2005-08-08 12:32:36 UTC
-- Or, None of the Above?
by Dr. David N. Menton, Ph.D.
I have heard many Christians say that evolution
doesn't concern them because, after all, it's
"_only a theory_." Presumably they think that the
word "theory" means about the same thing as a
[Ed. The dictionary also defines a "theory" as
speculation - eg 'JFK conspiracy theory'. When
the "theory of evolution" was first proposed it
was nothing more than a form of this aforementioned
'speculation' as it had no grounding in science -
Remember Darwin never explained the 'Origin of Species'
in his book...now let's learn how the term "theory" is
deliberately misapplied in the scientific sense by
But the term "theory," at least as it applies to
experimental science, has a much nobler meaning
than that. A scientific theory is a careful
attempt to explain certain observable
_facts_ of nature by means of experiments. Since
many Christians have concluded that evolution is
incompatible with the Biblical account of
creation, we would do well to investigate if
evolution is a fact or a theory -- or perhaps neither.
There is a widespread misconception that good
theories grow up to be facts and that the really
good ones finally become laws. But these three
categories of scientific description are neither
directly related nor mutually exclusive. It often
occurs that a single natural phenomenon can be
described in terms of a theory, a fact, and a law
-- all at the same time!
Consider the well-known phenomenon of gravity.
First, there is a "fact" of gravity. While we
cannot actually see gravitational force itself, we
do observe the effects of this force every time we
drop something. There is also a _theory_ of
gravity that addresses the question of how this
force we call gravity really works. While we don't
know how gravity works, there are theories that
attempt to explain it. Finally there is the
well-known _law_ of gravity. This law, first
formulated by Isaac Newton, a believing Christian
and creationist, is a mathematical equation that
shows a relationship between mass, distance and
gravitational force. So, in summary, a _scientific
fact_ is an observable natural occurrence; a
"scientific theory" is an attempt to explain how a
natural occurrence works; and a _scientific law_
is a mathematical description of a natural occurrence.
Science itself is the whole process of making
careful observations of certain facts of nature
and then constructing and testing theories that
seek to explain those facts. Scientists call these
attempts to test their theories experiments.
Experimental science, better known as "empirical
science", is the kind of science that is
responsible for the marvelous technological
achievements that make our life easier. One has
only to consider what it would be like to endure
surgery without anesthesia to appreciate the
contributions of empirical science to our lives.
The most important requirement of empirical
science is that any object or phenomenon we wish
to study must first be "observable". While we may
assume the existence of events not witnessed by
human observers, such events are not suited to
study by empirical science. Secondly, the event we
wish to study should be "repeatable". Unique and
events, such as the Babylonian Empire, are the
subject of history, not empirical science.
Finally, any theory we might propose as an
explanation for an observable and repeatable event
must be "testable": we must be able to conceive of
an experiment that could refute our theory if it
were wrong. If one were to propose an explanation
for an event in such a way that no one could
conceive of any way to test or refute it, it
wouldn't be a theory at all, but rather a
"belief". Beliefs, of course, are not necessarily
wrong, they just aren't well suited to study by
What then shall we say of evolution? First,
evolutionists tell us that major evolutionary
changes happen far too slowly, or too rarely, to
be "observable" in the lifetime of human
observers. The offspring of most living organisms,
for example, are said to remain largely unchanged
for tens of thousands, or even millions, of years.
Second, even when evolutionary changes do occur,
evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky tells us they
are by nature "unique, unrepeatable, and
irreversible." Dobzhansky concludes that the
"applicability of the experimental method to the
study of such unique historical processes is
severely restricted." Finally, evolutionist Paul
Ehrlich concedes that the theory of evolution
"cannot be refuted by any possible observations"
and thus is "outside of empirical science."
Still, the occurrence of evolution is widely
believed by the scientific community to be a
"fact" and those who dare to doubt it are not
endured gladly. The _Encyclopedia Britannica_
confidently assures us that "we are not in the
least doubt as to the fact of evolution." In his
textbook _Evolution_, Joe Savage says "we do not
need a listing of the evidences to demonstrate the
fact of evolution any more than we need to
demonstrate the existence of mountain ranges." In
another textbook, "Outlines of General Zoology",
H. Newman arrogantly declares that evolution has
no rival as an explanation for the origin of
everything "except the outworn and completely
refuted one of special creation, now retained only
by the ignorant, the dogmatic, and the prejudicial."
What exactly is the "observable fact" of
evolution? First you should be aware that
evolutionists recognize two types of "evolution"
--microevolution, which is observable, and
macroevolution, which isn't. So called
"microevolution" is a process of "limited"
variation among the individuals of a given species
that produces the sort of variety we observe among
dogs. Macroevolution, on the other hand, is a
hypothetical process of "unlimited" variation that
evolutionists believe transforms one kind of
living organism into a fundamentally different
kind such as the transformation of reptiles into
birds or apes into people. Obviously, no one has
ever observed anything remotely like this
The very name "microevolution" is intended to
imply that it is this kind of variation that
accumulates to produce macroevolution, though a
growing number of evolutionists admit there is no
evidence to support this. Thus, an observable
phenomenon is extrapolated into an unobservable
phenomenon for which there is no evidence, and
then the latter is declared to be a "fact" on the
strength of the former. It is this kind of
limitless extrapolation that comprises much of the
argument for evolution.
In conclusion, macroevolution is not observable,
repeatable, or refutable and thus does not qualify
as either a scientific fact or theory. Evolution
must be accepted with faith by its believers, many
of whom deny the existence, or at least the power,
of the Creator. Similarly, the Biblical account
of creation is not observable, repeatable or
refutable by man. Special creation is accepted
with faith by those who believe that the Bible is
the revelation of an omnipotent and omniscient
Creator whose Word is more reliable than the
speculations of men. Both evolution and creation,
however, can be compared for their "compatibility"
with what we "do" observe of the facts of nature.
In future essays we will see that creation by
intelligent design is a vastly more reasonable
explanation for the origin of the complexity we
see in living things than is evolution by mere
chance and the intrinsic properties of matter.
[Ed. Evolution is not science, it is a political
movement pushed by leftists who seek a world without
consequence for their depravity...]
Dr. Menton received his Ph.D. in Biology from
Brown University. He has been involved in
biomedical research and education for over 30 years.
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