Thursday, February 19, 2009

Richard Dawkins on the truth of evolution

The web page at has anarticle written by Richard Dawkins that reviews a new book titled "Why Evolution is True" byJerry Coyne.

Here's a sample.

"Just as you entrust your travel to a Boeing 747 rather than a magic carpet or a broomstick; just as you take your tumour to the best surgeon available, rather than a shaman or a mundu mugu, so you will find that the scientific version of truth works. You can use it to navigate through the real world. Science predicts, with complete certainty unless the end of the world intervenes, that the city of Shanghai will experience a total eclipse of the sun on July 22, 2009. Theories about the moon god devouring the sun god may be poetic, and they may cohere with other aspects of a tribe’s world view, but they won’t predict the date, time and place of an eclipse. Science will, and with an accuracy you could set your watch by. Science gets you to the moon and back. Even if we bend over backwards to concede that scientific truth is no more than that which enables you to pilot your way reliably, safely and predictably around the real universe, it is in exactly this sense that – at the very least – evolution is true. Evolutionary theory pilots us around biology reliably and predictively, with a detailed and unblemished success that rivals anything in science. The least you can say about evolutionary theory is that it works. All but pedants would go further and assert that it is true."

"Whence, then, comes the oft-parroted canard, “Evolution is only a theory”? Perhaps from a misunderstanding of philosophers who assert that science can never demonstrate truth. All it can do is fail to disprove a hypothesis. Evolution is an unfalsified hypothesis – one that was vulnerable to falsification but has so far survived. Scientists generally don’t mind this kind of philosopher and even thank him for taking care of such matters, thereby freeing them to get on with advancing knowledge. They might, however, venture that what is sauce for the goose of science is sauce for the gander of everyday experience. If evolution is an unfalsified hypothesis, then so is every fact about the real world; so is the very existence of a real world.

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