The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Evolution is a proven scientific theory

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,258 times Debate No: 49776
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




In this debate, I will be arguing that evolution is a proven scientific theory.

1. No personal insults.
2. 1st round is acceptance.
3. No Wikipedia or Huffington Post.
4. The bible/ other religious books do not count as evidence in this setting.


I am a firm believer in evolution, but what you're saying is harming the science of evolution, so I will prove you wrong.

State your case, so I may educate you on scientific methods.
Debate Round No. 1


I fail to see where my statement is wrong. 'Theory', in the context of science can be accepted as fact, until a newer one displaces it. My contention is that it is CURRENTLY proven. Now, to my case.

First, a definition
A change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes such as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.

Point 1
Our family tree can be traced back to Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor. (he was probably a bacteria) From there, we lose track until Lucy, Australopithecus.

This is startlingly human-like. However, scientists have carried out test which show that she knuckle-walked, just like a gorilla (you can see the rounded fingers), and probably had fur, just like an ape.

Point 2
Our genome is like a map of who and where we came from. We share 99.8% of our genome with apes ,therefore it seems almost self-evident to assume that we must be close relatives of apes. There is no bone in the ape body that I do not share. Heck, there isn't even a brain lobe that is different!

Point 3
We've seen it happen.
We've started, and are continuing an experiment known as the e-coli project. Basically, it consists of taking bacteria, and waiting. A long time. And sure enough, the generation 50000 bacteria grow about 100 times faster than Generation 1. I believe that this proves that evolution takes place, beyond any reasonable doubt.

(PS, thank you to my opponent for accepting this debate. It's going to be interesting!)


My opponent proposes that evolution is a "proven" theory.

My argument:

1. It is widely known that theories cannot be proved, they can only be disproved.

"A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis."
"A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true." [1]

If a theory is a sum of hypotheses and no hypothesis can be proved, then by extension a theory can not be proved.

This is in accordance with the theories of Karl Popper and Thomas S. Kuhn, two of the most prominent and influential science theoreticians of our time.
Popper's analysis of deductive science makes it quite clear that "theory" and "proof" are irreconcilable antagonists:
"Any theory which adheres to both the definition of theory and the virtues of a ‘good’ theory is a ‘good’ theory. This adherence, however, does not mean that the ‘good’ theory is valid since ‘good’ theories can be ‘just plain wrong’. Yet, ‘good’ theories which are wrong are more quickly identified as being wrong since they are more easily refuted (internally inconsistent or empirically invalid)." [2]

Thomas S. Kuhn has introduced the concept of a "paradigm" because of the historical fact that theories that were later shown to be false were commonly accepted as true for centuries (his prime example being Copernicus' astronomy in contrast to the Ptolemaic astronomy):

"A particularly important part of Kuhn's thesis in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions focuses upon one specific component of the disciplinary matrix. This is the consensus on exemplary instances of scientific research. These exemplars of good science are what Kuhn refers to when he uses the term ‘paradigm’ in a narrower sense. [...] The claim that the consensus of a disciplinary matrix is primarily agreement on paradigms-as-exemplars is intended to explain the nature of normal science and the process of crisis, revolution, and renewal of normal science. It also explains the birth of a mature science. Kuhn describes an immature science, in what he sometimes calls its ‘pre-paradigm’ period, as lacking consensus." [3]

So this means that theories that are at one time predominant (= paradigms) are so not because they are "proven" (so, irrefutably true) but rather through consensus.
This is necessary for any science to work.
If we stuck to Popper's ideal of science, only one little piece of evidence would be enough to topple an entire theory. If, for instance, a scientist were to discover a Tyrannosaurus Rex with human remains between its teeth, this would disprove the theory that dinosaurs never coexisted with humans. Which would mean that ALL findings on evolution would have to be reconsidered. Unless, of course, this "proof" is a FAKE or a MISTAKE.
Paradigms exist BEYOND proof to the contrary for a while, giving scientists a chance to check the alleged proof, try to incorporate it into the paradigm.
All this means that theories are accepted without "proof", even against the "truth" as they are later disproved.

A theory needs to be falsifiable, or it becomes a matter of faith. As long as it's falsifiable, it cannot be "proved", only commonly accepted.

And even that is not the case with evolution, as a strong school of creationists exists who oppose the theory, necessitating the foundation of organizations countering their efforts [4].

2. Since such a thing as a "proven theory" does not exist, evolution cannot be a "proven theory" in extension.

This is a simple deduction.

My opponent has POST-HOC widened his definition to "CURRENTLY proven". Not only is this a break of conduct, as this was not part of the original resolution, it is basically a concession that it is in fact not a "proven theory".

My rebuttal:
"prove" means "to show the existence, truth, or correctness of (something) by using evidence, logic, etc." (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary).

Existence, truth and correctness are ABSOLUTES. This specifically goes for hypotheses.
In our particular case: Evolution has either happened in the way my opponent has described it OR NOT.
His claims are either true or they are not. If a part of them is wrong, his claims are disproved and a new, modified theory must take their place.
If they are not correct, they cannot be correct.

So, if he says that evolution is "proven" it would have to be "true", and in that case it would then be impossible to disprove it later. That is the problem with "truth". Once it is established, it is absolute. So, by acknowledging that the theory of evolution MIGHT BE DISPROVED in the future, he says he's not sure that it is TRUE. Since "true" and "proven" are the same, this is a clear concession that the theory is not "proven".
The modified resolution is thus a contradiction, and my opponent is disproved.

I want to add that evolution is a theory I propose. But reducing us to religious fanatics who believe that this theory has been "proven" offers creationists an angle from which to attack the evolution theory. We need to proceed with scientific accuracy if we want to establish evolution as a commonly accepted theory.

Especially if the rest of the argumentation is done so poorly. The following is a rebuttal for argument's sake alone:

Point 1:
Suppose a creator deity existed, who created the world much like we could construct a digital copy of our world.
If I were to program a digital copy of our world, a digital human would be able to find traces of LUCA and LUCY, too. Yet in my programmed world, these things would not have EVOLVED. I would have created them.
So, there goes any proof of actual evolution if we propose a creator god.
Scientific proof exists for a creator god in the fact that energy cannot be created, yet there must have been a source for the energy we consider the "Big Bang".
Hence: there is no proof for evolution, as I can offer a (mock) theory that explains the creation of life, all the species AND the beginning of the universe. By Occam's Razor, my theory beats yours.

So, this is NOT how we establish evolution as a superior theory.

Point 2:
Your "proven theory" relies on "it seems almost self-evident to assume"?
I counter with this: two clocks are showing the same time. Does this mean they are connected? Or that they are derived from the same source?
Suppose all DNA is derived from a creator god. Your theory does not disprove this, again doing nothing to defend evolution.

Point 3:
So, we have 50000 generations of bacteria and only a change in growth rate? While we are led to believe that over ONLY the last 5000 generations of humans, we evolved from cavemen to our current look and abilities:
"By around 100,000 years ago, several species of hominids populated the Earth, including H. sapiens in Africa, H. erectus in Southeast Asia and China, and Neandertals in Europe." [5]

This would make evolution rather unlikely by your own "it seems almost self-evident to assume"-standard.

Your case for evolution is poorly executed and harming the science of evolution. I would ask you to stand down and agree that evolution is a solid theory like any other, with lots of evidence to back it up, but far from "proven", as that doesn't exist.

Thank you.

[2]: , page 367
Debate Round No. 2


Concede debate. Thank you for enlightening me.


I thank my opponent for conceding.

It was my honour and my privilege.

For the record: I posted my previous round merely minutes ago. I would like to encourage my opponent to read all of it and use this chance to discuss the matter further.

If he chooses not to, I wish him the best of luck!
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you sir for this wonderful debate. You have widened my worldview, and given me new definitions to evolution. Thank you very much indeed.


Very well, then.
We pass this on to the judgement of the audience.

Thanks all, take care!
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 7 years ago
subgenius: No.
Posted by subgenius 7 years ago
spoiler alert- proven theories are "laws" in science.
Posted by GudjonN 7 years ago
This can also get very messy, I recommend clearing up some definitions. Are you discussing Micro or Macro evolution? Or both? One is proven, one takes a rational thought, and evidence. But cannot be PROVEN in front of you, it takes millions of years. Therefore, it can't be proven in this debate. Con took a wise position.. Look forward to see the rebuttals.
Posted by GudjonN 7 years ago
This is going to be interesting!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded to the debate. Good job Con.
Vote Placed by Defro 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Due to Pro's concession, arguments go to Con, who also gets sources for acually having sources.

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