Main Question or Discussion Point
Popper said:I now wish to give some reasons why I regard Darwinism as metaphysical, and as a research programme.
It is metaphysical because it is not testable. One might think that it is. It seems to assert that, if ever on some planet we find life which satisfies conditions (a) [i.e. Heredity] and (b) [i.e. Variation], then (c) [i.e. Natural Selection] will come into play and bring about in time a rich variety of distinct forms. Darwinism, however, does not assert as much as this. For assume that we find life on Mars consisting of exactly three species of bacteria with a genetic outfit similar to that of terrestial species. Is Darwinism refuted? By no means. We shall say that these three species were the only forms among the many mutants which were sufficiently well adjusted to survive. And we shall say the same if there is only one species (or none). Thus Darwinism does not really predict the evolution of variety. It therefore cannot really explain it. At best, it can predict the evolution of variety under "favourable conditions". But it is hardly possible to describe in general terms what favourable conditions are - except that, in their presence, a variety of forms will emerge.