Showing posts with label Reigion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reigion. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Darwin is Biology's Newton

In a post on his blog, David Housholder declares biology has yet to come of age and needs a figure like Copernicus, Galileo, or Newton.  I would say that Darwin already fills the role as Biology's Isaac Newton. While much of modern evolution was outside of Darwin's grasp, he propelled naturalism into a proper science with its own unifying theory.  His meticulous record keeping and brilliant insight produced perhaps the single, greatest idea ever.  Many observations, experiments and discoveries have refined and added to Darwin's original idea, but the idea remains the foundation of modern biology.  Likewise, Newton poured out brilliant scientific ideas and remains the centerpiece of physics even though some of his insights have been revised based on new discoveries.

Housholder seems to think Darwin will one day be dismissed as a primary figure in biology.  He points to the fact that evolution remains controversial.  Unfortunately, evolution only remains controversial because some people purposefully seek to undermine its teaching.  Some would rather push their erroneous misconceptions onto others than let some actually explain what evolution is and how it works.  The fault does not lie with the scientists, but rather the liars and loonies.

He continues only with some self-deprecating remarks and makes this statement:
First of all, “science” about the past is dicey. On a good day!
True, evolution helps us to understand the past.  Much of evolutionary biology seems more like forensics by looking and evidence and drawing conclusions.  By Housholder's logic, we could never convict a criminal of a crime because science cannot recreate an accurate picture of the past.  But by collecting evidence, we can make inferences about what happened in the past and even when.

Next he says:
You can’t repeat an observation of something you can’t observe in the first place.
But we can repeat experiments showing the mechanisms of evolution and extrapolate to the history of life.  Once again, inference allows us to look are the DNA of different species and figure out their common ancestry.  Also, evolution has been observed.  People have studied the finches on the Galapagos and antibiotic resistance.  

But more important, ring species allow us to see species in action.  Ring species are a single species over a large territory with something in the middle.  Around one side of the object, the organisms adapt and survive to a different niche than the other side.  When the two versions meet again, they may not recognize each other as potential mates.  For more info, check out this site about the salamanders of California.

When he says "We always tend to read in what we want to see," he applies it to all of science not just the interpretation.  We collect the evidence which points logically to evolution.  From that realization, we can interpret to mean there is not god or that God exists depending on our belief system.  But you cannot completely disregard an entire branch of science because some people with a different philosophy don't believe in God.  Argue the religion, but don't take science hostage.