Are there any scientific
alternatives to evolution
I got started on this question when I was asked to read Joseph Platt's strong inference paper once again. I started thinking about the importance he places on alternative hypotheses, and started thinking about what alternative hypotheses might be available for evolution, the field I study.
Let me say right off that for me creation/intelligent design is not a valid alternative for two reasons. First, I'm not sure how these alternatives are falsifiable, an important part of any scientific theory. But more crucially, these ideas do not work for me because this notion of creation does not fit with my understanding of G-d. If they work for you, than I don't need to disabuse you of this notion. (Its not that I don't care, its just that its none of my business what you believe.) But given that I can't accept them, and don't see how they are scientific, do I have a viable alternative hypothesis?
I'm starting to feel like I don't. Not that there couldn't be, but that there aren't. Which is not to say that there aren't lots of alternative hypothesis with regards to evolution. Darwin probably had it right, and natural selection probably has played a big role in the evolution of life that we see today. But how large a role have random events probably played in evolution. What would happen if we could rewind and start it all over again? I don't know- its something worth thinking about and maybe even investigating experimentally. Does the fossil record show gradual evolution? Or has is it really better described by punctuated equilibrium? And has that evolution proceeded in small gradual steps? Or have they been big leaps? Do you believe in hopeful monsters? (I don't.)
These are all interesting questions, I think. They are certainly all active areas of research in evolution. But none of them deny that evolution has occurred. Is this really a problem? Am I dealing with an outdated or unrealistic notion of how science works? Is this just more proof of what Kuhn says... Could someone help me out here? I'm beginning to feel like I'm having a crisis of faith...