Evolution is Just a Theory – Debunked (It’s “Just a Theory” Refuted)

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If you’ve ever watched a creationist in a debate, or have had the misfortune of debating one yourself, it’s very likely that at some point you’ve heard the argument that “Evolution is Just a Theory”. And moreover, it tends to be said as if it was a fatal and devastating blow against evolution…

Yet the irony, which may or may not be known by the proponents of this argument, is that calling evolution a theory is actually a tremendous compliment…

While the argument that Evolution is Just a Theory is very rarely presented in its logical form, for the purpose of clearly demonstrating why exactly it’s flawed, I’m going to present it this way nonetheless;

• A theory is, by definition, “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”.
• Evolution is a theory.
• Therefore, evolution is just “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”.

Here’s a link to Hemant Mehta’s (The Friendly Atheist’s) YouTube channel (definitely worth checking out!):

Throughout the video I pint-point several flaws and fallacies that those who use the augment that Evolution is Just a Theory tend to commit, but for a very brief summery (extremely brief), they are as follows:

1. Equivocation Fallacy:

The first major flaw with the argument that Evolution is Just a Theory, is that it commits, and that it pretty much entirely is, a huge Equivocation Fallacy. An Equivocation Fallacy is the misleading use of a word or a term with more than one meaning, by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time.

And in this case, the Equivocation Fallacy occurs in the word ‘theory’. The argument uses one definition of the word ‘theory’ during its first and third premises – that being, “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”; but it uses another definition of the word ‘theory’ during its second premise – that being, “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, pre-defined protocol of observations and experiments”, and because it switches between these two definitions to attain its conclusion, it’s not a coherent argument.

2. Scientifically Illiterate

However, to raise another… not so much of a flaw but rather a comment, proponents of the Just a Theory argument tend not only be unaware of what a scientific theory is, but they also tend to be unaware of the four degrees of scientific knowledge altogether… that being facts, laws, hypotheses, and of course theories.

To put it simply;

• A scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation. For example, it’s cold outside.
• A scientific law is a description of how some aspect of the universe behaves under stated circumstances (but not why). For example, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.
• A scientific hypothesis is, for intent and purposes, an educated guess. It’s very similar to the everyday layman definition of the word theory. For example, eating vegetables causes weight loss because they’re low in calories but are high in fiber.
• And a scientific theory is a rigorously tested and confirmed hypothesis that accounts for all related facts and laws, and has been proven to accurately predict future findings and phenomenon. Or as Matt Dillahunty puts it, “a theory is the highest possible achievement of science”.

Hence, calling evolution a theory, which it is, is actually a tremendous compliment!

3. Fact & Theory:

The last small point I want to make on this matter is that evolution is technically both a fact and a theory. It’s an uncontroversial fact that organisms have changed (or evolved) during the history of life of Earth, and the theory as to why these organisms have changed (or evolved) is called Natural Selection.

Just as gravity is a fact, so is evolution; and just as General Relatively is a scientific theory, so is Natural Selection.

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As always, thanks you kindly for the view, and I hope that this video will help you defeat those who would use the argument that Evolution is Just a Theory against you.

28 Comments

  1. A theory is just a guess. It's complete stab in the dark. Like the theory of gravity for instance, never been proven true. That's why when I'm going skydiving this week, I'm not wearing a parachute.

  2. I don't think you helped me with this at all. You did a great job of explaining what a scientific theory is and the difference between that and just a regular/normal theory. But where in your explanation do you prove evolution from the point of view of a creationist? They are still going to say that we didn't evolve because there are still hominin species in the world, and the argument over missing links in the evolution, and the fact that scientist have been caught falsifying evidence trying to prove evolution. I certainly don't think we help ourselves in the argument with creationist, especially since most (close to all) people who believe science look down on and think creationist are somehow less intelligent because they believe in a higher power. And now you have quite a few "smart" scientist running around saying we live in a computer simulation. With a programmer that designed the entire universe. Really??? How is a programmer any different than a God? If you are going to debate a theory/fact, we better have our act together. Hey, there's a great book, The Science of God, by Dr Gerald Schroeder.

  3. so if you had an english layman to english science translator and put in theory you'd get out hypothesis

  4. This argument is on the right track, but a bit wrong (but maybe this is a semantics thing). Even Newton's "Law" of Universal Gravitation is just a theory, a scientific theory. As you stated, Natural Laws are a thing that exist, and are what dictate how the universe operates. There is indeed a gravitation law that exists and dictates how an object is attracted to another object. Newton's "LAW" started as the classic observation of the apple, which turned into a hypothesis of why the apple falls, and turned into a theory when it got tested (super simplified). While accurate for most things to this day, some corrections have been made for applications in astronomy using the theory of relativity. As subjective beings, we humans might never be able to identify Natural laws (not with our current technology, but hey, maybe in the future, it's bad science to negate all possibilities), but instead, the closest we can get is with a scientific theory.

  5. It is just a theory. It is not on par with physical theories. You insult me as a mathematician. "Scientific theory" so are theories in social """science""". It means literally nothing outside of biology. Do not pretend biology is a hard science like math or physics.

  6. So I think the shortest explanition would be this: Evolution is real in natural selection. Some animals may have evolved in some form but man's evolution is not a fact that we come from apes rather we have evolved in a different way. Animals ar still animals even though, if not all have evolved of totall evolved, man's is throuh brain power and moral. Excuse my english if you find it different).

    My question to atheist is this: If man did really come from apes then we should see our closest relatives/anscestors instead what we all see are the apes that has not changed into human. They are still apes. May be just like any other living creatures that arealready extinct apes should be one of them, rigth?!? I had a debate on a n Atheist who siad he studied biology but as we spesk he sounded very lay man. He's argument was unsustained by his own lips. He just said "It just so happen that we are more intelligent than them".

    Thanks for knowledge I got from this. Well they are common but yet not so common for some like have forgotten them. Just imagine if one believe in God then he believes i Human Evolution it is like saying God look liked a monkey. I used to believe this HE but my teacher was rigt (more than a decade ago) she said "If it is true hen why do apes still exist? Why did they not truend into humans?" Very true. Then I also ralized the mentioned believe of God. We can say to the atheists "Theory is good but we need fact!"

  7. The meaning of life is to realize that there is Jesus Christ your creator and God and to accept him as your redeemer on the cross. He carried all of your sins. Ask him to forgive you your sins and accept him as your LORD!

  8. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6, KJV) A theory was "A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, pre-defined, protocol of observations and experiments." Show me observed macro-evolution. Show me how fish turned into reptiles! Just a video, a documented process, photos etc. Just show me SCIENTIFIC PROOF and not hypotheses that you've created in your mind which don't work in real life!

  9. It was Derwin theory about 200 years ago, but with all new research & evidences and DNA proofs is is true scientific fact .

  10. Before we look at the fossils we must activate ape vision.
    Thus, we can then declare this new fossil as Homo Gorius Apres, lived 2mya, 6ft 1in and died by falling of the Chance cliff; on random spikes.

  11. Evolution is the reason doctors tell you to USE ALL of the antibacterial or antiviral medications they prescribe because if you dont use it all some of the bacteria/viruses may survive and pass on a mutation to the next generation that will make them resistant or even immune to those medications in the future. at least the amount of idiot Christians refusing medical attention has declined a lot although innocent children are still dying due to such idiot parents. The Amish wont even accept genetic testing to help them reduce the inbreeding severity thus they are evolving themselves into lots of birth defects.

  12. 1. A theory is, by definition, an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action.
    2. God is a theory (there is no evidence for God's existence outside of the Bible and the Bible still has to be proven true).
    3. Therefore, God is just an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action.

  13. Scientists don't help with this equivocation issue, since they seem to use "theory" interchangeably for germ theory, evolution bynatural selection theory (actual theories in scientific terms) and Superstring (or just string or M, ect) theory, which are actually mathematical models and hypotheses, not actual theories as they are as yet untested enpirically. Of course, theoretical physicists will acknowledge that String Theory doesnot actually qualify as a scientific theory, but it is still confusing to those not as scientifically literate among us.

  14. This guy is just using scientific semantics like a lawyer for a guilty man that uses the same tactics confusing jurors to prevent him from going to prison. (Like the lawyer's of those police officer that were found not guilty). What a waste of time, running around like kung-fu Fighters

  15. Really enjoy your videos. My son actually said to me once, not long ago, "If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?" My own son . . . D'oh!

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