Physicist: Evolution more scientific than quantum mechanics?
Published: 23 December 2012 (GMT+10)
Wikimedia commons/Marcin Białek
Michael Dowling, a physics lecturer from the United Kingdom, comments on the Question evolution campaign:
I was really surprised that a fellow physics lecturer posted your magazine on his door [see first comment on the Question evolution campaign article—Ed.]. I looked at the 15 questions and most of them are not about evolution, but about abiogenesis. Evolution deals with changes in organisms and DNA not origins (such as RNA hypothesis, by Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate). Another odd thing is why attack evolution when particle physics and astrophysics would be more appropriate. How did the universe begin and why is it hostile to life?
Most Christians support evolution (In fact all Catholics have to as it was decreed ‘true’ by the last Pope). Evolution is the most tested of all scientific theories. It makes testable predictions. Evolution is a fact, its theory can be applied and tested and it always turns out to be correct. I find it baffling that some intelligent people are blind to one of the greatest scientific theories of the past 200 years. Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) is the most accurate theory in science, however evolution is the most tested and examined. There are around a million published (peer reviewed) articles on evolutionary science in many journals. There is not a single (one) peer reviewed paper on intelligent design (ID) why is that? What you need to do is get a couple of thousand peer reviewed articles published in major scientific journals testing ID. Once you have that behind you then it would be legitimate to question evolution. But there isn’t even one paper yet. So fund the biological sciences to carry out research into ID. That is where your focus should be. Not bashing main stream excepted science. Get yours to the same level of credulity first. Then you will have science on your side. QED.(quod erat demonstrandum, in this case)
We asked if Michael would like his full name displayed and he agreed to this and added:
Just to add one extra point I omitted from my original post. Imagine that 20 years ahead (2032), evolutionary biologists discover that the theory of evolution is unjustified. So biologists are now scratching their heads trying to figure out what causes changes in development of organisms and why 99% of all life is now extinct? That does not mean that creationism is true. Much in the way that if quantum mechanics was disproved it would not mean that Unicorns exist by default. For creationism to be true there has to be testable, supporting evidence. This is what creationists are failing to do. They are not carrying out investigations to test their hypotheses. Only when that is started can they claim any underpinning of their hypothesis. Bashing another scientific theory does nothing for their claim.
Dr Don Batten responds:
There are so many fallacies here!
1. Creation magazine is not the 15 Questions (the physics lecturer in South Africa was displaying articles from Creation magazine, and the 15 Questions).
2. The General Theory of Evolution deals also with abiogenesis. You would have known this if you had actually read the full 15 Questions and especially the three-part article where attempts at answers are presented. It seems like you missed reading this also:
“Note to would-be evolution defenders: please read the full brochure and linked articles before attempting to answer the questions, otherwise you will likely be wasting your time boxing at shadows.”
3. RNA hypothesis? It is ‘dead in the water’.
4. Universe “hostile to life”? That must be news to those atheistic cosmologists who invented such a bizarre thing as ‘multiverse theory’ to overcome the anthropic principle; the observation that our universe is incredibly, improbably suited to life (if it was not actually designed for life). See Divining design.
5. “Most Christians support evolution”? Not according to surveys (e.g.) in the USA. In countries where it is not easy to be a Christian, I think you would be hard-pressed to find any who believe in evolution. And you misunderstand the nature of the Pope’s statement, which is not regarded by Roman Catholics as binding on what they think. Indeed, there is a significant creationist movement in the RC church (we know of groups in the USA, Europe and Australia). Indeed, Professor Maciej Giertych, from Poland, is a well known Catholic creationist. It is also likely that the Pope’s statement has been mistranslated.
6. “Evolution the most tested of all scientific theories”? You have not read the 15 Questions, have you? Look at Question 15 and 14. Evolution isn’t even a proper scientific theory, in essence. What experiment can be done on the claim that reptiles changed into birds 150 million years ago?
Evolution has seriously harmed science.
7. “It makes testable predictions … always turn out to be correct”? Actually many major ‘predictions’ have been wrong: the fossil record, 150 useless vestigial organs, junk DNA, impossible for a wheel to arise by evolutionary processes (Haldane), introns (segments of DNA within protein-coding genes that are edited out before protein formation) forming an advanced multi-tasking operating system considered evolutionarily ‘impossible’, mutations plus natural selection explain the origin of all new DNA specifications, the mutation rate in ‘higher’ organisms was grossly underestimated (by 2 orders of magnitude), etc. Evolution has seriously harmed science. See How evolution harms science. The failure of evolutionary theory has been so consistent that it should have been abandoned, but the only alternative is unthinkable to the secular (God-less) mind. It’s as Professor D.M.S. Watson admitted years ago:
“evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible” (Nature 124:233, 1929).
8. “A million published peer reviewed articles on evolutionary science”? The comprehensive database of papers on biology, PubMed, currently indexes 5,645 sources, mainly journals. From these, only 332,000 papers even mention “evolution”. Adding “natural selection” only increases the number by 0.3%. However, not all the publications on PubMed are peer-reviewed papers and many of the papers have nothing to do with the concept of biological evolution because ‘evolution’ is often used merely in the sense of ‘change’. For example, four of the first 10 papers I retrieved had nothing to do with biological evolution. Many also actually provide powerful evidence for intelligent design (creation) and then (to prove the author is not a dreaded creationist?) there is a trite ‘dipping of the lid’ to evolution in the concluding comments (I personally know a recent doctoral candidate whose supervisor wanted just such an irrelevant statement added to a paper on molecular biology that had nothing to do with evolution). I think it would be generous to concede a figure of 20% of the one million claimed. As an interesting aside, evolution’s pushers often claim that it is the backbone of biology, and how necessary it is for medical research (etc.), but the total ‘evolution’ papers comprise only 1.5% of the total indexed on PubMed.
9. “Not a single one peer reviewed on intelligent design … isn’t even one paper yet.”? Wrong again. And of course the Journal of Creation is a peer-reviewed journal. However, you have to do better than hide behind ‘peer review’; you need to demonstrate where our arguments are wrong. Peer review can be nothing more than a way of excluding unpopular ideas from ‘the club’. Even ‘mainstream’ scientists are recognizing the deficiencies of the system in keeping out good ideas and not filtering out bad ones (try copying this into a Google search: “failure of peer review” site:dml.cmnh.org). ‘Is it true?’ is the issue, not ‘is it peer reviewed?’
That there is no Nobel Prize for evolution or any related field makes sense because it is not hard science.
10. We are “bashing mainstream accepted science” in critiquing evolution? No we are not; as the 15 Questions points out (did you actually read it?), evolution is a hypothesis about history, which is not something that science can address with anything resembling the scientific method; it is most definitely not “mainstream science”. A former President of Harvard University called this historical daydreaming that masquerades as ‘science’ a fantasia. Did you read ‘It’s not science!’ (linked from Question 15)? Again, it seems not. Evolution is entirely different to quantum mechanics, which is open to experimental testing in the present, which is what mainstream science is all about. That there is no Nobel Prize for evolution or any related field makes sense because it is not hard science, contrary to your assertions.
11. “Imagine that 20 years ahead (2032), evolutionary biologists discover that the theory of evolution is unjustified” (your added comment). There is already a plethora of contrary evidence but still evolution reigns, as dogma, taught to the exclusion of all else, even criticism. There are even atheists’ clubs to ‘protect’ evolution from criticism (including a British one, the BCSE). While a materialistic worldview prevails in academia, some form of evolution (materialistic origins scenario) will remain entrenched; it is a matter of the ‘priority of the paradigm’—as Professor Lewontin said, they “cannot allow a divine foot in the door”. See Would Darwin be a Darwinist today?
You say that if evolution were disproven (and it has been), “That does not mean that creationism is true. Much in the way that if quantum mechanics was disproved it would not mean that Unicorns exist by default.” This is such an incredible non sequitur. Divine creation and materialistic evolution are logical alternatives to explain the origin and diversity of life. However, Unicorns have zero relevance to explaining the structure of matter.
It was not creationists who invented the idea that creation was an alternative to evolution, but evolutionists. Darwin led the way. Even today, evolutionists present arguments against creation, such as claimed ‘bad design’, as arguments for evolution. Their reasoning is correct: the law of the excluded middle applies here: either living things made themselves by a materialistic process (evolution) or they were created (a third option that living things always existed is not possible).“For creationism to be true there has to be testable …” Hmm … This reminds me of the Skeptics who on the one hand claim that creation is not science because it is ‘not testable’ but then go on to ‘prove’ it wrong!
Virtually every paper published on molecular biology today reinforces the truth of supernatural creation. What is being discovered is so far removed from the capability of natural processes to create that it screams ‘creation’ by a super-intelligent Creator. For example, sophisticated rotary and linear nano-motors don’t arise by mutations. Even the former ‘world’s most notorious atheist’, Antony Flew, eventually saw the power of this evidence. Creationists are also publishing papers to establish what we claim, but it is clear (above) that you have not looked for them (check out some of Dr Royal Truman’s papers in Journal of Creation, for example).
As for “99% of all life is now extinct”, this is fallacious, based on evolutionary assumptions about how many transitional ‘species’ must have lived in the past. See Fossil figures fall.
I hope this clarifies some things for you. As a physicist it seems that you have a misplaced respect for evolutionary biology, which is not at all ‘hard science’ like physics. Perhaps your enthusiasm for biological evolution does not come from its value as science but its perceived usefulness as a religion to replace Christianity? (see Question 15).
Don Batten (Biologist).