Sorry, but I have to disagree. Theory definitely does NOT mean fact.
In common conversational usage, theory is often used to mean conjecture, unproven assumption, or even a mere guess. Oh it's just a theory!
Be that as it may, that is absolutely not how the word is used in science. It’s like the word caste
--in conversational usage, it refers only to social status, while to a beekeeper it also involves difference in diet and pheromones leading to different morphologies and behaviors...it is really a completely different concept to us! Same with theory. So if we are going to talk about science, we should use the proper vocabulary. When you say evolution is a theory to a scientist that means you hold the concept in very high regard, which is, apparently, the exact opposite of what some are trying to say. To better understand what theories are, it helps to know how science works. It typically begins with the observation of a specific phenomenon. “My bees are dying.” The experimenter then forms a hypothesis, which is a possible explanation typically based on past observations or research. “Maybe it’s these little varroa mites sucking on them. It was mites last time, those tracheal mites.” The experiment generally involves tweaking one variable at a time so any results can be correlated with that changed variable. “I am going to treat these bees for mites and see if they get better, and/or give mites to this healthy colony over here and see if they get worse. But I am not going to make any other changes now, like diet or housing because then I won't know what really caused any changes I see.” So the mite-free bees stop dying, and the newly mite-infested bees start dying. Your conclusion is that your hypothesis was supported, the mites were the problem. Did you prove your hypothesis? No, nothing is proven, only supported or refuted. Maybe the problem was just a a virus carried by the mites, and if somebody later demonstrates that experimentally, then the community modifies conclusions based on new evidence! Now, when numerous repeated related scientific experiments all come to the same conclusion, those conclusions are assimilated into a theory. Unlike its use in common conversational usage, theory in science is essentially a natural law. Is it immutable
fact? No, like all science, it is subject to change with further experiments that lead to refined conclusions. But it is fact as well as we can know it today. Would you call these guesses or facts?
- atomic theory: all matter is made up of atoms
- cell theory: all living things are made up of cells
- germ theory: microorganisms cause many of our diseases
- gravitational theory: matter is attracted to other matter
Evolution is not a theory, it is a fact. If you believe in dogs, the flu, and hygienic bees, then you believe in evolution. What is a theory, tested and supported by countless observations and experiments, is Darwin and Wallace‘s concept of natural selection, one of the ways that evolution has changed species over time. And like evolution, you can document this for yourself, in the lab or in the field, anyone can observe it for themselves if they so wish. That is the beauty of science!
I, personally, have no problem with evolution...I only have a problem with the theory that we evolved from a primordial soup, through evolution, to our current state being accepted, taught and whose proponents religiously persecute all detractors as if it were a fact. True science should always be open to new ideas, never prosecuting ruin to those with whom one doesn't agree.
I'm sorry, is your issue with the extent to which evolution has been at play, with your perception of scientists' attitude, or maybe both?
If you are talking about the extent to which evolution has been at play--"that we evolved from a primordial soup, through evolution, to our current state"--then I am confused. You acknowledge that evolution is fact, that gene pools do change over time, and that this is something we can observe. You say you have no problem with that. So where is the problem? If small changes can occur and be observed over small periods of time, why can't large changes happen over large periods of time? I don't see any major philosophical obstacles here, I think we are just talking about extent. If 2 populations can start to become different in a time frame that we can see, why couldn't they become very different over a longer time frame that we cannot see? Speciation usually occurs over such a time scale that it is difficult to conceive. But, sometimes it happens while we are watching (e.g., the apple maggot)! Amazing that we were able to see that over a short course of years. When you think now that evolution has been at this for BILIONS of years, it isn’t so hard to see how this sort of thing plays out again and again.
If you are talking about the attitude, I don't think it is fair to say that scientists are persecuting, prosecuting, or trying to ruin the non-believers. Historically, the opposite was true! We just don't think that scientific results should be downplayed or dismissed because they are inconvenient, unpopular, or unprofitable. I don't want creation in my biology class any more than I want astrology in my astronomy class...there's no place for faith-based alternatives in science. How would the religious feel if a bill was passed mandating discussion of evolution at church every Sunday? "...Amen. Oh, and I should mention, theology is just a theory
, some people think natural laws guided the origin of the universe and life here on earth, so we need to discuss that for 5 minutes..."
It definitely has no place in politics IMO. Science
has no place in politics? I don't understand. You don't think that policies governing how we live on the planet should be guided by our best understanding of the impacts of our choices? When science tells us things like that asbestos causes lung cancer, you don't think government should ban asbestos, which otherwise would stay in use because it is cheap and construction is a profit-driven industry? Confused. :?