Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Nuance Regarding Evolution’s Epistemic Status


This paper seeks to achieve it.  The abstract:

The theory of evolution continues to be a bone of contention among certain groups of theistic believers. This paper aims to bring some light to the debate about it, by introducing a framework for epistemic appraisal which can provide a realistic and sober assessment of the epistemic credentials of the various parts of evolutionary theory. The upshot is a more nuanced epistemic appraisal of the theory of evolution, which shows that there are significant differences in epistemic standing between its various parts. Any serious conversation about the theory of evolution ought to reflect these facts.

Readers, did they succeed?

I'm going to be looking at this paper for a few days. At first sight, though, I would say that anyone who doubts there is a controversy over evolution has only to look here. hnorman5
True, Dean. Axel
Yes, HekS, as vapid as it is pretentious. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. However, the urbane and ultra- confident tenor of their dissimulation is impressive, isn't it ? Axel
Yes, HekS, as vapid as it is pretentious. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. However, the urbane and confident tenor of their dissimulation is quite a work of art, isn't it ? Axel
Thanks for that find Barry. Mung
I'm gonna have to call this one a big fail if it was intended to be anything other than another example of putting a thumb (or a fist) on the scale to favor naturalistic evolutionary explanations. The show of presenting arguments both for and against Universal Common Descent against all alternatives, including descent from multiple first life forms, and then, with supposed objectivity, concluding that UCD is 'weakly beyond reasonable doubt', borders on the absurd ... and may even cross fully into that country. They cite the fossil record as strongly supportive evidence, falsely claim that only organisms with bones or hard parts get fossilized, and completely omit any mention of the Cambrian Explosion. I think a lot of what these authors try to argue in terms of discounting common design as an alternate explanation is stuff I addressed at some length in my discussion with keiths on his silly 'bomb' argument. Also silly is their attempt to disconnect the epistemic status of UCD from that of Natural Selection. They might have a point if the state of the evidence with regard to UCD was as one-sided and strong as they claim (it isn't) AND if one or more of the alternative and/or complementary theories to Natural Selection was shown to be capable of bringing about the large-scale evolutionary changes that would be needed for UCD (none has), but as it stands, UCD is utterly lacking in ANY naturalistic evolutionary mechanism that can be said to have a very strong epistemic status with respect to large scale evolutionary changes, and a reasonable person should see that this state of affairs necessarily impacts the epistemic status of UCD, especially when a broader view of the relevant evidence is brought to bear on that issue. HeKS
'Enormous numbers of fossils were found, among which important transitional forms exemplifying the process by which organisms with one type of body plan gradually evolve into organisms with another type of body plan (e.g. from dinosaurs to birds).' --------------- ('The probability that a dead organism is fossilized and then found after millions of years is extremely low. While this does not offer further support for Common Descent,) it does explain why the scarcity of transitional forms should not be thought to count against it.' The elision of 'Enormous numbers of fossils were found,...' with the succeeding clause, the rest of the sentence, which includes the reference to a putative explanation as to 'why the scarcity of transitional forms should not be thought to count against it', could easly give an impression of sleight of cursor. Also, whether the authors think it dishonest of God and spiteful towards his human children, to deliberately mislead them concerning the age of the earth, as the authors claim vindication of the Young-Earthers' belief would attest, the fact of the matter is that quantum physics 'knocks' materialism 'on the head', and notably in this temporal connection, personal consciousness creating the appearance of the physicality of the 'natural' world that it observes. David Berlinsky would certainly take the authors to task on both issues, the fossils and the relative scientific claims of Evolution and QM. Axel

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