Notes on Science and Evolution
1. Four grades of scientific speculation
a. description of repeatable, observable phenomena - science has maximum credibility, though fallible
b. interpolation - assumes simplicity (without accepted definition or justification) - agreed upon in application and relatively safe
c. extrapolation - beyond tested boundaries - relatively daring - e.g. “cosmological hypothesis,” constancy of physical “constants”
d. deep theory - postulating unobservable entities on the sole ground that they would explain observations - e.g. molecules, particles, etc., the Big Bang, the id
Moving from a tod increases distance from the evidence and thus lowers credibility - we must become critical consumers of science
2. Scientists accept theories as true on the basis of inadequate evidence: Michaelson said in 1903 that physics is finished; Born said the same in 1928; Gamov said there is nothing smaller than particles (last ed. 1967!); paleontologists at La Brea; dumb, cold-blooded dinosaurs; oxygen/carbon-dioxide balance without quantitative analysis.
3. Although religion deals with many issues not directly relevant to science (the spiritual, the metaphysical, values, worship, etc.), it also makes assertions concerning matters of physical fact. In those assertions there can be conflict between science and religion. For Judaism this includes the age of the universe and the theory of evolution.
4. Solution to the problem of the age of the universe - the Jewish date 5756 is the age of the universe; the scientific date is the result of analyzing misleading data created by G-d
(1) “Why would G-d do that?” (a) the question is not relevant; (b) we can answer: to hide His presence; He told us the truth so He is not deceiving us
(2) “Would that not undercut all investigation?” Only if unconstrained - compare investigating claim of frame-up in law
5. The theory of evolution and its relation to Judaism
a. assume a certain order of appearance of life forms on earth - these are the facts which the theory of evolution is supposed to explain
b. the theory says: (1) there was a first nearly perfect self-replicator; (2) some of its mistakes in self-copying improved the copy’s ability to copy itself; (3) scarcity of resources with which to make copies creates competition between the self-replicators; (4) eventually only the better self-replicators will remain...until (2) repeats the process.
The central claim: (1)-(4) suffice to explain the existence and history of life.
c. G-d could have created the same sequence of life-forms, so there is no contradiction between that sequence and Judaism, but if the central claim is true then the existence of life is not evidence for G-d.
6. Problems with the theory of evolution
a. originally adopted against both the best current age of the earth and the conception of inheritance as blending, and missing its own crucial fossil evidence - this shows the bias of the scientific community in favor of the theory [better any naturalistic explanation than scientific bankruptcy!]
b. the theory asserts that life is the result of unguided, accidental, “random,” processes without providing an estimate of the probability of success - the theory is not precise enough to be evaluated for credibility
c. misuse of data - black/white moths - no new forms implies no support for evolution; persistence of white form implies (extremely weak) evidence against evolution
d. misuse of data - “evolution” of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, insects resistant to insecticides- can be explained without evolution if a subpopulation were already resistant
e. misuse of data - the gap between micro-evolution and macro-evolution
f. homology [def. limbs or organs with similar structure serving different purposes]
- the claim: evolution (common descent) and nothing else can explain homology - both parts of the claim are false: (1) evolution cannot explain homology since homologous structures have dissimilar genetic coding (due to pleiotropy) and embryological development; (2) usefulness and “parallel evolution” are alternative explanations
g. fossil record lacks intermediary forms - theory of “punctuated equilibria” explains why we will not find evidence of its truth [!] - does nothing for big gaps
(fox-like mammal to whale; insects; flowering plants; etc.)
h. most extinctions due to catastrophes - no evidence of any extinctions due to competition
i. no credible (even hypothetical) account of the origin of the first self-replicator,
DNA/proteins, the cell, human intelligence
j. the best available theory should be accepted only if it has enough evidence to be credible
k. CONCLUSION: The theory of evolution is too poorly defined and supported at present to be accepted as true. [It is NOT claimed that the theory is disproved, and NO SUPPORT IS CLAIMED FOR “SCIENTIFIC” CREATIONISM]
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