I’m generally a pretty easygoing guy, but one thing that always burns me up is the twisting of words to mislead and to misinform. Take for example the recent attempts to have Intelligent Design (ID) taught as a viable alternative to evolution in science classrooms. Proponents argue that if evolution is merely a “theory,” then other theories should be allowed to be taught as well. The problem is that the word “theory” in science has a very specific meaning that is very different from the layperson version.
I read a good article a few years ago on this topic, and the crux of it was this:
In science, a theory is an explanation that binds together various experimentally tested hypotheses to explain some fundamental aspect of nature. For an idea to qualify as a scientific theory, it must be established on the basis of a wide variety of scientific evidence. Its claims must be testable and it must propose experiments that can be replicated by other scientists…
ID, on the other hand, is not a theory. It is a hypothesis, but it is not even a scientific hypothesis because there is no way to experimentally verify its central claim that a Supreme Being intervened in the creation of life on Earth.
I’m not against Intelligent Design itself; in fact, if you read my other articles, you’ll see that I’m receptive to the idea. Just don’t use semantics to try to pass it off as science when it’s a belief.