Evolution Is Only a Theory

Intelligent Design: the new Creationism

Well, its only a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed.

—presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, addressing a group of evangelicals in Texas in1980 regarding Darwinian evolution

The implication in that statement is that there is something not quite right about a theory—that it is a mere speculation, and very likely wrong. Indeed, the everyday connotation of “theory” is “guess”, as in, “My theory is that Fred is crazy about Sue”. But in science the word “theory” means something completely different, conveying far more assurance and rigor than the notion of a simple guess.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a scientific theory is “a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed.” Thus we can speak of the “theory of gravity” as the proposition that all objects with mass attract one another according to a strict relationship involving the distance between them. Or we talk of the “theory of relativity”, which makes specific claims about the speed of light and the curvature of space-time.

In science, a theory is much more than just a speculation about how things are: it is a well-thought-out group of propositions meant to explain facts about the real world. “Atomic theory” isn’t just the statement that “atoms exist”; it’s a statement about how atoms interact with one another, form compounds, and behave chemically. Similarly, the theory of evolution is more than just the statement that “evolution happened”: it is an extensively documented set of principles that explain how and why evolution happens.

Evolution Just A Theory Gifts on Zazzle

For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be testable and make verifiable predictions. That is, we must be able to make observations about the real world that either support it or disprove it. Atomic theory was initially speculative, but gained more and more credibility as data from chemistry piled up supporting the existence of atoms. Although we couldn’t actually see atoms until scanning-probe microscopy was invented in 1981 (and under the microscope they do look like the little balls we envision), scientists were already convinced long before that atoms were real. A good theory makes predictions about what we should find if we look more closely at nature. And if those predictions are met, it gives us more confidence that the theory is true. Einstein’s general theory of relativity, proposed in 1916, predicted that light would be bent as it passed by a large celestial body. Sure enough, Arthur Eddington verified this prediction in 1919 by showing, during a solar eclipse, that light coming from distant stars was bent as it went by the sun, shifting the stars’ apparent positions. It was only when this prediction was verified that Einstein’s theory began to be widely accepted.

Richard Dawkins quote: The evidence for evolution is so compelling that the  only...

Because a [scientific] theory is accepted as “true” only when its assertions and predictions are tested over and over again, and confirmed repeatedly, there is no one moment when a scientific theory suddenly becomes a scientific fact.

A theory becomes a fact (or a “truth”) when so much evidence has accumulated in its favor—and there is no decisive evidence against it—that virtually all reasonable people will accept it. That does not mean that a “true” theory will never be falsified. All scientific truth is provisional, subject to modification in light of new evidence.

In Darwin’s day, the evidence for his theories [about evolution] was compelling but not completely decisive. We can say, then, that evolution was a theory (albeit a strongly supported one) when first proposed by Darwin, and since 1859 has graduated to “facthood” as more and more supporting evidence has piled up. Evolution is called a “theory” just like the theory of gravity, but it’s a theory that is also a fact.

—excerpts from Why Evolution is True, chapter 1, by Jerry Coyne, professor of Evolution at the University of Chicago

Only a Theory or The Only Theory?, Controversies around the Theory of  Evolution, Frank Visser

To read the next post in this series on Evolution click: here






End of post.

7 thoughts on “Evolution Is Only a Theory

    1. The theory of the evolution of species is just as much a fact as is the theory of gravity. This is the position of the overwhelming majority of scientists. For you to reject this overwhelming majority expert opinion means that you are a conspiracy theorist who believes some version of: the majority of scientists are involved in a great cover up to discredit Christianity and the Bible.

      This is nonsense. First, because the majority of scientists are theists. Second, because there is massive evidence to support this position. Its veracity is not dependent on expert opinion alone as is the case with many issues related to the Bible, such as the historicity of the empty tomb. Evolution has massive evidence. The empty tomb of Jesus has scant to none.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The same kind of warning should be placed at the beginning of every Bible regarding its many serious problems, and how it should be approached with caution and read with an open mind.


  2. A point that most don’t understand. They think their “theory” about somethings — a guess — is what scientists redoing


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