Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Do leading Darwinists believe in common ancestry, with or without evidence? Or despite it?


Apparent chromosome 2 fusion is treated as a slam dunk for common ancestry of apes and humans. But if it turns out that the situation is unclear, as Ann Gauger and colleagues maintain, does that fact count against common ancestry?

That is, is common ancestry something that we argue for or against on the basis of evidence?

Or is it a creed or cult for which evidence is sought – and counter evidence discounted or buried?

This New York Times story, that there is a controversy between the fossil record and the genetic record of human prehistory, prompts the question.

A science journalist criticized the paper for reporting the matter honestly, which tells you how corrupt science news gathering generally is these days.

In a less corrupt environment, the paper would be praised for telling it like it is: Not only is there a controversy, but it’s a nasty one because the paleontologists don’t appreciate the upstart geneticists telling a different tale, instead of just “agreeing” their account with the fossil record, to save establishment butts. In other words, the geneticists decided to help science, not “science.”

Floor’s open: If touted evidence for common descent falls apart, does that count against common descent? Or is common descent the sort of thing for which only the “for” side can count as evidence.

Background: Earlier, we wrote,

Churning through the quote mine, we note that Richard Dawkins wrote, “Instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories, I shall adopt a more armchair approach. My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories – p. 287, Blind Watchmaker” Granville Sewell, In the Beginning, (p. 104) that it is hardly an unusual stance: “ Olan Hyndman, in The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things , [Hyndman 1952], calls Darwinism “the most irrational and illogical explanation of natural phenomena extant.” Yet he says “I have one strong faith, that scientific phenomena are invariable… any exception is as unthinkable as to maintain that thunderbolts are tossed at us by a man-like god named Zeus,” and he goes on to develop an alternative – and even more illogical – theory (Lamarckian, basically) of the causes of evolution. Jean Rostand [Rostand 1956], quoted in previous chapters, says “However obscure the causes of evolution appear to me to be, I do not doubt for a moment that they are entirely natural.” Hans Gaffron [Gaffron 1960], in a paper presented at the 1959 University of Chicago Centennial Congress Evolution After Darwin, presents a theory on the origin of life, but admits, “no shred of evidence, no single fact whatever, forces us to believe in it. What exists is only the scientists’ wish not to admit a discontinuity in nature and not to assume a creative act forever beyond comprehension.”

In lay terms, this translates into, it’s wrong to “believe” in Darwinian evolution, because then we might disbelieve it in the face of countervailing evidence. We must “accept” it, presumably as one accepts the weather or the multiverses.

We must “accept” it, presumably as one accepts the weather or the multiverses.
Rofl. And don't forget the pre-biotic sou... er... uh... jstanley01
There's been a lot of noise lately about 'evidence' that all seems a bit unseemly. Assume a fossilized rabbit is found in precambrian strata, and that there is no confounding notion that it is not if fact a precambrian rabbit. This does nothing for or against common descent. Though it may refute a specific theory that has, as one of its parts, common descent as a necessary feature. 'Common descent' is not a theory derived from metaphysical commitments; it is a metaphysical commitment from which theories may be derived. But given that evolution is postulated to go forwards and proven to go 'backwards', and sideways it is simply an unfalsifiable metaphysical commitment. Any given theory that makes use of these notions and postulates that evolution can go 'forward if [insert whatever] occurs' is falsifiable at least in principle; assuming that [insert whatever] is replicable in nature and any Gettier problems can be ruled out. But the utility of a scientific notion is not predicated on 'truth' or the 'proof that its impossible that its impossible'. It is predicated on the ability to 'make future predictions' as the saw goes. Which is to say that if you can make it rich laying wagers in Vegas on the basis of that theory? Then it's a 'good' theory no matter how incorrect it is. But such a good theory is always of such a nature that we can state 'Given condition A, therefore condition B'. And we know that this is useful, and to what degree it is useful, by either making A happen, or watching A occur on its own. Mind the Gettier problems on that last. But 'evidence' as it keeps getting tossed about by IDists in regards to ID and by Darwinists in regards to Darwinism is all a matter of stating 'look here is a B. This is proof that A occured. And therefore the relation "A leads to B" is true'. But we've never once witnessed an A. And so we have absolutely no ability to construct betting odds on the statistical frequency in which A leads to B. Don't take my word on it. Replace 'A leads to B is True Dammit' with 'A leads to B in x percent of cases'. Now ask where even something so minor as a statistical correlative has been constructed for A leading B; and so possibly causative of B. Which, of course, necessitates that we've observed each of A and B. The answer you will routinely get is that 'x' in 'x percent of cases' is considered to be such a slim thing that the prediction of Darwinism is "You will not witness it in your lifetime". But if my theory is that pigs fly, and the prediction of that occurring in your lifetime is a fat zip then it hardly matters if my theory about the 82nd Airborne Bacon is true or not. And no amount of similarity between the DNA of pigs and birds can provide evidence of my theory. If my theory is correct then the only evidence is 'here is a pig, now watch it fly'. But since my only prediction is 'nothing will happen' then its just the same as having no theory at all. And if my only response to those that ask for demonstration and replicability is 'Trust Me' or 'Here is my 'Perpetuum Mobile, don't touch or look too closely' then what I have is hucksterism. Pure, unadultered and religious fraud; given that we're dealing here with Creation Myths. But if I instead proffer up some random object and state 'If you squint at it right it is permissible that, in some possible world, it is exactly the after effect of what cause I posit. Therefore my theory is True Dammit' then it's just the same sort of nonsense. But only for the already Faithful. But if you are at all serious about 'evidence', 'warrant', or 'justification' then you have one, and only one task, you need to mind. Common Descent, ID, and Evolution are Causal Models. And all the work is Correlative and only over the final consequences. 'Correlation is not causation' of course. And even less so when you do not have, or refuse to include, the prior causes in your correlates. If it is a causal model then it is necessary that it tally's up and counts the causal beans as well as the consequences. Everything else is sophistry. Maus
Promissory notes- as long as they have their promissory notes that state-"Some day we will have an evolutionary answer to that", they don't need evidence today when they have assured us they will have it some tomorrow. But right now they do have- "well it looks like common ancestry to me", so that is what they say as they hand you that promissory note... Joe

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