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 that is supported by many facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena. -- National Academy of Sciences
This is a note for both theists and atheists. When reading someone's claim, why don't you at least read the Wikipedia article on it before rebutting it? Below is one thing from theists I wish they would turn to Wikipedia about and one thing from atheists I wish they would turn to Wiki about.
Theists: Theory vs Science
One of the biggest irritations from theists I commonly have is statements about science. I won't even be as specific as false science statements as "evolution is unfalsifiable" or that "light is invisible." I mean general statements. Flinging dust points out two comments on Ray's blog by theists making completely false statements about general science principles and terms.
The second comment says:
Wow! You guys think gravity is a theory! You need to get out more. It was proven to be a Law a long time ago.The commenter is a Christian. What always baffles me about comments like this from Christians is I was raised with a fundamentalist father who is currently working on correcting translations of the Bible. God removing a rib from Adam to create Eve is far different than removing a part from Adam to create Eve. One would think Christians, in general, would have a better appreciation for terms.
Of course, there is no hierarchy in validity among law, theories, and facts. In lay terms, a theory is more a hypothesis or conjecture while a fact is something proven. Scientific illiteracy is shown when you then bungle the lay uses with the scientific uses. A quick search of gravity or theory and fact on Wikipedia would have removed the words from your mouth which made you a fool.
One of the top results, in fact, is an article on evolution and gravity BOTH as theories and also as facts. You could also go straight to Newton's law of gravity which introduces it in the first sentence as a theory.
Atheists: Newton's Religion
As much as we hate when people like Ray Comfort make ignorant statements about the religious views of people like Einstein and Hawking, it is always quite shocking to see an atheist doing the same to Newton. I have never seen quote-mining on the part of atheists with respect to Newton's religion. What I usually see is them making some ignorant statement about him or saying they are skeptical about the claims that Newton believed the Bible.
Why? Because it's quite shocking to them that a scientist as great as Newton could believe such a thing. In this, they are as guilty as Ray Comfort in claiming what he does about Einstein because it's shocking to him that Einstein couldn't believe in his definition of God.
A quick navigation to the Wikipedia article on Isaac Newton would quickly clear it up. In fact, you can read the article dedicated to his religious views.