Isn’t Evolution Just a Theory?

[This is a response to Teancum’s Comment a few months ago where he said:

Let’s be humble and remember that evolution is a scientific theory, not fact. Just because the majority of scientists believe it occured does not mean it really did.

I didn’t think it worth my time to make a rebuttal over this obvious subject, but I thought I would give him the chance to study up on the latest in the debates over ID and Evolution that I have recently compiled].

First of all, what is a theory?

Part 1. by Ken Miller [one minute video clip]:

Part 2.

Evolution is just a theory, yes, as is Gravity and many other well know FACTS. These facts are termed “theory”s because a theory is a well known, repeatedly tested claim by scientists. Nothing in Science will ever be know 100% because new information can always trump and help progress old information that is the beauty of Science, but as of now, Evolution is as factual as is Gravity, or anything else we take as true science/fact.


Calling the theory of evolution “only a theory” is, strictly speaking, true, but the idea it tries to convey is completely wrong. The argument rests on a confusion between what “theory” means in informal usage and in a scientific context. A theory, in the scientific sense, is “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena” [Random House American College Dictionary]. The term does not imply tentativeness or lack of certainty. Generally speaking, scientific theories differ from scientific laws only in that laws can be expressed more tersely. Being a theory implies self-consistency, agreement with observations, and usefulness. (Creationism fails to be a theory mainly because of the last point; it makes few or no specific claims about what we would expect to find, so it can’t be used for anything. When it does make falsifiable predictions, they prove to be false.)

Lack of proof isn’t a weakness, either. On the contrary, claiming infallibility for one’s conclusions is a sign of hubris. Nothing in the real world has ever been rigorously proved, or ever will be. Proof, in the mathematical sense, is possible only if you have the luxury of defining the universe you’re operating in. In the real world, we must deal with levels of certainty based on observed evidence. The more and better evidence we have for something, the more certainty we assign to it; when there is enough evidence, we label the something a fact, even though it still isn’t 100% certain.

What evolution has is what any good scientific claim has–evidence, and lots of it. Evolution is supported by a wide range of observations throughout the fields of genetics, anatomy, ecology, animal behavior, paleontology, and others. If you wish to challenge the theory of evolution, you must address that evidence. You must show that the evidence is either wrong or irrelevant or that it fits another theory better. Of course, to do this, you must know both the theory and the evidence.

There you have it, I recommend you study the podcasts on evolution I have archived for your convenience here:

The studies will be worth it. You will see the world with a new lens after you’ve listened to these few podcasts on the subject of Evolution.

Let me know what you think after you have studied them.


8 thoughts on “Isn’t Evolution Just a Theory?

  1. Mark,
    I appreciate your response.
    I actually agree with evolution. I currently do not believe that the human species evolved from a lower order, but I do agree that many facts point to evolution as the primary method that our Heavenly Father may have used to create and populate the earth.
    I also would not feel I was cheating my religion by agreeing that our Heavenly Father also used evolution to prepare a body suitable for Adam and Eve.
    That said, I don’t put a lot of trust in science. I know that there is a good chance that the students that live hundreds of years after us will look at many of our theories, maybe even evolution, and wonder how we could have believed such things. Or maybe the What I was trying to say in my comment was that I think its good to be humble and realize that while the facts currently point to evolution those that choose not to agree with it have good reason to do so – history. And saying that evolution is as strong a theory as gravity is very subjective.
    But you are right, a theory is much stronger factually than I thought. My current biology teacher explained to us while we call them theories, they are closer to truths, because they have been tested and tested and found to be true. Some people mistankingly believe that scientific theories are closer to a hypothesis, which is completely wrong. I stand corrected in that regard.
    I will check out the material. And I appreciate you responding, and participating on my board.

  2. Just wanted to take issue with a small comment Drew made above. He states “I don’t put a lot of trust in science”. The simple fact that he is using a computer to comment on blogs and presumably doing other things that are the product of science (e.g. sitting on a chair made out of materials like plastic, man-made fibres and metal alloys that are the product of science; a chair that was designed using the scientific principles of mathematical mechanics). Often people want to separate out technology from science. When they do this they treat technology as ‘trusted’ and taken for granted and view science as something else. In fact everything that is technology was, at one stage, the leading edge of whatever scientific field it is derived from and separating them out into trusted and not trusted is an entirely artificial distinction.

    Without realising it, I suspect Drew puts so much trust in science (including scientific technology) that he doesn’t even realise he is doing and that is why he is able to say “I don’t put a lot of trust in science”.

  3. agreed. i’m sure drew wouldn’t pray away a heart attack or cancer. he’d be getting the best medicine science can provide. although he’d say god inspired the scientific process in the area of medicine, i’m sure- so it’s still a “tails i win, heads you lose” explanation.

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