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The “Evolution Is as Real as Gravity” Talking Point

David Klinghoffer


Comparing evolution with gravity is a standard talking point with Darwinists, as in this headline from The Evolution Institute that a friend points out:

Evolution Is as Real as Gravity

Evolution is still all too often (but wrongly) downplayed as “just a theory” in public discussions. This is partly due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of what a theory means in science, as opposed to its common language meaning. Evolution by natural selection is much more than just a hypothesis, and is as much a valid and well-accepted scientific theory as the theory of gravitation. What Darwin did for biology is on par with what Newton did for physics — and mathematics plays an important role in both theories.

What’s wrong with this? Thoughtful reader Jonathan nails it: “I’ll be interested when a physicist proclaims ‘gravity is as real as evolution.’” Yes, evolution needs to associate itself with something factual, whereas gravity has no such need. That is kind of telling.

Zombie Science

Over the years, we’ve poked fun at this, but it keeps coming back —  a zombie, you might say. At Uncommon Descent, mathematician Granville Sewell lampooned the gravity comparison (“Evolution now more firmly established than gravity”). And biologist Cornelius Hunter has blasted it too:

[Stephen Jay] Gould was not the first evolutionist to compare evolution with empirical observations such as gravity. Such comparisons date back practically to Darwin and they have not ceased since then.

This is remarkable because these arguments are fallacious and bankrupt. They tell us much more about the state of evolutionary thought than the supposed truth of evolution.

Whether the comparison is to gravity, or to cancer, or to any empirical observation, we consider it to be a fact because we can observe it. Whether or not we can explain it, and to what degree we can explain it, has no bearing on the observation itself. So Gould is correct that gravity does not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain it.

But we do not observe humans evolving from apelike ancestors. That is the claim of evolution, and it is a claim that suffers from substantial scientific problems. That is not a comment on evolution, it is a scientific fact.

Yes evolutionists do debate rival explanations for how the species originated, but there is no observation of evolution that “doesn’t go away” during the debate. There is no fact of evolution to fall back on while evolutionary explanations encounter scientific problems.

If any physicists out there would like to take this challenge – Tell us how gravity is as solidly established as evolution – it would be fascinating to see an article to that effect published by The Gravity Institute, if they ever get around to launching one.

Update: Huh, I spoke too soon. There is a “Gravity Institute,” a nonprofit out of Montreal with a Facebook presence devoted to sharing pretty nature videos. Nothing to do with gravity, or evolution, as far as I can tell.

Photo credit: © Creative-Touch — stock.adobe.com.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



Cornelius HunterevolutionGranville SewellgravityMontrealreaders' commentsscienceThe Evolution InstituteThe Gravity InstituteZombie Science