Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Argument from evolution
- Science provides sound explanations for the origin and diversity of life, and the origin of the Universe .
- Theistic explanations for the origins of life can be criticised.
- Therefore, by Ockham’s Razor, it is more likely that the universe is a result of naturalistic processes rather than being created.
Modern creationism can be seen as a reaction to this argument, and they try to criticise the scientific explanation whilst advocating theistic explanations, thus switching the two likelihoods around in Ockham's Razor.
The argument is specifically against a creator God — Evolutionary creationists accept both scientific theories on origins and the existence of God.
The scientific community holds that the Universe, Earth, life and humans arose by natural processes. An extensive theoretical framework has been developed by the scientific community, encompassing astronomy, geology and evolutionary biology.
The view that natural processes shape the universe is accepted by most mainstream religious organisations, often with caveats; see evolutionary creationism. Other, particularly young Earth creationists oppose some or most of these concepts.
The argument from evolution argues that the existence of God is unnecessary and irrelevant to any explanation of the evolution of species. See also argument from poor design.
Common criticism: "Evolution is only theory and not a law."
According to the National Academy of Sciences, a theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." A law of nature is a general description of the Universe that is held to be true in all cases and in all places. Since we only know about life on Earth, evolutionists argue, it is not at all possible to make such a generalized statement about evolution. Even if we had access to many other living worlds we could not make such a general statement about the Cosmos. Therefore when scientists call something a theory, such as quantum mechanics, atomic theory, plate tectonics or evolution, they are not casting doubt on its validity. Moreover, a common criticism of creationism made by evolutionist scientists is that it is not falsifiable; following Karl Popper, the fact that a theory can be disproved makes it a more useful theory than one that cannot. However, creationists argue that the theory of evolution itself is not falsifiable, since it is not testable by experiment. Under this view, the study of evolution is not a scientific field at all, but more akin to history.
Some things by their very nature are not knowable or can be applied in all cases (such as the Law of Gravity can). Even though one cannot talk about evolution being a law, evolutionists argue, a person can speak of it as being a determined fact beyond reasonable doubt. Even though no one has observed transformations from one species to another (speciation, also called macroevolution), evolution can be observed for example with bacteria in the laboratory (so-called microevolution) or in areas outside biology (e.g. economics, genetic algorithms). Evolutionists maintain further that the fossil record clearly shows descent with modification of organisms.
Indirect evidence is used in all the sciences, from atomic physicists inferring the existence of subatomic particles by measuring the effects they have on observable atoms, to astronomers inferring the existence of black holes by the gravitational effects they have on nearby objects.
Another common argument is that although evolution proves that the earth could exist without God, it does not say that it necessarily does. Various theists, agnostics, and religious denominations accept evolution. They argue that if evolution is true, this only means that a literal interpretation of a religious creation story cannot be literally true.
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