Friday, February 8, 2008

"It's Only a Theory"

"Evolution is not a's only a theory." How many times have creationist believers said this? Many would be startled to discover deficiencies in that line of argument. In spite of weaknesses in the theory, this line of reasoning will not be convincing. Darwinists, as we pointed out in the previous post, have modified their definition of "fact." They also use one of several definitions of "theory" which may be unfamiliar to non-scientists. To clear up the confusion, let's distinguish between the definitions.

Every day usage of "theory" leans toward vague, fuzzy conjecture, even guesswork. Under this usage there is a low probability of truth. For example, someone may observe a large flock of blackbirds heading off in an unusual direction at an unusual time of day. He could propose a theory to account for the behavior ranging from a food quest to impending weather to moon phases. Supporting evidence may be lacking. On the other hand, a scientific "theory" is a unifying conceptual framework used to explain carefully gathered evidence. It is less speculative with a higher probability of truth.

Neo-Darwinism (modern evolutionary theory) is more soundly supported than frivolous speculation about blackbird behavior, notwithstanding its weaknesses and the ongoing arguments about its mechanisms among even its staunchest supporters. The theory is appealing to many scientists because a large volume of evidence seems to suggest a unifying concept. The beauty of science is that analysis of new evidence sometimes forces reappraisal of theories. However, the rock-solid commitment of neo-Darwinists to the evolutionary paradigm stands in sharp contrast to uncertainties surrounding the theory itself.

Clarification of misunderstanding about the terms "fact" and "theory" is only a first step in resolving the lively debate between evolutionists and creationists. Members of both groups embrace various shades of opinion and acceptance within their belief models. These shades relate not only to hard evidence supporting one view or the other, but also to philosophical, social, and world view commitments. The search for truth is sometimes compromised. Our question continues to be "What is the truth?"