|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
I haven't seen C. G. Hunter or any other ID advocate explain how the following depend upon theological argumentation:
- Inheritance is particulate, not blending.
- Inheritance is not perfect. Changes can and do happen in heritable information.
- More organisms are produced than can be sustained under prevailing ecological conditions.
- Those heritable variations which correlate with differential survival of organisms tend to have higher proportional representation in the population.
- The distribution of traits in a population can be influenced by chance effects, such as population bottlenecks and sampling from a limited pool of variant.
- Fossils are the traces of organisms that were once alive.
- Fossil forms show that extinction of species happens. Certain fossils represent organisms common enough, large enough, and distributed in areas where if they were present through the present day could not have been overlooked.
- Fossils are distributed in a stratigraphic pattern indicating change in fossil assemblages over time.
- Fossil assemblages show that mass extinctions have happened at widely different times in the earth's history.
- The canonical genetic code is consistent with the theory of common descent.
- Patterns of differences in sequences of proteins and heritable information support the idea that these differences have accrued since the time of a last common ancestor.
- Evolutionary interrelationships have been used to advantage in medical research.
- The principles of natural selection have been used to advantage in computational optimization and search.
- Species have been observed to form, both in the laboratory and in the wild.
- A novel symbiotic association has been observed in the laboratory.
(Originally listed as examples meeting the "Patterson challenge", but it seemed that they fit this bit, too. http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199911/0050.html )
The claim that evolutionary biology is necessarily advanced via theological argumentation is simply codswallop. The only way that Hunter's argument could possibly work is if he were able to support a universal claim that every evolutionary concept, hypothesis, and theory were premised upon a theological argument. This he does not and cannot do. Instead, we are treated to instances where evolutionary biologists take up the issue of some form of creationism. It is creationism that interjects theology into the discussion. (It has been argued by Nelson that most such arguments are misguided since "theological themata" that are themselves not necessarily universal are often deployed. See my response to Nelson at http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199904/0166.html ) To say that "some arguments made by evolutionary biologists have a theological component" doesn't mean that the field of evolutionary biology as a science is based upon theology; it merely means that some evolutionary biologists have taken the trouble to engage theistic antievolutionists on their own ground. The examples of argumentation given above in the comments refer not to technical work in the scientific literature, but rather to popular treatments that have a scope including the socio-political dimension that creationism inhabits. What seems to be particularly upsetting to the theistic antievolutionists is not that theology is involved, but how effective and compelling the theological argumentation deployed by those evolutionary biologists in their non-technical work is.
Evolutionary biology, as a science, does not have "theological underpinnings" as claimed by FL. There is no component that I know of that cannot be stated in a form that has no dependence upon theological doctrine. Nor do I expect FL, C.G. Hunter, or any other ID advocate to be able to provide an example of any extant component of evolutionary biology that is obligately dependent upon theology.
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker