Here is the opening statement on the web site:
Can we improve on this?
"When biologists refer to the theory of evolution, they use the word
"theory" as it is used throughout science. It does not mean a mere
speculation or an unsupported hypothesis. Rather, as The Oxford English
Dictionary puts it, "a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by
observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for
the known facts; a statement of the general laws, principles, or causes of
something known or observed" (our italics). The complex body of principles
that explain evolutionary change is a theory in the same sense as "quantum
theory" in physics or "atomic theory" in chemistry: it has been developed
from evidence, tested, and refined, and it accounts for literally thousands
of observations made throughout the entirety of biological science and
Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is a current best
explanation. It has withstood innumerable tests and attempts to disprove
it, but it is still being refined, modified in the light of new knowledge,
and extended to account for newly discovered phenomena. The theory of
genetics has had such a history, progressing from Mendel's simple early
principles to the complex body of molecular principles that constitute
today's theory of inheritance, and it is constantly being refined and
modified, even though its core principles have remained valid for a
century. So it is with the theory of evolution.
Is evolution also a fact? All but the most trivial facts begin as untested
hypotheses—such as the hypothesis that the earth revolves around the sun.
They acquire "facthood" as more and more evidence accrues in their favor,
and as they withstand attempts to refute them. The evidence and attempt at
refutation may take many forms besides simple observations; indeed, the
most powerful evidence is not mere observations, but conformity to
predictions that the hypothesis makes about what we should see if the
hypothesis is true or false. We do not observe the earth making a circuit
around the sun; we accept this hypothesis because of the numerous, verified
astronomical observations—and more recently observations from
spacecraft—that conform to the predictions of the hypothesis. So
Copernicus's hypothesis is now a fact—a statement supported by so much
evidence that we use it as if it were true.
Biologists accept as fact that all organisms, living and extinct, have
descended, with innumerable changes, from one or at most a few original
forms of life. For Darwin in 1859, this was a hypothesis, for which he
provided abundant evidence from comparative anatomy, embryology, behavior,
agriculture, paleontology, and the geographic distributions of organisms.
Since that time, all of the many thousands of observations in each of these
areas have supported Darwin's core hypothesis. To these observations has
been added copious evidence that Darwin could hardly have dreamed of,
especially from paleontology and molecular biology. A century's
accumulation of such evidence establishes descent, with modification, from
common ancestors as a fact of science. How we explain this fact—what the
principles and causes of it may be—is the theory of evolutionary process,
parts of which are subject to various amounts of scientific debate,
modification, and extension.
To claim evolution as a fact is to confront controversy, for probably no
claim in all of science evokes as much emotional opposition as biological
evolution. Nonetheless, no scientific hypothesis other than common descent
with modification can account for and make predictions about the unity,
diversity, and properties of living organisms. No other hypothesis of the
origin of biological diversity is supported by such overwhelming evidence,
and no competing hypothesis spawns such richness of scientific study and
has as many implications for the biological sciences and their applications
to societal needs."
Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution - www.orisol.com
"The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Dec 06 2001 - 14:23:12 EST