Simpo Two said:
It might avoid misunderstanding if you dropped the 'theory' part and just called it 'evolution'
There is the Fact of evolution - "the distribution of alleles in a population changes over time" - even fundies don't deny that.
Then there are Theories which attempt to explain why this happens. The currently-accepted scientific theory is (more or less) Darwinian natural selection.
Others are Goddidit, Lamarckism, LastThursdayism etc.
Fact = What happens/has been observed and is proved to happen
At which point people go "ooh, why
does that happen? What are the reasons for it?"
So they have a guess/make a hypothesis (VERY DEFINITELY NOT A THEORY AT THIS POINT)
Does the idea explain the specific thing you've observed?
Does it now fit with everything else that's related to it? Nothing contradicts it? Not even one little thing?
Now can you set up an experiment and PREDICT what will happen using your hypothesis?
Was your prediction correct?
Does it ALWAYS correctly predict the outcome?
Only now are you allowed to call your idea a theory.
That's why scientists (I'll not flatter myself by claiming to be in this group - I'm an engineer who's trying to teach himself particle physics
) get frustrated when people say "Ah ! But it's only
a theory!" There's no only about it. For something is a theory it has been very thoroughly tested and examined and has yet to be proved wrong.
be proved wrong, at which point science will say "well we were pretty close with the last explanation, but this new one trumps it!"
For (a crude and simplistic) example:
Fact: the universe, light and matter behave in a certain way at high speeds/small scales. We've seen it, we know this to be true.
Einstein had an idea about how this observed behaviour might be explained.
He predicted gravitational lensing would be visible during an eclipse. It was.
His theory of space-time and relativity was proven to be correct as far as we knew at the time
It still continues to make observeable, measurable correct predictions to this day such as how long fast-decaying particles last near the speed of light or the fact that Sat-Nav works reliably.