Much ado about the predictive power of evolutionary theory.

Much ado has been made by he who shall not be named over whether or not today's evolutionary theory has any sort of predictive power, he argues that because it can't explain what course evolution will take place in a million years that evolutionary theory is incomplete at best and rudimentary at worst because of it, underscoring the fact that he's incredibly ignorant of how evolution actually works, since it doesn't operate in a vacuum.

Evolution operates in a chaotic environment, earth, so while evolution itself is a nonrandom process the course evolution will take throughout history is determined by changes in the environment, which are random to some degree, not to the point that you can't predict anything about the future of life on earth, you can work out some broad strokes about the future of evolution here on this planet but that's about it.

I would like to point to some examples of the predictive power of evolutionary theory, specifically from Darwin. Darwin, for example, knew that birds were closely related to dinosaurs and specifically evolved from reptiles, so he predicted that a bird fossil would be found displaying unfused fingers, turns out two years later this fossil was discovered, it is the now famous transitional fossil of Archaeopteryx.

Darwin's theory was vindicated merely two years after the publication of the Origin, this would be the first of many vindications to come. An example relating to our own lineage with Darwin is how he predicted that transitional fossils related to our own evolution will be found in Africa, rather than Asia as believed at the time since he knew that our closest living relatives, gorillas and chimps, were only found in Africa. Lo and behold, with the discovery of Australopithecus africanus by Raymond Dart and the subsequent discovery of numerous different human and protohuman species and genera since then only vindicating Darwin further.

As it turns out, evolutionary theory as it stands on its own does have predictive power, and one doesn't need to resort to woo of some sort of "mega-evolution" to realize evolutionary theory's strengths and weaknesses.


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