Darwin's Tree of Common Descent is Useless to Applied Science


This must be a trick argument. You seem to be equating events that can be observed , measured and repeated (empirical evidence) to events that no one observed, happened once and cannot be repeated (historical evidence). I know which sort of evidence I’d prefer to work with.

What “works” on paper is irrelevant to the OP. The question is whether common descent “works” in the real world. Hitherto, it appears that the only place common descent “works” is in the minds of evolutionary scientists.

No, I wouldn’t care to guess. Pease tell me.


I agree. This comment - "You seem to overlooked the part that says “… may have utility …” - was directed at someone else regarding a different subject, so I don’t know why you’re using it.

The problem is that the history of life may not be the result of purely naturalistic mechanisms. So basing any approach to applied science on a process that didn’t follow natural laws would be futile.

But having said that, using the theory of common descent is worth a try, I guess. I have a hunch that nothing useful will ever come of it, but you never know.

Which practical use of applied biology does a biologist rely on common descent for?

Irrelevant to the OP

(Stephen Matheson) #124

My impression, from reading this thread, is that the usefulness of common descent in the practice of science is far better established than the usefulness of Christianity in the practice of integrity.


A “practical use for common descent in science” is not something separate to “applied science” - it IS applied science.

I think you need to reconsider your interpretation of the word “practical”.
From a dictionary:
“practical” = of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas; likely to succeed or to be effective in real circumstances.

Some more definitions:
“Applied science is the application of existing scientific knowledge to practical applications, like technology and inventions…engineering…medicine.”

“Applied science, such as in the medical field, is the application of basic scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.”

“applied = a subject of study put to practical use, as opposed to being theoretical”

In that case, it’s irrelevant to the OP. Furthermore, I didn’t know Broad was involved in “not applied science”.

What is the difference between “not applied science” and theoretical science?

Granted, but it implies applied science. What I meant by “scientific results” in the bet post (#46) was scientific results with respect to applied science (as per the theme of the OP). In other words, you have not found a practical use for Darwin’s tree in applied science - hence the reference to a “YEC biologist”.

Okay, but whether they’re theories or conclusions is irrelevant. The point is, neither of them have any practical use in applied science, which is what the thread is all about.


Can you please give me an example of “the usefulness of common descent in the practice of science”.

(Christy Hemphill) #127


That Steve is a real deal scientist too. But unlike the other Steve, he barks AND bites. Fair warning.

(Stephen Matheson) #128

I won’t bite. I said my piece. FWIW, to my friends here, I actually do feel your pain.

(Steve Schaffner) #129

What does how you’re carrying out the observation and measurement matter? Either way, you still assume naturalistic explanations all the time.

No, it’s your highly restrictive definition of “works” that’s disconnected from the real world. As I told you, we use common descent to study things like the molecular causes of disease – and we’re not evolutionary scientists. But I told you that, too.

We find that the chimp base is typically the more common base in humans, and that the higher the frequency of a base, the more likely it is to be the chimp base.

Sorry, my mistake – too many posts.

But the operation of internal combustion engines may also not involve purely naturalistic mechanisms. Ditto for how hurricanes form, etc etc. Science has an excellent track record of producing accurate and useful results when it makes that assumption – including about historical matters. You haven’t offered any reason to stop making it.

(Steve Schaffner) #130

No, it really isn’t, and I don’t need to have definitions quoted to me. A practical use in science is something that is useful for practicing science, i.e. is useful for better understanding the physical world. Applied science is the practical use of science.

Theoretical science involves coming up with new theoretical frameworks for understanding parts of the world. Applied science involves applying science for non-scientific purposes. Most science is neither. For example, theoretical particle physics comes up with mathematical models that might explain how particles behave, e.g. string theory. Most particle physicists, though, are experimental physicists, who study how particles do behave, sometimes testing the ideas of theorists in the process. Neither camp practices applied science, since there is no application for most particle physics.

I think that’s all I have to say on this subject.


Doesn’t change the fact that they are attempting to utilize macroevolution to study disease.


Doesn’t change the fact that Darwin’s tree has proven useless so far in applied biology


It wasn’t much of a piece. You seemed to imply that common descent is practically useful, but offered no evidence of this. It’s therefore probably safe for me to assume you cannot provide an example of such a use.

Then you made some cryptic remark about Christian integrity. What did you mean by that comment?

(Haywood Clark) #134

What exactly is preventing you from starting such a company? If your insight is correct, it would have a huge advantage.

(Haywood Clark) #135

Those two claims are in opposition.

(Haywood Clark) #136

A lot. Most science is neither applied nor theoretical, it is empirical basic science.


I just disproved that claim.

(Chris Falter) #138

Actually, it does. What you call Darwin’s tree and what biologists call nested hierarchy is already being used in medical research. @glipsnort has already stated this multiple ways, multiple times.


Staying with the theme of this thread, it may be useless trying to convince our friend @Edgar that the nested hierarchy is useful to applied science.


You may be on to something here. Can you elaborate, please?


Nice try … but no cigar: “medical research” is not the same as a physical, practical applied use. A lot of research goes nowhere and doesn’t result in a physical, practical, applied use.