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RM> P.S. If evolution is science fact why do they still call it RM> the Theory of Evolution. It's a misunderstanding the meaning of a scientific theory. Here is an essay by Larry Moran which I hope you will find useful: .................................................... Subject: Re: Evolution is a fact. Newsgroups: talk.origins In article lamoran@gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca wrote: EVOLUTION AS A FACT AND A THEORY When non-biologists talk about evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of change... how did evolution occur? Biologists consider evolution to be a FACT. It can be demonstrated today and the evidence for it's occurrence in the past is overwhelming. But there are several THEORIES of the MECHANISM of evolution. Stephan J. Gould has put this as well as anyone else, "In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact" - part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): 'Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science - that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was.' Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered. Moreover, 'fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent'. I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory - natural selection - to explain the mechanism of evolution." Stephen J. Gould "Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981 Gould is stating the prevailing view of the scientific community. In other words, the experts on evolution consider it to be a FACT. This concept is also explained in introductory biology books that are used in colleges and universities (and in some of the better high schools). For example, in some of the best such textbooks we find, "Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact. The term THEORY is no longer appropriate except when referring to the various models that attempt to explain HOW life evolves... it is important to understand that the current questions about how life evolves in no way implies any disagreement over the fact of evolution." Neil A. Campbell, BIOLOGY 2nd ed., 1990, Benjamin/Cummings, p.434 "Since Darwin's time, massive additional evidence has accumulated supporting the fact of evolution - that all living organisms present on earth today have arisen from earlier forms in the course of earth's long history. Indeed, all of modern biology is an affirmation of this relatedness of the many species of living things and of their gradual divergence from one another over the course of time. Since the publication of The Origin of Species, the important question, scientifically speaking, about evollution has not been whether it has taken place. That is no longer an issue among the vast majority of modern biologists. Today, the central and still fascinating questions for biologists concern the mechanisms by which evolution occurs." Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, BIOLOGY 5th ed. 1989, Worth Publishers, p.972 One of the best introductory books on evolution (as opposed to introductory biology) is that by Douglas J. Futuyma, and he makes the following comment, "A few words need to be said about the 'theory of evolution', which most people take to mean the proposition that organisms have evolved from common ancestors. In everyday speech, 'theory' often means a hypothesis or even a mere speculation. But in science, 'theory' means 'a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed", as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it. The theory of evolution is a body of interconnected statements about natural selection and the other processes that are thought to cause evolution, just as the atomic theory of chemistry and the Newtonian theory of mechanics are bodies of statements that describe causes of chemical and physical phenomena. In constrast, the statement that organisms have descended with modifications from common ancestors - the historical reality of evolution - is not a theory. It is a fact, as fully as the fact of the earth's revolution about the sun. Like the heliocentric solar system, evolution began as a hypothesis, and achieved "facthood" as the evidence in its favor became so strong that no knowledgeable and unbiased person could deny its reality. No biologist today would think of submitting a paper entitled "New evidence for evolution"; it simply has not been an issue for a century." Douglas J. Futuyma, op. cit., p.15 There are readers of these newsgroups who reject evolution for religious reasons. In general these readers oppose both the FACT of evolution and THEORIES of mechanisms although some creationists have come to realize that there is a difference between the two concepts. That's why we see some leading creationists admitting to the fact of "microevolution" - they know that evolution can be demonstrated. What I find so bizarre is that there are some readers, who are not creationists, but still claim that evolution is "only" a theory which can't be proven. This group needs to distinguish between the fact that evolution occurs and the theory of the mechanism of evolution. We also need to distinguish between facts that are easy to demonstrate and those that are more circumstantial. Examples of evolution that are readily apparent include the fact that modern populations are evolving and the fact that two closely related species share a common ancestor. The evidence that Homo sapiens and chimpanzees share a recent common ancestor falls into this catagory. There is so much evidence in support of this aspect of primate evolution that it qualifies as a fact by any common definition of the word "fact". Other examples of evolution are less secure. For example, the relationships between various protozoa are not understood. The statement that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor is strongly supported by the available evidence, and there is no opposing evidence. However, it is not appropriate to call this a "fact" since there are reasonable alternatives. It is also important to distinguish between evolution and the origin of life. Evolution, per se, does not cover the origin of life. Those who reject evolution because it doesn't explain the origin are life are fighting a straw man. April 5, 1992 Laurence A. Moran (Larry) Dept. of Biochemistry lamoran@gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca Medical Sciences Blgd. (416) 978-2704 University of Toronto FAX (416) 978-8548 Toronto M5S 1A8, CANADA

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