A great deal of confusion exists in the matter of theories, hypotheses and provable facts, especially as these words often refer to scientific and religious concepts. Actual Oxford English Dictionary definitions for each of these three words are as follows:
Theory: a set of ideas formulated from known facts to explain something, e.g.: the theory of evolution or a statement of the principles on which a subject is based, e.g.: the theory of music.
Hypothesis: a supposition or conjecture put forward to account for certain facts and used as a basis for further investigation by which the hypothesis may be proved or disproved.
Fact: something known to have happened, or to be true, or to exist.
Human reproduction illustrates the meaning and significance of these three words very well. The sex aspect of human reproduction is clearly a theory and a fact. It can be compared to the theory of evolution and it is known to exist.
Another aspect of reproduction involves the stork; it is clearly a hypothesis and is totally without scientific support. It is imaginative and rather beautiful in its conception (no pun intended), but total fantasy. The idea of a large gentle bird carrying a tiny baby suspended from its beak in a blanket – who could not be moved by such a scene?
This can be compared to some features of creationism – Adam and Eve, the talking snake and all the mysterious Eden-dwellers, Lillith, Adam’s first wife (who knew – Adam and Lillith? – doesn’t have the same poetic ring to it as Adam and Eve), Cain and Abel and their wives, presumably their sisters, a couple of angels sent by God to guard the Tree of Knowledge, but only after Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, thereby setting the stage for the crucifiction (sic), of Jesus several millenia later.
This was a major lapse for an omniscient deity. The Eden story has all, or at least most, of the features of an X-rated soap opera for adult audiences only.
The God particle, also known as the Higgs boson
Professor Peter Higgs, who first theorised the existence of the boson, a sub-atomic particle, in 1964 was honoured by my old university in Durham, England in September 2012 in recognition of the actual existence of a particle with all of the features of the boson discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland in the summer of 2012.
Professor Higgs, an atheist, expressed the hope that it would no longer be known as the God particle. That name was given to it by a somewhat fearful publisher’s editor to replace the original name of “The Goddam Particle.”
It was known as the goddam particle for years because of its “villanous nature and the expense it is causing.” In light of these reasons, perhaps the term God Particle might have been more appropriate after all.