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Evolution as a Science of the Unrepeatable Past

Antagonists of the theory of evolution reject it on the basis that it is unproveable. It is true that the theory of evolution cannot be completely verified by direct observation of every part of the process. This is true of all theories that provide explanations for processes that involve immense periods of time. Peacocke comments: ‘the postulate of past biological evolution cannot be falsified in the sense of Karl Popper, by performing repeatable experiments whose outcomes are inconsistent with the postulate [that evolution has occurred] - nor can most theories of geology and of cosmology.’Peacocke, AR, God and the New Biology (London: Dent 1986) p35 - also God, Humanity and the Cosmos pp65-69 on Popper and falsificationism.

Evolutionary biology, then, is akin to Big Bang cosmology, and much of astrophysics, in that it offers models to explain processes which are historically particular, and could never be duplicated in a laboratory. (In the case of cosmology this is because the energies involved are too high; in the case of evolution, because the timescales are too long.) Such sciences have an especially broad scope for dialogue with descriptions of the Christian God. The reason is that those descriptions tend to emphasise a Being who cannot be put to experimental test, but who is everywhere creative, and active in every part of history.See  Big Bang Cosmology and Theology for discussion of the shifting dialogue between Christian theology of creation and Big Bang cosmology. See God, Humanity and the Cosmos, Chs. 6 & 7 for examination...

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate and Dr. Michael Robert Negus
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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