Quote of the Month: Cornelius Hunter on the Unfalsifiability of Evolution

This month’s quote is by ID proponent Cornelius Hunter. Hunter is the author at the blog Darwin’s God. I used this quote myself in my article ‘Jeffrey Koperski on Good and Bad Ways to Attack Intelligent design (Part 2): The ‘Good’ Ways’, and I have seen it used in ID literature quote often. This quote is taken from Arsenic-Based Biochemistry: Turning Poison Into Wine.

Being an evolutionist means there is no bad news. If new species appear abruptly in the fossil record, that just means evolution operates in spurts. If species then persist for eons with little modification, that just means evolution takes long breaks. If clever mechanisms are discovered in biology, that just means evolution is smarter than we imagined. If strikingly similar designs are found in distant species, that just means evolution repeats itself. If significant differences are found in allied species, that just means evolution sometimes introduces new designs rapidly. If no likely mechanism can be found for the large-scale change evolution requires, that just means evolution is mysterious. If adaptation responds to environmental signals, that just means evolution has more foresight than was thought. If major predictions of evolution are found to be false, that just means evolution is more complex than we thought.

I think that at face value, Hunter’s point is undeniably true. It seems that there is little that can be discovered that would overturn evolution. That’s not to say that evolution is entirely unfalsifiable, it just demonstrates that it’s extremely difficult to falsify. Perhaps one might respond by saying that the erratic data we often encounter is the result of many different factors and mechanisms that nature utilises. Nonetheless, this response seems very ad hoc and contrived to me.

I don’t think a theory necessarily need be falsifiable to be considered scientific or true. Some theories are more difficult to falsify than others (evolution being one of them). The way I see it, testability and verifiability are more essential. Having said that, a theory that is falsifiable and verifiable is stronger than one that is merely the latter. 

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Quote of the Month: Cornelius Hunter on the Unfalsifiability of Evolution

  1. Pingback: Design Disquisitions: Quote of the Month-Cornelius Hunter on the Unfalsifiability of Evolution | Uncommon Descent

  2. Darwinian Evolution Fails the Five Standard Tests of a Scientific Hypothesis

    Karl Popper of ‘falsifiability’ fame stated this in regards to Darwinian evolution,,

    “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program.”
    Karl Popper – Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography (1976)

    Attacked by Darwinists for this criticism, Karl Popper recanted, but then in later interviews he reasserted that Darwinian Evolution is unfalsifiable:

    Dubitable Darwin? Why Some Smart, Nonreligious People Doubt the Theory of Evolution By John Horgan on July 6, 2010
    Excerpt: Early in his career, the philosopher Karl Popper ,, called evolution via natural selection “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” Attacked for these criticisms, Popper took them back (in approx 1978). But when I interviewed him in 1992, he blurted out that he still found Darwin’s theory dissatisfying. “One ought to look for alternatives!” Popper exclaimed, banging his kitchen table.
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/dubitable-darwin-why-some-smart-nonreligious-people-doubt-the-theory-of-evolution/

    Tom Bethell, who recently wrote ‘Darwin’s House of Cards’, also interviewed Karl Popper after the Darwinian backlash and Popper again reiterated his claim that Darwinism was not a testable, i.e. falsifiable, scientific theory.

    Tom Bethell on Karl Popper’s rejection of Darwinian Evolution as a testable scientific theory – video – 5:54 minute mark

    In the minds of Darwinists, evidence is simply never allowed to falsify Darwinian evolution as a scientific theory.

    “Being an evolutionist means there is no bad news. If new species appear abruptly in the fossil record, that just means evolution operates in spurts. If species then persist for eons with little modification, that just means evolution takes long breaks. If clever mechanisms are discovered in biology, that just means evolution is smarter than we imagined. If strikingly similar designs are found in distant species, that just means evolution repeats itself. If significant differences are found in allied species, that just means evolution sometimes introduces new designs rapidly. If no likely mechanism can be found for the large-scale change evolution requires, that just means evolution is mysterious. If adaptation responds to environmental signals, that just means evolution has more foresight than was thought. If major predictions of evolution are found to be false, that just means evolution is more complex than we thought.”
    ~ Cornelius Hunter PhD.

    The primary reason why Darwinian evolution is not falsifiable by direct experimentation, as other overarching theories of science are, is because Darwinian evolution does not have a rigid mathematical basis, like other overarching physical theories of science have. A rigid mathematical basis that can be rigidly tested against in order to potentially falsify it.

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    – Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003

    The main reason why no scientist has been able to develop a rigid mathematical basis for Darwinian evolution that can be tested against and potentially falsified is because there are no known physical laws of nature for Darwinists to appeal to to base their math on. In other words, there simply is no known ‘law of evolution’, such as there is a ‘law of gravity’, within the known physical universe for Darwinists to build a rigid mathematical basis on:

    “biology (Darwinian Evolution) differs from the physical sciences in that in the physical sciences, all theories, I don’t know exceptions so I think it’s probably a safe statement, all theories are based somehow or other on natural laws. In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.”
    – Ernst Mayr – The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr – 2004

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Evolution is True – Roger Highfield – January 2014
    Excerpt:,,, Whatever the case, those universal truths—’laws’—that physicists and chemists all rely upon appear relatively absent from biology.
    Little seems to have changed from a decade ago when the late and great John Maynard Smith wrote a chapter on evolutionary game theory for a book on the most powerful equations of science: his contribution did not include a single equation.
    http://www.edge.org/response-detail/25468

    In fact, not only does Evolution not have any known universal law to appeal to in order to rigidly base its math on, as other overarching theories of science have, the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. Entropy, a law with great mathematical explanatory power in science, almost directly contradicts Darwinian claims that increases in functional complexity/information can be easily had:

    Video: Why Evolution is Different – Granville Sewell – February 22, 2017

    Why Tornados Running Backward do not Violate the Second Law – Granville Sewell – May 2012 – article with video
    Excerpt: So, how does the spontaneous rearrangement of matter on a rocky, barren, planet into human brains and spaceships and jet airplanes and nuclear power plants and libraries full of science texts and novels, and supercomputers running partial differential equation solving software , represent a less obvious or less spectacular violation of the second law—or at least of the fundamental natural principle behind this law—than tornados turning rubble into houses and cars? Can anyone even imagine a more spectacular violation?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-tornados-running-backward-do-not-violate-the-second-law/

    The Common Sense Law of Physics Granville Sewell – March 2016
    Excerpt: (The) “compensation” argument, used by every physics text which discusses evolution and the second law to dismiss the claim that what has happened on Earth may violate the more general statements of the second law, was the target of my article “Entropy, Evolution, and Open Systems,” published in the proceedings of the 2011 Cornell meeting Biological Information: New Perspectives (BINP).
    In that article, I showed that the very equations of entropy change upon which this compensation argument is based actually support, on closer examination, the common sense conclusion that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable.” The fact that order can increase in an open system does not mean that computers can appear on a barren planet as long as the planet receives solar energy. Something must be entering our open system that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable, for example: computers.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/03/the_common_sens102725.html

    Moreover, empirical evidence and numerical simulations tell us that “Genetic Entropy”, i.e. the tendency of biological systems to drift towards decreasing complexity, and decreasing information content, holds true as an overriding rule for biological adaptations over long periods of time:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.com/2010/12/the-first-rule-of-adaptive-evolution/

    Biological Information – Loss-of-Function Mutations by Paul Giem 2015 – video
    (Behe – Loss of function mutations are far more likely to fix in a population than gain of function mutations)

    Can Purifying Natural Selection Preserve Biological Information? – May 2013 –
    Paul Gibson, John R. Baumgardner, Wesley H. Brewer, John C. Sanford
    In conclusion, numerical simulation shows that realistic levels of biological noise result in a high selection threshold. This results in the ongoing accumulation of low-impact deleterious mutations, with deleterious mutation count per individual increasing linearly over time. Even in very long experiments (more than 100,000 generations), slightly deleterious alleles accumulate steadily, causing eventual extinction. These findings provide independent validation of previous analytical and simulation studies [2–13]. Previous concerns about the problem of accumulation of nearly neutral mutations are strongly supported by our analysis. Indeed, when numerical simulations incorporate realistic levels of biological noise, our analyses indicate that the problem is much more severe than has been acknowledged, and that the large majority of deleterious mutations become invisible to the selection process.,,,
    http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/pdf/10.1142/9789814508728_0010

    Genetic Entropy – references to several peer reviewed numerical simulations analyzing and falsifying all flavors of Darwinian evolution,, (via Dr. John Sanford and company)
    http://www.geneticentropy.org/#!properties/ctzx

  3. Darwinian Evolution Fails the Five Standard Tests of a Scientific Hypothesis

    Karl Popper of ‘falsifiability’ fame stated this in regards to Darwinian evolution,,

    “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program.”
    Karl Popper – Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography (1976)

    Attacked by Darwinists for this criticism, Karl Popper recanted, but then in later interviews he reasserted that Darwinian Evolution is unfalsifiable:

    Dubitable Darwin? Why Some Smart, Nonreligious People Doubt the Theory of Evolution By John Horgan on July 6, 2010
    Excerpt: Early in his career, the philosopher Karl Popper ,, called evolution via natural selection “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” Attacked for these criticisms, Popper took them back (in approx 1978). But when I interviewed him in 1992, he blurted out that he still found Darwin’s theory dissatisfying. “One ought to look for alternatives!” Popper exclaimed, banging his kitchen table.
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/dubitable-darwin-why-some-smart-nonreligious-people-doubt-the-theory-of-evolution/

    Tom Bethell, who recently wrote ‘Darwin’s House of Cards’, also interviewed Karl Popper after the Darwinian backlash and Popper again reiterated his claim that Darwinism was not a testable, i.e. falsifiable, scientific theory.

    Tom Bethell on Karl Popper’s rejection of Darwinian Evolution as a testable scientific theory – video – 5:54 minute mark

    In the minds of Darwinists, evidence is simply never allowed to falsify Darwinian evolution as a scientific theory.

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