Theory Isn’t Fact

I find the ongoing debate about evolution versus creationism to be quite exhausting. Neither perspective really makes any sense, but strong philosophical and cultural biases play to favor one position or the other. The creationist’s biases are clear:

The Biblical seven-day account of the world’s creation; there are writings, supposedly inspired by God, which by their divine inspiration are indisputable. Evolutionists offer plenty evidence of dispute, such as the universe being more than 6,000 years old (I don’t doubt a much longer period of existence). 

I won’t lambaste the creationists. The evolutionists have done plenty of that. But assuming the creationists are wrong—and I don’t take position against them—that doesn’t make evolutionists right. Evolution is not a fact and is not indisputably proved to be right. There are aspects about evolution that may seem right, but I contend there really isn’t enough basis to remotely call it scientific fact.

Biology was my first field of study, so I am very familiar with Evolutionary Theory. I would like to repeat the crucial word theory. Evolution is a theory. Schools may teach evolution as fact, but it is nothing more than theory. Evolution is a working hypothesis around which there is supporting evidence, but it isn’t conclusive. My expectation is that future generations will discover evolution to be wrong, at least in its current conception.

Revision is the nature of science. The Ptolemaic and Newtonian views of the universe, for example, turned out to be misguided. These viewpoints, theories, were regarded as facts in their day. Human arrogance—that somehow people today are smarter than those from centuries ago or that we are somehow more advanced—is cultural bigotry.

Sure, modern science has led to remarkable products, but too often without much understanding how things really work. The human genome is mapped, but huge areas of biological and medical mysteries remain. There is much more that modern scientists don’t know than they really do.

From my perspective, with the possible exception of mathematics, all science is theory. Hypothesis and proof don’t always lead to fact; they rarely do, in fact. Any good episode of “House” shows how the Scientific Method can lead to many dead end theories. The TV show also reveals that what you don’t know can kill you, although it rarely does on feel-good television.

I have huge respect for science. It was my first academic love. But I know enough about science to recognize how much purported fact is little more than conjecture or belief.

Belief. Faith is something evolutionists and creationists share in common. Proponents on both sides of the evolution-creation debate believe that they are right. They are convinced that their philosophical position is the correct perspective. But I see nothing but theories in either position and a bunch of fanatics, whether scientific or religious, in-between. And their belief, absolute conviction their theory is fact, blinds them to ever finding the truth.

Joe Friday was right. “All we want are the facts, ma`am.” Correction, I want the facts. Philosophical positionists are convinced that they are right.

How wrong they are.

Photo Credit: Sam Bowman