School Papers

Stephen both theory and fact, but the theory

Stephen Jay Gould’s “Evolution as
Fact and Theory” is an article which explores the concept of evolution from
both a scientific and creationistic approach. Within the article, Gould
emphasized the significance of both fact and theory in the debate over
evolution.  Facts, while not absolute
certainties are based on data that has been observed and confirmed but theories
are the interpretation and explanation of the facts. He noted that in the
vernacular, theories are often referred to as imperfect facts. He criticized
creationists for utilizing the misinterpretation of fact and theory to support
their beliefs that evolution was only a theory. 
Gould argued that the proof that evolution took place was based on both
theory and fact, but the theory of why is still being explored (Gould, 1994).

According to Philosopher Karl
Popper, the primary criterion of science is the falsifiability of its
theories.  Poppers intention was to provide
a clear distinction between scientific theories metaphysical or mythological
claims. He believed that scientific theories were to be based on predictions
which could be proven false by future observations. (Shea, (n.d), “Karl Popper:
Philosophy of Science”) When theories are proven false, the scientists can
either revise it or reject it. In science, if an idea is presented as absolute
and not falsifiable then it cannot be considered scientific (Jurmain, Kilgore,
Travathen, and Bartelink, 2016)

Gould presented three arguments
which support the theory of evolution. 
His first argument makes reference to the vast amounts of observable
evidence which has been obtained from a variety of experiments and studies
conducted on evolution.  The second
theory that Gould proposed relates to the imperfection of nature. He believed
that the imperfections within nature were strong evidence that evolution had
occurred.  Imperfections provide the
world with a different perspective on how it was created, which discounts the
creationists perspective that God created a perfect world. (Gould, 1994). The
third argument focuses on the transitions which have been found in fossil
records which reflect physical changes in both reptiles and mammals. The many
transitions which have been observed in fossil records confirm this theory that
evolution did occur. (Gould, 1994)

In 1972 Gould and colleague Niles
Eldredge proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium.  This theory suggested that species remained
stable and unchanging for millions of years, but sudden changes in their
environment can result in the gradual formation of new species. This new
species, which had likely been separated from the mainstream population, formed
survival mechanisms to adapt to the changing environment (Gould, 1994).  The well-established species did not undergo
the changes as they likely did not experience the sudden change in
environment.   The theory of punctuated
equilibrium was intended to explain the observed fossil record trends which
documented the successes of various species. (“Punctuated Equilibrium”, (n.d)).

I have never doubted that evolution
occurred. There are many facts and evidence that add to my belief in evolution.
First off I have never had high religious beliefs, I don’t believe that a was
supernatural man created a perfect world and created humans. There is evidence
that we have evolved from a common primate ancestor. We are able to see that we
share common characteristics with our ancestors as well as change and adapt to
different circumstances over time through evolutionary change. Evolution is
very clear when examining fossils from centuries ago. With the fossils, you are
able to analyze and determine the age and changes that have occurred over time.