The Debate on Evolution the Theory of Evolution why Theory Matters Darwin and Society

Evolution is a theory.  Also, gravity is a theory.  One would not distrust gravity, however, as it does not  threaten any  notions of theocracy.  Gravity is based on the theory of gravitational laws.  We trust gravity, so much so, that we rarely even call it a theory.

That Evolution is called a theory is more problematic.  It has been since Darwin wrote the On the Origin of Species., and it remains so today.  That the theory of evolution is controversial should be an enormous clue.  We should always question if something is not comfortable for us to believe.  Does that make the “bad news.” Untrue?  We operate very much upon this principle, reacting to the idea of someone’s death with shock and denial.  It is natural, however to go into denial, such as some of us did when we learned of our relationship to other animals.  Some of us, knowing animals are great relations, are not bent up by the idea, but for those that are, they should consider is there something about “YOU” and not the theory, that makes you reject the “theory?”  If the answer is yes, then one should be very, very skeptical about why you believe what you believe.  Know yourself, in other words.

After Darwin’s publication, it is said, that the Bishop of Worcester wife said: “Descended from apes, let’s hope it is not true!  If it is true, let’s hope it does not become well known!”

It is the sad truth of history that we do not even know the factual source of this quote, some says the Bishop’s wife, and some say another high Lady of Victorian England.  But the point of the quote is quite clear. Darwin and his contemporaries knew the “theory” would make society uncomfortable.  It seemed to contradict the Genesis creation story.  People are not comfortable being related to other species.  We always presumed that being made in God’s image somehow meant we were “above” other animals, although there is nothing in scripture or Biology to that effect.

Those who are still willing to put forth the assertion that” Evolution is just a theory” seem to disregard that all of science, as the aforementioned gravity, operates on theory.

Science, they forget, or in some case never understood, is a process.  It is a process wherein one makes an educated guess called a hypothesis, and then the hypothesis is tested using empirical methods of investigation.  When results can be routinely replicated, or reproduced as it is sometimes called, the theory gains traction, and eventually adherents.  Evolution is one of the more widely accepted foundations upon which we can build other knowledge, Biology, Zoology, Anthropology, Genetics, and many, many other sciences could not advance without its broad foundation.

Gravity, and the theory that there are such things as laws of gravitation, comes under the heading of laws of motion and physics.  If there ever were many people who disputed the “theory” they seem to have, uh hmm, fallen to the wayside. No pun intended.

We may not always be comfortable with every new theory to come along.  In fact, if we are too comfortable, the theory should be at least at suspect as when we are uncomfortable.   Science demands that we forge ahead despite our discomfort, because Science is the pursuit of truth, and truth, as some have said, is the pursuit of God.