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Why Evolution Is More Certain than Gravity


In a 2016 post here (“Why Should Evolutionary Biology Be So Different?”), I quoted from an 1888 book, Evolution, by Joseph Le Conte, University of California professor of geology and natural history, and future president of the Geological Society of America. Le Conte acknowledges that in the fossil record, “species seem to come in suddenly” and that this “looks much like immutability of specific forms, and supernaturalism of specific origin.”

Then he concedes, “An organ must be already useful before natural selection can take hold of it to improve on it.” In other words, it cannot explain the appearance of anything new. In another candid admission, he says that while beauty in flowers can be explained by sexual selection:

The most gorgeous beauty is lavishly distributed even among the lowest animals, such as marine shells and polyps, where no such explanation is possible. The process by which such beauty is originated and intensified is wholly unknown to us.

Le Conte nevertheless concludes:

We are confident that evolution is absolutely certain — not evolution as a special theory — Lamarckian, Darwinian, Spencerian…but evolution as a law of derivation of forms from previous forms…. In this sense it is not only certain, it is axiomatic. It is only necessary to conceive it clearly, to see that it is a necessary truth…. The origins of new phenomena are often obscure, even inexplicable, but we never think to doubt that they have a natural cause; for so to doubt is to doubt the validity of reason, and the rational constitution of Nature…

[T]he law of evolution is as certain as the law of gravitation. Nay, it is far more certain. The nexus between successive events in time (causation) is far more certain than the nexus between coexistent objects in space (gravitation). The former is a necessary truth, the latter is usually classed as a contingent truth.

Le Conte thus states what will become clear to anyone who tries to present evidence to Darwinists. The theory of gravity is a “contingent” truth: we believe it only as long as the evidence supports it. The theory of evolution is a “necessary” truth. It is not contingent on supporting evidence. It should be noted that since there is no chance of finding a “natural” explanation for the beginning of time, Le Conte’s axiom also requires us to reject the Big Bang theory before looking at the evidence.

Image: Joseph Le Conte, via Wikimedia Commons.