Darwin's Predictions

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Darwin's Predictions (aka darwinspredictions.com) is a website written and maintained by Cornelius Hunter, a fellow at the Discovery Institute. In it he argues several points that show that evolution, as theorized by Charles Darwin, has been falsified. These are oftentimes rehashed (and often debunked) creationist arguments without substance.

The arguments, by section[edit]

Part 1: Introduction[edit]

Hunter's argumentRebuttal
Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution in 1859. In reality, the idea that species change over time was not a new argument when Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. It was, however, a very novel concept that it was because of nature, not a deity, that caused these changes. Darwin had originally written his ideas of natural selection starting in 1839, and published them in two separate volumes in 1842 and 1844.[1] The culmination of evidence, hypotheses, criticisms and predictions was published as the book Origin in 1859. Furthermore, "natural philosophers," "natural historians," and "scientists" had been trying to interpret the fossil record for at least a century before Darwin was born.

It is not controversial that a great many predictions made by Darwin’s theory of evolution have been found to be false. It is unclear what Hunter is truly arguing here. His statement argues that the theory itself, and not Darwin, has made predictions that are false. But this is entirely untrue. The theory itself has yet to be shown to be false, and therefore none of its predictions have been found to be false. If Hunter is arguing that Darwin predicted things which were wrong, that doesn't undermine the current theory of evolution as it stands, and therefore the theory hasn't been shown to be false.

But what if fundamental predictions are consistently falsified? As we shall see this is the case with the theory of evolution. Evolutionists are commonly surprised by the scientific evidences from biology. The evidences do not fit the evolutionary expectations. Hunter never references what these evidences are that commonly surprise "evolutionists," nor does he really show what fundamental predictions are consistently falsified. It is impossible to rebut that which is simply never argued.

Evolution has a long history of false predictions leading to rising complexity. Again, an argument laid out without substance. Nothing to rebut yet.

Evolutionists have accommodated its many false predictions. The problems have been "fixed," but in the process the theory has grown tremendously complicated. Scientists are suspicious of theories that morph in many directions to fit the data. Another argument without substance. Who are these scientists? What was "fixed?" What was shown to be a false prediction?

Criticism of evolution draws heated responses, and personal attacks are common. Such attacks, however, do not change the fact that evolution has, like geocentrism, generated many false predictions and as a consequence grown more complex. Heated and personal responses do not minimize the science. Instead, what Hunter does is his own ad hominem, by dismissing the science or its integrity by saying the people who support it do something wrong.

Evolutionists often ignore or deny the problem of unexpected findings and theory complexity. They attempt to discredit the facts, referring to them as "tired old arguments," or fallacies. Rarely do evolutionists follow-up such criticisms with supporting details. Until such details are provided we cannot know if these criticisms are sound. Strangely, Hunter believes that logic dictates that if an idea is wrong, it should be dismissed. But it's "brushing off" arguments if creationist arguments, what he dubs "tired old arguments" or "fallacies" by "evolutionists," are wrong. Hunter has yet to produce any valid argument in his introduction, and has instead consistently argued that evolution, and its supporters, are simply wrong.

It has been argued that in order to qualify as science, ideas and theories need to be falsifiable. Also, falsified predictions are sometimes used to argue a theory is false. Such naïve falsificationism is flawed and not used here. Evolution’s many false predictions do not demonstrate that evolution is not science or that evolution is necessarily false. Another argument that evolution is wrong and contains false predictions without listing them. Hunter should try laying out his case instead of arguing ad infinitum that evolution and its supporters are wrong.

Many scientists doubt evolution, but they are not cited or quoted in this document. Many non-biologists may doubt evolution, but nearly all biologists in the world accept evolution. The branch of science someone is an expert on really does make a difference: non-biologist scientists have no more authority in biology than non-physicist scientists have in physics.

There are many reasons why scientists continue to believe in weak or problematic theories, including conservativeness, financial factors, social and institutional pressures, and so forth. While these reasons may at times be important in the case of Darwin’s theory, another reason why evolutionists are undaunted is that they believe evolution is a fact, in spite of the many evidential problems. Section 7 examines why this is so. This argument comes from someone who believes in stories written over 1800 years ago before mankind had a decent understanding of the world. At least Hunter lets the reader know where the reader may find the substance behind his argument . . . near the end of the page.

As scientists, we need to evaluate scientific theories according to the currently available data. No one knows what future data may bring, and the claim that future data will rescue evolution is ultimately circular. No one who accepts evolution argues this, and Hunter does not cite anyone. The data supports evolution now, so there's no need for anyone to say that it will get rescued in the future.

One way to evaluate a theory is to compare it to alternative explanations. There are, however, potential pitfalls to this approach. First, any such comparison will crucially depend on what alternative explanations are used in the comparison. If care is not taken good alternatives can be misrepresented or even omitted altogether. And of course there may be alternatives not yet conceived. Unless you have precognitive skills, how can you compare a theory against alternatives not yet conceived? Until they're conceived, why should anyone try to compare current theory to them?

Nonetheless, comparisons to evolution’s alternatives have always been fundamental in evolutionary thought and are critical to understanding evolutionary thinking. Section 7 examines this in more detail. Hunter should have constructed his argument first, and then put his conclusion at the end. Not the other way around. At this point, he is summarizing his argument and giving his points as though they had merit, and asking his readers to wait to see the facts behind his argument much later on the page. This is almost akin to making a quick argument in a book, but having the meat of the argument in an endnote buried at the back of the book.

It is true that evolutionists have, for the most part, dropped many predictions that were once made by evolutionists or entailed by the theory. This suggests that the theory does not have a good track record. Which predictions were dropped? Who no longer believes them? What about some of Darwin's predictions that were found, like the moth with a long proboscus, or that humans first developed in Africa and migrated to differing lands, or that all humans were the exact same species? Another summary without the facts to support it.

Some arguments for evolution are theological or philosophical in nature. Many have concluded that God would never have created the biological world we observe. This includes Darwin as well as many thinkers before and after him. This conclusion suggested evolutionary theories, in one form or another. Evolution does not deal with the origins of earth nor of life. The arguments for evolution have nothing to do with religion or God, but are based on the evidence and other related sciences. Darwin was a deist initially who had difficulties with his own ideas of natural selection based on his religious upbringing, and his wife's devotion to her faith. Evolution ideas arose based on evidence, not based on dismissal of any religion or its ideas. Only later did Darwin became agnostic-this was going beyond the theory itself, and into the realm of philosophy. Many people (in his time and now) accept evolution but also believe in God.

Evolutionists argue that evolution is a fact, and that we ought to focus on evolution’s successful predictions rather than its false predictions. The tendency to seek confirming evidence over contrary evidence is known as confirmation bias. Another strange argument from someone who is a fellow at an organization well known for quote mining and misleading characterizations of articles and people. Hunter has yet to provide any of these false predictions made by evolution, but insists they are there.

One consequence of confirmation bias can be that confirming evidence is viewed as correct and typical whereas disconfirming evidence is viewed as anomalous and rare. "Kettle, you're black!"

Not surprisingly the confirming evidence is more often retained and documented. Does Hunter wish to suggest that knowledge is a bad thing? Of course "confirming evidence" is retained and documented because it explains the science.

Rarely are the many false predictions found in evolution texts. And never in all these arguments.