WHAT’S IN A “THEORY”?
“One of the fundamental reasons for the ongoing conflict between the religious and scientific communities involves differences in terminology and word usage. Having heard many lay people scoff “evolution is only a theory” or refer to “the theory of Intelligent Design,” it seems prudent to discuss differences in usage and understanding, as Creationists are misusing the understanding of this and other scientific terms by the average individual to further their own aims.
“In science, the word "theory" is not used in the manner understood by most people, i.e. I have a theory that if I do X, Y will result or perhaps my theory is that man was created by divine intervention. They equate the word with “conjecture,” “supposition,” or at worst “guess.” However, phrases such as these fall under the heading of "hypothesis" or “hunch” for the purpose of scientific inquiry. In a scientific context, the word theory is reserved for ideas that have been repeatedly tested experimentally under very rigorous conditions and confirmed to behave as expected. Quantum electrodynamics, heliocentrism, and plate tectonics are other examples of scientific theory; they are areas that have been independently studied and repeatedly verified over decades or centuries using increasing amounts of hard data.”
If you want to read a good discussion of what a “theory” really is, read the full article at this site:
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal.
“Arguing with a Bible literalist about evolution is like arguing with a Moslem jihadist about the number of virgins awaiting him in heaven.” —George Thomas