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View Poll Results: I was taught evolution as theory or fact
Theory 14 28.00%
Fact 29 58.00%
Don't Remember 6 12.00%
Don't Care 1 2.00%
Voters: 50. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 12th, 2012, 02:04 AM   #11

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I think there is a misunderstanding in the definition of a scientific theory. A theory is the greater organization of hypotheses into a coherent intellectual construct. Applying the term theory to such a construct does not at all imply that it is not factual. There is no opposition between "theory" and "fact", they are just operating on different levels.

In the strict sense, theories and hypotheses cannot be verified at 100%; only the opposite, the falsification, is possible. You may find 1,000 white swans and conclude that there is no such thing as a black swan; however, this is not for certain. Even 1,000,000 white swans would not prove the hypothesis at 100%, since the next swan you check could still be black. However, the finding of just one black swan would falsify the hypothesis.

Of course, there are theories with a very high probablity of accuracy which are considered factual in the everyday life of scientists or physicians. Such theories are consistent with multiple findings achieved by different methods over a long period of time, can predict or explain a range of findings, and thus far have not been falsified. Such theories are for example the germ theory of disease, or the evolutionary theory.

I think that many people who doubt such well-established theories do not understand the concept of a scientific theory. The aim of science is not to gain authoritative knowledge or eternal truths that can no longer be questioned; instead, the theories are used in a very practical way and tested all the time. For example, aspects of evolutionary theory can be useful to understand how bacteria become resistant against antibiotics; the theory of immunity can explain why vaccination works.

At school, we were taught evolution in the biology course as what it is: a powerful theory which can explain a lot of findings that otherwise could not be understood. Since science and religion are considered two very different things in Germany, there was no collision at all between the two subjects. I think that most religious people in Germany are fine with a symbolic interpretation of the myth of creation and thus do not engage in a senseless fight against a scientific theory.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 02:17 AM   #12

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I went to the only private school in my town, and it taught creationism. It was about fourth grade that I started deviating from what was being taught in bible class at the time. It wasn't till I went to public school in 7th grade that I was exposed to a wider range of science.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 02:20 AM   #13

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I voted theory but that is because it was called the 'Theory of Evolution'. It doesn't mean that it wasn't taught as fact.

I accept it as fact, too.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 02:53 AM   #14

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimald View Post
I think there is a misunderstanding in the definition of a scientific theory. A theory is the greater organization of hypotheses into a coherent intellectual construct. Applying the term theory to such a construct does not at all imply that it is not factual. There is no opposition between "theory" and "fact", they are just operating on different levels.

In the strict sense, theories and hypotheses cannot be verified at 100%; only the opposite, the falsification, is possible. You may find 1,000 white swans and conclude that there is no such thing as a black swan; however, this is not for certain. Even 1,000,000 white swans would not prove the hypothesis at 100%, since the next swan you check could still be black. However, the finding of just one black swan would falsify the hypothesis.

Of course, there are theories with a very high probablity of accuracy which are considered factual in the everyday life of scientists or physicians. Such theories are consistent with multiple findings achieved by different methods over a long period of time, can predict or explain a range of findings, and thus far have not been falsified. Such theories are for example the germ theory of disease, or the evolutionary theory.

I think that many people who doubt such well-established theories do not understand the concept of a scientific theory. The aim of science is not to gain authoritative knowledge or eternal truths that can no longer be questioned; instead, the theories are used in a very practical way and tested all the time. For example, aspects of evolutionary theory can be useful to understand how bacteria become resistant against antibiotics; the theory of immunity can explain why vaccination works.

At school, we were taught evolution in the biology course as what it is: a powerful theory which can explain a lot of findings that otherwise could not be understood. Since science and religion are considered two very different things in Germany, there was no collision at all between the two subjects. I think that most religious people in Germany are fine with a symbolic interpretation of the myth of creation and thus do not engage in a senseless fight against a scientific theory.
Agreed, and very nice post.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 04:13 AM   #15

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Quote:
Originally Posted by The merchant of Venice View Post
Public school in Italy, teached as fact

Though evolution is indeed a theory in the scientific sense of the word. That doesn't mean that it's "theory" in the common sense of something without much proof. The words here make a typical confusion

A point well made. The scientific definition of the word theory is indeed different to its common usage in every day life.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:36 AM   #16

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Public/Fact. Thanks for the clarification fact/theory.

Quote:
  • Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow.
  • Hypothesis: A tentative statement about the natural world leading to deductions that can be tested. If the deductions are verified, the hypothesis is provisionally corroborated. If the deductions are incorrect, the original hypothesis is proved false and must be abandoned or modified. Hypotheses can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations.
  • Law: A descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances.
  • Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
- The Role of Theory in Advancing 21st Century Biology, National Academy of Sciences
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:03 AM   #17

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Private school, which followed the syllabus laid down by the central govt. I was taught evolution as a fact, and I consider it as a fact. But then, evolution isn't really a controversial topic in India. Almost everyone considers it a fact here.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:05 AM   #18

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Private (tho public schools are the term for private schools in the UK) evolution taught as fact AFAIK but we had Divinity class too which taught us to perceive the Bible as both truth and myth.

As well as having to attend Cathedral service every morning for 11 or so years...

Last edited by Earl_of_Rochester; December 12th, 2012 at 09:04 AM.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:10 AM   #19

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US public school, circa 1970, taught as fact. We were taught that evolution is a slow, steady process. As I've aged and learned, it seems that evolution proceeds fifully, and has moved in stages with clear "dying off" periods followed by rapid development of new species. Thus, it seems to me that evolution is a lot closer to the Story of Genesis that I was taught as a child.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:48 AM   #20

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Public School in the UK. We were taught 'The Theory of Evolution'. being told that its the best working model that we have, but is still a theory.
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