Is evolution even a good theory? Part 2: Predictions

RKBentley, author

This is part two of a two-part series examining evolution as a scientific theory. More specifically, I’m judging the soundness of the theory based on two criteria: 1) is it falsifiable and 2) does it make good predictions. In my last post, I discussed how evolution is so plastic as a theory, no evidence, no matter how contrary it is to our current understanding of evolution, could ever prove the theory is false. In this post, I’m going to examine how successful evolution has been at making predictions.

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To be of any practical use, a scientific theory should be able to make predictions. A prediction is basically to say that, if a theory is true, then we might expect a certain other thing to be true. I might say, for example, that hair is unique to mammals. If that is true, then I could predict that, if there is hair on any creature we ever discover, it will be a mammal. Predictions go hand in hand with falsifiability. If we ever discovered a cold-blooded, egg-laying, gill-breathing creature with hair, my theory would be proven false.

Let me give you an analogy that might demonstrate how useful predictions can be to a scientific theory. Suppose I wanted to mix paint to make new colors. I would need to know which colors to mix to make the color I want. If there were a “color theory” that predicted yellow and blue together make green, then that’s useful information if I wanted to make green paint. If I mix yellow and blue paint and actually get green paint, then I might use that theory to help me with other color combinations. However, if the “color theory” said yellow and blue could make green, red, or any other color, then the theory isn’t predictive and isn’t useful to me at all.

Now suppose the color theory predicted yellow and blue would only make green, but when I mixed yellow and blue, I got red. In that case, I would know the theory doesn’t make successful predictions. You could say it has been falsified. The inventor of the “color theory” might try to say that yellow and blue should make green but he can “explain” why it made red. OK, but the next time I mix them, I get brown. He then “explains” why I got brown. If he has an explanation every time I don’t get blue, then there’s really no way to falsify the theory. We’re back to the problem that the theory isn’t predictive but neither is it falsifiable. It’s a useless theory.

Some people claim evolution is a strong theory that has made many successful predictions. Excuse me while I have a chortle. Following are a few of evolution’s epic fails.

RADIOMETRIC DATING

Certain, naturally occurring substances are unstable and so will decay over time until it becomes a stable substance. Uranium, for example, decays over time and eventually becomes lead. The rate at which the decay occurs varies from substance to substance. Some decay at an extremely slow rate while others decay more rapidly (relatively speaking). By measuring the ratio of the parent/daughter elements (uranium/lead, for example), scientists can estimate how long the decay has been occurring. Many scientists consider radiometric dating to be the final word in determining the age of any sample and it is from radiometric dating that many people are convinced that the earth is very old. If radiometric dating actually dates things accurately, we could make a few predictions:

Prediction #1: Newly formed rocks should not have any of the daughter element present and should show an age of “zero.”

Results: Rocks formed at the Mt St Helen’s eruption were dated using potassium/argon dating, the samples yielding ages up to 2.8 million years even though the known age of the rocks was 10 years old. FAIL.

Prediction #2: Carbon 14 is an unstable element found in all living things. As living things breath and eat, they accumulate C14. Once the thing dies, the C14 begins to decay and becomes C12. The key difference in this radiometric dating method and those discussed in the previous paragraph is that the decay rate of C14 is much quicker than many other types. It has a half-life of only 5,730 years. Due to its short half-life, we can predict that samples more than 100,000 years old should have no detectable C14 remaining in them.

Result: An 8 year long endeavor by creation scientists known as the RATE project, has found it is impossible to find any old samples without detectable levels of carbon. Even diamonds, the hardest natural substance and virtually impossible to contaminate, consistently yield trace C14 even though they are supposed to be a billion years old. FAIL.

PROGRESSION IN THE FOSSIL RECORD

According to secular dating, the rock layers represent the accumulation of sediment being laid down over time. The layers further down are older than the layers above them. Where fossils are found in the layers supposedly represents when those creatures lived. Creatures found in fossils in lower strata lived before the creatures found above them.

Prediction #3: If evolution were true, there should be a clear progression of simple to complex in the fossil record where the older creatures are more primitive than the younger creatures.

Result: Dinosaurs allegedly evolved into birds. However, I recently wrote about feathers identified as 78 myo yet are still described as being “nearly identical to those of modern birds.” Apparently, evolutionists don’t see a problem with evidence showing modern birds lived contemporarily with their supposed ancestors.

The Laetoli footprints are a famous track of footprints left by three individuals as they trekked through volcanic ash. From Wiki, we read this about the prints:

The footprints themselves were an unlikely discovery because they closely resemble modern human footprints, despite being almost 4 million years old. It is noted that the toe pattern is much the same as the human foot, which is much different than the feet of chimpanzees and other non-bipedal beings. The footprint impression has been interpreted as the same as the modern human stride, with the heel striking first and then a weight transfer to the ball of the foot before pushing off the toes.

Interesting. Modern humans weren’t supposed to have existed 4 million years ago but here are footprints that “closely resemble modern human” footprints found in ash they claim is 4 million years old. Since this evidence isn’t compatible with evolutionists’ claims about human evolution, they allege the prints belonged to Australopithecus afarensis, a supposed human ancestor. According to the Wiki article, other footprints were found in the same ash as the suspect prints.

Other prints show the presence of twenty different animal species besides the hominin A. afarensis, among them hyenas, wild cats,… baboons, wild boars, giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, several kinds of antelope, Hipparion, buffaloes, elephant relatives (of the extinct genus Deinotherium), hares and birds.

Think about this for a moment – they find baboon footprints and assign them to baboons; they find giraffe footprints and assign them to giraffes; they find rhino footprints and assign them to rhinos; they find modern human footprints and assign them to A. afarensis!! Isn’t that hilarious?!

We have myriad examples of modern species living simultaneously with their supposed ancestors. There is no clear progression of fossils from ancestor to modern. FAIL.

TRANSITIONAL FORMS

Evolution is a history of descent with modification. A lobed fin becomes a leg which become wing. A fold in the skin becomes a scale which becomes a feather. The structures found on every creature of every species are simply adaptations of more primitive structures found on the creatures’ ancestors.

Prediction #4: If evolution were true, we should expect to find volumes of fossil evidence showing creatures in transition from one species to another. In Darwin’s own words, “innumerable transitional forms must have existed…. [J]ust in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous.” We should not be able to turn over a shovel of dirt without finding another transitional form.

Result: Darwin himself was surprised that we didn’t find, “every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links.” After more than a century and a half of looking, and the trillions of fossils that exist, evolutionists have – at most – a few dozen examples of transitional forms and even most of these are suspect. The “innumerable” amount we would expect to find are simply not there. FAIL.

THE APPENDIX

As we’ve already discussed, evolution is a history of descent with modification. Over time, some structures have supposedly lost their original function and have either become useless or have been adapted for some completely different function. Such structures are called, “vestigial.” The appendix is perhaps the most touted example of a vestigial structure.

Prediction #5: The appendix appears in many different species of mammals. If descent with modification has occurred, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called, “tree of life” and find that all the creatures who have an appendix also share a common ancestor.

Result: The problem is, there is no predictable pattern among the mammals with appendixes. The appendix appears in some species of primates, rodents, and even marsupials but is absent from the intermediate groups linking these species. It’s not at all what we would expect if evolution were true. FAIL.

TIKTAALIK

I bring this up because it is often cited by evolutionists as an example of a successful prediction made by their theory. It was even used by Bill Nye in his debate against Ken Ham. The most commonly accepted understanding of history is that life began in the sea and evolved onto land. If this has occurred, scientists would expect to find fossil evidence of creatures with structures in transition from sea-to-land.

Prediction #6: Based on their understanding of when the supposed transition of sea-to-land occurred, researchers began exploring an area of exposed, Devonian deposits in the Canadian Arctic in hopes of finding fossil evidence of a creature in transition from sea-to-land. They found Tiktaalik. According to one website detailing the prediction, “Not only was it exciting to find a new species, but it was made all the better by the fact that scientists had predicted the existence of a creature like this all along.”

Result: A few years after the discovery of Tiktaalik, a track of fossilized footprints belonging to a tetrapod were uncovered in a quarry in Poland. They were dated according to evolutionary dating methods to be 18 million years older than Tiktaalik. This would mean that fully evolved, ambulatory tetrapods were walking around millions of years before their supposed ancestor, Tiktaalik, ever lived (see failed prediction #3). FAIL.

In summary, I’ll just say that I’m not sure of any successful prediction the theory of evolution has made. I only know that there are many, many failed predictions. Evolutionists will offer a lot of excuses in an effort to explain away these failed predictions but they are similar to the excuses I discussed about about failed predictions of mixing paint using a color theory. The difference is, knowing what colors to mix to make new colors is actually useful information. Evolution isn’t useful to any field of science. There is no life-improving advancement made in the last 100 years whose invention hinged on an understanding of evolution. It’s the trivial pursuit branch of biology. It’s generous that we still even call it a “theory.”

(original link)

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