Friday, May 8, 2009

Plate Tectonics - A Theory in Crisis?

Let's talk a moment about the theory of Plate Tectonics.

Scientists have this new-fangled theory about the continents sitting on huge "plates" that slosh around all over the place and collide with one another. They even say that at one point, all the continents were all joined up together in one big piece! They say they have a lot of evidence, and let's be honest, we're not arguing that there are certain facts we can agree upon, it's simply the interpreation of these facts that we disagree with. I mean, we've all experienced earthquakes or tremors, and this kind of micromovement we can agree upon, but macromovement? The movement of entire continents? I think not! Were you there to see them move? Also, isn't the whole thing rather circular? Earthquakes occur along fault lines and we know where fault lines are because earthquakes happen there? I'm not saying we shouldn't teach plate tectonics in geography and geology classes, merely that we should teach the strengths and weaknesses of the theory, teach the controversy, and let the kids decide. After all, it is only a theory.

More below the fold...

Of course the above paragraph is mostly bullshit. Plate tectonics is indeed an accepted science, and there is a lot of evidence for it (some quite recent). The point is, the exact same argument made by creationists against evolution can in fact be used against every area of science, and this is what some of them are actually driving at. Part of the problem, for some of these people, is that science doesn't deal in proof. It deals in evidence and the most likely explanations for a series of facts.

So, to begin with, let's get a few things straight.

A fact, in science, is roughly equivalent with the idea of data (though humanity studies love to point out that data is what is "given" while a fact is "made"...thanks guys). It is an observation that can be objectively verified. For example, it is a fact that when I release an object, it falls down. It is a fact that the sun appears to rise in the east. It is a fact that earthquakes occur. It is a fact that the magnetic orientation of rocks on various continents align to a point in space as they are now, but if the continents were closer together, they would converge on the north pole. It is a fact that we have a large, though certainly incomplete, fossil record of species that seems to show transformations from one to another while preserving significant morphological, geographical, biomolecular (in some special cases), and chronological similarities. It is a fact that we have witnessed events of speciation the lab and in the wild within the past few decades. It is a fact that we have witnessed novel mutations bringing about a net increase in fitness. Several of my previous posts deal with these issues and more.

A law, in science, is a description of how certain principles operate, typically expressed in mathematics. For example, there are Newton's Laws of motion. These describe the ways that objects behave and finally pin down those really hard observations like "the harder you shove something the faster it moves." I'm not trivializing here - F=ma is a very important law, and it took us centuries to nail it down. Good going, Newton. Likewise, there is Newton's Law of Gravity - it describes to a fair degree of accuracy how two bodies of mass interact with one another in the absence of other forces. There are also laws in population genetics, a field with some notable influence in evolutionary biology. A law is not the "highest" class of scientific ideas - they are merely a subset of them. Getting a law named after you is a pretty cool thing, though.

A theory, in science, is a well-tested explanation that attempts to tie together a large set of facts and laws and explain why they are the way they are. For example, we had Newton's Law of Gravity for a long time (as well as his theory), but it failed in some important aspects, specifically with the orbit of Mercury. Also, his theory had low plausibility. It wasn't until Einstein that we understood why the planets orbit the way they do (i.e., due to the curvature of space-time), and also picked up some pretty cool new predictions, such as gravitational lensing. These predictions, a necessary component of any theory, allow for evidence supporting its veracity, but they don't "prove" a theory true. A theory never graduates into a "law" or any such thing, it either stands the test of time, or is falsified and rejected in the harsh reality of the scientific world. What works stays and gets refined over the years, what doesn't work is rejected and scorned. Sorry, them's the breaks. So, for example, we still don't say that Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been proven true - people are constantly trying to disprove it. However, so far, no one has been able to offer verifiable evidence against it. It stands thus far, but may be replaced in the future. That's one of the wonderful things about science, we go where the evidence leads us, and we're willing to change our minds. Hell, we may even win a Nobel Prize in the process. Sweet! This is also why the "just a theory" claim is so laughable. A theory is a battle-tested and hardened contentor in science. We want to teach our theories, they're the best explanations we have in the world.

Anyways, back to what this has to do with plate tectonics and evolution.

I've heard the arguments I started out with said about evolution all the time. It's really pretty trite, I must say, and five minutes with a google search or a good librarian should be able to clear up these misconcepts. Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in 1859, and within a few decades, the scientific debate over the matter was settled - Darwin was right. Now, the funny thing is, I hear people say all the time, "We have evidence for microevolution, but not macro. That's just fantasy." What makes this laughable, beyond its merely being invented by creationists, is that it comes from our rather peculiar time in history. Had we lived when Darwin first published his book, the argument would have been exactly the opposite. Darwin based his theory on evidence from palentology, biogeography, comparative anatomy, physiology, and embryology and drew a very large picture. He had no workable theory of inheritance, the "micro" of this particular scale. It wasn't until the 1950s, actually, until we had a solid model of that, which allowed for the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Since that point, Creationists have been making a huge effort to ignore or create elaborate explanations for all the evidence that had existed and continues to mount against them.

One of the more laughable comments from creationists is the "Where you there?!" question, intended to cast doubt on any scientific theory, because, as they say, it is supposed to be based entirely on "observable evidence," which for them means only which can be seen under a microscope in a lab. I'm sorry, creationists, but science is bigger and more imaginative than that. When you have a theory that allows for predictions, and can go out and test those predictions, and follow the evidence, well, that's science. For example, Neil Shubin knew that there had to have existed an intermediary between fish and amphibians. He predicted, based on the theory of evolution, when this type of creature had to have lived. He went out and found rock of that age (I may go into how geological layers are laid down, and why there is no single geological column that contains all the layers, in another post), and bam...there Tiktaalik was. More confirmation of the predictions of evolutionary theory, which goes to offer more support for evolutionary theory. Listen, if you want to say evolutionary theory is false, well, okay, you've still got to explain the facts of evolution that we've seen, as well as come up with evidence that the theory doesn't work, and supply a theory that has at least as much evidence and plausibility as evolution has going for it now.

Now, the plausibility bit is important. The old saw is "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and that's true. The more prior plausibility you have, the less extraordinary the evidence you must have to make a claim believable. For example, if I am known to love cookies and tell you that I had a cookie this afternoon, you'd probably believe me. If, however, I am deathly allergic to cookies, have shown you how terrible my reactions are in the past, and then saunter in and tell you that I just got done eating twenty-three pounds of cookies, you'd probably ask for some proof or just assume I'm bullshitting you. It's the same in science - the work is still based on evidence, but the more out-there your claims, or the more it directly contradicts all the evidence we have so far, or proposes new mechanisms, the more evidence you have to have to convince people. Likewise, this is why supernatural explanations don't work - they have low prior plausibility and they are utterly untestable. Science is a field in which testing is supreme. When you say you want to insert an untestable, unnatural explanation in there, you've got a contradiction of terms.

Some people say that evolution is a circular argument - the survival of the fittest really means that whatever survives is the fittest. Well, not really. Evolution predicts the differential survival of individuals dependent on the interaction of their differential genetic and behavioral characteristics and the dynamic environment. "Fit" is not a static thing, it changes from environment to environment and from species to species. Sometimes, otherwise fit organisms die in catacylsmic events. Too bad. What you end up with the differential survival of alleles in populations. That's the important thing - evolution is about populations.

Evolutionary theory takes evidence from biology, palentology, geography, geology, chemistry, and many other fields to create a comprehensive explanation for the diversity of life forms and generate new predictions. There are significant controversies in evolutionary theory, but they're not the ones that creationists tell you about. They're about things like gradualism versus punctuated equilibrium and the overall influence of genetic drift versus natural or sexual selection. If you doubt evolution, with all the evidence for it, I would argue either you haven't done your homework well enough, have been indoctrinated against it, or should also doubt that gravity exists, that the earth is roughly spherical, that modern medicine has anything going for (as so much of it is based on evolutionary theory anyway), or that atoms exist. We're talking about the same levels of evidence here.

Anyways, look up plate tectonics sometime. It's a fascinating field, and some of the lines of evidence for it are just great. Science, people!

Lastly, a guy I've had some frequent debates with, Tom Sheepandgoats, is fond of a phrase: "Why should I listen to scientists telling me that my car doesn't work when I'm driving along in it?" It's pithy, I admit. I can understand the feeling behind it - some of science is quite counterintuitive and some of it is incredibily difficult to grasp. However, my response would be that it was in fact science and technology that built the car and explain how it works in the first place - how chemical reactions release energy stored in hydrogen bonds in the hydrocarbon fuel and powers a drive train to produce rotation in the wheels, which interacts through friction with the road to propel the car foward. In fact, it seems more the creationists who want to argue that the car can't work, even though it clearly does. They continually deny evidence put before them, or argue things along the lines that because the drive train can't steer the car or because the steering wheel can't propel the car, cars are impossible, or because they haven't personally seen any tractor trailers, they deny the possibility that tractor trailers exist, even though other people have seen them.

For one example of this, I'm going to go for radioisotope dating. You get a lot of claims about radiocarbon dating being wildly inaccurate or incorrect. For example, Kent Hovind loves to talk about living mollusks being dated to millions of years old, or shrimp, or marine seals....hmm...there's something going on here. His statements are actually true - these creatures have been dated with obviously wrong dates, but they are also incredibly misleading. In one video, Hovind even cites one of the studies he's quoting from, but he doesn't give the title - which clearly states that the paper is about fraudulent dates for mollusks and marine animals and why it happens. Listen, these creatures are filter feeders that tend to live in and feed on carbon-14 depleted environments. This becomes incorporated in their shells and bodies, and then when other marine predators eat them, they likewise absorb depleted carbon. It's true, radiocarbon dating is very inaccurate for marine organisms, and this is one of the reasons that scientists don't use it for those types of creatures! See, that's the other thing. Scientists aren't stupid. They know the limits of their tools and they're careful to describe exactly what they're doing with what and why. You use radiocarbon dating for a narrow range of materials and it has a limited time period in which it is generally accurate. Luckily, we have many other kinds of radioactive dating, all of which can be independently verified by other means. Likewise, creationists often play up the "random chance" element of evolution - the mutations. They always forget the selective elements, or the evidence that mutations can increase fitness. If you need a real-world, real-time example...let's use viruses, Influenza A H1N1, for example. There you go. Thank you, done.

That's about it for now. If you want to comment or debate any of these issues, feel free to reply. Likewise, if you see any mistakes, go for it.


tom sheepandgoats said...

Lastly, a guy I've had some frequent debates with, Tom Sheepandgoats, is fond of a phrase....HA! I was right. You ARE trying to pick a fight with me! An unbelievable response to the guy who has arrange your marriage and who will pepper your marriage talk (if invited to deliver it, but what are the chances I will not be?) with references to Adam and Eve, that first married couple? [smile]

The point is, the exact same argument made by creationists against evolution can in fact be used against every area of science...No, it can't be. Much of science can largely be observed in the here and now, without extensive use of forensic reconstruction of the distant past, which could be likened to (another favorite phrase (you didn't quote the first one precisely enough for my taste (though I acknowledge it was only a side point for you (let's many closing parentheses do I need?)))) swinging a baseball bat while gripping only the eighth of an inch at the end.

It deals in evidence and the most likely explanations for a series of facts.No problem with this statment, really. Since explanations offered are the "most likely," I am surprised those in your camp are as dogmatic as they frequently are.

And, of course, I and the rest of my faith have no problem with plate tectonics. Probably, most of us have not taken a serious look at it, being occupied with different pursuits, but for those of us who have, we see no inherent conflict. You must not lump me in with the fundamentalists who would go apoplectic at such a concept.

Alas, I can't respond to everything you've written, not really for lack of interest, but for lack of time. I should make more time for this blog, though. It really is well-presented.

tom sheepandgoats said...

A little clarification.

I and the rest of my faith have no problem with plate tectonics. This is not to say I accept is as a given, but, to use your phrase, as the 'most likely' explanation. In the absence of any overriding reason to challenge it, I defer to those who specialize and whose accomplishments I respect.

Ragoth said...

*chuckles* Always trying to provoke a little response. We all love page hits.

As to the "observed here and now," I've very hesitant to give much ground on that point. In the case of physics, let's say, or chemistry, there are indeed many experiments that can be run in the here and now. In the area of quantum physics, we can run experiences and get results which either confirm or disconfirm our theories. As you've stated yourself in a few places, indeed, we have only mathematical models for this at the moment...well-confirmed models, but there is no satisfying theory behind it to explain the facts that we are observing or why things behave according to our models. In chemistry, indeed, we can observe many experiments to confirm or disconfirm our theories in the here-and-now.

Now, as for things like say, astro-physics, evolution, or even history itself, the idea of a "here-and-now" experiment is a little harder to get your head around. In astrophysics, for example, a large portion of the work is done in spectrums other than visible light. With radio astronomy, for example, we can translate the data into visible images, but these are not actually "directly observable" things in the narrow sense - that is, with our regular senses.

Also, these are observations of things that happened long, long, long, long ago (and even that doesn't begin to cover the time scale here). In essence, these are the "fossil evidence" that we have of the early universe as it aged. We are just now beginning to have the tools to do really in depth observations in all spectrums of electromagnetic radiation. From the evidence that we have so far, incomplete as it may be, we have constructed theories on cosmology, star formation, supernovae, etc, etc. Luckily, we continue to observe and we can make predictions based on our theories. With new observations coming it, even if these observations are of incredibly old events, we can confirm or disconfirm our theories, and so far, we're doing pretty good in that field. Well enough to land probes on distant worlds, predict the expansion patterns of supernovae, etc.

It is much the same with evolutionary theory. We have the fact of a fossil record, incomplete as it may be, and necessarily so. We have the facts of geological strata, which were known before Darwin and used to predict (when Darwin was a young man) an ancient earth, much, much older than the few thousand years popular in some circles today after Bishop Ussher. We have the facts of morphological similarities, both in a divergent form of creatures who appear to be related (the radiating forms of the wrist and hand bones in mammals, for instance - observe the differences between the flippers of a whale and the wings of a bat, which use the same bones in the same basic positions, and now we know controlled by the same genes, but vastly differentiated). We also have convergent evolution, where differing species evolve similar solutions to a common environmental pressure. Thus, wings have arisen at least three times - in insects, in birds, and in at least one group of mammals. They end up with roughly similar forms, but vastly different histories and underlying design. Plants make this point even better - the differences between cacti and euphorbia. To the casual observer, these families are hard to tell apart, but they are not even in the same order as one another. They come from different parts of the world, but have evolved remarkably similar solutions to life in a desert.

Ragoth said...

Here's the problem - the point of insertion for an erv is random. Truly random. Once it's in the genome, that initial point is typically locked-down - it stays there unless there is a major deletion. So, these things work out really well as markers for relatedness. If you're given an unknown sample of DNA, you could compare the location and relatedness of ervs (because ervs also are subject to mutations, they change at a fairly predictable rate with time) and get an estimate of the last common ancestor of two creatures. Chimps and humans, needless to say, share a large number of ervs in identical spots on our genomes.
So, we have also the facts of molecular biology, such as homologous gene sequences. We also have classification tables, which, I would point out, existed long before Darwin and were drawn up primarily by creationists, who recognized that humans are indeed primates.

Now, if any piece of these evidences did not fit with one another, evolution would indeed be in trouble. If we found fossilized rabbits in the Precambrian layer, evolution would be declared wrong. If we found two recently diverged species who had no genetic similarity, or were more related to say, worms, than they were to each other, then evolution would be false. If we ever saw a duck give birth to a crocodile, evolution would be false (interestingly, on occasion, small lizards do crawl into the cloaca of chickens, die, and then become encased in an egg. The chicken lays the egg, and of course the thing doesn't hatch, but you can crack it open and have a dead lizard fall out. Interesting tidbit). If radiometric dates disagreed with one another past the bounds of standard error rates (and let's also be honest - some creationists have tried to show that radiometric dating is fallible, which is something scientists already know. The problem is that these creationists always use either rocks or biological material of an age that it is already outside the standard error bars of a particular method (radiocarbon dates are reliable up to about 60,000 years, so, anytime you hear someone carbon dating a dinosaur fossil, you know it's going to be wrong), or they use materials which are known to be impossible to radiometrically date for other reasons (radiocarbon dating doesn't work on most marine creatures because the base of the foodchain are plankton and filter feeders, which absorb carbon-14 depleted water and nutrients and so would give a vastly older date than they actually are, but we've known this for a few decades and don't use it for those purposes). The point is, all it would take is one confirmed piece of this kind of evidence to disprove evolution. We've been waiting, and scientists use experiments every day that very well could disprove evolutionary theory, but thus far, they have not. It is our best explanation, provisionally, but has so much evidence for it, and so many attempts to disprove it defeated, that it would be "preverse to withhold assent."

As to experiments that we "observe in the here and now," there are observed instances of speciation, both in the lab and in the wild. All it takes is a five minute google search to find those. I've heard some people complain "Well, they're still just lizards!" but, that's actually the point. Evolution wouldn't predict anything else. Of course they're "still just lizards." Every species is a transitional one, but it is absurd to believe that we would witness the creation of a new genus, family, order, class, phylum, or kingdom from one speciation event. What's important is that now you have divergent populations, and as those populations continue to speciate, you may eventually get a different genus, order, etc., if the populations don't die out first.

Ragoth said...

As for predictions, well, there are several that can be made. One of the most impressive, to me, is the ability to say "We have these major classes of fossils...say, fish and amphibians. We know roughly what dates these two creatures lived at, and in what layers of rock the fossils were found in, and so evolution would predict that in between these two, in say, the Devonian, we should see some transitional forms between fish and amphibians. Let's go look," and then when we do go look, lo and behold, we find fossils which show traits associated with fishes and traits associated with amphibians and it gets to the point where we have a very hard time deciding whether to say the thing is moving out of the fish classification or into the amphibian classification.

Likewise, ervs are fun little bits of our genetic code. An erv is an endogenous retrovirus. Basically, this means that a retrovirus, one that inserts a copy of its genome into a host cell, infected a germ line cell of some ancestor. Sadly for the virus, something went wrong with the insertion and the genome of the virus became inactive, but since it became a part of all future sperm or eggs for that creature, they pass it down to their descendents. Now, all creatures that I know of have ervs. Viruses are extremely successful little things. And, those creatures that are related (whether you want to classify that on morphology or strict DNA relatedness) tend to have similar compliments of ervs in identical places in their genomes.

Here's another problem though - this is no mere "junk" DNA, which itself is a good marker for relatedness. If the right mutations occur, and they do occasionally, the erv can suddenly find itself working again and begins producing viral proteins in some unfortunate individual. These fossil viral remains come to life and wreck havoc on an unfortunate individual. This is one area where I have a very, very hard time understanding the "Common designer, common design" argument - why would a designer purposefully insert ervs that are best explained by an evolutionary hypothesis and would require evolution to be true to make sense, in the genomes of all his creations, which can then be mutated and kill the host?

Likewise, why is it that when we dig shallowly in recent rock layers, we find fossils that are very similar to, but not identical to, living forms today? And if we dig a little deeper, we find fossils similar to the younger fossils, but more dissimilar to living forms? And if we dig deeper, this process repeats itself over and over again. Each set is similar to the ones preceding or coming after it, but more and more dissimilar to fossils that are older and older or younger and younger to them. Why would a creator go to the effort of creating a species, wiping it out, and then creating a new species that is very similar to the one before it, and then wiping that one out, so on and so on until the present? Or why would a creator go to all the effort of creating a fossil record that speaks so clearly of a history of relatedness? Just to screw with us? I mean, we've bantered over the telelogical notion of "evolutionary improvement" before, and i think it's important to mention that one more time here. Environments change - they are rather chaotic, and those creatures which are best suited to the environment will survive. Thus, as deserts enlarge, those plants that are better at retaining water and developing thick defenses and relatively little leaf exposure to the dry air tend to thrive - thus we have cacti and euphorbiae, incredibly different genetically and in many internal qualities, but superficially similar and living in the same type of environment. And it's not possible to say that "the creator created both because they are better suited to their respective environments," because, as any history of invasive species show, non-native species can in fact thrive in new, but similar environments.

Ragoth said...

Lastly on this kind of point - what do we do with history? We have some fragmentary records of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Egyptian, and other ancient empires. We have records of older civilizations in burial mounds, crafts, and mentions in written records. However, none of these civilizations are observable in the here-and-now. None of history is. Of course history is reconstructive, but that is no reason to doubt that there was once a Babylonian empire. I do not withhold my assent to the assertation that there were a people who recognized themselves as Sumerians, or Persians, or Greeks, or Romans, despite the fact that we have relatively few extant remains from those periods and some ancient literature. Which is not to say that all ancient writings should be believed on face value - they are written by humans and have been edited over time. Many make fantastical claims. Many seems absurd or contradictory on their face. Some have a kernal or element of truth underneath, and yes, it does indeed take a great deal of reconstruction to make sense of some of it.
You mentioned in a recent post the last verses of Mark, and how they were clearly an insertion from a later date. This is the result of a great deal of scholarship and forensic investigation into the text itself and into the archeological record. I'm a little surprised, actually, that you're accepting of that piece of research but not others, though I realize as we've argued about, and agreed about, there is a large emotional component to acceptance.
As to the "dogmatic" claim, I think a lot of it has to do with a perceived absurdity. "Most likely explanation" is indeed all a theory is, but the level of "most likely" can be quite high indeed. It is a little troubling and annoying when you hear people say "Oh, it's only a theory" without understanding what that really means. The response, of course, is something along the lines of "Should we teach the theory of intelligent falling, then, alongside the theory of gravity? Or the theory of stork reproduction alongside sexual reproduction? Or the theory of corpuscules alongside atomic theory? Or the theory of, i don't know, tiny gremlins alongside germ theory? The problem is each of these has as much, and some a bit less, of the evidence behind them that evolutionary theory does, but that one provokes the most angst because it can, so directly, cut at the heart of Biblical doctrine."

I appreciate the compliment. I've been making an effort to check up on your blog regularly, and I enjoy reading it, especially for the different perspective. Good to hear from you!

Ragoth said...

Also, lastly, sorry for the long reply and how broken up it is. I'm going to try to edit this down to its own post later.


Ragoth said...

One last thing,

As that someone linked on to this particular post by searching for "theory of plate tectonics not a law," I'm going to go ahead and give myself a few points for the comparison between the opening paragraph of this post and some common "rebuttals" of evolutionary theory.

I'm intrigued by how many people are searching for evidence that plate tectonics is false. It gives me a bit of a chuckle.


Harry Dale Huffman said...

Plate tectonics is very easily disproved. See

"Challenge to Earth Scientists" at,

and my full blog

Anonymous said...

your one sentence on what a fact is seemed to create an illusion that all the following are facts , when in reality some, are mere ideals of what some people's opinion is in processes very small peices of "data" and accumulating it in a way to present your theory, theory and fact are not the same thing, there is very ,much so room for human error, and down to ones thought processes, on how they will precieve the data and accumuate it to create any such theory.

Heather Chilton said...

I love you. It's nice to just hear a rational voice after a conversation with someone who told me "As far as the theories on geology go I'm not interested because I don’t believe in evolution which pretty much undermines much of the science involved." I had been talking about introductory plate tectonics. So, just thank you.

kat said...

There are no laws in biology because there lacks math... are you saying that other theories, which have been tested rigorously and are the highest expression of a "truth" in this field are wrong also? Such as germ theory or cell theory, or evolution? There is such ample evidence for most theories it is to consider ones self blind not to at least explore the truth behind them. I am not however saying plate tectonics are true, it is a relatively new theory and in my opinion more research needs to be done. I am merely pointing out your logic troubles me.

Ragoth said...

@ Anonymous:

I think it's fair to say that all the examples given in that list are, in fact, facts. Granted, many of those are matters of observation - objects don't fall "down," they fall toward the center of gravity, or, opposite the direction of acceleration. In the case of living on the surface of a sphere, that corresponds to "down" for us in most cases. And indeed, the sun does not revolve around the earth, but it is a fact that the sun appears to "rise" in the east. It would not be a fact to say that the sun rises in the east because it revolves around the earth, but it is a fact that the sun appears to rise in the east because it appears to revolve around the earth, given our view point and no other information about solar systems.

I agree that theories and facts are not the same thing, as I detailed later in the post, and that there is room for human error, but that's very much the point of science - through repeated testing, try to eliminate the human error element.

I assume that you are referring to something like a Kuhnian paradigm with the last bit of your comment, which may be partially fair. It is true that there is some element of contextual creep into science, but, again, that's why we have repeated testing - to eliminate those outside factors which color our perceptions and theories.

Ragoth said...

@ Heather:

Thanks for the positive feedback, and good luck!

Ragoth said...

@ kat:

I don't know that I would agree with the statement that there are no laws in biology, especially because it lacks math. As I mentioned in the post, population genetics, which is a subset of biology, certainly has laws, and a lot of math, most of it statistical.

As for the rest of the comment, I think you should probably re-read the entire post, especially the part below the fold. Especially the first paragraph of that extra content.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused.

If the "science is settled" why ins't it called "The fact of evolution"?