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Re: Theory or Law : Semantics??

> Or we could try to campaign to make
> the term "hypothesis" more popular in places where the
> commonites mistakenly use the term "theory". 

Always a good idea.

> dale mcinnes wrote:
> > Odd question to ask the List.
> >  Do you believe that the Theory of Evolution
> should just be regarded as a well established Theory?? Or do
> you think we should start calling it a Law??

Well the ToE is a well-estabished theory, no doubt about that. But it's not a 
"law". The law would perhaps be "d organism/d t evolves". 

You can postulate some law of nature even without knowing any functional 
details. Take for example the Laws of Thermodynamics: they only state something 
that *is* - and *always* is in the known universe. Nothing about the "why". 
That's what theories are for: to explain why certain phenomena are as they are. 

There have been various theories of evolution - including some that advocated 
modification by intent (Lamarckism) and some that advocated modification by a 
divine entity (Naturphilosophie). Yet all of them accepted as a fact, or "law" 
if you will, that organisms are not unchanging as time progresses, that there 
are no such things as Platonian "ideal forms". The theory of Darwin and Wallace 
simply turned out to be the correct one (or as close to it as one can get 
without knowledge of genetics).

So the theory of evolution it is. Like the germ theory of disease, or the 
theory of radioactive decay. Whether evolution as a process can be considered a 
universal law I am not sure. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does of course not 
only allow for some form of life to emerge, but might even be the underlying 
reason why we have life at all (metabolisms are a very good way to create 
entropy - heat, in this case - after all). But does it require life to evolve, 
or would it just as well be served by a population of prokaryotes that evolves 
only at the micro level, or even becomes extinct only to emerge anew over and 
over again? I don't know.



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