ASK A SCIENTIST
Question: To date has evolution been proven to be fact or a theory?
First let's think about the difference between a fact and a theory. It used to be a theory that the earth was round, but that theory was confirmed in so many different ways that it has become a fact. Some aspects of evolutionary theory are as well tested as the round earth theory.
It is certain that the earth is many millions of years old, that humans did NOT coexist with dinosaurs, that species change genetically to adapt to their environments, that new species are formed from previous species, and that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. Other aspects of evolutionary theory are still poorly understood, such as the origin of life. For any good theory, there is a frontier of knowledge that is unproven--otherwise we wouldn't be discovering anything new.
An excellent book on this subject is The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 and is available at any good bookstore. It is delightful to read, shows how evolution is taking place all around us every day, and gives an excellent portrayal of how scientists study evolution. Finally, you might be interested to know that Binghamton University is a major center for evolutionary research and teaching. Check out (bingweb.binghamton.edu/~evos)
Ask a Scientist appears Thursdays. Questions are answered by faculty at Binghamton University. Teachers in the greater Binghamton area who wish to participate in the program are asked to write to Ask A Scientist, c/o Binghamton University, Office of Communications and Marketing, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000 or e-mail email@example.com. Check out the Ask a Scientist Web site at askascientist.binghamton.edu. To submit a question, download the submission form(.pdf, 460kb).