Evolution: What We Know and What We Don’t

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February 17, 2010 Tags: History of Life

Today's video features Jeffrey Schloss. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

In this video conversation, Jeff Schloss discusses some things we should be mindful of when we discuss evolution. He begins with the observation that when we use the term “evolution”, it is not always exactly clear what we are actually discussing unless we denote the intended usage.

For example, the evolution of genetic change over time is not even an idea or a theory, it is simply an observation—we see it.

The evolution we discuss when we consider whether that change over time has resulted in the diversity of species we see now—that is an idea and an interpretation. But, Schloss emphasizes, it is an idea that is accompanied by overwhelming scientific evidence—ranging from biogeographic evidence to the more recent discovery of profound examples of genetic fossils. Further, he notes that this idea—that evolution results in the diversity of species—is firmly established and it is central to our understanding of how organisms work and how they are structured.

The last part of evolution, however, is really a theoretical aspect—and one that is not fully settled—even among scientists themselves. This part of evolution asks what the causes are that drive the evolutionary process. While the synthetic theory of evolution, which suggests that evolution results from a twin process of mutation and natural selection, is the dominant theory, scientists are not fully in concordance with regard to the extent that other factors play a significant role in evolutionary change.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


As Senior Scholar of BioLogos, Dr. Jeff Schloss provides writing, speaking, and scholarly research on topics that are central to the values and mission of BioLogos and represent BioLogos in dialogues with other Christian organizations. He holds a joint appointment at BioLogos and at Westmont College. Schloss holds the T. B. Walker Chair of Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and directs Westmont’s Center for Faith, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Schloss, whose Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology is from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, often speaks to pubic, church-related, and secular academic audiences on the intersection of evolutionary science and theology. Among his many academic publications are The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion

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Charlie - #4739

February 17th 2010

It is true that we cannot rule out other factors that influence evolution, however mutation and natural selection are observations as well, making their role in evolution fully settled and not theoretical.


Glen Davidson - #4741

February 17th 2010

For example, the evolution of genetic change over time is not even an idea or a theory, it is simply an observation—we see it.

Oh my, we don’t “simply observe” anything.  We see what we can see, and that depends upon what concepts we have in our minds, and our ability to infer patterns from regularities.

We do see “genetic evolution,” no question, now that we know what we’re looking at.  But that’s because we have the biological theories and ideas that have developed, including evolution, and related ideas.

Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p


Glenn - #4764

February 17th 2010

Will Biologos be making a response to Ken Ham’s State of the Nation address?


Mike Gene - #4817

February 18th 2010

While the synthetic theory is rooted in the truth of mutation and natural selection, and clearly captures a key element of evolution, ultimately, I think it represents a rather superficial understanding of evolution.  That is why so many scientists continue to probe “other factors” and also why this dominant theory failed to anticipate several of the most important evolutionary discoveries over the last few decades – the roles of symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, and deep homology.  Evolution is much more interesting (and clever) than the proponents of synthetic theory would have us believe.


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