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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Does Darwin’s Theory Qualify as a Scientific Discovery?

In my view, it does not. This will surprise none of the readers of this blog.

Surely, this is an impertinence on my part.

Darwin was a thorough investigator of natural phenomena. He had the opportunity, as none of his contemporaries had, to observe flora and fauna not accessible to them.

During the decades after the most famous field trip in history, he organised his observations and other well accepted truths into a scheme which he put forward as The Origin of Species. Among these well accepted truths is homology: eg frogs, birds, and primates have pentadactyl limbs. Darwin would have us believe that this is evidence of common descent. Another is the undoubted ability of human breeders to produce animals and plants that converged ever more closely to animals and plants that suited their (the breeders’) requirements. Yet another is the fact that we can create taxonomies: vertebrates, mammals, cats; although to make the leap from taxonomies to common descent is speculative in the extreme.

In his book Darwin asserted that there is no necessary place for a designing intelligence to explain the origin of species. His followers seized upon this idea. Some, at least, had metaphysical reasons for adopting it. Interestingly, it appears that in the 1860s biologists were more vociferous than churchmen in rejecting the “theory”.

Unlike the schemes put forward by Galileo, Kepler and Newton, there was no mathematical way of accounting for Darwin’s scheme. Some scientists (eg David Berlinski) have suggested that this alone is enough to disqualify Random Mutation and Natural Selection as a scientific theory. He maintains that RM & NS do not come close satisfying the requirements of what a physicist would demand of a scientific theory. Mathematics is the only route to Quantum Mechanics.

Observation and practical application have supported Galileo, Kepler and Newton, not to mention Einstein. Observation has not supported Darwin’s scheme.

His scheme requires a vast number of minutely differing intermediaries between parent species P and offspring species O. They have not been found. The Cambrian fossils have no apparent ancestors in the pre-Cambrian column.

Stephen Meyer and Jay Richards point out that Information is central to modern biology, information encoded in DNA and transmitted by RNA. They also point out that whenever we encounter information (whether in a headline, a poem or a computer program) the source is always an intelligent mind.

When I call RM & NS speculative, I am not just being insulting. For me, it simply strains credulity. The objections are colossal. The evidence is inadequate. Darwin’s scheme has some superficial plausibility but it does not, in my view, rise to the status of a scientific theory.

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