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Comment by kris feenstra on June 18, 2014 at 3:24pm

If the word "theory" is different in the scientific community as opposed to the dictionary definition, then why use it all? If a scientific theory is a proven thing, then why not just call it a fact?

In science, as in common usage, 'fact' and 'theory' have distinct meanings.

Technical usage of words and common usage of words is often different, and words in English often have multiple definitions. That's why, when you consult a dictionary, you see enumerated definitions for individual words.

While dictionary.com is not the greatest resource, I'll use it as an example here:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theory?s=t

the·o·ry [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee]
noun, plural the·o·ries.

1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.

3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.

4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.

5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.

Comment by Ari on June 18, 2014 at 3:49pm

If the word "theory" is different in the scientific community as opposed to the dictionary definition, then why use it all?

There are words in English that have different meaning and contexts when applied to different situations.

Example: "I can't bear the idea of being attacked by a bear." Some words just have different meanings even though they look exactly the same, but you must pay attention to the context.

If a scientific theory is a proven thing, then why not just call it a fact?

I must apologize. I have a bias where I tend to think that scientific theories conclude are true because I THINK the evidence is satisfactory. You should not take what I THINK and apply it to scientific theories. Science itself is objective but it must make assumption based off of the evidence present in the natural world through experimentation and observation. Science just doesn't put a stamp on a theory it has and says "YEAH! WE FOUND THE ONE AND TRUE ANSWER!". Science humbly puts it as a theory because we are constantly learning and we may find some other scientific evidence that can contradict the current theory. Or we simply find a separate theory that contributes to the same phenomena through different processes which will mean that there are more than one explanation for a phenomena. Science doesn't hold any theory to be the absolutely correct because science doesn't assume itself to be perfect.

WOW, you so totally missed my point.

Your very last sentence will lead any reader to assume that it is your point. You posed many questions and in the end you posed a question that will even have to apply to you. Can you prove that the fossils examined for evolution aren't proof for it? Ah wait, what is this? I found something in another discussion about "why I stopped believing...why did you exChristians stop?"

 "I find descriptions of dinosaurs and the physical evidence they existed are indeed FACT."

But in this discussion you say:

"Why are we so ready to jump on the evolution bandwagon without actual empirical proof?"

You may not be an evolutionist and disagree with it, but then you try to dismiss science completely in this discussion as having no "actual empirical proof" although  you believe there is proof for dinosaurs through fossils. Sorry, but that's a contradiction unless you care to share your wisdom with the scientific community.

"Aren't you the one who believes in abortion? Right? Yet you are  man if what your profile says is correct. Interesting."

This has absolutely nothing to do with what any of us were talking about. Yes, it is true that I'm an 18 year old male that supports abortion. I may not be a woman, but I support their rights because it is her body. Is it right for a man to tell a woman not to have an abortion? This seems to be a failed attempt at an insult, but once again it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

 

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 18, 2014 at 4:38pm

The only people that ask why there are still monkeys about if we descended from them are those that have not studied Evolution. That is probably not your fault if you went to a Creationist school or you are a member of some cult that thinks the world is less than 10k years old.

You owe it to yourself to become better informed. Set aside an hour. Listen to the first few minutes of this video to see the how people like Ken Ham pollute the minds of children with perverse Science.

I have more :-)….Here is one on the Tree of Life.

We are still finding new species and Evolution is still happening.

A theory often starts out as a guess but a Scientific Theory is the collection of facts (i.e. peer-reviewed data that has JUSTIFIED the merits of that “guess” by experimentation. Look at it this way -- Scientists do not try to prove each other’s theories correct. Instead they set about disproving them. They are intend on destroying it. When they can’t the Hypothesis is accepted as being a valid theory.

We have moved WAY beyond Darwinism, which is what many Creationists like to disparage. Today we work with Modern Evolutionary Biology, which is something few theists will challenge. If Darwin could see the modern scientific techniques employed today he would be amazed. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his amazing insights just as Einstein owes Newton for having his shoulders to stand on with his Theory of Relativity.  

The other thing about Science is it does not care what you (anyone) thinks about what it reveals. The Theory of Evolution is TRUE. There is NO DOUBT about that. It does not matter if you do not believe that for it is not a matter of Faith. Your denial of it is however. Evolution is only a matter of understanding. Evolution cares so little about what we think of it for it does not even know it created us.

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 18, 2014 at 5:09pm

Dear me.  @S. Graham, let me perhaps respond from the perspective of a fellow theist.

If science is right, and we evolved from monkeys and apes, then why are there still some monkeys and apes that didn't evolve??

The proper way to look at it is that modern apes and homo sapiens both evolved from a common ancestor.

Science is being used to prove that God doesn't exist by saying that we evolved from monkeys and apes and we are stupid enough to not only fall for it, but not even question it???

I'm not sure what you mean here.  Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.

WHAT was bred with monkeys and apes to get humans??

Nothing.  Humans simply became differentiated from apes.  We grew apart.  If you like, God, operating through the laws of Nature which he wrote, brought into existence a new species.

Of course, if there IS documented proof from a billion years ago, please, by all means show me!!

Dear me.  Your time scales are off quite a bit.  The last common ancestor between modern apes and humans existed about 7 million years ago. 

Why are we so ready to jump on the evolution bandwagon without actual empirical proof?

Because direct empirical observation of many causal processes is very difficult, especially if those processes take hundreds of thousands of years.  So instead we operate by preponderance of the evidence.  I'm not aware that we have ever seen nicotine and tar directly cause a mutation into lung cancer, but we accept by preponderance of the evidence that smoking can cause lung cancer. 

Truly, who on this earth has that experience??? Everyone we know who has presented the so-called "facts" did not exist in the time they allegedly say these things took place.

I think you're mixing things up a bit.  The "facts" are our observations of the current, modern world. It is not necessary to have actual observers of a 10,000 year old meteor impact to look at an impact crater and ascertain that a meteor hit there. 

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 18, 2014 at 5:20pm

Truly, who on this earth has that experience??? Everyone we know who has presented the so-called "facts" did not exist in the time they allegedly say these things took place.

I think you're mixing things up a bit.  The "facts" are our observations of the current, modern world. It is not necessary to have actual observers of a 10,000 year old meteor impact to look at an impact crater and ascertain that a meteor hit there.

You are correct, however, that there is a built-in assumption there.  We assume in making that statement the existence of Natural Law - that the world works according to underlying laws, and that those laws were the same 10,000 years ago as they are now.  Natural Law is in its origins a Christian notion, based on the notion of one God as Creator and Lawgiver. 

So you see, to reject the notion of Natural Law and claim that we need actual observers 10,000 years ago because the laws of physics or chemistry might have been different back then is to reject the Christian understanding of God and Creation. 

Comment by kris feenstra on June 18, 2014 at 6:10pm

We assume in making that statement the existence of Natural Law - that the world works according to underlying laws...

We aren't. Laws describe how things interact. If objects have finite properties, there are finite ways in which they can act and interact. Such action can be described by laws. While human understanding of natural laws can be (or rather, certainly is) flawed, and it is possible there are variables we have not taken into account, lawlessness is paradoxical. Laws are not 'underlying', but rather are part of the fabric itself.

To say we need to assume the laws were the same 10,000 years ago is a tad misleading. All human observation and philosophy has limitations and flaws. We create the best models for reality we can. Present, past or future, we are not capable of dealing in absolutes, meaning there is no absolute way to declare anything as true or false. No matter how strong a line of evidence or reasoning is in support of a given conclusion, some degree of assumption is required. To say 'assume' when talking about a specific claim, we should be referring to assumptions greater than those inherently present in all claims or else we're just remarking on something which is really not remarkable.

Natural Law is in its origins a Christian notion, based on the notion of one God as Creator and Lawgiver. 

We're talking about well over a thousand years of history with innumerable contributions across multitudinous cultures. 'Christian origins' is a gross over-simplification. 

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 18, 2014 at 8:56pm

We aren't. Laws describe how things interact.

And therein is the assumption exactly. 

Nowadays within Western culture that assumption that the way "things" interact is governed by discernible natural law seems self-evident, just as the concept of zero or negative numbers seem self-evident.  None of those, however, were at all self-evident to historical humanity, nor even to communities within modern humanity.  Animism and most forms of polytheism in fact preclude notions of natural law, because the behaviors of things are governed by their own spirits or the capricious activities of various gods.   Even modern "New Age" animists necessarily abandon scientific thought.

Thus the development of belief in natural law and consequently the emergence of science were dependent on the development of Creator-Monotheism, and emerged in cultures where such belief was pervasive. 

We're talking about well over a thousand years of history with innumerable contributions across multitudinous cultures. 'Christian origins' is a gross over-simplification.

Yes, there is considerable complexity, and new ideas generally develop in complex ways.  Nonetheless, for the purposes of @S. Graham's reasoning as a Christian theist, he must accept the Christian fundamental belief in Natural Law which is the consequence of identifying God as Creator.  In turn, he must also accept that where his statements run contrary to Natural Law they are necessarily non-Christian and mistaken. 

Comment by kris feenstra on June 18, 2014 at 9:05pm

Nowadays within Western culture that assumption that the way "things" interact is governed by discernible natural law seems self-evident,

Not what I said.

Comment by S. Graham on June 19, 2014 at 9:34am

@fronkey farmer. You are wrong and quite mistaken. I have studied Evolution and was a very enthusiastic student of it for many years. It was through the process of studying it, that I found the conflicts that caused me to question things. I have never been one to just accept things as they are presented. So much for your presumptions.

Comment by Strega on June 19, 2014 at 9:42am
So you have studied Evolution yet you are under the impression that it argues that man descended from monkeys? Extraordinary. Where did you carry out your studies? I think you may have a case for demanding a refund from your teaching establishment.

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