Re: Facts, laws, etc.

Adrian Tanner (atanner@MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 09:57:50 -0330

learn). I am using evolution to mean more than just changes in gene
frequency over time. I mean the observation that such changes are
non-random, plus some account of what that non-random pattern is, and (most
importantly) an explanation of that non-random pattern, based on some more
basic principles, that is, by appealing to explanitory principles which also
apply outside the narrow field of genetics.

However, if I am wrong, and evolution is just any change in gene frequency
over time, or even non-random change in gene frequency over time, but
without any account of why such non-random changes occur, then (assuming
this change is what is observed, which I do no, for a moment, doubt) you are
right that this has to be called a 'fact'.

A Creationist could admit what you are calling the 'fact' of evolution, and
then account for this fact by saying it is because of the will of the diety,
or sacred prophesies, or whatever. However, I do not think the authorities
in Tennesee are using 'evolution' in your sense.

>On Wed, 6 Mar 1996, Adrian Tanner wrote:
>> I have also wondered about calling evolution a 'fact'.
>> Once upon a time there was born in someone's head an 'idea'; it developed to
>> become a 'hypothesis', and later joined together to become a complex set of
>> hypotheses called a 'theory'; finally, when enough confirming observations,
>> and no disconfirming ones, had been made, it became a 'law'. To avoid
>> confusing it with it's legal namesake, it is often spoken of a 'scientific'
>> or 'natural' law.
>> Evolution is such a law, rather than a fact, isn't it?
>I still feel that evolution, change in gene frequencies over time, is the fact
>which can be observed. It seems to me that "law" applies to the patterns which
>govern evolution as a process, patterns such as independent assortment,
>segregation, and so on (my genetics is on a very elementary level). Taken
>together with other concepts such as punctuated equilibrium, the patterns
form a
>theory or model which describes/explains the fact of evolution. Yes? No?
>Ronald Kephart
>Department of Language & Literature
>University of North Florida
>Jacksonville, FL 32224
>ph: 904-646-2580

Adrian Tanner, Dept of Anthropology, Memorial University, St John's,
Newfoundland, Canada. A1C 5S7. email Tel 709 737
8868 fax 737 8686