Evolution in Fact and Theory, Revisited - Evolution News & Views

Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Evolution NEWS
 

Evolution in Fact and Theory, Revisited


Around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Stephen Jay Gould's essay with a similar name, Larry Moran has reposted his essay "Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory." His article begins by blithely accepting the confused terminological protocol that uses the same word, "evolution," to describe very different things: a) the observation that life forms have changed over vast stretches of time, and b) a set of proposed observations regarding how, by what mechanisms, the forms of life have changed.

You don't have to be a philosopher to sense that using the same word to designate different things, in a contentious context like this, is bound to result in confusion if not abuse. It surprises me that folks in biology don't establish a more precise vocabulary, unless the confusion serves a purpose they'd rather not admit even to themselves.

In any event, regarding the assertion contained in Moran's title, Casey's formulation has a lot to recommend it:

When evolution is defined as mere change over time within species, no one disputes that such evolution is a fact. But neo-Darwinian evolution -- the great claim that unguided natural selection acting upon random mutations is the driving force that produced the complexity of life -- has many scientific problems because such random and unguided processes do not build new complex biological features. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a theory that has been falsified by the evidence.


FEATURES
 

TOP ARTICLES

TOP VIDEOS

TOP PODCASTS


more...