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What is the difference between Evolution and the Theory of Evolution?

Evolution is a fact and a theory.  One is observed today in the lab and in the natural environment.  The other is more of a philosophical if not religious viewpoint.

Evolution in and of itself means “change.”  Change occurs all the time, and we can observe it.  Changes do occur within the kinds of animals, and this is not evolution but instead adaptive variation.  There are variations of finches, roses, sharks…the list goes on, and the only scientifically observed “evolution” is just those variations—different colors, fur length, size, shape, diet, etc.  What is not observed is the divergence from a common ancestor that, for example, created the chimps and the humans.  That common ancestor is supposedly ape-like, but the alleged divergence was not, nor can it ever be, observed, tested, or validated.  The past happened in the past; you cannot watch it happen now.  All we can see today is chimps, apes, baboons, and the other primate-type species being related to the primate kind; humans have their variations (race, etc.) only within the human kind.   All experiments have only shown the variation with kinds.  It has not shown the ape-like ancestor diverging into chimps and humans.  Nor do experiments show a water-dwelling creature become amphibious and then become land-dwelling.  These things are supposed to have happened in the unobserved past.  If it is not observable and testable, it is not science.  

The Theory of Evolution, however, states that all life forms today have come from a common ancestor millions of years ago.  More specifically, it states that humans and primates have a common ape-like ancestor.  The processes by which life has evolved include natural selection and mutations.  An ongoing problem in this hotly debated topic is the deceptive “bait and switch” tactic.    That is, when an adaptation is seen in the wild or in a lab, that is called evolution.  When living things are believed to have evolved from simple organisms to complex (i.e. “molecules to man”) over millions of years, and we are said to all be part of a phylogenetic tree of life, this is also called evolution.  They are not the same thing.  This is the fallacy of equivocation.  Proponents of evolution say, “Evolution is true because evolution is observed.”  They are two different types of evolution.  Observed evolution can be studied in a lab or a natural setting, but never will a scientist observe a dinosaur make gradual changes in its skeletal and muscular structure to develop wings and the ability to fly.  One evolution is an observed fact; the other remains a theory.

Charles Darwin theorized that all life came from a common ancestor like a single celled organism. As time went on, life forms became more complex and diverse.

 

The Theory of Evolution does not account for the actual origin of life—there are other evolutionary studies dedicated to that, such as chemical evolution and cosmological evolution. Charles Darwin popularized the Theory of Evolution, but it was actually a Greek philosopher named Anaximander who promoted the idea that life arose from water, and simple life forms came before complex life forms.

Note: Christians are mocked because they say that they don’t believe in evolution.  By this, they mean they don’t believe in the Theory of Evolution. 

*See also What is the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution? 

*See also: Evolution for Dummies: A Review.




 

Who was Charles Darwin?

 

Charles Darwin

 

Charles Darwin was born on 2/12/1809 in Shrewsbury, England.  In 1825, he began to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh.  During his second years of college, he was introduced to the ideas of Larmarckism.  That theory states that acquired traits are passed on through each generation.  In 1827, Darwin left medical school and entered Christ’s College at Cambridge to study to be a clergyman, but he did not take his education very seriously.  In 1828, he became interested in natural sciences, and in 1829 he started to doubt his career as a clergyman.

In 1831, he was invited onboard the HMS Beagle, and agreed to work as a naturalist on a 5-year voyage.  With him on the ship, he had a copy of Charles Lyell’s book, Principles of Geology.  He also had a copy of the Bible, but others on board scoffed at him for reading it.   When they stopped at islands in South America, he collected different specimens of birds, animals, fish, and fossils.  In September of 1835, the ship arrived at the Galapagos Islands where Darwin collected different species of finches.  After sailing to various other places around the world, they returned to England in October of 1836.

In 1837, a man named John Gould looked at the finches that Darwin had collected and noticed that they had variations in their beaks.  Darwin began to formulate his theory on what causes changes within a species (because something has to cause the change), but he kept it to himself for fear of it being heretical. 

Darwin read a book by Thomas Malthus that described how humans would struggle for resources as populations grew.  Darwin adapted this concept to the changes seen in animals.  In 1842, he wrote his basic theory of the descent of animals through the process of natural selection.  Over time, Darwin met other people and shared his theory with them but received mixed responses.  Darwin read an essay written by Alfred R. Russell on the evolution of new species, but Darwin was not impressed with it.  In 1858, he received another paper from Wallace that contained many of the same ideas that Darwin had.  While Wallace believed that changes were guided by a higher power, Darwin thought they were all natural and had no goals or guidance.  In 1859, Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, was published.

After his book, prominent secular figures such as Thomas Huxley and Joseph Hooker helped promote Darwin’s theory and they influenced many in the scientific community.  This was not well accepted by religious leaders on the grounds that it would affect morality and biblical truths.   In 1866, Darwin wrote another book, Descent of Man, using his evolutionary ideas and applying it to humans. 

Although at one time he studied to be a clergyman, later in life Darwin began to question the miracles in the Bible and also the Old and New Testaments.  When his daughter, Anne, died, he finally lost his faith in God.   He died in 1882.

More information can be found at www.aboutdarwin.com