hese previous points are all evidence of macroevolution alone; the evidence and the conclusion are independent of any specific gradualistic explanatory mechanisms for the origin and evolution of macroevolutionary adaptations. This is why scientists call universal common descent the "fact of evolution". As explained in the introduction, none of the predictions directly address how macroevolution has occurred; nevertheless, the validity of the macroevolutionary conclusion does not depend on whether Darwinism, Lamarckism (i.e. inheritance of acquired characaters), or something else is the true mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change. The macroevolutionary conclusion stands, regardless.
This point has an interesting parallel in physics. Newton's theory of universal gravitation describes a phenomenon of matter, just as macroevolution describes a phenomenon of life. The theory of universal gravitation is also independent of the specific explanatory mechanism for gravity, and in fact Newton never gave a mechanism for gravity. Why does the force between two masses follow the inverse square law and not another law (perhaps an inverse cube law)? It took nearly 300 years before any plausible mechanisms for gravity were proposed (by quantum field theorists). None of these proposed mechanisms currently have any experimental support. Additionally, theories of gravity are strictly dependent upon the concept of mass, and there currently is no empirically supported mechanism for giving mass to matter. Charles Darwin is considered such a great scientific mind because, unlike Newton and Einstein who proposed only descriptive theories, Darwin proposed both a descriptive theory and a plausible mechanism. That mechanism is, of course, heritable variation with natural selection.
Mike Hopkins has generously donated his expertise and time to provide off-site links to the references cited in this FAQ, for which I am extremely grateful. I also wish to thank Brett Vickers, John Wilkins, Wesley Elsberry, Edward Max, Jim Foley, Laurence Moran, Ashby Camp, Cornelius George Hunter, Richard Harter, Matt Silberstein, Neil Rickert, Larry Handlin, John Harshman, Paul Gans, Sarah Clark, Paul Danaher, Howard Hershey, maff, Adam Noel Harris, Rich Daniel, Wade Hines, Chris Nedin, Peter Nyikos, Gavin Tabor, Andrew McRae, Ken Cox, Ken Cope, Mike Goodrich, Norm Pace, Scott Classen, Tom Schneider, Steve Schultz, Carl Woese, and Catherine Theobald (and others I am surely, yet unintentionally omitting) for their helpful comments, corrections, suggestions, discussion, and criticism. All remaining errors are mine and mine alone.