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Is evolution a theory or a fact

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Is evolution a theory or a fact?

“evolution” has 2 different uses:
‘facts’ of evolution, and the ‘theory’ of evolution.

Here are observable facts

* Many forms of life that used to exist, no longer exist today.
(We’ve found many fossils; more are discovered every day)

* Many forms of life exist now, that did not exist in the past.
(Many modern animals and plants are obviously different from fossils)

* DNA exists.

* Every time an organism reproduces, random changes (mutations) in DNA happen. (We actually explicitly see these with gene-sequencing)

* Some mutations help an organism survive – those genes pass on to the next generation.
(We actually see organisms survive and reproduce. We can sequence the DNA of the parent and of the offspring. We literally see the genes.)

* Some mutations don’t help an organism survive; those genes die out.
(We actually see that some organisms die before they reproduce. Their genes literally die with them.)

* Millions of different DNA samples show a relationship between all forms of life.

* As time goes by, some genes become more common, some become less common. (This has been directly observed in bacteria, some plants and some animals)

Here is the theory that connect such facts

1. Organisms produce more offspring than can survive to adulthood and reproduce.

2. All organisms have random mutations.

3a. Mutations that allow an organism to survive are passed on to their offspring.

3b. Mutations that don’t allow an organism to survive die off.

4. So over time, some mutations become more common.

The “theory” of evolution is the relationship between observations (“facts.”)

In this sense, the theory is just as true as the theory of gravity, or the theory of electricity.

 

Resources

Evolution 101. Univ of California Museum of Paleontology

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/labs/lab/evolution/

https://lifeonearth.seas.harvard.edu/learning-activities/

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