Re: *** DARWIN WAS WRONG!!! ***

Scott9609 (
1 Apr 1995 04:16:16 -0500

Dear Greg:

I assume by your address that you are a social scientist. I also assume
that you are familiar with the scientific method. This method does not
admit teaching evolution as dogma any more than it admits teaching
creationism as dogma.

However, this method also has criteria for the development of theories and
laws that are different from those in popular parlance. To say that,
because evolution is "only a theory" does not really diminish its stature
in the scientific community since about 99.99 percent of everything
believed in the present scientific paradigm remains by definition theory.

To put this in perspective, during the period in which Catholic Church
theologians dictated what is appropriate science, noone ever referred to
the doctrine of Biblical creationism as a "theory"; such a reference, in
that context, is insulting. But no respectable physicist would chafe at
"the big bang theory" despite its being part of a certain cosmological
paradigm. Scientists who understand the scientific method understand that
"science never proves anything."

(To understand why, I suggest you read Gregory Bateson's excellent
treatise on the epistemology of life, MIND AND NATURE: A NECESSARY UNITY,
Bantam, 1978)

But saying that "neo-Darwinism" (an awkward phrase) is "but a theory" is a
far cry from saying "DARWIN WAS WRONG!!!". The true test of a scientific
theory is its predictability; creationist theory utterly fails to explain
or predict the "beautiful ramifications of the tree of life" (Origin of
the Species, 1859).

By contrast, evolutionary theory not only explains this through the
mechanism of natural selection, but it predicts that a mechanism of
inheritance would be discovered and that study of this mechanism of
inheritance would confirm both the antiquity of life and its evolutionary

Just so you know, the mechanism of inheritance, the gene, was discovered
as Darwin predicted. The field of genetics, as Darwin predicted,
confirmed both the antiquity of life (see any paper on "molecular clocks"
of mitochondrial DNA) and its evolutionary character is confirmed by
studies in fields as far apart as quantum chemistry, botany, information
theory, etc. ad nauseam.

A theory that does all this is not "just a theory" in the popular
parlance. It is an integral part of our present scientific paradigm and
fundamental to modern biology. Criticizing it because it is not a "law"
or "axiom" misses the point entirely. Laws and axiomatic principles are
too basic a conception to describe complex systems; hence, a theory is
required. But the Darwinian hypothesis is confirmed; it is a theory with
validity, of far greater explanatory and predictive power than any other;
hence, it is the scientific equivalent of "truth" keeping in mind that
scientific "truths" don't prove anything.

Cordially...Scott Hatfield (