How many times have you used the expression “It’s a fact”…or “As a matter of fact”… or “In fact”? What did you mean? You probably meant to indicate that something actually happened or that something you had referenced was really true or that it corresponded to reality. Scientists’ use of FACT is often considerably different. They use words like fact, hypothesis, theory, and law with a variety of overlapping meanings.
Most people without a strong science background (a majority of the population) would be startled to discover when a scientist says “Evolution is a fact,” he means something quite different from the dictionary definition. When we come back from a fishing trip and tell our friends “I caught a 22″ bass and that’s a fact!” we mean the story is a true statement of reality. On the other hand, an evolutionary scientist looks at the geological record and also says “Evolution is a fact.” Search through the scientific literature, however, and you will discover that a fact is sometimes described as a mini-hypothesis, something directly observable but always having some uncertainty, and subject to further observation, measurement, and testing. Awarding fact status is also sometimes conditioned by culture and individuality.
I’ve read several letters to the editor written by non-scientists on the subject of evolution, exuberantly claiming “Evolution is a fact, tested and proven.” Many endorse such statements, confident that scientists, of all people, know about such things and have tested away the doubt about Darwinian evolution as we defined it in our last post (1/29/08). This confidence is not justified.
Stephen Jay Gould, the late evolutionist and vocal public advocate of the theory, said “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.” Gould would have been the first to admit that the mechanisms of macro-evolution are uncertain and hotly debated among evolutionary scientists. The reality of evolution and its driving processes are not “tested and proven.” Evolutionists’ definition of fact does not match the dictionary. Definitions may change or be manipulated, but there can be no compromise with the concepts of reality and truth.