More Than Just A Theory
Critics of evolution have for a long time claimed that evolution is "just a theory," emphasizing scientific theories are never absolute or a matter of opinion rather than fact or evidence. This reflects a difference of the meaning of theory in a scientific context: whereas in ordinary language a theory is a guess or conjecture, however, in science, a theory is an explanation whose predictions have been solidly verified repeatedly by experiments or other evidence.
Yes, evolution is just a theory, BUT, it is a theory firmly validated by thousands upon thousands of facts. The world was once believed to be flat and the sun revolved around it. We know better now!
Objections to evolution have been raised since Charles Darwin published his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. His theory of biological evolution initially met opposition from scientists with different theories but eventually received overwhelming acceptance in the entire scientific community. It has been uncontroversial among mainstream biologists since the 1940s.
Most criticisms and denials of evolution now come from fundamentalist religious groups, rather than from the scientific community. However many religious groups have reconciled their beliefs with evolution recognizing there has been theistic evolution while other religious groups continue to reject evolutionary explanations in favor of creationism, the belief that the universe and life were created by God. In the U.S the controversy is still a perceived conflict between religion and science.
The National Academy of Sciences states: Scientists most often use the word "fact" to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact 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.
Some Creationists claim "evolution is a religion" and not a science. They are wrong as it is very much a solid scientific claim. Another claim is that evolution is atheistic. It is not. Another objection is that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. It has been proven not to.
On the other hand, many religions have reconciled a belief in a supernatural being with evolution. The National Center for Science Education found "of Americans in the twelve largest Christian denominations, 89.6% belong to churches that support evolution education." These churches include the Roman Catholic Church and some Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and the Episcopal Church. A poll done in 2000 found 70% of the American public believed evolution was compatible with a belief in God. However, fewer than 48% of the people polled knew the correct definition of evolution.
Catholic schools in the United States and other countries teach evolution as part of their science curriculum. They teach the fact that evolution occurs and the Modern Synthesis, which is the scientific theory that explains how evolution proceeds. This is the same evolution curriculum that secular schools teach.