The IFF StatementNelson-Velasco debate where professor Joel Velasco relied on the if-and-only-if reasoning that underlies evolutionary thought.
If there was any doubt about evolution’s reliance on metaphysics before the debate began, it was quickly dispelled when Velasco began his segment with what has effectively become the motto of evolution: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” This motto comes from the title of a famous paper written by evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky and it is none other than an if-and-only-if statement. For example, if-and-only-if evolution is true, then we should observe X. Here is a sequence of equivalent statements to illustrate this:
● Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
● Everything in biology makes sense only in the light of evolution.
● Only with evolution does anything in biology make sense.
● Only evolution can explain anything in the entire biological world.
● If-and-only-if evolution is true, then we should find what we find in the entire biological world.
But a scientist, qua scientist, cannot know that a particular theory is the only explanation for a particular observation (much less the entire biological world). That knowledge simply cannot come from science.
As I have discussed many times (here, here, here and here, for example), this if-and-only-if statement (or IFF for short), is bad metaphysics. It cannot be known to be true, and yet evolutionary reasoning entails just this. It is practically the official motto of evolution and, true to form, was a constant theme for Velasco. No less than ten times in the debate Velasco made this non scientific claim. Here are some examples, in Velasco’s own words:
[23:15] Now I’m going to tell you how I know that [all life is related via common ancestry] is true. So, the basic reason is the following. Now, Theodosius Dobzhansky was an important geneticist, he passed away in 1975, but before he did, in 1974, he penned an essay called, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” Now he was a committed Russian Orthodox Christian, who in the actual article defended theistic creationism, he said, “Well, God got it started and then evolution,” but I’m not going to talk about that part. I’m just going to talk about the basic fact that he was right. [23.50] Nothing in biology makes any sense unless you believe in evolution, and then it does. That’s the basic argument.
[28:16] How do you predict this nested hierarchical structure? What does this have to do with evolution? Well only an evolutionary process—only descent with modification can possibly explain why when you look at different traits you get the same classification, over and over and over again.
And you know what? There are transposon elements, ALU elements, in exactly the same place in the chimp genome as in the human genome. With exactly the same sequences. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because actually, when the transposon jumped, it was in an ancestor of humans and chimps, and then just got passed on. That’s why. [49:05] None of these facts would make sense, if we weren’t related. It would be a massive coincidence.
[52:35] So common ancestry explains all the similarities we share with the other apes, and not just similarities—it’s not like “well we’re bound to be close to something,” similarities in precise ways. That only can be explained by common descent. But common descent leads to puzzles. If we’re related, how can you get there from here? Lots of times we don’t know. But we can still see the effects. Here, now, we know.
[53:02] Nothing else could explain this data other than a fusion, and the fusion answers the puzzle of how we got there from here. So I want to just say that there is so much evidence, that backs this up. Now I don’t have time to go through it all, but in fact it’s the same kind of reasoning that goes all the way through, all of life. I know Paul wants me to say that because that’s what he’s going to focus on, but everything is related. We see the effects throughout our bodies, throughout our fossils, throughout all life. We see the effects of common descent, nothing else can explain it. Thanks.
[1:32:59] And they started in one place. Why are there penguins in South America and Antarctica, and the bottom of Africa? Well because they’re all in one place. Well you might say, “They’re not in one place.” Well 150 MYA that was one place because it was connected. Common descent explains these facts, nothing else does, even if you don’t know the origin of the penguins.
This repeated theme is not a slip of the tongue. It was a consistent, underlying and crucial theme for Velasco, as it has been for evolutionary thought in general. Indeed, Velasco canonizes it as “the basic argument.” This is the type of reasoning that proves evolution is a fact.
Religion drives science, and it matters.