How do religious creationists feel about Stephen Jay Gould's claim that evolution is both a fact and a theory?

According to Stephen Jay Gould, evolution is both a fact and a theory. Do creationists who say that evolution is "just a theory" disagree with Dr. Gould, or have they simply not read the paper in which he said that?

"Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts."

The quote was taken from the fifth paragraph of


Dr. Gould isn't my god. I'm just wondering what people think about his quote. The reason I mentioned his name is because he is the one who said the quote and I didn't want to be dishonest and claim it as my own material.

Update 2:

Chieko: Reread what I said. I didn't say that I believed the quote. All I am asking is what people think of it. My beliefs about the accuracy of the quote are irrelevant to this discussion.

Update 3:

TRUTH speaker: You've done more research into evolution than a man who spent his entire career on it? I never knew creationists were so dedicated. Thanks.

Update 4:

Mike M: So you made up a false person with false credentials who said something you agree with and now I'm supposed to accept that as true? I don't understand.

16 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Truer words were never spoken; and anyone who disagrees with him has some serious misconceptions about the meaning of the words "theory" and "fact"...

  • paul h
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    He also states that "fact" does NOT mean "absolute certainty" the scientific sense, facts are "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent" but not necessarily the absolute truth so there is room for speculation or doubt, right? Who determines what is provisional?

    He does show the distinction between the scientific use of the word "theory" and it's meaning in general use which many people fail to differentiate...whose fault is it that science chooses to use a term with a totally different meaning in general usage? When the average person hears the word theory, it conjures up thoughts of guesswork. Perhaps a new term should be developed to explain the scientific meaning of a collection of facts to explain a phenomena.

    The problem with macro-evolution is that it's's an extrapolation of micro-evolution based on the premise of naturalism which may not be correct and is not correct from the creationist point of view. Since we are dealing with historical science in macro-evolution, the rejection of creation is merely a subjective determination.

    It's also interesting that Gould stated a complaint and perplexing problem as to why we don't have evidence for millions of transitional fossils which we should find if evolution were true.

  • 1 decade ago

    Unfortunately many words in the English language can have more than one meaning. This fact is often brought out by Law Professor and Intelligent design advocate Phillip e. Johnson. His legal training taught him to see when people were using terms but applying them differently. It is important when people are using a word that they consistently use it when applying it to the same meaning. The word evolution can mean a number of things. Which is why some would agree with some aspects evolution and not necessarily others.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Thats very consistant with the mixed msgs our liberal teachers, textbooks, society and the media tell us about evolution.

    And it depends on what you mean by "evolution" to begin with. If we're talking about variation within species, then nobody hardly would have a problem with that. The problem creationists tend to have is the theory that we originally came from a single celled organism on up through an ape.

    The problem is both ideas are marketed as "evolution."

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  • Mike M
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Because Stephen Jay Gould said it? Come on...It is just a theory...I can't understand what "facts" he is talking about. I

    read that paper and saw moot points. He teaches biology, geology and the history of science at Harvard. So what.

    According to Ringo Sestrom who teaches Religion and Biblical Studies at Yale, Creationism is both a fact and a theory. Do evolutionists who say that creationism is "just a theory" disagree with Dr. Ringo Sestrom or have they simply not read the paper in which he said that?

    Incidentally, Dr Ringo doesn't really exist...but it doesn't matter...just as your question

    The point is, your question makes as much of an argument...or sense had I reversed the question and asked it to evolutionist. You present no argument...there is no "evidence". The "facts" he mentions are ambiguous. I might ask you, "don't you think for yourself" but that is exactly what you would ask me had I asked that same question. Make sense? Stephen Jay Gould is just a man...and men usually think quite a bit more of themselves than they should.

    But...sorry... I guess my answer to your question is, I don't care one way or another about Mr. Gould's claim.

    It was just to boring to answer the question that way.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Mr Gould doesnt know what he is talking about

    cause No evolution processes have ever been proven facts

    and evolution was just a mans thought of how things came to be . And the very one who thought that up in his end had to admit , their was a Creator , that Created it all .

    It was and is just an idea , a thoughtful man tryed to figure out the universe . But again in the end even he came to the fact that God , did it all .

    And if Mr Gould would research it , he will come to that conclusion as well .

  • 1 decade ago

    As evidenced by their responses in this thread, they STILL do not understand what a scientific theory is, or understand the relationship between facts and theories.

    So, to answer your question, they would have no meaningful thought on the subject.

  • 1 decade ago

    his basic premise is all wrong. a "theory" is not an imperfect fact. a theory is a hypothesis or speculation based on some information that has already been obtained (he should really invest in a dictionary). a fact is something that is actual. something that is done and prove-able. in no way is evolution provable. sure there are mutations and anomalies. but the idea of one species evolving into a completely separate species is ludicrous at best.

  • 1 decade ago

    Evolution the process is a fact. Evolution as the theory about our origins is on much shakier ground scientifically.

  • Athena
    Lv 7
    6 years ago

    You are misusing the terms "fact" and "theory."

    They not the "different things" you incorrectly identify them as.

    For example, our understanding of Gravity is a theory.

    Don't believe in "Gravity" ? Jump off a building and see what happens. Whether it is String Theory, bends in space time, or sprites and goblins, you will still fall down.

    So, gravity is the fact (like evolution), it is what "theory" is what exactly gravity (and evolution) is.

  • 1 decade ago

    To scientist, global warming is a fact. Today a study has shown that the earth hasn't increased in temperature since 1998.

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