The way to start this exercise is as the lawyers (not my favorite people) do, with definitions. From Merriam-Webster:
"Fact: a thing done; the quality of being actual; something that has actual existence; an actual occurrence; a piece of information presented as having objective reality; - in fact : in truth."
"Theory: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another; a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena (wave theory of light); a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject (theory of equations). Synonym: see 'Hypothesis' ... implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation. Theory implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth."
So a fact is something actual and a theory describes the relationship among actualities, often temporal (cause-and-effect). Can something be both? Not really. TalkOrigins is using a rhetorical device to attempt to give strength and objectivity to the Theory of Evolution. Therefore, any wordplay we encounter along the way that does not comport with the above, that does not maintain the separateness and the integrity of their meanings, will be accordingly labelled as empty rhetoric and thrown out, and Gould, the Sophist, will not be allowed to endlessly bend and twist these words to suit his purposes.
Academicians have convinced themselves that words are the only, or at least the highest, reality. This is, in my view but with a great deal of support, a conceit borne of insecurity, and the authors of TalkOrigins will thus not be allowed to indulge this vice in what follows. Those of us who live in the real world and earn our daily bread think in simpler but more honest terms. Complexity and hair-splitting serve better to deceive than enlighten.
I also noticed that a great deal of ink was spilled trashing Creationism and Creationists. This is a very bad habit having nothing to do with the verity of the Theory of Evolution or with science and, in not too much of a stretch, it can be viewed as a sign of psychological dysfunction if the writer cannot let it go. We are therefore going to ignore any such side-trips as irrelevant.
So, we continue our odyssey into substance with (surprise!) another definition.
"Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. That this happens is a fact. Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors. The evidence for historical evolution -- genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact. The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution. So evolution is both a fact and a theory." See FAQ.
Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time.
Change happens every time a baby is born. Change is ubiquitous, applying to all aspects and events of/in the Universe over time. Change is not an Evolutionary theory, it is a simple observation applying to all of physical reality and this observation is not a scientific statement, it is a given. It is context. Science explains how things change over time, deducing the general rules by which facts and events relate to one another.
That this [biological evolution, presumably] happens is a fact.
A bald, unsupported assertion, and false.
Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors.
"Also refers"? We have an "is" in the first sentence, which makes the statement definitional. This statement expands the definition.
The evidence for historical evolution -- genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact.
Another bald, unsupported statement, not shown and wrong. It has never been shown that one species transforms into another and that would be evidence. Nor has it been shown how such a transformation might plausibly occur, which would be science. Not only is the evidence not overwhelming, it does not exist.
The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution.
No, it does not. As shown by the following which is taken from the article itself, the Evolutionists have been groping for answers for over 100 years and they still don't have them.
... biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution. (Moran)
"Less certain of the exact mechanism"? "Several theories of "the mechanism" of evolution"? This is an absurd statement if it is meant to denote science (which it is). Science tells us how cause relates to effect. It generalizes, finds general rules. It doesn't say "It might be this or it might be that, in 'uncertain' fashion." This statement is an admission that Evolution is not science.
And ... we are constantly learning new and important facts about evolutionary mechanisms. (Gould)
Or, to be blunt, Evolutionists are still looking for answers they don't have. Science has answers or it's not science.
And ... humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.
What? What???!!!!! "... some other mechanism yet to be discovered"? Gould admits that the Evolutionists do not have the answers. And again, science without answers is not science.
So evolution is both a fact and a theory."
A bald and false assertion, and shown above to be false. But let's do a little further parsing. I particularly liked this segment purporting to prove Evolution by allusion.
It is a fact that the earth with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old.
I can accept that the earth is very old, based on science.
It is a fact that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old.
We will accept this, too.
It is a fact that major life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past.
And we accept this.
There were no birds or mammals 250 million years ago.
It is a fact that major life forms of the past are no longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now.
It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms.
But NOT this, because it has never been shown! This is a leap of faith, NOT science. And that is why Darwinism is accused by some, myself included, of being religion. And it is anti-Christian religion as shown by Darwinists' fixation with bashing Creationists. The referenced article itself, and Gould himself, expend a fair number of words doing nothing but bashing Creationism. None of this is science, folks.
Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different.
Nonsense, "therefore ...". This conclusion has no warrant.
In support of the foregoing and in rebuttal to Ich's dismissal and trashing of the work if not the person of Spetner, all of what follows comes from Not By Chance! subtitled Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution by Dr. Lee Spetner, copyright 1997, 1998 The Judaica Press, Inc. I will thus only indicate at what page number the citation begins.
From Dr. Spetner's bio:
"Dr. Spetner received the PhD degree in physics from MIT in 1950. He was with the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University form 1951 to 1970, where he was engaged in research and development in signal processing and the scattering of electromagnetic waves from the earth's surface. From 1958 he was a member of the principal professional staff of the laboratory. He spent the academic year 1962-63 on a fellowship in the Department of Biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University. During that time he became interested in evolution and published several papers investigating information buildup in evolution. (more)"
As to the British peppered moths (p. 67):
Although it may be an example of natural selection, it is not an example of random variation. It turns out that when the soot began to cover the lichens, the light-moth population didn't have to wait for a mutation to turn dark. The dark moth was already in the population. It was living as a small minority among the light moths [Bishop and Cook 1975]. Where the tree trunks are light, most of the moths are light colored. Where the tree trunks are sooty, most of the moths are dark. There was no random (emphasis here and in all subsequent instances in the original) variation. Both types of moths have been living side by side in both environments.
Here we have an example of microevolution that is not an example. It gets more interesting.
All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not to increase it. Let's examine what's known about the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics . . .
Scientists have studied how streptomycin and other mycin drugs keep bacteria from growing, and how a point mutation makes bacteria resistant to the drug [Davies et al. 1971, Davies and Nomura 1972]. They found that a molecule of the drug attaches to a matching site on a ribosome of the bacterium and interferes with its making of protein, as shown in Fig. 5.3. With the drug molecule attached, the ribosome is unable to put the right amino acids together when it makes protein. It makes the wrong proteins. It makes proteins that don't work. The bacterium then can't grow, can't divide, and can't propagate.
The ribosomes of mammals don't have the site at which the mycin drugs can attach, so the drugs can't harm them. Because the mycins can stop bacterial growth without harming the host, they make useful antibiotics.
A point mutation makes the bacterium resistant to streptomycin by losing information. . . We see then that the mutation reduces the specificity of the ribosome protein, and that means losing genetic information. This loss of information leads to a loss of sensitivity to the drug an hence to resistance. Since the information loss is in the gene, the effect is heritable, and a whole strain of resistant bacteria can arise from the mutation.
And it gets much more interesting. At page 187:
Over a decade ago Barry Hall, then at the University of Connecticut, prepared a strain of E. Coli bacteria that could not break down the milk sugar, lactose [Hall 1982]. Normal E. Coli can live on lactose because they have an array of enzymes that can metabolize it. For this set of experiments Hall prepared a strain that lacked the gene encoding [for] the first enzyme in the array. Because of this lack, his strain of bacteria could not live on lactose. When these bacteria grew and multiplied on another nutrient, but in the presence of lactose, two mutations were found to appear in the same bacterium. One of these mutations was in a hitherto unknown structural gene and the other was its control gene. The mutated structural gene encodes an enzyme that can perform the missing first step in lactose metabolism. . . The gene that mutated had been present all along, but it was dormant. Its normal function is unknown. Hall called it a "cryptic" gene.
Neither of the above two mutations is of any use by itself to the bacterium. For the bacterium to metabolize lactose, both mutations have to occur. In the absense of lactose, these two mutations are independent. They will occur together only by chance, and will do so only with the small probability of 10 to the minus 18th power. Hall calculated for his population the expected waiting time for both these mutations to occur by chance. He found that if they really did occur at random, he would have to wait for about a hundred thousand years before he could expect to see one of the double mutations. But in the presence of lactose he found about 40 of them in just a few days! These results suggest that the lactose in the environment induced these mutations.
It seems that the more we learn, the more reason we have to doubt the TOE.
And moving back to TalkOrigins, we conclude that they are either fools or liars. The accomplished academicians among them are clearly bright, so I leave to the reader to select the correct alternative. The TalkOrigins link is just replete with sophistry ripe for further parsing, which I will be pleased to do if the spirit moves. This deconstruction is therefore a representative sample only.
Here are a few folks that agree with me, for the right reasons.
Scientists with impressive credentials are leaving the doctrines of evolution. Unfortunately, no one has informed the general public.
As Science Digest reported:
Scientists who utterly reject Evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities... Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science.
Evolutionist Sir Fred Hoyle:
The notion that...the operating programme of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.
Researcher and Mathematician I. L. Cohen:
At that moment, when the DNA/RNA system became understood, the debate between Evolutionists and Creationists should have come to a screeching halt. ...the implications of the DNA/RNA were obvious and clear. Mathematically speaking, based on probability concepts, there is no possibility that Evolution was the mechanism that created the approximately 6,000,000 species of plants and animals we recognize today.
Evolutionist Michael Denton:
The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.
Peter Saunders (University of London) and Mae-Wan Ho (Open University):
From the claims made for neo-Darwinism one could easily get the impression that it has made great progress towards explaining Evolution, mostly leaving the details to be cleared up. In fact, quite the reverse is true.
Evolutionist Dr. Colin Patterson:
No one has ever produced a species by mechanisms of natural selection. No one has ever gotten near it...
Evolutionist Greg Kirby:
If you were to spend your life picking up bones and finding little fragments of head and little fragments of jaw, there's a very strong desire there to exaggerate the importance of those fragments...
Evolutionist Lord Solly Zuckerman:
Students of fossil primates have not been distinguished for caution... The record is so astonishing that it is legitimate to ask whether much science is...in this field at all.
Evolutionist Tom Kemp:
A circular argument arises: Interpret the fossil record in terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory. Well, it would, wouldn't it?
Evolutionist Edmund Ambrose:
We have to admit that there is nothing in the geological records that runs contrary to the view of conservative creationists...
Paleontologist and Evolutionist Dr. Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History:
The only competing explanation for the order we all see in the biological world is the notion of Special Creation.
Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer, cosmologist, and mathematician, Cambridge University:
I have little hesitation in saying that a sickly pall now hangs over the big bang theory.
Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer, cosmologist, and mathematician, Cambridge University:
The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it... It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. ...if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.
Molecular biologist Michael Denton:
Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which-a functional protein or gene-is complex beyond...anything produced by the intelligence of man?
C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General:
When I make an incision with my scalpel, I see organs of such intricacy that there simply hasn't been enough time for natural evolutionary processes to have developed them.
Mathematician P. Saunders and biologist M. Ho:
We ourselves would be less concerned about falsifiability if neo-Darwinism were a powerful theory with major successes to its credit. But this is simply not the case.
C. Martin in American Scientist:
The mass of evidence shows that all, or almost all, known mutations are unmistakably pathological and the few remaining ones are highly suspect.
Pierre-Paul Grassé, Evolutionist:
No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of Evolution.
Arthur Koestler, author:
In the meantime, the educated public continues to believe that Darwin has provided all the relevant answers by the magic formula of random mutations plus natural selection-quite unaware of the fact that random mutations turned out to be irrelevant and natural selection a tautology.
Darwinism has failed in practice.
Lyall Watson, Ph.D., Evolutionist:
Modern apes...seem to have sprung out of nowhere. They have no yesterday, no fossil record. And the true origin of modern humans...is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, an equally mysterious matter.
Wolfgang Smith, Ph.D.:
The Evolutionist thesis has become more stringently unthinkable than ever before...
John Woodmorappe, geologist:
Eighty to eighty-five percent of Earth's land surface does not have even 3 geologic periods appearing in 'correct' consecutive order. ...it becomes an overall exercise of gargantuan special pleading and imagination for the evolutionary-uniformitarian paradigm to maintain that there ever were geologic periods.
Evolutionist S. Lovtrup:
Micromutations do occur, but the theory that these alone can account for evolutionary change is either falsified, or else it is an unfalsifiable, hence metaphysical theory. I suppose that nobody will deny that is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what has happened in biology: ...I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?
J. O'Rourke in the American Journal of Science:
The intelligent layman has long suspected circular reasoning in the use of rocks to date fossils and fossils to date rocks. The geologist has never bothered to think of a good reply.
N. H. Nilsson, famous botanist and Evolutionist:
My attempts to demonstrate Evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed.
Luther Sunderland, science researcher:
None of the five museum officials could offer a single example of a transitional series of fossilized organisms that would document the transformation of one basically different type to another.
Tom Kemp of Oxford University:
As is well known, most fossil species appear instantaneously in the fossil record.
Francis Hitching, archaeologist:
The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps; the fossils are missing in all the important places.
David Kitts, paleontologist and Evolutionist:
Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them.
Gary Parker, Ph.D., biologist and paleontologist and former Evolutionist:
Fossils are a great embarrassment to Evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of Creation.
Wolfgang Smith, Ph.D., physicist and mathematician:
A growing number of respectable scientists are defecting from the evolutionist camp. ...moreover, for the most part these 'experts' have abandoned Darwinism, not on the basis of religious faith or biblical persuasions, but on strictly scientific grounds, and in some instances, regretfully.
I. Cohen, mathematician and archaeologist:
It is not the duty of science to defend the theory of Evolution, and stick by it to the bitter end-no matter what illogical and unsupported conclusions it offers...
Ludwig von Bertalanffy, biologist:
The fact that a theory so vague, so insufficiently verifiable, and so far from the criteria otherwise applied in 'hard' science has become a dogma can only be explained on sociological grounds.
Malcolm Muggeridge, well-known philosopher:
The theory of Evolution...will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has.
Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History, London. The following quote was taken from a speech given by Dr. Patterson:
Last year I had a sudden realization for over twenty years I had thought I was working on Evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long. Either there was something wrong with me or there was something wrong with Evolutionary theory. Naturally, I know there is nothing wrong with me, so the last few weeks I've tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: Can you tell me anything you KNOW about Evolution? Any one thing? Any one thing that is true?
I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of Evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time, and eventually one person said, "I do know one thing-it ought not to be taught in high school.
With Thanks to Ready2go for the compilation.
And here is a full article debunking TalkOrigins: Talk.Origins: Deception By Omission.
Still Lurking, Libertarian?