The Instigator
Cliff.Stamp
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

The current evolutionary synthesis is not a scientific theory

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,783 times Debate No: 14658
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (40)
Votes (4)

 

Cliff.Stamp

Pro

For clarity, definitions :

1) Evolution : the change over time in the proportion of individual organisms differing in one or more inherited traits [1]

2) Theory : an hypothesis which is well supported through repeated experimental tests which is capable of predicting new phenomena and explaining current phenomena and is both demonstratable and falsifiable. [2] [3] [4]

3) Law : a concise verbal or mathematical statement of a relation that expresses a fundamental principle, a distillation of the results of repeated observation [5]

4) Second Law of Thermodynamics : the equilibrium state of a system maximizes the entropy[6]

Note, there are many ways to define the above terms, some of them are highly contested, the ID movement for example argues for a unique definition of theory which can be as vague as "best explanation"[7]

Three rules :

1) Do not accept this debate and argue using definitions other than the above. I will entertain of course other debates with different definitions, just post in the comment section.

2) Be an active Con and make a case that the current evolutionary synthesis is a scientific theory. This way both sides can argue for and against which is far more interesting to read.

3) Respect the character limit, and do not abuse it with references to external arguments, using the comment section, or abusing the rich text bug .

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu...

[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com...

[4] http://www.experiment-resources.com...

[5] http://evidence-based-science.blogspot.com...

[6] http://www.allaboutscience.org...

[7] http://bevets.com...
RoyLatham

Con

Pro has the burden of proof of demonstrating that evolution is not a scientific theory, but made no arguments that it is not.

1. Demonstrability. Pro's definition of evolution covers all cases when the proportion of inherited traits change. This clearly includes traits selected by humans for propagation. This demonstrated, for example, by the evolution of dogs from wolves due to elective breeding under human control. http://www.dog-names.org.uk... There is an interesting case of crabs taken from a lake in Japan, in which the crab was throw back if the carapace looked like samurai face. Once rare, now all the crabs have the samurai face. http://en.wikipedia.org... Crops are selectively bred for dramatic increases in yield. http://en.wikipedia.org... In humans, blue eyes originated about 10,000 years ago, and are now a sustained trait. http://discovermagazine.com... In microbes:

"Antibiotic resistance is a type of drug resistance where a micro organism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic. Genes can be transferred between bacteria in a horizontal fashion by conjugation, transduction, or transformation. Thus a gene for antibiotic resistance which had evolved via natural selection may be shared. Evolutionary stress such as exposure to antibiotics then selects for the antibiotic resistant trait." http://en.wikipedia.org...

Experimental evolution has proved the validity of evolution in micro organisms, rodents, and fish. http://en.wikipedia.org... "laboratory studies with rodents have shown that notable adaptations can occur within as few as 10-20 generations and experiments with wild guppies have observed adaptations within comparable numbers of generations"

2. Falsifiabilty. The theory of evolution would be falsified if selective breeding did not work to change the proportion of traits in an organism. However, selective breeding works, and does so with predictable results.

A key aspect of falsifiabilty in the natural sciences is whether diverse observations are unified under the theory. "Evolutionary theory is unified because so many diverse questions ... can be addressed by advancing Darwinian histories. Moreover, these narratives constantly make claims that are subject to independent check." http://en.wikipedia.org... For example, long after evolutionary theory was well established, analysis of mis-named "junk DNA" provided an independent means of tracing evolutionary ancestry. If the results of DNA analysis had contracted evolutionary theory, it would have been a strong argument that the theory was false. However, the DNA analysis supports evolution. http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org...

Evolution could also be falsified by the observation of new species appearing spontaneously, without closely-allied genetic precursors. This has not been observed.

3. Expert opinion. Popular opinion on the validity of evolution is irrelevant, however scientists in the relevant fields have persuasive expertise as to what is and is not valid science. "The vast majority of the scientific community and academia supports evolutionary theory as the only explanation that can fully account for observations in the fields of biology, paleontology, anthropology, and others. One 1987 estimate found that "700 scientists ... (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists) ... give credence to creation-science". An expert in the evolution-creationism controversy, professor and author Brian Alters states that "99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution". http://en.wikipedia.org...

Evolution meets all the tests of being a scientific theory. It is the near-unanimous consensus of scientists in relevant fields that the theory is valid. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 1
Cliff.Stamp

Pro

" Pro's definition of evolution covers all cases when the proportion of inherited traits change."

And yet if a population does not have a change in inherited traits it can simply be argued that the time was not long enough. Thus, if a population is observed over time the inherited traits can stay the same or they can change and converge, diverge or simply oscillate. How is this possibly predictive?

" The theory of evolution would be falsified if selective breeding did not work to change the proportion of traits in an organism. "

There is no constraint in the definition which can be used to exclude divergence, the traits could also simply oscillate. Note the definition does not reference genes, this was explicitly removed for a reason (see below).

"99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution"

Even if the majority of scientists agreed with this specific resolution, it would not make it true, and in this case what they are accepting is not the resolution as stated in the above.

Here is the crux, evolutionary theory started as the concept that proposed by Darwin that inherited traits are selected by a criterion of fit to the environment - this is a very easy statement to demonstrate, falsify and model. It underwent a major synthesis (restatement) due to the discovery of DNA which clarified the origin of the traits. This even lead some such as Dawkin's to argue for a purely gene centered view of evolution [1]. Then the mechanism of evolution (natural selection) was challenged due to discovery of genetic drift, which is argued by some to be the primary force for speciation[2].

At one point the theory was defined similar to the above but noted allele frequency (i.e. references genetics as the source of the traits). This was removed from the wiki definition (can be seen in the version history) and is no longer being used professionally because of discoveries which show that inherited traits are no longer exclusive to DNA. The growing body of new evidence has produced a contention now in biology that evolutionary theory requires a complete new synthesis (restatement) due to concepts such as

"evolvability, developmental plasticity, phenotypic and genetic accommodation, punctuated evolution, phenotypic innovation, facilitated variation, epigenetic inheritance, and multi-level selection" [3]

As evolutionary biologists struggle to ratify new observations and the extent to which they influence populations (Jerry Coyne vs Massimo Pigliucci for example) it leaves the definition of evolution in a never never land which has retreated almost to the hypothesis state and thus produces transitory definitions such as the above which have no explicit definition of trait expression, nor any mechanism which controls population frequency, nor even a convergence criteria (it is also now of some dispute if all life came from one ancestor, or a number of similar (extremely basic) ancestors).

As all of these are now being challenged by new observations and it is not well known as to the exact limiting influences of each, the contention in short simply argues that the current statements of evolution which are being used in this transition period while the current body of evidence is being integrated is not a scientific theory. It does not contain the constraints to allow it to be properly demonstrated (if-only-if), falsified, or be predictive, and it also does not reference any mechanism so does not explain as a theory should but at most appears to be a law similar to the second law as noted.

[1] The Selfish Gene (1976), Richard Dawkins

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[3] http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com...
RoyLatham

Con

1. Demonstrability. The definition of evolution that Pro asserted for this debate is "the change over time in the proportion of individual organisms differing in one or more inherited traits." For evolution to be a scientific hypothesis, the proportion of inherited traits must be observable. For example, the trait of human eye color must be observable to tell whether or not the proportion of humans having a certain eye color changes over time. Traits are observable, so the criteria of demonstrability has been met.

2. Falsifiabilty. Consider the hypothesis, "Buildings can catch fire and burn down." Pro's argument on falsifiabilty can be applied. "Burning Buildings Theory cannot be falsified because if a certain building does not burn down, proponents of the Theory will dismiss it as just not having caught fire yet. Moreover, scientists are now being forced to acknowledge that not every building can burn easily, and it seems some cannot burn at all." Pro's argument fails because it is irrelevant whether or not all buildings burn or could burn.

Similarly it is irrelevant whether or not whether the proportion of each inherited trait changes or can change. Clearly some do. Pro did not contest any of my examples. Biologists acknowledge that some species arrive at a point of genetic stability wherein few changes occur. For example, horseshoe crabs have shown little change over the past four hundred million years. http://science.jrank.org... Pro incorrectly argued that proponents of evolution would never acknowledge this happening. However, they do acknowledge such cases, and they recognize that it does not invalidate evolutionary theory.

Different organisms have different mechanisms for correcting DNA mutations. If an organism is genetically stable, then few mutations are transmitted. The ability to reject mutations is itself an inherited trait. It is beneficial to the survival of the human species to evolve quickly. Not so horseshoe crabs.

Pro argues, "There is no constraint in the definition which can be used to exclude divergence, ..." I'm not sure what Pro means, but it is not relevant to the resolution. The resolution is that the proportion of traits in a population can change. That's not contradicted.

3. Expert opinion. Pro first argues that the classic theory of evolution is not the same as the present resolution. The debate definition is that the proportion of traits in a population changes. Darwinian evolution is a stronger statement: not only does the proportions of traits change, but they change in accordance with mutation and natural selection. Hence if 99.9% of scientists agree with the whole theory of evolution, a higher percentage might oppose the current resolution, but not a lower percentage.

Pro is correct that expert opinion is not absolute proof. Nonetheless, it is very strong evidence. Our resolution is only whether evolution is a scientific hypothesis. Consider debating whether a certain doctrine is consistent with Catholicism. That 99.9% of Catholic priests claim it consistent is very strong evidence. It is strong evidence regardless of whether the doctrine is true or not. In our case, our 99.9% believes that both evolution is a scientific theory and that it's true. Scientists are authorities on what constitutes science, whether agree with a theory or not.

Pro argues that the theory of Darwinian evolution has changed over time. That's irrelevant to the current debate, where the definition is given as a weak subset of the larger theory. Nonetheless, what Pro is pointing to are details in the understanding of how evolution works. Newton proposed a valid theory of how gravity acts; Einstein explained how the mechanism works. That supports, not denies, Newton. Pro's [3] specifically states the mechanisms Pro quoted from that reference support evolution.
Debate Round No. 2
Cliff.Stamp

Pro

"Traits are observable, so the criteria of demonstrability has been met."

It was conceded that it could be demonstrated, what was contested is that it is predictive, there is no way to even model it with algorithms as there is no way to define a "goodness of fit" criteria [1].

"Buildings can catch fire and burn down."

A more analagous statement would be "After it is built, a building might burn down.". Now would that be considered a valid scientific theory?

One could sit and watch building after building not burn down and the statement would hold because it only notes they could, not that they should and under what conditions (which would make it a theory).

Is that predictive? Clearly no.

"Different organisms have different mechanisms for correcting DNA mutations."

Note the current theory does not restrict inherited traits to be from DNA as it is now know there are non-DNA sources of inherited traits.

"It is beneficial to the survival of the human species to evolve quickly. Not so horseshoe crabs."

Note "survival of the fittest"is no longer the primary constraint in evolutionary theory as it is known that mechanisms such as genetic drift can cause speciation which to not "fit" a species to the environment.

"Pro argues, "There is no constraint in the definition which can be used to exclude divergence, ..." I'm not sure what Pro means, but it is not relevant to the resolution. The resolution is that the proportion of traits in a population can change. That's not contradicted."

It was argued that if forced breeding failed to work it would falsify evolutionary theory, this is not the case.

If forced breeding produced no focused change at all over time instead showed divergence or oscillation of trait frequency then the theory still would hold as it does not say that a change has to take place, nor does it say that the change has to obey rules for DNA inheritence.

Assume the goal was to breed a more muscular dog so in each generation the most muscular dogs were bred. The statement in the above would allow for the population of dogs to not become more muscular because the traits could oscillate, they could even in fact produce less muscular dogs - or they could produce no net change.

"Hence if 99.9% of scientists agree with the whole theory of evolution, a higher percentage might oppose the current resolution, but not a lower percentage."

They would agree that the statement is not false if they accepted Darwin's theory yes, but the resolution is not that the statement is true, the resolution is that the statement (a noted in the above) is a scientific theory.

In summary, there has been a great deal of new information discovered which contradicts many long standing ideas in evolutionary theory such as; inherited traits = DNA, natural selection = mechanism for allele selection, etc. . As the current statement of evolutionary theory has removing these falsified assertions it has in doing so become so vague that it is currently as stated not a scientific theory.

"Scientists are authorities on what constitutes science, whether agree with a theory or not."

I would agree, but again are they actually commenting on the specific resolution made here?

"Pro argues that the theory of Darwinian evolution has changed over time. That's irrelevant to the current debate, where the definition is given as a weak subset of the larger theory."

It was included to clairfy what was being contested was the current statement only.

"Newton proposed a valid theory of how gravity acts; Einstein explained how the mechanism works. That supports, not denies, Newton."

Accepted without contest, but note here Einstein proposed the mechanism (curvature of space time), this is the exact opposite of what we are discussing here where the mechanism was removed from the definition.

[1] http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk...
RoyLatham

Con

There are two criteria for a theory being scientific: it must be demonstrable and falsifiable.

1. Demonstrability. Pro concedes that individual traits can be observed and thus measured.

2. Falsifiabilty. Falsifiabilty is related to prediction. A theory is falsified if the theory makes a prediction and the prediction is wrong. I gave many examples of the proportion of traits in a population changing over time.

Pro argues my analogy with the theory "buildings burn down," saying "One could sit and watch building after building not burn down and the statement would hold because it only notes they could, not that they should and under what conditions (which would make it a theory). ... Is that predictive? Clearly no."

Pro is wrong, A theory that houses might burn down predicts that there is a finite probability of it happening. In modern physics, some theories predict that protons decay. So scientists watch a whole bunch of protons to see if one decays. The data now indicates that if they do decay, the half life is greater than 10^33 years. The point is that the proton decay theory is a scientific theory, even though falsification involves something never happening. http://en.wikipedia.org...

Pro argues that if selective breeding always failed it is possible that some other mechanism could still cause a change in the proportion of traits. Pro has a valid point, although the theory would be disproved with respect to genetics, which is actually the only case about which anyone cares.

Evolution as defined here is falsified only if there are no changes in any ratio of any traits in any population. If any trait changes in proportion in any population then the theory is confirmed. This is comparable to the theory that protons decay. None have been observed, but if one ever is, then then the theory is confirmed. The theory of proton decay can only be falsified statistically, which is to say that the probability it is true approaches zero as more protons are observed over longer times. Despite the fact that confirmation is probabilistic, everyone believes the theory is a scientific theory. The only question is whether or not it is true. Similarly, if no population were ever observed to change traits, there would be a theoretical possibility they might in the future. Nonetheless, the ever-diminishing probability makes it a valid scientific theory.

There are other examples. Newtonian mechanics clams that the weight of an object does not affect the rate at which it falls under gravity. It's logically possible that some future object might be an exception, yet the theory is universally accepted as both scientific and confirmed. Most physical laws are similar in that they are only confirmed by a finite number of experiments.

3. Expert opinion. I argued that scientists are experts in knowing what is a scientific theory and what is not. 99.9% of scientists believe that Darwinian evolution is a valid scientific theory. I pointed out that the current resolution is necessary to Darwinian theory, because if it is not a scientific theory that population traits can change, then clearly it is not a scientific theory to say they change by natural selection.

Pro quoted a source that says that other factors are at work in evolution other than just natural selection. The source says that this further supports Darwinian theory. But supporting Darwinism or not, it is not possible for a scientist to believe that it is a scientific theory that evolution occurs by any combination of mechanisms if the scientist does not believe that it is a scientific theory that populations can change. Consequently, expert opinion of at least 99.9% of scientists believe that the present resolution is false.

It is a scientific theory that populations evolve. It's observed. If no population was ever observed to change, the theory would be falsified.
Debate Round No. 3
Cliff.Stamp

Pro

"There are two criteria for a theory being scientific: it must be demonstrable and falsifiable."

Theory was defined in the opening, and one of the rules of the debate was to accept the definitions in the opening.

"The point is that the proton decay theory is a scientific theory, even though falsification involves something never happening."

No, from the actual source quoted :

"proton decay is a hypothetical form of radioactive decay in which the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles, such as a neutral pion and a positron. There is currently no experimental evidence that proton decay occurs."

Proton decay is not a theory, it is a prediction made from a theory (or rather group of theories). As an example, in the Georgi–Glashow model the proton has a half-life of about 10^36 years and decays into a positron and a neutral pion. Note the theory does not simply state as one of its predictions "may decay", it states the half life and decay products, this allows for prediction and obvious demonstration or falsification.

"...although the theory would be disproved with respect to genetics"

Again, the theory as stated does not state any explicit connection to genetics at all.

"Evolution as defined here is falsified only if there are no changes in any ratio of any traits in any population."

No, even that would not falsify it because there is both no mechanism for modeling and no time constraint so even if no change was never observed it could simply be argued that more time is needed. That is the exact problem, it can not be used to predict observations nor can any observation falsify it because there is no longer any mechanism in the theory statement nor even a link to the biological nature of "trait".

"99.9% of scientists believe that Darwinian evolution is a valid scientific theory."

It was noted without contest that Darwin's statement was a valid theory, it was wrong, but still a scientific theory.

"I pointed out that the current resolution is necessary to Darwinian theory ..."

True, but simply because something is necessary for a theory does not mean that something is itself a theory, the somethings can be facts or laws or fundamental constructs (dimensional separation, i.e., space/time).

To summarize, as I was preparing for another debate I noticed how the current and very recent restatements of evolution had removed allele, this is because it is now known that there are non-DNA sources of inherited traits. However with the mechanism (natural selection) also removed the current synthesis has become too vague to be called a theory.

The problem is that there are so many mechanisms and underlying complicated factors that it is difficult to state evolution without ignoring or contradicting one or more of them, and while scientists are trying to produce this new synthesis - they are left with something that is extremely vague. The current statement translated in lay terms reads as follows :

"If you were to observe the traits of a population over time they may stay the same or they may change, if they change then they may converge or they may diverge or they may simply oscillate in a random manner."

Well yes, that is the sum total of everything that could possibly happen. That is not predictive, anything which is observed satisfies it, and nothing can falsify it. It is not a scientific theory. It is of course true, but simply being true is not how a theory is defined.

That statement is so weak it does not even satisfy the lay conditions for a theory, it would be like someone asking you what would your theory on the outcome of the next time your favorite team played and you responded "My theory is that they will either win, or lose, or draw or it will be a no contest."

That is the sad condition of the current evolutionary synthesis, it claims win, lose, draw or no-contest, well yes, true, but not tremendously helpful.
RoyLatham

Con

Pro picked a definition of "evolution" that is at best marginally relevant to the Darwinian Theory of
Evolution. The definition that evolution is "the change over time in the proportion of individual organisms differing in one or more inherited traits" is used in a generic way, along the lines of "At the Westminster show, the sporting dogs have evolved over the years." In the sense of the given definition, it only asserts the proportions of traits in the population have changed, not why they have changed or whether the change is beneficial or not.

Darwinian evolution goes well beyond the definition cited for the debate. To be sure, the theory that populations change is essential to Darwinian evolution, because for natural selection to work it's essential that populations change. Consequently, affirmation of Darwinism negates the resolution. After stating that we are only debating the definition of the resolution, Pro persists that in invalidates Darwinism. Pro introduced a reference to a paper that cites factors other than natural selection that affect changes in traits. Pro then claimed that Darwinism was invalidated, even though the paper itself asserts the contrary. What the paper asserted is that natural selection works despite other factors, and that understanding the multiple factors involved helps show how natural selection works in detail. Pro provided no peer-reviewed science refuting the conclusions of the authors, only his own suppositions.

In attempting to debate Darwinism, Pro violated his own rule that only the broadly generic definition he supplied was the subject of the debate. While moving to Darwinism, he ignored the proven predictive power of selective breeding and natural selection and somehow convinced himself that Darwinism has no predictive power. Darwinism clearly predicts transitional forms, and the subsequent development of consistent genetic mechanisms for evolution.

The theory that "the proportions of traits in populations change" is not an exciting scientific theory, but it meets the criteria of being both demonstrable and falsifiable. Pro conceded it is demonstrated. The falsification would be if the proportions of traits never changed in any population. Pro argued that's not falsifiable, because no matter how long it is tested, there might be a change in the future. However, "not happening" is a feature of many scientific theories.

I cited the example of proton decay. Pro claimed that the theory being tested was that protons decay with some specified half-life. Nonetheless, an alternative to that theory is the theory that protons do not decay. It makes no sense to say that a hypothesis is valid science, while it's contradicting opposite theory is not valid science.

I cited the theory by Newton and Galileo that the rate of a object falling under gravity does not depend upon its weight. Only a finite number of examples could be tested, yet it remains a scientific theory. Pro had no rebuttal.

Pro did not respond to my broader examples. I pointed to the general problem of physical laws only being tested a limited number of times. Logically, cases untried might fail. Nonetheless, the laws are accepted as valid scientific hypotheses proven to become laws.

Much of the debate was spent trying to figure out what Pro was trying to argue, subject to his 4000 character limit. I'll grant it was a challenging debate in that respect.

Pro violated his own rules by trying to debate Darwinism while insisting that only his broad alternate definition, not the Darwinian definition, be considered. That is at minimum a conduct violation. Nonetheless, the resolution is clearly negated, and there is nearly unanimous scientific consensus that it fails. Pro gave references, but no scientific support affirming that evolution is not science.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 4
40 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Using the definition you stated, you obviously lose the debate. The theory that the proportions of traits vary over time is empirically verified. Forcing that to be the definition of "the current evolutionary synthesis" of course does not establish that it has anything to do with what is actually happening in science.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
""You made no link between disputes over definitions in blogs to the theory of evolution as a whole. If you wanted to claim, "Modern science shows that natural selection does not modify population traits." then you should have made that the resolution. I'm not buying it. What you cited showed the dispute to be on details, not central premises." - Roy. I don't buy it, either. "

The OP stated a definition, this definition was, as per the resolution argued to not be a scientific theory. It even states in the OP that one of the rules was :

"Do not accept this debate and argue using definitions other than the above. I will entertain of course other debates with different definitions, just post in the comment section."

If someone wants to debate that the definition is not representative, then that is fine - but it is a different debate.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"Science does not distinguish clearly between a "theory" and a "law."

A theory is the highest form of explanation, a law is simply a verbal statement representing a formula or a formula. A theory will include laws as part of its formulation such as the theory of relativity includes laws of addition of velocities, speed of light is a constant, and will also include models, postulates, etc. . There can also be both theories and laws on the exact same idea.

For example genetic drift is not a theory, it is a law, specifically the mathematical formulation of the effect of extreme bottleneck random sampling that happens during a bloom/crash. This is part of the theory of neutral theory of evolution (non-selected speciation), which also includes laws of population dynamics (growth, death, etc.) and models of predator/prey balance, etc. .

There is nothing more right/wrong about a theory or a law, and they do not transform, i.e., the theory of relativity will never become the law of relativity.

The largest difference, aside from scope is that theories attempt to explain a mechanism, a law simply quantifies it. Thus for example the theory of statistical mechanics provides the foundation of all thermodynamics on the basis of micro-state controlling the macro-states (what we observ), and it includes as postulate that in equilibrium, all available micro-states have the same probability. This postulate is the actual pure and fundamental second law of thermodynamics.

It would be gibberish to call it the law of statisical thermodynamics or theory of micro-state equilibirum population. All of these terms are very well defined, though yes, there are exceptions to use as scientists are just people and they can and do miss use the terms on occasion. Richard Dawkins for example constantly miss uses random and mixes the lay definition into scientific discussions and the lay and scientific definition are two completely different things.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"You titled the debate "The current evolutionary synthesis is not a scientific theory" but you then maintain that "the current evolutionary synthesis" bears no relation whatsoever to Darwinism, and that you never made any such implication."

Roy, I clearly defined in the opening argument the exact definition of evolutionary theory which was being contended and beyond that I specifically stated as a rule :

"1) Do not accept this debate and argue using definitions other than the above. I will entertain of course other debates with different definitions, just post in the comment section."

The debate was to be constrained only to the definiton noted.

The point very clearly was not that you could not write a statement which would indeed be a theory of evolution, but that the specific synthesis cited was not a theory. The entire purpose of the resolution was to discuss the weakness in the specific wording used.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Science does not distinguish clearly between a "theory" and a "law." How things are named is more a function of history than any rule. We have the Theory of Relativity which displaced Newton's Laws. Newton's Laws were found to be only true at speeds much below the speed of light. The Theory of Evolution is as well proved as any of the so-called Laws.

You titled the debate "The current evolutionary synthesis is not a scientific theory" but you then maintain that "the current evolutionary synthesis" bears no relation whatsoever to Darwinism, and that you never made any such implication. You called upon a reference that cited other factors at work while asserting that Darwinism was still true, but you omitted the reassertion of Darwinism made in that reference.

The definition of evolution as mere population change is a scientific theory without reference to Darwinism, and we debate that. It's science because it is observable and falsifiable. However, you offered no convincing evidence that that definition constitutes "the current evolutionary synthesis."
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"Nonetheless, there is no question that natural selection is the mechanism by which species evolve."

Roy, are you really not familiar with genetic drift and the neutral theory of molecular evolution which proposes that random selection is the major force in speciation, not environment matching.

This crash/bloom cycle has even been demonstrated in the lab and found to produce speciation at a very rapid pace, far beyond what can be achieved through natural selection.

See for example : King, Jack Lester; Thomas H. Jukes (1969-05-16). "Non-Darwinian Evolution". Science 164 (3881): 788–798. This is a continuation of Kimura's genetic drift argument.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Roy :

"Theories do not need mechanisms. All of Newtons Laws were proposed without a concept of the mechanisms. "

A law is not a theory.

"Nonetheless, there is no question that natural selection is the mechanism by which species evolve. Moreover, the mechanism for that is well known and proven."

That is clearly false and documented in the literature, it is a mechanism but not the only one, nor it is conclusive that it is dominant. But again, that was not what was being debated in the resolution.

"There is a problem of sorting out all the forces at work on an object and what each one does, but f = ma is nonetheless valid and vital to all explanations."

Roy, f=ma is not a theory, is is a law, and the actual law is not that trivial equation but either the vector sum or integral depending on what system is being studied. Both forms of the law take into account that the law speaks of the net acceleration is proportonal to the net force, and that the constant of proportion is the rest mass.

"You err in attempting to tie the debate to Darwinism."

Roy, I never tied anything to Darwinism, you kept bringing these in, I merely kept noting that none of these were relevant to the theory as defined, and it was the definition provided that was contended to be problematic.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Theories do not need mechanisms. All of Newtons Laws were proposed without a concept of the mechanisms. The theory of how gravity works is still incomplete.

The average person has something like 50-90 mutations. Most of them have no effect, so in one sense the "dominant mechanism" is that nothing happens. Some, like the advent of blue eyes, seems to have no advantage, but it takes hold because there is no important disadvantage -- or at least so it seems in the brief perspective of 10,000 years. Nonetheless, there is no question that natural selection is the mechanism by which species evolve. Moreover, the mechanism for that is well known and proven.

Let's attack the hypothesis that force equals mass times acceleration, F = ma. Near earth's surface of the gravity is nearly constant, so objects of the same mass should accelerate the same due to gravity. But if we drop various objects from great heights they don't keep accelerating. They reach a terminal velocity that depends upon the size and shape of the object. Aerodynamics dominates. It's not just a few objects to which this happens, it is every object. So is this a bogus theory? The theory is asserted no matter the number of counterexamples, so perhaps it is not even a scientific theory. No, the theory is valid and vitally important. There is a problem of sorting out all the forces at work on an object and what each one does, but f = ma is nonetheless valid and vital to all explanations.

One might debate "The theory that rocks do not move of their own volition is not a scientific theory." It's observable an falsifiable, so it is a scientific theory. It's just not an interesting one. Rocks move all the time, so maybe it's not falsifiable. But it is. That's like the definition of evolution of the debate. You err in attempting to tie the debate to Darwinism.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"If you wanted to claim, "Modern science shows that natural selection does not modify population traits." then you should have made that the resolution. I'm not buying it."

That resolution would be kind of insensible as that is how natural selection is actually defined. Now you could argue if natural selection is the only mechanism for trait selection, this is obviously false as it is defeated by genetic drift and self-oganization. You could also argue that natural selection is the dominant form of trait selectio - that is currently a matter of dispute with proponents on both sides. Given the wealth of new information I do not believe it is dominant (more than 50%), but that is a very qualitative judgment and we really need better understanding of how the new observations effect population dynamics.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"Showing that there are disputes over certain aspects of evolutionary theory does not show that evolution is not a scientific theory. "

Of course not, nor was that ever argued.

Again, a very specific definition of evolution was given, and it was asserted that definition *in particular* was not a scientific theory specifically because it had removed the mechanisms and biological link to traits.

With this information removed from the definition then it can no longer be modeled and thus had no predictive power, nor could be falsified, and anything observation at all will satisfy it and thus it can not even meet strong demonstration (if-only-if).
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Freeman 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "You made no link between disputes over definitions in blogs to the theory of evolution as a whole. If you wanted to claim, "Modern science shows that natural selection does not modify population traits." then you should have made that the resolution. I'm not buying it. What you cited showed the dispute to be on details, not central premises." - Roy. I don't buy it, either.
Vote Placed by jat93 6 years ago
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