EG wonders how I would go about attempting to defend evolutionary theory:
Let’s assume that you were not skeptical of evolution by (probably) natural selection, and let assume that you wanted to try to give a defense of the ‘theory’. How would you proceed to salvage the theory and make it eminently attractive to the skeptics and the deniers?
The first thing I would do is walk through the logic of the theory in reference to itself alone. By this, I mean not proposing it as a more sensible alternative to something else or getting sidetracked in discussing other matters. For example, no amount of Keynesian critique will succeed in establishing relevance of the Austrian Business Cycle. This should allow one to identify the key problems that require empirical support.
The second thing I would do is marshal the empirical facts. This is a methodical, mathematical approach that appears to be foreign to most biologists, for example, my erstwhile biology tutor was outright confused when I asked him what the average rate of evolution was, even though, if evolution did indeed take place, logic dictates that rate must exist as a matter of historical fact and be accordingly calculable according to a variety of metrics. Of course, given the poor performance of econometrics versus Austrian logic and behavioral empiricism, perhaps we should not expect too much from any theoretical evolumetrics.
The third step is comparing the logic with the metrics, to show that both are well in accord with each other despite the unavoidable gaps in the latter, and how the combination serves to provide meaningful and testable predictions even though it is presently incomplete. While this wouldn’t serve as a proof, it would amount to a reasonable working assumption.
Needless to say, this bears almost no similarity to the “assum, imagine, and apply” method which is utilized by most advocates of evolutionary theory. Because they have no respect for logic and subscribe to Bacon’s dogmatic empiricism, they begin with the second step rather than the first and prevent themselves from being able to progress to the third step. Their tactical problem is that while scientific empiricism works very well within small time limits, it is like trying to use a microscope to look at a blue whale when considering matters that stretch outside an observable time scale. Thus they are forced to use logic without ever admitting it or having any familiarity with it, usually with the consequences one would expect.
And their strategic problem is that in most cases, evolutionary theory is intended as a weapon to serve their real object, which is the advancement of materialism, Dennett’s skyhook. The reasonable working assumption that my method could theoretically provide simply isn’t enough to serve their larger purposes, which tends to support their blind adherence to the purely empirical and deceitful insistence that the unprovable has, in fact, been proved.