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Gerald O'brian


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Evolution: "just a theory". Scientific caution is sometimes confusing.

The fact that our best available theories are still speculations misleads some people to believe that these ideas are not founded. Hence, some people suppose their uneducated opinion is just as bad, or as good, as the mainstream scientific hypothesis.
This trend is probably led by the way science has been taught, i e as a flawless method that offers facts about reality.
And by pre-scientific philosophy, still strong in our modern societies.

Evolution is "just a theory" the way Notre Dame is "just a pile of rocks", isn't it?



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  • Jun 6 2013: The response of many defenders of evolution to the "just a theory" argument has been something like "no it isn't, it's fact".

    This is inaccurate, and disingenuous. I don't think it helps. A better response would be to elucidate the nature of fact as best fitting theory.

    Personally I feel that this understanding of the continuity of theory and fact is even more empowering than the understanding of evolutionary theory.
    • Jun 6 2013: I disagree, for creationists and intelligent design champions, the word theory is being misused, and not understood, therefore, it is very relevant. I do not know how many times I have heard the word theory used by these people, thinking they understand science, when they obviously don't. I am not saying they cannot hypothesize there pet ideas, but I want to see quntifiable results before they bandy words like theory. Finally, you can throw "FACTS" at some of these people all day long, and they refuse to see them, that is faith, the same faith that has killed millions in the name of God, Allah, and many other deities.
      • Jun 6 2013: The words "theory" and "fact" are being misused and misunderstood by both sides of the argument.
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      Jun 6 2013: G'Day Lewis,
      I believe there is enough evidence that evolution is more certain then what one can describe as theory. Now, I speak of evolution as the beginning of our universe from the beginning or what most believe was the beginning.
      When we limit evolution to Darwin as many do, it is really like looking for fly poo in black pepper. All this conversation on whether man is a cousin or a brother to chimps. Atheists and Theologians can fight over that one, with biologists saying it's almost to close to call.
      Your acceptance of the power of fact is understandable, but begs the question on the lack of fact. Do we accept the obvious, when we can't verify facts? All the time.
      • Jun 6 2013: "there is enough evidence that evolution is more certain then what one can describe as theory"

        No, it can still be described as a theory. It can be described as a fact also, in the context of fact being a favored and supported theory.

        I don't accept "the power of fact", you've read my post wrong.
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          Jun 7 2013: Sorry,
          But now I am confused. The "theory of evolution" is attributed to Darwin and most biologist seem to think it is no longer theory, but fact. I think of evolution as the evolving universe with all that means. Some of these sciences: cosmology, astronomy, etc. have established a number of facts. Facts make scientists happy. Scientists seem to think facts have power. I always wanted facts to support my opinions. I accept the power of fact, what am I missing?
      • Jun 7 2013: What you are missing is that 'fact' is really just an established and well supported 'theory' about which most relevant experts have, for now, ceased to argue about. Many people miss this point, including some biologists and other kinds of scientists.

        What I'm trying to convey is that whether you call it the 'theory' of evolution or the 'fact' of evolution, you're talking about the same thing, and the difference is really only one of emphasis. To construe fact as a different and superior thing to theory is disingenuous and inaccurate, and a poor argument on the part of supporters of the theory / fact of evolution.

        Some scientists do seem to think that facts have power. I think they're misleading themselves. If there is power here, it lays in the ability to adapt theory to new information. Facts are by their nature provisional and temporary.*

        *It may be that some theories are already so good that improvement won't be necessary within our lifetimes, or even within the lifetime of the universe.. but there's no reason to believe that about any particular theory unless you can see into it's future. One can't remain adaptable if one assumes one's theories are perfect.
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      Jun 6 2013: I agree lewis. Perhaps evolution is the best explanation explaining what we observe in the physical and genetic patterns in all the life forms on earth and the fossil record. Adaptation. Changes in gene frequency. Descent. Etc.

      Science is often intwined with probability.

      Part of the issue relates epistimology, what we claim to know etc.

      We seem to have great confidence that the earth orbits the sun. Some have a high degreeof confidence in evolution.

      Others don't. I personally think it is the best explanation we have.

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