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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 18 2013: Opposition to evolution is assumed to be a religous creationalist point of view from observations on these boards. When in fact I have read a simple fact that there are no absolutes including science and that is why they call it a theory. It may have all sorts of evidence but it is not a law like gravity. This is simply because it can not be entirly proved correct and neither can creationalist to any level of satisfaction of opposition parties.

    So as for your question: It is a theory.
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      Jun 18 2013: Its not a law because it can not be reduced to a mathmatical statement
      • Jun 18 2013: Ehmmmm? That doesn't matter.

        Stuff was called a "Law" before Popper and a "Theory" after. As a theory > Law.

        Aka Newton's Laws < Einstein's Theories.
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          Jun 19 2013: it does matter. even if everyone agreed there was overwhelming evidence for evolution it would still be a theory not a law because of its scope.

          i guess we may have different ideas about what a laws and theories are in modern science.
        • Jun 21 2013: Hypothesis

          A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

          A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.


          A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.
      • Jun 19 2013: You also seem to be confused as to what is called a "law" and what is called a "theory" in science.
        I think you too, from a philosophical point, should read up on Karl Popper.

        Many "laws" have been improved upon by "theories".
        There is still a large gap between "observation" and "theory" though.... but a theory should be consistent with every observstion. Meanwhile "laws" don't have this issue.

        That there is gravitation is an observation.... Newton made a fairly accurate guess (law) as to how to calculate it's force.... That then got improved upon by Einstein (theory).
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          Jun 19 2013: Actually we generally seem to be thinking along the same lines. There is the historical aspect and then there is the scope aspect.

          Theories have more explanatory power. You can not reduce evolution to a mathmatical equation Or relationship that predicts observations. It is broader than that.

          Theories are supported by testing and can be disproven by contradictory evidence
      • Jun 20 2013: Like I've said a few times already in the thread... people should read up on Karl Popper especially on his "Falsifiability" but he's made a few more philosophical points, about science, which are worth noting.
    • Jun 18 2013: You need to read my reply below.

      A scientific theory > scientific law.

      We have theories about what we observe, but it doesn't change the fact that we observe something happening.

      "Evolution" is observable beyond any form of doubt.
      As to WHY it happens... Well we have a theory that explains ALL of our observations about the observations.

      The only reason I use " " around evolution is because that which we observe as evolution doesn't strictly need to be named evolution. But the phenomenon "evolution" is explained (as to why it happens) through the theory of evolution.
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        Jun 19 2013: richard perhaps in some cases understanding the position of theories in modern science under mines some positions so it is ignored.
        you try correct, some prefer to argue against the false strawman

        fingers in ears going la la la, i dont want to hear this
        like the endlessly repeated false interpretation that evolution says humans evolved from chimps. it doesnt matter how many times you try to correct, it is deliberately propagated like a sound bite.
    • Jun 18 2013: Opposition to evolution is most of the time due to religious creationist misinformed points of view. This is not an assumption, but a well informed conclusion from lots of experience.
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      Jun 20 2013: And it only takes ONE proven 'exception' to the theory to call everything into question. Newtonian physics was supreme until Albert Einstein took a few instances here and there where Newton's theory seemed to 'break down.' Einstein evaluated those 'exceptions' and then published E=M*Csquared. Newtonian physics is now DEAD as a stand-alone theory. Newton's theories still work in Physics 101. But when you start sending man-made-objects costing MILLIONS of Euros into Space, you'd better know something significant about Mr. Einstein & HIS theories.

      So in the 'Space Age,' Newtons' theory is DEAD. And, apparently, so is a significant amount of Albert Einstein's later "conjectures" about a Unified Theory. Now given what we now know about Quantum Mechanics.

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