Friday, June 5, 2009

Just a Matter of Interpretation?

This exchange took place during a debate on evolution.

>>> The recently report discovery of a 47-million-
>>> year-old fossil primate known as "Ida" is one such
>>> recent find. Evolutionary theory does predict these
>>> transitional fossils.-

>> It does, but you cannot confirm that this was not just
>> a genetic aberration. Fossil evidence is anecdotal and
>> cannot really be tested scientifically. We can Infer,
>> we can guess, we can hypothesize we cannot prove anything

In other words, the fossils could be evidence for either evolution or for creationism. It just depends on how you interpret them.

Here’s my contribution.

Absolutely incorrect!!!

We expect to see certain VERY SPECIFIC characteristics in intermediates. In other words, evolution makes predictions.We see those. Therefore we have EVIDENCE - and not just speculation - that they evolved.

It's the ability to make predictions that makes the difference.

This can be compared to eclipses a few centuries ago.

Before Sir Isaac Newton, eclipses had a supernatural explanation: God was sending a warning of an impending momentous event. For example, according to an eclipse on April 17, 6 BC, predicted the death of King Herod (yes that King Herod). (The death didn’t occur for another two years, but…)

Sir Isaac Newton, along with other astronomers and astrologers, provided another possible explanation: the Earth, sun and the moon were simply moving through space in a way that caused the moon to occasionally cast a shadow on the Earth. That shadow was an eclipse.

After Sir Isaac Newton, if an eclipse occurred, you had two competing explanations: one scientific and one supernatural.

That's just like the case with evolution.

In the 21st century I'm not aware of anyone who still thinks that eclipses are supernatural predictors of impending events.

What caused that change in attitude?

What if, three months after an eclipse occurred, a ruler died? Wouldn’t that be evidence that the supernatural explanation was valid?

It was the fact that science could PREDICT when an eclipse was going to occur that made it the common sense choice over the supernatural alternative.

In the same way evolution makes predictions about what characteristics the fossil should have. That makes evolution the common sense choice over other alternatives.

So it is not simply an arbitrary distinction between evolution and alternative explanations.

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