The Theory of Evolution – What a scientific theory actually means
I have had to deal with so many christians lately with the standard reply that ‘evolution is just a theory’, and that there is another theory, that of ‘Intelligent Design’.
I thought I would break down what a scientific theory actually means to try and make it as small a possible explanation, for those christians hard of hearing, and are totally ignoring what ‘theory’ means in science.
The ‘Theory of Evolution’ is different to the ‘Fact of Evolution’. Evolution is a fact, however in science, theory means something, it does not mean the whole concept is still in dispute, evolution is fact, it is talking about the mechanism. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them.
Commonly ‘fact’ is used to refer to the observable changes in organisms’ traits over generations, evolution is PROVEN FACT. It occurs.
The word ‘theory’ is reserved for the mechanisms that cause these changes, that part is the Theory of Evolution.
Now to understand what theory means in science. In science, a current theory is a theory that has no equally acceptable or more acceptable alternative theory, and has survived attempts at falsification. That is, there have been no observations made which contradict it to this point and, indeed, every observation ever made either supports the current theory or at least does not falsify it by contradicting it completely. A revision of the current theory, or the generation of a new theory is necessary if new observations contradict the current theory, as the current findings are in need of a new explanation. However, the falsification of a theory does not falsify the facts on which the theory is based.
Evolution is FACT, the Theory of Evolution is the accepted idea of Darwin’s, as well as 2 others built up since the discovery of DNA by various scientists, over WHY evolution is fact. Darwin just started a whole CHAIN of ideas since his initial discovery, that build the Theory of Evolution.
The three main mechanisms that produce evolution in the theory, are natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow. Natural selection favors genes that improve capacity for survival and reproduction. Genetic drift is random change in the frequency of alleles, caused by the random sampling of a generation’s genes during reproduction. Gene flow is the transfer of genes within and between populations.
How is Intelligent Design a fact? What is the theory, that has no contradictions, that explains it?
Intelligent Design is not a fact, it is not a theory. It’s a BELIEF.