Klinghoffer Asks: Is Evolution Falsifiable?

As you know, one of the defining features of a scientific hypothesis is that it is testable — by experiments or by observing its predicted results, and as with so many Superseded scientific theories in the past, if it fails, then it’s rejected.

Evolution, like every other scientific theory, is subject to testing. In a very real sense, every fossil that is found is a test — see Where Are The Anachronistic Fossils?, and sometimes a specific fossil hunt itself can be a test — see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. Evolution has survived every test for 150 years. As we wrote in Creationism and the Burden of Proof:

[W]hoever makes a claim has the burden of supporting that claim by producing at least some verifiable evidence in its favor.

The theory of evolution has already met that burden — and it continues to do so with each passing day. The original hypothesis has been challenged and tested again and again, and it has survived such challenges. That’s why it’s regarded as a theory. Now it’s the creationist or — ahem! — the intelligent design advocate, who is making the claim. Specifically, his claim is that evolution is false — and it is therefore the creationist who has the burden of proof.

With that as background, we shall now look at a brief post appearing today at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Is Evolution Falsifiable? Doug Axe Versus Biochemist Keith Fox on Premier Radio. It was written by David Klinghoffer, upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist). We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

Klinghoffer begins with a flowery description of UK talk show host Justin Brierley:

In the U.S., we don’t have anything quite like the U.K. talk show Unbelievable? with host Justin Brierley. Over the course of a little more than an hour on Premier Radio, Brierley conducts a dual interview with proponents of competing views. While clearly identifying himself as a Christian, he turns a polite skepticism on both guests so that you really feel you’re drilling down to the core issue on which they disagree, rather than being distracted by peripherals.

Although Klinghoffer says Brierly appears on what he calls “Premier Radio,” Google provides a link to what is actually called Premier Christian Radio, which describes Brierly and his show, and says that he “has produced an annual evangelism and apologetics conference. He is also the Senior Editor of Premier Christianity Magazine.”

Klinghoffer gives us a list of Discoveroids who have appeared on Brierly’s show, and says:

On a recent program he invited Biologic Institute’s Douglas Axe, author of Undeniable [link omitted], for a discussion of protein evolution with biochemist Keith Fox. Listen to it here [link omitted]. Fox, who teaches at the University of Southampton, is a BioLogos-style theistic evolutionist. Brierley does a great job of illuminating the scientific issues (theological ones too) separating Fox and Axe. It’s a remarkably substantive as well as calm and respectful conversation.

Axe is one of the Discoveroids’ intellectual giants. They refer to him as “Douglas Axe of Biologic Institute.” As we’ve mentioned before, the Biologic Institute is supported by Discoveroid grants. It’s their own captive research lab. The Discoveroids’ imitation of the accouterments of science has caused their “theory” of intelligent design to be described as a cargo cult.

Despite the obviously biased nature of Brierly’s show, Klinghoffer claims:

To his credit, from question to question, you can never quite tell what side Brierley himself comes down on.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then he says:

A telling challenge he gives to Dr. Fox, however, is whether as an evolutionist he can imagine any evidence of ID that would convince him to give up his commitment to unguided Darwinian processes as explaining the history of life.

Isn’t that thrilling? What a brilliant question! Is there any evidence that would make Fox abandon the theory of evolution? We can imagine an arkload — starting with the ever-elusive Precambrian rabbit. Better still, how about if the creationists would finally introduce us to their designer? Show us his workshop. Explain his methods. Show us how the magic done. That would be evidence we wouldn’t ignore.

But that’s what the Discoveroids don’t do — because they can’t Instead, as we’ve said so many times before, all they ever do is point to something not yet fully understood — at least by them — and start yelling “Goddidit!” That’s because their only “evidence” for intelligent design is either the god of the gaps argument or else William Paley’s watchmaker analogy.

Returning to Klinghoffer’s post, Brierly has asked Fox about evidence against Darwinian evolution. He gives us Brierley’s exact words:

“Part of me wonders, is there any level of complexity of which one could say, ‘OK, Doug [Axe], you’ve got a point. This does look designed now.’ Or is design just never going to be an option no matter how much things look incredibly like the math’s against their ever developing in that way?”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Brierly is asking: “Will you ever succumb to the watchmaker analogy?” For the droolers among his readership, Klinghoffer explains Brierly’s question:

In other words, is evolution falsifiable?

What was Fox’s answer to that question? Klinghoffer tells us at the very end of his post:

Fox’s reply, in brief: “Never say never, as they say.” That’s a telling response in a fascinating conversation.

Klinghoffer thinks that response shows that evolution is worthless and unscientific because it’s not falsifiable. However, we’ve already listed a few things that would falsify evolution. Intelligent design, on the other hand, is idea that can never be tested, because it can survive any conceivable test. The transcendent designer — blessed be he! — works in mysterious ways for his own purposes, which are beyond our ability to comprehend.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Klinghoffer Asks: Is Evolution Falsifiable?

  1. Evolution is not a theory.

    Evolution is a process that occurs in life on Earth. It has been observed to occur whenever and wherever and however we examine life going on on Earth.

    It possible that it will discovered that flight doesn’t occur? Only a philosopher would be bothered by examining the possibility. The rest of us would not be bothered by fear of being dogmatic, and would simply answer, “no”.

  2. “That’s because their only “evidence” for intelligent design is either the god of the gaps argument or else William Paley’s watchmaker analogy.”

    And Hitler. Don’t forget Hitler.

  3. michaelfugate

    Isn’t the DI argument a textbook case of the genetic fallacy? If humans evolved from animals via natural selection, then we can’t be moral?

  4. Of course evolution is falsifiable and ID can be confirmed – all that it would take is for the Grand Old Designer to show up, pull off a few fantasmic tricks, and lay out the details of how he/she/it pulled it all off.

  5. Doctor Stochastic

    Evolution is falsifiable, but not by Klinghoffer.

  6. And how does, “Never say never,” somehow get translated as, “No, it’s not falsifiable?” That’s not what those words mean.

  7. Is flight falsifiable?
    Is reproduction falsifiable.
    Is life falsifiable?

  8. Is it falsifiable that this message is written in English?

  9. Rabbits in the precambriam

  10. If a rabbit happens to hop onto a Precambrian site, we would see a live rabbit in the Precambrian.

  11. Evolution is unguided? Wrong.
    Evolution is guided by the invisible hand of a supernatural power?
    Which of the 5600 known deities is doing it Klinkledinkle?

  12. Les Lane: As J.B.S. Haldane is supposed to have said, a rabbit fossilin the pre-Cambrian would disprove evolution. My advice to Klinglepoo is that, instead of perpetually whining, he ought to start digging. And Douglas E. is right: if the alleged designer ever did show up he/she/it could settle the argument quickly. And Och Will, my vote is for Ganesh because I think he’s cute, although the Taoist rabbit god Tu Shen would be a fun one for the fundamentalists among us!

  13. @dweller – you have it right. Fox gave the correct answer, which is that no scientist can ever claim that nothing can ever disprove their hypothesis. They can never say “never.” It can be very, very, unlikely, however.

    It seems like the Discoveroids are maintaining the fiction that Biologic is some sort of research institute, instead of a small suite in an office building. (Hence, the green screen lab photos). If any physical lab work is ever done, it would be in the kitchen.

  14. @Ed: boiling pre-Cambrian bunnies, perhaps?

  15. “My advice to Klinglepoo is that ….”
    You mean Klinglepoo doing some actual work, Abeastwood?

  16. TomS asks “Is flight falsifiable?”

    Well, I was talking to a pilot and he said that more and more aerospace engineers are turning away from OrvilleandWilburWrightism and towards Intelligent Long Range Jumping. Its just a better explanation for certain things.

  17. To be fair (why?) there are two questions here. Did evolution with common descent occur (it did, and it is silly to claim otherwise), and was some part of the process guided by a Designer. The default answer to the second question must be “no”, but the question is at least in principle open, and the Design Institute claim that the degree of complexity of life is such that the answer must be yes. “Rabbits in the Precambrian” is relevant to the first of these questions, but not the second. Axe’s spurious statistics and Behe’s benighted burblings are relevant to the second question, but not the first. The entire DI campaign is based on muddling up these two quite different issues

  18. I would prefer to ask it as whether evolution occurs – the timeless sense. Evolutionary biology is not confined to paleontology.

    And if something is so complicated that it needs a designer to get to the desired end, why was it so intractably designed in the first place?

    Anyway, we all know that to get to a desired product, we need more than just a plan.

  19. Thank you Paul Braterman for that helpful clarification!

  20. I want to know why the designer did not poof everything into existence at once? Why the billions of years of tweaking? Are there limits to the designer’s powers?

    Somehow, I don’t think the DI will ever address that.

  21. @Ed
    Other from very special contexts, a designer is not responsible for the existence of something.
    Your questions about the time or the limits are best directed to the producer, constractor, constructor or some such.

  22. @TomS
    I think in this case, the designer has his own garage workshop. Clearly, he is not very adept at building things. A skilled contractor would have done a much better job.