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Evolution as Fact and Theory

In his essay, Evolution as Fact and Theory, Stephen Jay Gould categorizes Darwin’s theory of evolution as indeed both “fact” and “theory”, but is quick to point out that, “ ‘fact’ doesn’t mean ‘absolute certainty’”, and that, “In science ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent’".  In an Evolution as Fact and Theory research paper, Gould says a major difference between “evolutionists” and “creationists” is this:  Evolutionists make no claim of perpetual truth, and the theory of evolution is always up for scientific debate and open to the scrutiny of those who doubt it.  Evolution as Fact and TheoryCreationists, on the other hand, present the theory that God created man out of nothing as an absolute truth that is not open to debate. 

That said, Darwin’s theories go a long way in challenging creationist theory on almost every level, including those of “creation, design and the uniqueness or special creation of man”.  From its most basic idea that man has evolved from a lower life form, through the entire theoretical process of natural selection, Darwin’s ideas are in obvious direct challenge to the idea that God created man specifically and uniquely.   In considering the creationist rebuttal to Charles Darwin’s challenge, Gould accuses that; “Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to understand”.  In short, Gould accuses religious groups not necessarily of being wrong, but of failing to examine all the “facts” presented by evolutionists.  For, science, according to Gould, “recognizes that old information might be explained in surprisingly new ways”.  Creationism’s failure adhere to that definition of science, by failing to hold their theories up to scientific scrutiny, results in Gould’s opinion that creationism cannot be considered science.

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