1995 Faith

A.Marchant marchaa at agric.nsw.gov.au
Mon May 29 03:37:29 EST 1995

Michael Scotto <mfscotto at iris.uncg.edu> wrote:
> I was just surprised to find that there are
> still people who have such faith in 
> evolution.
> After billions of dollars, years of research,
> and busloads of fossils providing what one
> eminent scientist referred to as less than a
> coffin-full of "evidence", I would think you
> people would have moved on by now.

Evidence, when composed of disparate kinds of data, is difficult to
quantify.  A 'coffin-full' seems to be an eminently suitable unit.
Let us then calibrate one coffin-full to be equal to 1.25 times the
amount of evidence that there is for evolution - this would make the amount
of evidence for evolution equal to 0.8 coffin-fulls (Scotto is not
precise in saying how much less than one coffin-full of evidence there is
for evolution).

One coffin-full is indeed very little - and 0.8 coffin-fulls even less so
(some may argue that this depends on the size of the coffin, but this is
an issue which we scientists participating in bionet.molbio.evolution
would be prudent to leave to the experts in soc.death.undertaking).

Nevertheless, 0.8 coffin-fulls is more evidence than we have for any
alternative to evolution.  If we are to believe anything at all, then the
principle of maximum likelyhood indicates that we should tend towards that
for which there is more evidence than for any other thing.

If anyone can provide more than 0.8 coffin-fulls of evidence for any
particular alternative to evolution (AS OPPOSED TO EVIDENCE WHICH APPEARS
MERELY TO CONTRADICT EVOLUTION), then I will cancel my subscription to

As our unit, the 'coffin-full', is a composite measure of evidence from
divers sources, it might be argued that religious myth should be
encompassed in its estimation.  Indeed, this may well be - but such as I
know of, which addresses the question of the origins of contemporary
life-forms, would fit in a coffin with PLENTY of room to spare.

Respectfully yours,

	Adam :-)  Marchant.

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