The first come from Jonnie Hutchison, Green Plain church of Christ in the Murray Ledger. He writes:
The very definition of a theory suggests that which is speculative and conjectural. If there is sufficient evidence to prove a theory, then it ceases to be a theory. Some have theorized that earth is being visited by aliens from another planet. Yet, merely advancing such a theory does not make it a fact no matter how many people may believe it. Such is the case with the theory of organic evolution. Where is the evidence that takes it from the realm of theory to fact?
------------Again, I will be adding more examples of people using, "Only a theory" as an attack on evolution. Here is the rebuttal.
A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested, in accordance with the scientific method, using a predefined protocol of observation and experiment. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and embody scientific knowledge.Study dot com:
The definition of a scientific theory (often contracted to "theory" for the sake of brevity) as used in the disciplines of science is significantly different from the common vernacular usage of the word "theory".[Note 1] In everyday speech, "theory" can imply that something is an unsubstantiated and speculative guess, the opposite of its meaning in science. These different usages are comparable to the opposing usages of "prediction" in science versus everyday speech, where it denotes a mere hope.
Outside of science, the definition of a theory is a thought that may or may not be true. In the science community, a scientific theory is defined as a hypothesis or a group of hypotheses about some phenomena that have been supported through research using the scientific method.From Live Science:
"Hypotheses, theories and laws are rather like apples, oranges and kumquats: one cannot grow into another, no matter how much fertilizer and water are offered," according to the University of California. A hypothesis is a limited explanation of a phenomenon; a scientific theory is an in-depth explanation of the observed phenomenon. A law is a statement about an observed phenomenon or a unifying concept, according to Kennesaw State University.
So a theory is a hypothesis or even simple idea that has survived repeated testing. Further, it is an explanation for events, not the event itself. There are a group of theories for evolution including natural selection, sexual selection, founder effect and more. These are explanations for the factual events and things we see. In contrast, there are laws regarding gravity and we all see the fact of it, but there is no well-accepted theory. So the phenomenon is seen and known, but the mechanisms are not understood.
More examples of Creationists using, "Only a theory" as an attack on evolution.
A twitter search for "Only a theory". Some tweets use it sarcastically or in explanation, but many Tweeters think this is a valid attack on evolution.