Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Definition for Biological Evolution

For some time now, believers in evolution have been goading me to define biological evolution, and comment on "the scientific method." I haven’t, for a good reason.

Talk Origins says this about the definition of "evolution":

"Unfortunately the common definitions of evolution outside of the scientific community are different. For example, in the Oxford Concise Science Dictionary we find the following definition:

"Evolution: The gradual process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for the past 3000 million years."

"This is inexcusable for a dictionary of science. Not only does this definition exclude prokaryotes, protozoa, and fungi, but it specifically includes a term ‘gradual process’ which should not be part of the definition. More importantly the definition seems to refer more to the history of evolution than to evolution itself. Using this definition it is possible to debate whether evolution is still occurring, but the definition provides no easy way of distinguishing evolution from other processes. For example, is the increase in height among Caucasians over the past several hundred years an example of evolution? Are the color changes in the peppered moth population examples of evolution? This is not a scientific definition.

"Standard dictionaries are even worse:

"Evolution: ...the doctrine according to which higher forms of life have gradually arisen out of lower.." -- Chambers

"Evolution: ...the development of a species, organism, or organ from its original or primitive state to its present or specialized state; phylogeny or ontogeny" -- Webster's."

I haven’t defined what I believe is biological evolution because I don’t believe it took place. Neither have I defined it according to what believers believe it is, because they can't agree on a standard definition. The science dictionary doesn’t have it right. Neither do the standard dictionaries.

So who has the correct definition? The answer is that you do. Evolution is anything you want it to be. It’s bacteria evolving. It’s mutations evolving into ordered life. It’s variations within species. It’s changes in fruit flies or moths. It's differing traits passed down from your parents. It's the belief that all creation has a common ancestor, when any similarities in creation don't prove common descent, they prove a common Creator.

The advantage of multiple and confusing definitions is that you can change what it is, any time you wish to anything you want. When biologists discover that the fossil record shows an abrupt appearance (as the Bible teaches), simply redefine evolution to include "punctuated equilibrium." There are no rules. No confines.

The scientific method must be observable. Evolution isn’t. Anything that is observed is based on the presupposition that evolution took place. If a believer believes it happened, he will see evolution everywhere.

But even the legitimately observable can’t be conclusive. If scientists observed and counted ten million white swans, can they say conclusively that all swans are white? Of course not. One black swan destroys the theory.

Darwinian evolution doesn’t even have one white swan. All it has is a theory.

P.s. The writer on Talk Origins gives what he believes is the accurate definition of evolution. It's the accurate one because he says so. Again, the science dictionary is wrong. Standard dictionaries are wrong. He is right.