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Evolution as a Model

May 24, 2013

“Evolution is a proven fact!” say the Darwinists! “Evolution is an unproven hypothesis!” say the creationists. And they’re both wrong.

In the continuing debate over human and cosmological origins, terms like “theory” and “fact” get thrown around, often with very little thought put into them. The Neo-Darwinist position is that evolution is a proven fact, like the laws of gravity. However, this doesn’t square with the many unproven (and sometimes unprovable) aspects of Neo-Darwinian evolution. Opponents of Neo-Darwinism will often try to falsify a principle of Neo-Darwinism, and then act like that falsification destroys any foundation for Neo-Darwinian evolution. Both approaches, however, are naive, and do not approach science in the proper way.

Evolution is not a fact. Evolution is not a theory. Evolution is not even a hypothesis. Evolution is a model–a collection of facts, theories, and hypotheses aggregated into one large idea that attempts to explain some facet of the universe. The strength of the model lies not so much in the verification of a single premise, but in the explanation of natural events in a way that makes sense. In other words, a model is not a “proof” of anything, but the best explanation.

Viewing evolution as a model, rather than a theory or fact, will challenge scientists and thinkers on both sides to think better about the debate. Neo-Darwinians will not longer be able to parade their model as incontrovertible fact–rather, they will have to critically examine the weaknesses in the model pointed out by their critics, as well as convincingly argue how their model best fits reality. Those who oppose Neo-Darwinism, on the other hand, could no longer rely on simply criticizing one aspect of Neo-Darwinism. Rather, anyone who is unsatisfied with the Neo-Darwinian model will have to argue that his or her model explains reality better than the current paradigm. Thus, scientists working outside the Neo-Darwinian paradigm would be challenged to creating better models instead of merely criticizing “evolution.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2013 4:12 pm

    I like this. Even though I don’t believe in evolution, I agree that it is a model and must be attacked/defended as such.

    FWIW, I have not forgotten about writing a defense of six-day. I’ve just been terribly busy, and I apologize. I promise I’ll post it before summer ends, haha!

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