It has been noticed for instance that many dogmatic Evolutionists will often argue that the theory has predictive value.
They will come up with some predictions and hey presto! our observations match those predictions. What they dont tell you is that the observations actually CAME FIRST, then they thought up a way to explain those observations in evolutionary terms. Those explanations turned into predictions, but they can only predict the observations they were invented to explain.
Paleontologists will say that they can predict where to look for certain kinds of fossils. Then they can look and find the fossils. I'm a molecular biologist; my interest during graduate school was to better understand a certain metabolic pathway. Because the fossil record and genetic analysis of modern species shows that mammals all have a common ancestor, we predict that all mammals have that same pathway. So far, every time someone has looked at a different mammal, they have found that pathway. There was even a group of researchers who hypothesized that bony fish might also have that pathway--and when they looked for it, they found it. It was slightly different (in a manner consistent with evolutionary theory), but it *was* there. Now that we know bony fish and mammals have that pathway, we can hypothesize that *all* vertebrates have it. We can further hypothesize that it is present only in bony vertebrates, or that the pathway arose in primitive vertebrates (those with a notochord, but no skeleton). Those are all testable predictions, and only research will show which is right.
That is just one example of how I, as a molecular biologist, use evolutionary theory to make predictions. Whenever I have made a prediction (i.e. hypothesis) based on evolutionary theory, my experiments have always shown that my prediction was correct.
For scientists to try to do experiments without making a prediction first is... well, unimaginable. I keep trying to think of a way one could conduct research in a methodical fashion without a hypothesis, and I just can't do it. The order of research always is:
I will concede that of course that there was one prediction made using the theory of evolution. It was predicted that the fossil record would show a smooth transition from species to species. Noe that is an eminently falsifiable prediction which can be observed.
Alas, the fossil record contradicts this prediction.
No scientists ever made that prediction; that is a young-earth creationist misrepresentation of both the theory and the fossil record. Most dead animals completely decay within a few weeks--a fact that anyone can see, if they drive along a road where an animal was killed, and animal control never stops by to pick up the carcass. The conditions for preserving any part of a carcass so that it fossilizes are exceedingly rare. Therefore, we predict that the fossil record is spotty, and that fossils will only be found in certain types of geological formations. We can make other predictions about the fossil record, too--for instance, we can predict that we will not find vertebrate fossils from a few million years ago lodged within billion year old fossils of bacterial mats in a manner that suggests they co-fossilized; indeed, no one has ever found that.
The fossil record actually shows that species tend to remain the same for very long periods of geological time, then undergo a burst of rapid change (none of which is caught in the fossil record) then emerge as a completely different species.
No, what the fossil record shows is that, at a specific point in time, there were certain species, and at another specific point in time millions of years later, there were other species that resemble the first species but are not the same. The observation that there are bones of animals that do not exist, which was made long before there were systematic sciences, was what led to the various evolutionary theories. Even the ancient Greeks had a theory about it.
If you want to know what the fossil record really shows, and what the theory of evolution really says, you need to read the various scientific articles on those subjects. The articles on Wikipedia are fairly accurate. Creation "science" websites only present pseudoscience; they care more about getting your money than they do the truth.
But being so adaptable, the theory of evolution was simply changed to match this observation. Thus, the current version of the theory of evolution can be successfully used to predict trends in the fossil record.
First of all, keep in mind that the process of evolution is what we observe happening; the theory is our best explanation of how it happens. The process itself does not change because we revise the theory.
I would actually be pretty surprised if Darwin had devised a theory that explained everything there is about evolution, and there was no need to revise it. While the "creation science" websites try to imply that revising the theory as new facts are revealed is a weakness, in actuality, it's pretty common to revise theories. In medicine, for example, a physician who makes a presumptive diagnosis at your initial visit might completely change the diagnosis after lab results come back.
In evolution, all species continuously undergo a process called "genetic drift." On occasion, however, a massive die-off occurs, then new species emerge to fill the gaps. Stephen Jay Gould put these facts together to come up with the theory of punctuated equilibrium. To illustrate this, consider two species living in a field. The mice eat grains and the rabbits eat blades of grass. Once in a while, a rabbit might give birth to a baby rabbit that prefers to eat grain, but that mutant rabbit has little chance of surviving to reproduce, because mice are already eating the grain. So, the two populations are kept in equilibrium. But now cats move into the field, and kill all the mice. In the absence of competition for the grain, the grain eating rabbits can survive and reproduce. The field ends up populated with two different kinds of rabbit.
Now, I will give an example of what I would expect if I were to try to make scientific hypotheses based on the creation stories of Genesis:
1. Adam and Eve were genetically identical. Presumably, the only difference was that Adam's Y chromosome was replaced with a duplicate X chromosome in Eve.
2. Because God is perfect, He would not create anything that is imperfect. Therefore, the medium used to carry "blueprints" from parent to child must be perfect.
My hypothesis, then, is that all humans are virtually identical. Some minor differences might occur (for instance, larger lungs at higher altitude to make up for lower oxygen). Hmm, I don't see that...
consider previous knowledge
apply the theoretical considerations to that knowledge and make a hypothesis
design an experiment to specifically test the hypothesis
do the experiment and analyze the results
determine whether the results support the hypothesis or not
if yes -> go back to step one and devise a new hypothesis
if no -> go back to step two and figure out how the hypothesis did not fit the theory, then revise the hypothesis
I am not sure if those who doubt the theory of evolution and are seeking an alternative explanation of origins are NOT using the same methodology you just described.
The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion.
Those who doubt Darwin’s theory begin with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). That is a consideration of PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE as you put it. If I see a complex design such as a computer or a program using the principles of neural network, I KNOW that it was designed by an intelligent CREATOR. How is that not a consideration of previous knowledge?
Now, if I observe the human body and its numerous intricate working parts more complex than anything I have ever seen designed, how is that not a consideration of previous knowledge?
Those who believe in an intelligent creator then, based on this previous knowledge hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of COMPLEX SPECIFIED INFORMATION (CSI).
Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information.
One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function.
When such researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.
I see that as using scientific principles based on information theory and observations about intelligent action.
Those who believe in an intelligent Creator make inferences based upon observations about the types of complexity that can be produced by the action of intelligent agents vs. the types of information that can be produced through purely natural processes to infer that life was designed by an intelligent being.
Now, I will concede that some 6 day creationists would insist that this is the creator God of the Bible. But hey, I’ve spoken to others who are not Christians who leave the identity of this creator (or even creator(s)) open.
Even the atheist zoologist Richard Dawkins says that intuitively, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
Now Dawkins would say that natural selection is what actually did the “designing,” however Those who oppose Dawkins notes that in all cases where we know the causal origin of ‘high information content, experience has shown that intelligent design played a causal role.
So, I don’t see how those who believe in an intelligent creator are being unscientific in their approach at all. They in fact BEGIN empirical observations from the natural world.
RE: FOSSIL RECORDS
I have heard many Darwinists say that 99.99% of species that have ever lived have gone extinct.
Well, I am not sure about that really.... There are roughly 250,000 species that have been identified in the fossil record, and well over 1,000,000 species that exist today.
Taken at face value, even if every species in the fossil record has gone extinct (which they havent), that means that 80% of species that ever existed ARE STILL ALIVE.
Thats quite a stretch.
So where do Darwinists get their number? By assuming that innumerable species existed in the transitional spaces. Why? Because they _must_ have existed there for their theory to be true.
Those who oppose Darwinism insist that it is simply an unnecessary hypothesis.
We should take the fossil record AS IT COMES TO US, measure its completeness on its own terms, and determine its limits as we can determine apart from Darwinism.
After doing so, we might find certain features of the fossil record to be consistent with Darwinism, or we might not.
The problem is that the Darwinists interprete what they see to fit into their picture of Darwinism.
There are also a set of Silurian trackways which were thought to be arthropods why? Because it was thought that tetrapods hadnt existed yet.
Basically, Darwinism has been forcing the way in which we view the fossil record and earth history. When it is in conflict with the data, over and over again, the data gets modified to fit with Darwinism.
So the alternative view makes a clean break with the Darwinistic picture, and would allow us to take the animal distributions within the fossil record much more on its own terms.
As for common descent, well, how about common DESIGN? I am not sure if that idea is as repugnant as some people think.
Consider this : A software engineer creates a new program. Shortly thereafter, another program enters the market that is very similar. Turns out that the underlying programming is very similar ( after all, Object Oriented programming is all about polymorphism and code inheritance )
In a suit for copyright infringement, a jury would infer that it is likely that there is common design in the programming, and therefore plagarism. This is a reasonable inferrence.
With those who believe in creation, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used- in the absence of direct observation or designer input - is by studying the design in question.
IOW based on PREVIOUS OBSERVATION, they try to demonstrate that intelligent agencies can put together irreducibly complex machines and produce Complex Specified Intelligence.
We have direct observation and a vast amount of experience with that.
However no one has ever observed blind and undirected processes doing that.
Going back to the fossil records, I sadly conclude that Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwins argument.
For several years, Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History has been advocating a resolution to this uncomfortable paradox.
The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with Darwinian gradualism:
1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.
2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and fully formed.
Unfortunately, the fossil record is proving to be less and less Darwinian as we examine the details. We have modern body plans where there should be primitive body plans. We have primitive relict species living on when they should have become extinct. We have to invoke convergence to explain similar structures that do not fit the linear model. (But convergence is ubiquitous here).
I am not sure if we should we live with such an unwieldy interpretative framework.
But hey, if people want to stick with this paradigm, this is a free country....
I am personally FOR teaching Darwinism in school. What I am against is BANNING the teaching of alternative explanations.
I would be just as opposed to creationists lobbying to ban the teaching of evolution.
Which examples are specifically designed to be counter-factual to justfy discounting the creation hypothesis out-of-hand.
I don't deny evolution per se, but evolutionists have to come up with a better mechanism than pointing to broken rocks at the bottom of a hillside to explain the Pyramids.