Fact, Theory, and Understanding

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered. .

Scientists regard debates on fundamental issues of theory as a sign of intellectual health and a source of excitement. Science is—and how else can I say it?—most fun when it plays with interesting ideas, examines their implications, and recognizes that old information might be explained in surprisingly new ways. Evolutionary theory is now enjoying this uncommon vigor. Yet amidst all this turmoil no biologist has been lead to doubt the fact that evolution occurred; we are debating how it happened. We are all trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to understand.


Stephen J. Gould on science's evolving understanding of the Truth.

Folksonomies: truth theory fact

/science (0.590989)
/science/phyiscs/atomic physics (0.512426)
/science/biology (0.404124)

Stephen J. Gould (0.931131 (positive:0.641568)), surprisingly new ways (0.816346 (positive:0.379763)), rival theories (0.697630 (negative:-0.317066)), uncommon vigor (0.666802 (positive:0.835944)), different things (0.664144 (neutral:0.000000)), theory (0.651522 (positive:0.300508)), common conviction (0.641647 (negative:-0.831359)), evolutionary descent (0.639804 (neutral:0.000000)), fundamental issues (0.633951 (positive:0.608913)), intellectual health (0.633797 (positive:0.608913)), old information (0.627124 (positive:0.379763)), Evolutionary theory (0.616971 (positive:0.835944)), Science is—and (0.616925 (neutral:0.000000)), interesting ideas (0.610853 (positive:0.597484)), facts (0.591812 (negative:-0.008542)), fact (0.512225 (negative:-0.513023)), understanding (0.426727 (positive:0.641568)), scientists (0.426466 (positive:0.291847)), rungs (0.413955 (neutral:0.000000)), certainty (0.392266 (neutral:0.000000)), evolutionists (0.388895 (negative:-0.796130)), turmoil (0.384769 (negative:-0.513023)), Creationists (0.383812 (negative:-0.831359)), gravitation (0.377630 (negative:-0.292661)), excitement (0.377058 (positive:0.608913)), hierarchy (0.376051 (neutral:0.000000)), outcome (0.374732 (neutral:0.000000)), biologist (0.374286 (negative:-0.513023)), apples (0.374168 (negative:-0.434878)), Einstein (0.369348 (negative:-0.292661))

Stephen J. Gould:Person (0.903202 (positive:0.641568)), Darwin:OperatingSystem (0.715764 (neutral:0.000000)), Einstein:Person (0.701380 (negative:-0.292661)), Newton:Person (0.583944 (negative:-0.292661))

Evolution (0.953755): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Creationism (0.772851): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Science (0.655341): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Stephen Jay Gould (0.617968): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Theory (0.610707): dbpedia | freebase
Charles Darwin (0.603344): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Evolutionary biology (0.580180): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Natural selection (0.575420): dbpedia | freebase

 Evolution as fact and theory
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Gould , Stephen Jay , Evolution as fact and theory, Retrieved on 2012-04-13
  • Source Material [books.google.com]