Oz Blog News Commentary

Just a theory

June 13, 2019 - 14:42 -- Admin

Time and again,
creationists have told me that ‘evolution is only a theory’. And so it is. The
problem with this assertion is not with evolution, but creationists, and their
absolutely blinding ignorance of science. Their understanding of the word ‘theory’
is based on the (very) colloquial meaning as in ‘that is my theory and I’m
sticking to it’ or alternatively ‘that is my story…’. These everyday quotes are
simply an assertion of what one believes or wants to believe, and is the sort
of thing one might hear in a conversation between drinking companions.

What is a scientific
theory? It is not a ‘story’ or a ‘belief’; it is an explanation of an aspect of
the natural world based on a considerable amount of evidence obtained by
observation or experiment, or both. Any theory based on such experiment or
observation will make predictions about the results of subsequent observations
and experiments. If those results are at odds with the predictions, then it is
most likely that the theory will be jettisoned and replaced with a better one that
explains the new results. This is how science advances. Creationists do not
understand this. They maintain that the bible says the earth was created, and
as evidence of that, they use the bible, in an example of circular reasoning so
tight that it disappears up its own fundament. This is akin to me stating that
the world was created when I woke up this morning at 7.36 am, with all memories,
family and the stuff of my life in place, and when someone queries that, I
simply tell them, but all the memories, family and other stuff were in place,
so it must be true.

Perhaps one of the most
well known examples of how science advances is shown by the understanding of
gravity that began with Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation published in
1687. This, as most school students would know, states that a body attracts
every other body in the universe with a force directly proportional to the
product of the masses of both bodies, and is inversely proportional to the
square of the distance between the bodies’ centres. It was an excellent
approximation for the study of everyday observations at the time, and explained
fairly well the movement and forces acting on masses in laboratories, and also gave
a reasonable approximation of the movement of the planets. However, subsequent
examination of the orbits of the planets showed there were some discrepancies,
especially with that of Mercury. In addition, the angular deflection of light
rays around the sun predicted by Newton’s theory was only half of what was
subsequently observed. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity replaced Newton’s
theory and it made predictions about the orbit of Mercury and the angular deflection
of light around the sun, which were shown to be more accurate1.

This sort of thing
also happened with Evolution. As I have written elsewhere, the concept of
evolution was around for more than a couple of thousand years before Darwin and
Wallace came up with a mechanism to explain how it happened2. As an
aside, this is another thing that creationists do not seem to understand: the
difference between the fact of evolution (as shown by the fossil record), and
its mechanism (natural selection). One of the predecessors of the Darwinian
theory of natural selection was that of Lamarck. It was he who developed the
first cohesive mechanism of evolution. He stated that the environment induces
changes in the mode of life of organisms, and these give rise to modifications
in the development of their organs or the shape of the parts of the organisms.
Darwin’s mechanism has it the other way around. There is a natural variation in
organisms, and some of those are more suited to coping with that environment,
and are more likely to leave offspring. Subsequent studies in molecular biology,
genetics, homology, biogeography and observations of evolution in the
laboratory, have shown natural selection to be essentially correct3.

I do get annoyed by the
profound and wilful ignorance of creationists, and those on their periphery,
but I will keep trying to inform them about reality, which is something they
seem to know little about.



The post Just a theory appeared first on THE BLOT REPORT.