Monday, January 23, 2012


Taken from a facebook argument where a religious person took affront to the comparison, and claimed evolution was just another theory people believed in.

The major disconnect in discussions like this is how the two side use words like "belief" and "theory" entirely differently: for the religious "belief" means "faith" -- something I hold true without any evidence; for the scientific "belief" means "hunch" -- something that intuition tells you must be true and thus guides your search for evidence to dis/confirm. For the religious "theory" means "hypothesis" -- a guess about how things work needed to remove ambiguity only enough to get things done; for the scientific "theory" means "model" -- a way to think about what we observe that allows us to make predictions that are either falsifiable, or strengthen our confidence in the model's predictive power.

In this case we can say evolution is a theory which incorporates in its model all physical evidence ever accumulated, and has enormous predictive power in telling us how species change over multiple scales. We can also say scientists believe in this theory in the sense that based on all the evidence we have, and the predictive power of the model, our hunch is that evolution well never be disproven, and continue to help us understand our world and make technological progress (such as automobiles).

Creation fails on both counts as a Theory: either to incorporate all evidence, or to make predictions that are falsifiable; therefore the only belief possible in creation is one that disregards evidence and is simply faith in an idea that has no existential purpose. If we apply this idea more broadly, then technological progress steadily become more difficult. This is the danger of your definition of "belief" and "theory".

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