Saturday, November 16, 2013

Common Misunderstandings of Evolution Part 3: Observation

Many people believe that we can"t observe evolution, but contrary to popular belief, we can witness evolutionary events; however, perhaps I should clarify -- by observing it, I mean that we have observed results in laboratory and natural conditions that are predicted by evolution, and we see the types of changes that would be expected if evolution were true. Of course, we can’t really observe our own evolutionary history (at least, not until we develop time travel), and witnessing species transitions is difficult as it takes tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years.

Does this mean that evolution is unreliable? Hardly. It is important to note that theories cannot be proven per se, but a theory is not just a random idea that has no scientific backing. The way a theory works is pretty simple: it has to make a clear, testable prediction, and (preferably) make a minimum of new assumptions. So testing evolution is fairly simple. We look at the predictions made by the theory, and then compare them to what we can observe. So far evolution has done a very good job of explaining the things that we have observed, and also at predicting new results as we uncover new ways of testing.

Of course, results can be easily demonstrated in the laboratory; however, we"ve noticed an abundance of natural changes that are perfectly predicted by evolution. So to those who suggest we have not observed evolution, I have a few cases for you to consider.

To learn how we can observe evolutions, see:

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