Talk:theory

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A Theory is a lie that two or more people use as the truth to try to explain an idea. It is not a truth.

Definition of a theory and the "debate" between religion and science[edit]

In science, a theory is by definition an explanation for experimental results, either those already tested or those proposed. A scientific theory not only can explain experiments already conducted, but also can predict the results of experiments that might be proposed to test its validity.

By contrast, for instance, "intelligent design" is a religious doctrine, not a scientific theory. Like other religious beliefs it cannot be tested by scientific method. Rather it presupposes a belief system (God created the universe), and accepts as truth the statements of a defined set of writings (the Bible says God did this several thousand years ago).

These are two distinct and non-debatable views of the universe. Science cannot explain away the teachings of religion, because these teachings are by definition not testable through scientific method. Neither can religion disprove the experimental findings of science, because religion is based on beliefs that are outside the domain of science--the very definition of "supernatural."

A good example: It is possible that the universe was created 5000 years ago, with all the evidence of dinosaurs, etc., intact and waiting for scientists to find. "Science cannot even exclude the possibility that the world was created 15 minutes ago with all our memories and other evidence in place."1 Conversely, because the proponents of intelligent design cannot devise an experiment that will disprove the theory of evolution, their ideas need to be respected as religious beliefs, not as a scientific theory.

"'I refuse to prove I exist,' says God, 'because proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing'" --Douglas Adams

1. Peshkin, Murray, "Why We Can't Dilute Darwin," The Chicago Tribune Magazine, February 12, 2006.

Thanks for the point – this is a rather disputed usage, and I’ve added a (brief) note to this effect in a usage section.
On a more light-hearted note, a fun way to make your scientist/scientifically trained friends wince is to use theory to mean “supposition” – the more absurd the better.
—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 03:54, 23 September 2010 (UTC)