Twitter-Incited Rant About "Theory"
"Evolution is just a theory, it's not a fact."
*Unless otherwise specified, I will be using 'theory' in the scientific sense for the remainder of this post*
I cannot tell you how many times I've addressed this statement. The only way I've been able to get through to some people is by telling them to replace the word "theory" with "explanation". Evolution is a fact. No matter how much you want to believe it's not true, it is. It's been proven through genetics and supported by the fossil record. Micro-evolution, which leads to macro-evolution, has been observed in numerous species. Evolution is a FACT.
The Theory of Evolution is different from the fact of evolution. The Theory explains how and why evolution occurs.
Think about the Law of Gravity vice the Theory of Gravity. The Law states that objects with mass attract each other. The Theory explains WHY the attraction exists.
A theory is an explanation of facts. Key word: EXPLANATION. Even if the theory of evolution was proven to be wrong, the facts of evolution would remain! The theory would just have to change.
You can also think of theory as the plot to a story. As you read about events and characters' actions in a story, you can then formulate a plot. You can use what you've learned so far in the story to make predictions about what may happen later in the book. If you get a new piece of information that goes against what you thought the plot was, then the plot changes. But everything else remains! The past events and actions of the characters will have not gone away, but new information can change the plot.
A theory and a fact are two different things. A theory does not become a fact, and a fact is not the next step up from theory. A theory is the highest graduated level an idea can achieve.