27 September 2005

More Evolution

The vast majority of working scientists contend that biological evolution is an established fact supported by overwhelming evidence. They say that evolution's mechanism is well explained by the process of random mutation and natural selection that Charles Darwin described 147 years ago. Darwin's theory - updated and confirmed by recent genetic discoveries - eventually will answer all or most questions about the origin and history of life, they say.

Nevertheless, polls repeatedly have found that a majority of Americans accept the concept of intelligent design and want it to be taught in schools along with evolution. President Bush waded into the debate in August, saying that schools should teach both.
Asked to cite scientific evidence for supernatural design, John Marburger, President Bush's science adviser, replied: "There isn't any. ... Intelligent design is not a scientific concept."

(Knight Ridder Newspapers)

ID-ers say that we have insufficient evidence to prove 100% conclusively that evolution is what formed life. That is a flawed argument. It's important to recognize that "lack of evidence" isn't the same as "contrary evidence."

For example, can you prove 100% conclusively that the sex of a person you know is female or male? The person may have secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts, muscles, or facial features) indiciative of a particular biologicial sex, but have you seen their primary sex characteristics (genetalia)? If so, there's still the possibility of that belying the individual's genetics, as in the case of hermaphrodites and individuals whom have undergone sexual reassignment surgery (aka a sex change operation). Have you taken a sample of their cells and looked at their chromosomes with a super-powerful microscope and counted the X's and Y's? That's the only way today to be certain of a person's sex, and yet I don't know a single person whose sex has been confirmed this way, and yet I still assert that I am female, my boyfriend is male, and for many other individuals I claim to "know" their sex.

If we are to accept that we need 100% conclusive evidence to accept evolution, we would have to also accept that we cannot know anyone's sex without analyzing their chromosomes.


Danno said...

It's funny that so many folks throw their support behind Darwin, and yet don't read the work of literature he is most quoted from: The Origin of Species. In Chapter 15 of The Origin of Species, Darwin himself says he believes in a Creator (and even Capitalizes the word). This seems awfully selective to teach one part of his text, and leave that part out.

zandperl said...

Ah, but science doesn't believe in following the words of an authority figure just because he or she said so. If we did, we'd still believe in cold fusion. Instead, we need to see tangible data and measurements, and when that is lacking, we come up with a better explanation.

Darwin gave good evidence for evolution, and more recent data continues to support evolution -- there may be holes, but nothing against it. There still is no tangible, verifiable, physical evidence supporting a creator, so scientifically we cannot support that part of Darwin's argument. Emotionally or religiously many scientists do believe in God or some other form of higher power as creator, but all mainstream scientists admit they have no physical proof.

Furthermore, Darwin's idea of evolution has since been refined and elaborated, so the evolution that biologists teach today is not exactly the same form as what Darwin said.