Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?


(Daniel Ang) #13

I know that you have more detailed and thoughtful reasons but this, IMHO, is the most convincing and succinct reply to people who ask “why don’t you call yourself a theistic evolutionist?” :wink:

(Ann Gauger) #14


Obviously not. By either reading of the word Darwinism. I did not claim that these papers did either. I was pointing out that the term, and the idea was still in use, including by Austin Hughes, who knew what he was saying, and wasn’t the kind to use a term improperly.

Lay off. Surely there are better thing we can do with our time than argue about the use of the word Darwinism in place of evolution. You know why we do, don’t you? It’s to distinguish evolutionary change over time due to small scale processes (evolution) that we have no problem with, from the large scale claims that everything is the product of evolutionary processes that we don’t think are capable of producing the changes ascribed to them (neo-Darwinism). In any case it gets messy quickly. You also don’t like the micro, macro distinction. So what’s it to be? Mini and maxi? You don’t want us to say random mutation and natural selection. Just evolution. But that won’t work. We aren’t evolution deniers. We don’t like a certain kind of evolution. How about Beyond Behe’s Boundary evolution, or BBB evolution for short?

Going to bed. Goodnight.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

I think this is a legitimate distinction. When did I last object to it? That doesn’t really work for you though, because Behe seems to affirm common descent (i.e. macro evolution).

You can say that, except no one thinks that this explains everything. I dunno about terminology, I suppose we can think about it and come up with something.

(John Harshman) #16

Yes. It’s to make it sound like ideology rather than science, right? 'Cause if you said “Dissent from Evolutionary Biology”, it wouldn’t seem so nice.

Well, some of you are. You do vary in the type and amount of evolution you deny, though. I have no idea how much you deny; apparently you aren’t sure yourself. But you seem to be claiming that humans are not related to chimps by common descent, and that’s a pretty serious denial.

(John Harshman) #17

Let us recall that most of the people who signed that statement were not biologists, many weren’t even scientists, and hardly any of them were named Steve.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) split this topic #18

82 posts were merged into an existing topic: Comments on Darwinism’s Falsification


I don’t think this is true. ID/creationism likes using the word “Darwinism” so that they can pretend it is an ideology instead of a scientific theory.


Doesn’t science assume (as an axiom?) that evolution is blind and unguided, rather than that being a conclusion supported by the evidence? The hypothesis that evolution is unguided doesn’t seem to be one that can be examined by science.

I’d be interested in @swamidass and other scientists input this.


Nope. Blind and unguided is not assumed. In fact, it was an open question at the inception of the Modern Synthesis. That is why amazing scientists like the Lederbergs, Luria, and Delbruck devised experiments that tested the hypothesis of blind and unguided mutations. Check out the links in my response to colewd.

Then check out those very hypotheses in the links in the other post.


I know I"m jumping into a long running argument, so maybe I’m reading out of context.

But I’ll take one more stab at this. (I’m not a biologist, so I’m happy to admit the details of the science are beyond me).

The the hypothesis of the experiments you have linked to I understand them are that it is possible for mutations / modern synthesis to occur blind and unguided. This I’m happy to accept.

However you seem from there to be drawing a conclusion that all evolution occurs unguided. I’m having trouble seeing how the evidence supports that conclusion.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #50

I agree. Nothing rules out God guidance.


First off, @swamidass is entirely correct when he states:

I am speaking strictly about the limited conclusions science can make. In essence, if mutations look like they are blind and unguided then they are treated as if they are blind and unguided. This is called the rule of parsimony. For example, if we observe a planet moving about star in an orbit consistent with general relativity then we conclude it is being moved about by gravity instead of invisible supernatural forces.

What we observe in the lab are mutations that are consistent with a blind and unguided mechanism. Therefore, scientists tentatively conclude that they are blind and unguided. Scientists also look at the pattern of genetic differences between species, and they match the patterns produced by those blind and unguided mechanisms we observe in the lab. Therefore, scientists tentatively conclude that the genetic differences between species were created by the same mechanisms we see in the lab and in the field.

Science can’t make any ontological claims about the ultimate truth of reality. What science can do is see if observations match the predictions made by hypotheses. Does that make sense?


I agree with this, as well as @T_aquaticus latest response to me.

However, maybe I’m being pedantic (I don’t think I am), or maybe it’s a difference in the way a scientist and non scientist reads a statement.

In the original post I jumped off of

@colewd wrote " An example is text books insisting that evolution is blind and unguided."

@T_aquaticus responded “How is that ideological? That happens to be the scientific conclusion supported by mountains of evidence.”

If you replaced “is blind” with “can be blind” in the first sentence, then I have no problem with the response. Likewise if you replaced “conclusion” in the response with “consensus or working assumption” it works for me. However, I read “conclusion” as hypothesis that has been validated" which doesn’t seem to line up with either of your responses.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #70

This, in my view, is exactly right. Making the situation more complex is several organizations whose reason for existence depends on misreading the scientific claims.


I agree with @swamidass on this one. I think it is in how scientists and non-scientists read a statement. Scientists do use a bit of shorthand since qualifying every single phrase in every single sentence would be overkill. The best analogy I know of is the phrase “found guilty in a court of law”. We all know that this comes with the qualifier “found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law”, but we often leave it out with the understanding that reasonable doubt is implied.

All scientific conclusions are tentative and open to falsification by new evidence. A consensus is when a majority of scientists share the same conclusion.

To use an example from a different field, astrophysicists assume that distant stars are fueled by fusion like our Sun is. That doesn’t mean they lack evidence for fusion in distant stars, it simply means that there is so much evidence for it that they focus on other aspects of those stars.


Thanks, that’s interesting to hear from both you and @swamidass. It reinforces the importance of clarifying assumptions when we disagree, especially when dealing with others who have different backgrounds. I’ll admit I’m an engineer by training, so you’ll all know now that you need to communicate with me using short sentences and with small words so I can understand :slight_smile: (I’ve figured that out from watching the Big Bang Theory).

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #80

Let’s be serious @T_aquaticus, it need not even be in peer-reviewed articles. Even if they published a solid white paper, we would take it seriously.


Agreed. I am looking for something with methods, results, and discussion sections, not necessarily something that has been accepted for publication.

(Ann Gauger) #85

It’s generally very bad to ascribe motives to individuals and groups when they have explicitly stated otherwise. It’s the same as calling them liars. Can you read our minds? On what basis do you claim to have such insight into our motives that you are willing to call us liars? This is offensive. Was it your intention or was it carelessness?

Changing the name doesn’t make it any less an ideology or a scientific theory. Any more than if I decided to call you T_thermatoga. The name Darwinism is old, has baggase, but is well understood to mean evolution in general terms. The only ones who care about including the additional “modern” mechanisms of change are the evolutionary biologists themselves, and they already know about them.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #86

It is not well understood to mean this. I suppose that is the point. It also means atheism, and other things also. ID often uses those other meanings for Darwinism too.