Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Evolution as Fact, Theory, etc.

Ryan Gregory has just published an essay in Evolution: Education and Outreach on Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path [see Genomicron].

Ryan has made of list of similar essays on the web. I reproduce that list here except I'm linking to the latest version of my essay (2007) rather than the 1993 version that's on the website.


  1. I understand that evolution is something that happens in the world of life. So calling evolution a "fact" is understandable.

    But I don't understand the justification for calling it a "theory".

    This article, for example, seems to be telling us that "natural selection" is a theoretical explanation for evolution. That I can understand, that there is a theory about evolution. But how does that justify calling evolution itself a theory?

  2. Saying that "evolution is a theory" is a slang term for what we really mean. We mean that there is a "Theory of Evolution" or that "Evolutionary Theory" is a valid field of study.

    The words "evolution is a theory" aren't meant to be taken literally. It's a bit of literary license in order to contrast "theory" and "fact."

    I thought this was clear from reading the essays.

  3. I don't understand why people are confused about calling evolution a theory. There is no justification for calling it a fact because if you do, you are saying that everything about it is 100% true. First off, none of it is true. You shouldn't even call it a theory because it fails all the test to classify it as a theory.

  4. If it's not too much trouble, I would appreciate my name being spelled "Hofmann". It helps during searches.

    Jim Hofmann