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.
In article email@example.com
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
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
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
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
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
April 5, 1992
Laurence A. Moran (Larry)
Dept. of Biochemistry firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical Sciences Blgd. (416) 978-2704
University of Toronto FAX (416) 978-8548
Toronto M5S 1A8, CANADA