Do theists misuse the word 'theory'?
According to dictionary.com, theory is defined as "a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine."
Theists, especially creationists, call evolution a theory, so they deem it correct.
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"Evolution is only a theory"
"Yeah, so is gravity... theory of gravity."
Sometimes I feel like I'm beating a dead horse with these theist/atheist debates.
It is fascinatingly how some theists cling to the "theory" word in any given scientific discovery that does not match up with what a bunch of Copper tradesmen guessed at from a dusty tent in the middle of the desert a couple thousand years ago.
Yet not one who clings to the "theory" part of any scientific conclusion would ever EVER dare refer to their wild-assed guess as "theory of god."
Well, it depends what they are talking about, but in regards to evolutionary theory theists often use the incorrect definition. Like most words in the English Language, "theory" has more than one meaning. Context is king in determining which variant is to be used.
Colloquially, "theory" implies an educated guess, with the presumption that it is unproven.
However, a "scientific theory", such as evolution, is a different beast. In science, a theory is intended to describe a fact; it is the "how" and "why" of that fact. If a scientific theory exists, the subject it is focused on is a fact. The theory itself is technically unproven, as science is hesitant to consider explanations proven. But what the theory is about is a fact. Gravity is a fact. The theory of gravity attempts to explain why we have gravity, how it works. Even if the theory is wrong, gravity is still happening.
Biological evolution is the variance of allele frequencies within and between populations over time. This is well recorded fact. Allele frequencies do change over time, causing the expressed traits in a species to change accordingly.
In evolution, the real theory is the "theory of natural selection". The premise behind it is that environmental factors are behind the gradual changes in alleles over time. Whether or not it is true, the recorded fact is that evolution does occur. The question is why it is happening, not if.
Atheist use words like: logical fallacy, critical thinking, pseudo-problem of logic, a matter of proper authorities, logical coherency, uses incorrect authorities, debating has rules, equivocation, logical errors, anecdotal, Irreducible Complexity, converse error, and sophistry.
Yes. Primary example is evolution. Evolution is a FACT and a THEORY. FACT: Evolution has been proven and been experimented a multitude of times. THEORY: The theory of evolution is an explanation for how and why it works. Evolution works by natural selection between a certain species in order to be able to adapt to the environment in all sorts of ways, such as being able to survive in extreme heat/cold, being able to fight off a predator, or being able to eat less than needed. It can also happen by form of mutation. There is much more to it also.
notice the lack of response lol. I will respond for the person, even though I am an agnostic atheist and also do think that theists tend to misuse the term theory. I might say it is a fact that mammals have hair - although true as a generalization, it is also not true when you look at people or other mammals with specific genetic mutuations that caused them to never have hair. insofar as i used the word fact i was misusing it and should have instead used - it is a tendency for mammals to have hair, nearly all species have hair except in certain rare cases.
although i am misusing the word fact in the first example, I feel that it is more rare for atheists to misuse the word fact than it is for theists if only to the degree that they deny the fact of evolution saying that it is not a fact when clearly it is an objectively subsisting phenomenon in nature that exists indepenent of our perception of it.
Everyone misuses everything at some point.
More widely though, for instance, you will hear "theory of evolution" from the lips of atheists, whilst not a "theory" "guess" "I think" or "maybe"
from most of those who believe an all powerful god impregnated a virgin because the only way he could forgive humanity for the nature he gave them was to torture and kill himself/his son.
Sure, an atheist here and there misuses fact.
It is hardly an equivalent comparison though it seems.
According to dictionary.com, theory is defined as "a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate."
Theists, especially creationists, call evolution a theory, so they deem it unproven.
... holy shit.
Did you just? You did.
You skipped the very first definition from your own source, and hunted down the second because it better fit your postition.
Here is the rest from your own source:
1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.
2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.
3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.
As you saw when you first looked up the definition of theory on dictionary.com,
the first definition listed there, the one you had to ignore in order to make your argument, is what this debate is addressing.
Lol I know. The creator of the debate ignored all but the first definition so I did the same and ignored all but the second.
To spell out my point, there are different meanings of theory. In the scientific context it means something different than in common parlance. Neither side is "wrong," just operating under different definitions. ;)
No not at all. You want misuse, talk to an atheist.
Atheist use words like: logical fallacy, critical thinking, pseudo-problem of logic, a matter of proper authorities, logical coherency, uses incorrect authorities, debating has rules, equivocation, logical errors, anecdotal, irreducible complexity, converse error, and sophistry.