So What Really Makes Something A Theory Anyway?
I appreciate the fact that our local paper allows the controversy surrounding evolution to be so well discussed in our community. That type of discussion seems to be missing from many of our classrooms. I am not writing to argue the fact or fallacy of evolution. I would like however to point out what I think are some common misconceptions regarding the theory of evolution. First of all, the theory of evolution is often compared to the theory of gravity. But when apples fall from a tree it is not due to the theory of gravity. It is due to the law of gravity as formulated by Issac Newton.
Gravitational theory attempts to explain the cause of gravity, not its effects. Secondly, science is not as straight-forward and objective as it is often made out to be. There are too many examples of bias in science to list so just one will have to suffice. When Charles Darwin published his book laying out the foundations of descent with modification he had no mechanism by which variations in populations could occur.
Watson and Crick did not discover the structure of the DNA molecule until 100 years later. What Darwin did have was good circumstantial evidence. But even without a mechanism for change his theory was accepted. Alfred Wegener proposed a theory of continental drift that had as much, or more, circumstantial evidence as Darwin's theory. What it did not have was a mechanism by which the continents could move across the surface of the earth. His ideas were not just rejected, they were ridiculed in the scientific literature. But today plate tectonics is accepted as fact and explains everything from earthquakes to tsunamis.
My question is, why did science accept Darwin and not Wegener? Did the fact that Darwinism could do away with God have anything to do with it? Thirdly, the mechanism for evolutionary change is now thought to be mutations which are changes in the DNA of an organism. Teaching evolutionary theory is fine but the evidence that mutations are responsible for it is misleading at best.
The most common effect of a mutation is: nothing. That part of the DNA that has mutated is often not active in that particular cell. If a mutation does have an effect it is most likely detrimental to the either the cell or the organism. As far as I know, not one truly beneficial mutation has ever been proven. And, there is absolutely no empirical evidence that mutations, even if beneficial, have caused one type of organism to change into another.
Why then are mutations accepted as the cause of evolutionary change? Simply because there is nothing else. That to me is poor logic and poor science. If you are going to teach the evidence regarding evolution in schools then teach all of it, both the positive and the negative. I believe that our young people are intelligent enough to think for themselves.