Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An interesting quote submitted by "carl" at "Atheist Central"

     "Our theory of evolution has become, as Popper described, one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus 'outside of empirical science' but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways to test it. Ideas either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have obtained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training. The cure seems to us not to be a discarding of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, but more skepticism about many of its tenets..."

     Now, I didn't take carl at his word about the quote. I sought to verify it. The source article from Nature's website is not available without payment. However, talkorigins has verified the quote for me by complaining about a quote mine. (Carl has included the very part they complain is being left out.)
     Now, the sense that I get from this quote is that the "theory of evolution" is (currently) completely untestable but not useless. That could just be confirmation bias on my part as that is my own stance. Talkorigins argues that because Ehrlich and Birch do not advocate scrapping the idea of evolution they must not regard it as untestable. I disagree. It can still be considered useful as a concise representation of prior observation. It can also serve as a signpost of current belief. And, perhaps, at some point a test will be conceived. But I should note that they have produced no context that would indicate "every conceivable observation can be fitted into it" does not mean what it appears to mean on its face. And, indeed, it is the same assertion that I have made on this blog (without knowing of the prior quote.)

No comments: