Scientific Hypotheses, Scientific Theories, Scientific Facts, and Scientific Laws

Thee English scientist Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection with the publication of his book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. This started a fierce argument among nineteenth-century scientists but the massive evidence coming from various other branches of science established evolution’s truth beyond a reasonable doubt before the twentieth century. Surprisingly though, more than 150 years after its introduction, it is still not uncommon to hear evolution is just a theory, implying that it is yet to be proven.

Is evolution just a theory? Do theories become facts when they are proven?

Evolution is just a theory?

Scientific Hypotheses

A hypothesis is a suggested solution for an unexplained occurrence that does not fit into current accepted scientific theory. For a hypothesis to be termed a scientific hypothesis, it has to be falsifiable, and testifiable. It is also important to note that scientists do not test hypotheses with a pre-determined outcome in mind.

Following are examples for scientific hypotheses:

Moisture levels in the air may affect bacterial growth.
80% of the U.S. population get a divorce because of irreconcilable differences.
Women taking vitamin E grow hair faster than those taking vitamin K.
The Moon formed from the ejecta of a collision between the proto-Earth and a Mars-sized planetesimal, approximately 4.5 billion years ago.
Evolution is just a theory?

Scientific Theories, and Scientific Facts

The word theory entered the English language in the late sixteenth century meaning conception, mental scheme, speculation. Arts and sciences began using the word in the seventeenth century but in a different meaning.

Contrary to popular belief, in science, a theory is not the best-educated guess scientists have about a certain natural phenomenon. On the contrary, a scientific theory is a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with modern scientific methods.

A scientific theory is a framework for observations and facts in the natural world, and it does not only address existing scientific data but also makes predictions. Scientific theories are repeatedly tested confirmed through experiments or observation.

Following are some examples for scientific theories:

Cell theory
The Theory of Gravity
General relativity

Following are some examples for scientific facts:

The Eiffel Tower can be 15 cm taller during the summer
Polar bears are nearly undetectable by infrared cameras
The Earth is a giant magnet

It is important to bear in mind that the key difference between theories may change, or the way that they are interpreted may change, but facts themselves remain the same.

Why evolution is not just a theory

Scientific Laws

A scientific law is a statement describing what always happens under certain conditions, and they can often be expressed as mathematical equations.

For example,

Newton’s laws of motion
Archimedes’ Principle
Laws of Thermodynamics

Finally, scientific theories do not graduate to scientific laws.

Why Is Evolution Not Just A Theory

Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.

We know that evolution is a fact thanks to massive evidence from other branches of science such as paleontology, genetics, zoology, and molecular biology. The theory of evolution merely explains what the mechanics of evolution are, and how it works. The theory of evolution is, like most other scientific theories, a living theory. As our scientific knowledge improves so will the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution may change, or the way that they are interpreted may change, but evolution itself will always stay as a fact.

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