Evolution is a Theory, Not a Fact?…Dover, PA

Even People Magazine is reporting on the controversy taking place in the Dover, PA school district where 11 Dover parents have sued the district to have the reading of this statement stopped: “Darwin’s theory of evolution is a theory….not a fact…keep an open mind.” I came across Alonzo Fyfe’s blog entry on science vs religion, and found it interesting inlight of the Dover, PA case. Intelligent design vs evolution is on trial; after reading Fyfe’s piece, one sees that there is not a clear distinction about the effect of science on religion or religion on science. In an earlier piece on this blog, I wrote about “The Law of Evolution, which is James Watson’s take on the issue of evolution. In the small town of Dover, PA, the controversy is splitting the town apart, and people who were once cordial with each other, turn is name calling and out-right avoidance. If you want to read more on evolution and the controversy cited here, go to The Panda’s Thumb. And the case and the issue is even being debated in Australia!

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former Massachusetts high school science teacher, Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University, and a graduate of Bridgewater State University, Boston University, and The Ohio State University.



  1. I suggest we talk about Darwin having “discovered and explained common descent.” I say “explained” instead of “offered the first explanation” because DNA, drift and the modern synthesis embrace and supplement Darwin’s explanation rather than supplanting it and because commonly we call something an explanation even when it doesn’t explain everything or explain in detail. I say he discoverd “common descent” instead of “evolution” because Lamarck and others surmised the fact of evolution and because “evolution” in principle can mean simply “change.” “Natural selection” says something about Darwin’s theory, but it’s focal, abstract and out of date as an explanation of phylogeny as we now think about it. “Common descent” is just right.

  2. “out of date” as an encompassing explanation for the diversity of life, which we now presume depends to some extent on drift, bottlenecking and founder effects, for example. (Did Darwin foresee the effects of mass extinctions? He seems to have foreseen nearly everything else)

  3. “depends also”

    Sorry. I have an itchy mouse finger when it comes to posting and am lazy about proof reading.

  4. MT, thanks for your comments on Darwin, and I am not an editor—appreciate your comments, however. Jack

What do you think?

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