I note that the creationist/intelligent design crowd keep attacking Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, not just “evolutionary theory,” but Darwin’s theory. I am not sure they are bright enough to think of this strategy but I have my suspicions. By tagging evolutionary theory as being “Darwin’s” theory, they tag it with its nineteenth century creation date.
In fact, if Darwin were alive to day, he might have trouble recognizing his theory. He did not live to see the flowering of genetics or the discovery of DNA or the mapping of entire genomes, or radioactive dating techniques. Over a century of measurements have come about that test the theory of evolution and, lo and behold, the theory has held up pretty well. Minor adjustments have been made, but by and large, the theory of evolution has been tested (and tested, and tested, …) and passed all of the tests. In fact, the theory has been added to, it has been refined, it has been clarified, but overall, it has been verified.
Very few theories come with a name attached. We don’t talk about Maxwell’s theory of heat or Newton’s theory of light, or Becquerel’s theory of radioactivity, certainly not outside of history of science classes. We do refer to “Einstein’s Theory of Relativity,” but that theory is more recent and Einstein had kind of a rock star presence in the mind of the public, plus his theory was incomprehensible to most average citizens, giving it the mystique of genius.
So, by emphasizing the theory of evolution to be “Darwin’s” the deniers are trying to undermine the mountains of modern evidence that support that theory.
The deniers say we should “teach the controversy” by teaching both the theory of evolution and the theory of intelligent design and let the student’s decide. That would be interesting. After months of instruction on the theory of evolution, showing facts, tests, outcomes, a teacher would then say: “Or, it could have been magic. What do you think?” Do they think that this is a debate that can be voted on, like American Idol or The X Factor?
There is no “controversy.” For those who think there is, they haven’t studied the theory enough to know what it says and what it doesn’t say. Most people would recognize that asking that theory to explain the phases of the moon is stupid because that is outside the purview of the theory, but so is the Big Bang, how life began, and a whole host of other things thrown into discussions of “the controversy” by these people.
There is no controversy regarding the theory of evolution. And rhetorical devices won’t further our learning. If you think the theory of evolution is wrong at it’s core, you don’t understand it or don’t want it to be true.