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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
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Claim CA210:

A true science must make predictions. Evolution only describes what happened in the past, so it is not predictive.


Batten, Don. 2002. It's not science.


  1. The difference in predictive power between evolution and other sciences is one of degree, not kind. All theories are simplifications; they purposely neglect as many outside variables as they can. But these extraneous variables do affect predictions. For example, you can predict the future position of an orbiting planet, but your prediction will be off very slightly because you can not consider the effects of all the small bodies in the solar system. Evolution is more sensitive to initial conditions and extraneous factors, so specific predictions about what mutations will occur and what traits will survive are impractical. It is still possible to use evolution to make general predictions about the future, though. For example, we can predict that diseases will become resistant to any new widely used antibiotics.

  2. The predictive power of science comes from being able to say things we would not have been able to say otherwise. These predictions do not have to be about things happening in the future. They can be "retrodictions" about things from the past that we have not found yet. Evolution allows innumerable predictions of this sort.

  3. Evolution has been the basis of many predictions. For example:

    With predictions such as these and others, evolution can be, and has been, put to practical use in areas such as drug discovery and avoidance of resistant pests.

  4. If evolution's low power to make future predictions keeps it from being a science, then some other fields of study cease to be sciences, too, especially archeology and astronomy.


Wilkins, John. 1997. Evolution and philosophy: Predictions and explanations.


  1. Hagner-Holler, Silke et al. 2004. A respiratory hemocyanin from an insect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 101: 871-874.
  2. Ingman, M., H. Kaessmann, S. Paaba and U. Gyllensten. 2000. Mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans. Nature 408: 708-713 . See also: Blair Hedges, S. 2000. A start for population genomics. Nature 408: 552-553. See also: Thomson, Jeremy, 2000 (7 Dec.). Humans did come out of Africa, says DNA. Nature Science Update,
  3. Mallatt, J. and J.-Y. Chen. 2003. Fossil sister group of craniates: Predicted and found. Journal of Morphology 258(1): 1-31.
  4. Marden, Jim, 2005. Flap those gills and fly: Comment (#46024: 10/29).
  5. Oliver, Antonio et al. 2000. High frequency of hypermutable Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis lung infection. Science 288: 1251-1253. See also Rainey, P. B. and R. Moxon. 2000. When being hyper keeps you fit. Science 288: 1186-1187. See also: LeClerc, J. E. and T. A. Cebula. 2000. Pseudomonas survival strategies in cystic fibrosis (letter), 2000. Science 289: 391-392.
  6. Penny, David, L. R. Foulds, and M. D. Hendy. 1982. Testing the theory of evolution by comparing phylogenetic trees constructed from five different protein sequences. Nature 297: 197-200.
  7. Webster, Andrea J., Robert J. H. Payne, and Mark Pagel. 2003. Molecular phylogenies link rates of evolution and speciation. Science 301: 478.
  8. Yoshida, T., L. E. Jones, S. P. Ellner, G. F. Fussmann and N. G. Hairston Jr. 2003. Rapid evolution drives ecological dynamics in a predator-prey system. Nature 424: 303-306.

Further Reading:

Rainey, Paul. 2003. Evolution: Five big questions: 4. Is evolution predictable? New Scientist 178(2399) (14 June): 37-38.
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created 2001-2-18, modified 2005-11-3