Most of the letters written to you on the subject of evolutionary theory have argued from very religious or scientific perspectives. So before presenting any arguments, I should state that I am arguing from neither of these standpoints: I have no more religious faith than I do a faith in science.
I would like to commend Dr William Reville for his article entitled "Theory of Evolution is a theory, not `fact'" (May 6th). He highlighted one of the most difficult problems facing modern science; the problem of language. He made an admirable attempt to suggest that the common use of the word "theory" is vastly different from the scientific use of the term. The article pointed out that when we say we have a theory it usually means that we "have a hunch as to the true explanation of the phenomenon". "A generally accepted scientific theory" on the other hand, "is a much grander and more formal matter. It is elevated to the status of a general theory only after exhaustive study of the objective data". I fail to see how this distinction really holds. If evolutionary theory cannot be proved and given the status of a "proof", then its veracity is ultimately based on the human "hunch" that it is true. Scientists have to look upon the theory with a degree of faith. No matter how many experiments they have done in the past they may in the future be proven wrong. Their experiments could be at fault, or merely their subjective interpretations of the "objective" data. Unless, of course, they are psychic as well as scientific.
Since science tends to base its arguments on past experience, so should we. If we do this, it seems likely that evolutionary theory will eventually be abandoned for a far more enlightened one. Newtonian theories of time and space were abandoned for Einsteinian space time. The theory that the earth was flat was abandoned for the theory that it was round etc. - Yours, etc.,