Saturday, August 26, 2006

Evolution as a Scientific Theory

Evolutionary theory is the current Paradigm of biologists. Evolution provides the framework for our biological belief structure and allows scientists working in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology, Marine Biology and Archaeology to put all of their observations and experiments into a theoretical framework. It is from the theory of evolution that scientists feel free to assume that a gene found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae may have a related gene in mice and humans and have a similar role to play in all three organisms. It is from the theory of evolution that scientists tend to classify relatedness between species, and work within the assumption of those relationships. It is from the theory of evolution that archaeologists are able to make assumptions about extinct animals and their bone structure and skeletal organisations based on extant species. It is from the theory of evolution that medical researchers are able to understand the recurrence of bacterial infection and viral infection year after year of the same organism that has been inoculated against time and time again.

The theory of evolution undoubtedly plays an active role in our approach to biological science and affects every medical and scientific advancement made under its paradigm.

And more importantly than acting like a scientific paradigm as described by Kuhn, Evolution acts like an Ideal science as described by Karl Popper. It has a number of tenants that if shown to be wrong, would clearly disprove much of the theory if not the whole thing.

A number of these points of falsification are listed:
1. There was a static fossil record
2. True chimeras, that is, organisms that combined parts from several different and diverse lineages (such as mermaids and centaurs) and which are not explained by lateral gene transfer, which transfers relatively small amounts of DNA between lineages, or symbiosis, where two whole organisms come together
3. a mechanism that would prevent mutations from occurring or accumulating
4. observations of organisms being created
5. Fossils found out of sequence
6. Demonstrating similar species have less genetic similarity than dissimilar species; i.e. showing Chicken DNA is closer to human DNA than Chimpanzee DNA
7. Demonstrating that the Earth is not Billions of years old

Some of these points would falsify that evolution could possibly occur (3 for instance) while others would simply falsify that evolution is the cause of the variety of life we now witness on Earth (7 for instance). But if any one of those points of falsification were clearly demonstrated to be true, the theory of evolution would require drastic rethinking or complete dismissal. A brand new theory would need to be formulated which explains all of the existing information as well as the new information which expelled Evolutionary theory from common scientific acceptance.

There is no doubt about the scientific nature of evolutionary theory, and there are plenty of principles of falsification, upon which evolution has stubbornly refused to be falsified by,


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