Puzzling over theory

On Saturday, I gave a talk to the Minnesota Atheists on a bit of the evidence for evolutionary history. In one part of the talk, I gave an analogy for what biologists do, and I thought I'd expand on it a little bit here.

A theory is a powerful thing, a tool for interpreting observations and experiments, and the way to assess the utility of a theory is to examine how well it explains the available facts, whether it suggests new experiments and leads to new insights, and whether it contradicts any of the evidence. What we do with a theory like evolution is use it to interpret and assemble what we see into a coherent whole. The process is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.

Continue reading "Puzzling over theory" (on Pharyngula)