A few months ago, while discussing my frustrations with the anti-evolutionary ideology that’s presented in the homeschool program my son is part of, my friend raised a good question. As I recall, I was venting about the kinds of ideas that are promoted in anti-evolution circles that are demonstrably false, and my friend asked a question along the lines of, “If the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, why is it considered a theory and not a law?” He brought up the “law of gravitation” by way of contrast.
My friend does not come across to me as ideologically anti-evolution. He is very well-read biblically and theologically, so I don’t think he is drawn to the kind of Bible interpretation that leads to YEC ideas. But I think he also has acquaintances with advanced science degrees who have told him that the scientific evidence does not support evolution. I certainly don’t think he was trying to play the “just a theory” canard; he was just asking an honest question. In the end, he said this is not an issue that is “front-burner” for him, so he just hasn’t given it much thought. That’s essentially the perspective I had for many years and perhaps still would if homeschooling hadn’t pushed the issue on me.
So, I’m wondering if some of the scientists around the forum can speak to these questions. Why isn’t evolution considered a law? What would it take for it to be one? Can you see this happening the next few decades as the evidence accrues? Is it the case that a theory becomes a law when the evidence reaches some critical “tipping point”, or is it not that straightforward?
As a final note for any who are inclined to respond to this question along the lines of “because there is no evidence for evolution, and those who say there is are deceived or trying to deceive others because they adhere to a godless philosophy,” I respectfully request that you not engage in that discussion on this thread. The battered carcass of that horse can be examined in many threads on this forum. And it seems that Chris, Hugh, Steve, Josh, and others have inexhaustible patience in explaining the evidence for evolution to those who are willing to dialog and learn (and, yes, to some who are not so willing). I think those discussions are valuable. I’d simply prefer that this thread remained focused on one issue: given the strength of the Theory of Evolution, why has it not risen to the level of a scientific law?