably (theoretically and empirically) efficient method to turn random variation into contingently directional changes and adaptations;
  6. nothing in our understanding of biology or in the existing paleontological, genetic and molecular evidence indicates the existence of teleological variation;
  7. regardless of point 6, there is no independent evidence whatsoever of teleological agents or mechanisms that may have acted to externally impart directionality to life on Earth as it evolved during the 3+ billion years of its history, with the notable exception of human activity in the last few thousand years and therefore;
  8. at this stage the only scientifically supported model we have for the evolution of life on earth is one based primarily on the principles of random (wrt fitness) genetic variation and selection (and accessory mechanisms such as drift etc).

Philosophical materialism has nothing to do with any of the facts above. However, materialists can make of them what they want, and so can theists/supernaturalists. Indeed, both groups do.

As anything in science, modern evolutionary theory is not, and does not claim to be definitive and unchangeable, but any changes, updates and modifications need to be based on evidence, not speculation and wishful thinking.


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