Evolutionists disagree amongst themselves about the theory of evolution but they agree about the fact of evolution. If there is one point of agreement within evolution-dom, it is that evolution is a scientific fact. A few years after Darwin died Joseph Le Conte explained that evolution is a law, not a theory, and it is a law to which every department of natural studies must adhere. It is not merely as certain as gravity, "Nay, it is far more certain." Similarly, Teilhard de Chardin maintained that "evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow—this is what evolution is."
In 1951 George G. Simpson wrote that there really is no point nowadays in continuing to collect and to study fossils simply to determine whether or not evolution is a fact. The question, concluded Simpson, has been decisively answered in the affirmative. Scientist and social critic Ashley Montagu elevated evolution beyond all other theories. It was, according to Montagu, "the most thoroughly authenticated fact in the whole history of science."
In his biology textbook Neil Campbell informed the student that “The term theory is no longer appropriate except when referring to the various models that attempt to explain how life evolves … it is important to understand that the current questions about how life evolves in no way implies any disagreement over the fact of evolution.”
For Douglas Futuyma evolution “is a fact, as fully as the fact of the earth’s revolution about the sun,” and Richard Lewontin says it is time “to state clearly that evolution is a fact.” Niles Eldredge claims that “Evolution is a fact as much as the idea that the earth is shaped like a ball.”
The National Academy of Sciences explains that in science the word “fact” can be used “to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong.”
And Harvard's Ernst Mayr explained that the fact of evolution is so overwhelmingly established that it would be irrational to call it a theory.
That evolution is a scientific fact is an important claim. Let’s look at exactly what evolutionists are saying:
Evolution: For evolutionists this word refers to the idea that all the species arose via natural laws. God did not use miracles to create the biological world, instead everything arose by the play of the natural processes and laws we observe. Moths changing color or bacteria gain resistance to antibiotics do not constitute evolution. They are at best tiny examples of evolution. Such examples of adaptation do not prove evolution any more than a flat parking lot proves the flat earth theory. Evolution is a big theory.
Is: This evolutionary claim is not tentative. Evolutionists are not merely saying that some evidence supports their theory. They are not saying parts of evolution are true, or that evolution might be a fact. There is no wiggle room here. Evolution is a scientific fact.
Scientific: What type of fact is evolution? It is a scientific fact? This means that this conclusion is arrived at via logic. Scientific reasoning is, if anything, logical. Fallacies are rooted out and eliminated. And the evidence used in the reasoning is public. There is no private knowledge required to understand evolution and its status as a fact. Also, the premises of scientific reasoning are objective. There are no subjective axioms. One need not adhere to Buddhism or Baptism to understand and agree with scientific reasoning.
Fact: This word can mean different things to different people, but in this context evolutionists are quite clear about their usage. A favorite comparison, as demonstrated by Le Conte above, is with gravity. Evolution is a fact every bit as much as is gravity (or more so according to Le Conte). There’s not much nuance here. Sure evolution may not be true, but only in the sense that gravity might not be true. This existence could be a big dream, with none of what we experience being real. But aside from such Berkeleyan quandaries, we can count on the veracity of evolution.
Now that we understand just what evolutionists are claiming, what can we say about it? There is indeed much to say, but the most important observation that is immediately obvious from the evolution genre is that while evolutionists consistently make this claim, it is nowhere demonstrated.
To be sure evolution is often proved to be a fact, but in every case metaphysical premises are involved. If god wouldn’t have created the mosquito then yes, evolution in one form or another must be a fact. But such theological musings (yes, evolutionists really do assert this very premise) fall far outside of the objectivity criterion.
And while the evolution literature is often scientific, in those cases the theory is never shown to be a fact. This problem is not slight. It is not the case that evolution is quite convincing but just shy of fact-hood. Darwin’s theory, in whatever form it is presented, comes nowhere close to being a fact when we restrict the premises to the realm of empirical science. In fact—if we want to speak of facts—the fact is evolution is highly problematic.
For many years I have searched the evolution genre. I have scanned the journals and reviewed the texts. From Darwin and Le Conte to Carroll and Coyne, I have pored over the literature. I have nowhere found an exposition of this most important fact. I have seen evolution proven to be a fact, and I have seen evolution presented as science, but I have never seen evolution shown to be a scientific fact.
And so I have a proposition for evolutionists. Show me your fact and I will promote it. Explain why evolution is a scientific fact and I will retract my criticisms as unfounded. Back up your claim and I will be an evolutionist.