Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Colin Patterson questions biologists on evolution

Colin Patterson's question to biologists:
...I mentioned a question ('Can you tell me anything you know about evolution?') that I have put to various biologists, and an answer that had been given: 'I know that evolution generates hierarchy.' In the framework of phylogenetic reconstruction and our current problems with it, another answer comes to mind: 'I know that evolution generates homoplasy' [or "convergence," in the older jargon of systematics]. In both cases, the answer is not quite accurate. It would be truer to say, 'I know that evolution explains hierarchy' or 'I know that evolution explains homoplasy.' We must remember the distinction between the cart--the explanation--and the horse--the data. And where models are introduced in phylogenetic reconstruction, we should prefer models dictated by features of the data to models derived from explanatory theories.
Careful there, Patterson.  You are starting to sound like a secular creationist.

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