The Spectacle Blog

Re: Theories and Experiments

By on 11.20.05 | 2:12PM

Dave: No, that's not correct. Evolutionary theory consists of a constellation of hypotheses that are falsifiable by experimentation. It's pretty easy to come up with simple ones. For example: Get a mix of puppies of various breeds and raise them in a lab with their food on a platform. Raise the platform six inches every 2 months, until it is 3 feet high when the dogs are one year old. When they breed, raise their offspring under similar conditions. Hypothesis: Each generation of dogs will be taller, on average, than the last. If the hypothesis is correct, it would seem to demonstrate that height is heritable and can be determined by natural selection. If dogs too small to reach their food, and thus too unhealthy to breed, continue to be born generation after generation, then size must not be heritable, and we have to figure out some other explanation. (For the experiment to be meaningful, it must be possible for many scientists to duplicate the results -- that's what it means for an experiment to be repeatable.) A more sophisticated (and cutting edge) experiment: Predict the number of harmful mutations in the genome of one species based on the number of harmful mutations in the genome of another species, then run the sequencers and find out if your predictions are right. There is no such experiment to test for the presence of a Designer.

And no, I'm not arguing that the question of how things came to be is the exclusive domain of science. I'm arguing that religious and scientific answers to that question reveal different kinds of truth, and shouldn't be commingled.

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