A scientific theory, is a theory, speculation or idea which has no empirical evidence. An example being: the theory of evolution.
A scientific fact in contrast is something that has been positively proven, hence it is not considered a mere theory.
Thank you for proving my point.
Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the definition of a theory.
As explained above, a fact is something that is always true under a specific set of circumstances. For example, if I let a ball go, it will fall to Earth, that is the fact of gravity.
A theory tries to make sense of the facts. So for example, this is the theory of gravity.
Basically what this means is that I need many many many many facts (like the above, a ball falling to earth) to construct a theory. Theories are always updated as new evidence comes along and obviously de-constructed if conflicting evidence comes along.
So the fact is that we see objects fall, yet the theory is "why do objects fall?".
Oh and lest I forget, a law is sometimes equated to a theory, but that's not quite true. A law makes up a theory, just like facts. For example, Newton's laws of motion (plus a few other ones) make up the theory of gravity. (As well as other theories.)
So no, your statement that "A scientific fact in contrast is something that has been positively proven, hence it is not considered a mere theory." is quite the fallacy. A theory can't be elevated to a fact because in scientific terms (notice: quite different from what we use in every day life!) a fact is far less than a theory. It is actually impossible to elevate a theory into a fact, even if it has been proved often enough.
Saying that "one day, a theory will be a fact" is like saying that one day a banana-shake will turn into a banana. It's impossible, because the shake is made up of the bananas.
No matter how You try to spin the word theory, its still not a fact. And yes it really is that simple, some people just like to over complicate the word to make it seem like its a fact or keep changing the definition to make it seem like its a proven fact.Â
Exactly, it's not a fact because it can never be a fact, no matter what we do.
No theory can ever become a fact. That's why we teach the theory of gravity in school "as if it were a fact" because it's constructed upon facts.
And that's the error many people make: Evolution isn't the only theory around. We have the germ theory of disease
, cell theory
, music theory
and a myriad more.
The following are two excerpts from different scientific organizations, like the AAAS.
Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena,
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.
This link here focuses on "Evolution vs Creation", what is a theory? Just block out Evolution vs Creation for a second and focus on science at large.
AAAS - FAQ
The second quote comes directly from this link.
Here's a statement from Stephen Hawking on the requirements on a theory.
"A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations."
EDIT: One thing I forgot, before anyone starts throwing out that scientists keep changing the definition of what a theory is. This exact definition has been around since at least Karl Popper
and it was used in a more unrefined since Aristotle.