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Debunking The “Evolution Is Just A Theory” Argument

by @ 9:23 am on November 16, 2009. Filed under Evolution vs. ID, Science

It’s fairly standard to hear creationists say that evolution is “just a theory” as part of an effort to discredit it, but that entire argument involves ignoring the very concept of what a scientific theory really is:

How many times does this have to be explained?

A scientific theory is not “just a theory”;

‘A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.’, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Also a scientific law differs from a scientific theory in that a scientific law does not, unlike a scientific theory, propose a mechanism or explanation of the phenomena under consideration. Therefore a scientific theory is a more powerful tool than a scientific law because the law can only be applied in specific cases and does not offer any explanation for what is happening. eg Newton’s law of gravity gives us an equation to calculate the attraction between two bodies but gives no explanation of why the equation works; and as we know Newton’s Law does not actually hold when applied outside the boundary conditions for which it was created, which is where Einstein comes in.

The problem with arguing with creationists, of course, is that they clearly don’t perceive reality as you and I do. They live in an alternate world where facts are fungible, and they always will.

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11 Responses to “Debunking The “Evolution Is Just A Theory” Argument”

  1. zen says:

    The problem with arguing with creationists would then extend well beyond the topic of the origins of life. If such a fundamental flaw of reasoning, logic, and understanding can exist for this topic—the intentional ignorance and obfuscation of fact—then the door for anything swings wide open.

    I mean if someone believes that dinosaurs and man lived together, then anything could be fair game and open to interpretation, right? And yet, these same people use computers, drive cars, take medication, etc., all of which exist in spite of the facts they deny.

  2. Matt says:

    As someone who doesn’t perceive reality as you, and who lives in an alternate world where facts are fungible I guess it’s pointless to try to make any sort of argument about how macro-evolution (speciation) has never been observed.

    I guess it’s just easier to dismiss me as irrational, and unscientific. That way you don’t have to think about what I say and you certainly don’t have to bother to defend your position against attacks from crazy people.

  3. John says:

    @ Matt

    If your facts are fungible why debate?

  4. zone says:

    The science is not in on this one either.

    Science’s own second law of thermodynamics states that the order of a system always decreases naturally over time.

    Science has scratched the surface of how life works, but in my opinion, has offered no scientific explanation of how or why it would begin from inorganic randomly assorted matter.

  5. tfr says:

    Why evolution does NOT violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#thermo

  6. Bleev says:

    The original sin is knowledge…

  7. Vast Variety says:

    As pointed out in the link provided by tfr, life is not a closed system in and of it self. It is part of a greater system called the universe.

    Human Beings for example can gain amounts of vitiam D simply by standing outside in the sunlight and absorbing the ultraviolet rays.

  8. tfr says:

    Yah, you do have to dig a little to find the data, but it’s not like anyone who’s on the net really has a difficult task in doing so. There really isn’t any excuse except willful ignorance, for remaining in the dark about scientific subjects.

  9. Blair says:

    The supposed strength of the evolutionary theory is the fossil record combined with carbon dating. Since the dating process was “refined” recently (from millions of years to billions) I have no confidence in it’s scientific accuracy. My argument for ID is to trace the “fossil record” of the wheel, from the first chunk of granite to the tiny gears in a Swiss watch. This record would certainly demonstrate the process of “evolution”, but it would also acknowledge the existence of creative inspiration at work. Are all scientists so arrogant as to think that they are the only source of knowledge in the universe?

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