Almost daily on Twitter there seems to be a debate or argument going on between those supporting evolution and those opposed to it. I see comments from people who support creationism like, “its just a theory” or the classic, “if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” I even have to jump in from time to time on these discussions.
I know that christian creationists have to be opposed to a scientific theory like Evolution and Natural Selection. Evolution doesn’t line up with what they believe is true, which they get from their bible. So they have no choice but to be opposed if they want to continue to believe in their god and holy book. Regardless of the facts that the scientific community has proven about evolution. Some creationists will even bend and stretch their beliefs and their bible and try to make it fit what science says about how we evolved.
All of these exchanges and discussions got me wanting to look more into what a scientific theory is. What does it take for an idea to become a theory and did the theory of evolution have to go through the same scientific process to get to where it is today.
The first thing I had to clear up, is why do christians say, “it’s just a theory?” What do they mean by that? I tried to take my mind back to when I was a believer. I had absolutely no idea what evolution was about or what it said. All that I knew is what the bible said and believed it was true, hook line and sinker. If there was anything refuting the bible, then it must be a lie from the enemy. Therefore, I never bothered with it. So I can imagine in this mind set saying something like, “its just a theory” would take the meaning, its just a guess, unsubstantiated and speculative, which is an example from Wikipedia I found. I’m almost certain this is what most christians mean when they make that statement. Nothing against them, its just what most believers I was around for 20+ years would say and dismiss a theory like evolution and choose to remain uneducated about it if it threatened belief and faith. “It’s just the devil, so don’t even go there.”
Now on to what a scientific theory really is.
1. A Scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientific theories are testable and make falsifiable predictions. They describe the causal elements responsible for a particular natural phenomenon, and are used to explain and predict aspects of they physical universe or specific areas of inquiry. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge. This is significantly different from the common usage of the word, “theory”, which implies that something is a guess (ie. unsubstantiated and speculative) *Wikipedia
2. ..large bodies of work that are a composite of the products of many contributors over time and are substantiated by vast bodies of converging evidence. They unify and synchronize the scientific community’s view and approach to a particular scientific field. *RationalWiki
Live Science has a good article explaining the scientific theory.
So, it seems to me that for an idea or hypothesis to become a scientific theory it has to go through a long, proper and strict process. The hypothesis is looked at by several scientist in the field who run experiments repeatedly and ending with the same or better conclusions. Once the hypothesis is overwhelmingly agreed upon within the community after testing, it then becomes an actual scientific theory.
Scientific theories are open to scrutiny and can be disproven at any time. And they can also be improved upon as more knowledge of the theory comes in and with refined technology.
With the knowledge of what a scientific theory is, I will look further into the Theory of Evolution in part 2. I am interested in the process in which the hypothesis had to go through to become a scientific theory and what if any process the “creation” claim has taken to become a scientific theory.