Fact Vs Theory
There is a lot of confusion as to the difference between fact and theory. When you learn about a scientific theory, you're learning about both facts and inferences. This is actually how we all operate, even if not up to scientific requirements. If you see people get shot, hear about people being shot, or get shot, then you will likely infer being shot causes physical injury.
Observations & Explanations
Things falling to the ground, is something that had been observed for thousands of years, but was never well explained by any theory until Newton developed Classic Mechanics. Similiary, the observation that life on Earth has been changing forms was made decades before Darwin developed The Theory of Evolution. There was even a biblically inspired attempt to explain all the pre-historic life that existed before man, before Darwinian Evolution took up the challenge.
Just as people tried to explain objects falling, before Newton's theory of gravity, people tried to explain the fossil record, before Darwin's theory of evolution. So how do you explain life coming in and out of existence at different periods of time? We can seperate some life from each other using Noah's flood, and maybe the fall of man, but what if the long time in which lifes presence on Earth took many forms, cannot be explained by only two large events? The answer was a bunch of undocumented, Antediluvian floods created by God. Once the number got to around 30, they just stopped trying, and moved on with there lives.
Today, we explain all the old pre-historic worlds as a product of evolution, not tons and tons of great worldwide floods that God used to wipe the slate clean and start over again and again. And we explained things falling to the ground using theories like Newtonian Mechanics, and now use Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
Isaac Newton used math/gravity to explain why things fall to the ground. But his math couldn't explain all of it and broke down quite severely. Even Newton, decided to invoke the hand of God to explain what he could not explain. Then 100 years later Laplace came in and fixed it without invoking the help of God.
Invoke a deity or continue the quest for knowledge.Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958 - Current), astrophysicist
Newton may have been able to fix the problem himself, rather than it taking 100 years for someone else to come along and fix it for him. But he decided to lean on God and stop working on the problem. There is a difference between understanding something and sending it off to "God did it" island.
There is a difference between facts/evidence and theory, that must be made. If you find someone dead, but there is no theory that can explain how they died, that does not mean they didn't die. Even if the current theory of evolution, The Modern Synthesis was proven wrong, or can not explain how everything evolve without one hitch, that does not mean fossils don't exist, and that they do not show that life has been changing on Earth over and over again, for a very long time. If someone proves that Classic Mechanics is wrong, or The General Theory of Relativity wrong, that doesn't mean objects don't fall to the ground.
Life has been changing. The multiple ante-deluvian flood explanation, Lamarckian Evolution, Darwinian Evolution, Neo-Darwinism, and The Modern Synthesis all attempt to explain this. Over a 100 years ago, back in the early 1800's people began to realize that life was not static, that it was dynamic. Species continually came in and out of existence, at different times. There were many pre-historic worlds that existed, with there own unique lifeforms, and circles of life. This was a big discovery. The fossil record and the life it contained, and the order life appeared in, was used to create geological maps of Europe. This concept, known as biostratigraphy, is also used to help find petroleum, to help get fuel in our cars.
The only way Intelligent Design can explain life changing over time, is going back some kind of multiple flood theory. So it doesn't appear religious, like Creationism, you could call it "multiple clean slate" theory, which states that the intelligent designer wipes the slate clean over and over again and creates new worlds with some new and old life. However, even if you had almost every step of evolution recorded and explained, you could just say it was 1,000,000 re-writes of life by an intelligent agent that looks like a flip animation of evolution when pieced together by science. Intelligent Design is not scientific, it's a unfalsifiable belief, that cannot be proved wrong by any amount of evidence.
The Theory of Evolution
Back then, people believed in a static universe filled with objects that revolved around mankind. Life was static, Earth was static, the stars were static. Everything was created "as is". The only major changes came during the fall and the flood, both brought on by the sins of man.
We now know that life is very dynamic, as well as Earth and the rest of the Universe. It changes over and over again throughout time. Earth changes. The cosmos change. And all these beliefs used to be in the minority.
Even the simple concept that species go extinct, which is clearly not static, but dynamic, was disregarded like evolution is by many today. The reasoning was that God wouldn't let one of his creations go extinct. Just as people say there are no transitional fossils, they used to say there are no fossils of extinct animals either, just parts of different species being put together by confused or deceptive scientists.
Species changing over time (evolution), like gravity, is a phenomena that has been observed in life (e.g. mutations) and in death (e.g. fossils). Gravity was explained with Classic Mechanics and then The General Theory of Relativity. In the future it may be Quantum Loop Gravity. The same goes with evolution. It was explained with Lamarckian Evolution, then Darwinian Evolution, Neo-Darwinian Evolution, and now The Modern Synthesis.
If these theories are replaced (e.g. quantum loop gravity) or extended/revised (e.g. punctuated equillibrium), that doesn't defeat the fact that life has been evolving and that things do in fact fall to the ground. All it does is make the new iteration stronger than what came before it. It doesn't dismiss it. Even now, while technically Classical Mechanics has been replaced with Relativity, it's still used. Classical Mechanics is a great model that still works in many instances.
The ever changing life in the fossil record was observed long ago. For example, there were no dinosaurs when man came into existence, the life on this planet has changed since then. Even the 1st Christians to observe this, split humans from the older life forms from each other by introducing a supernatural flood that they believed was never documented in the Holy Bible. They went even further with this by introducing even more floods to further split the pre-historic life from each other as well. It got to around 27 floods before they stopped working on this explanation.
Since that time we now explain this with a scientific theory, instead of multiple supernatural destruction and creation events by an intelligent agent. These days, even some creationists will try to use "micro-evolution" to patch up holes in there very own beliefs, such as where hundreds-of-thousands of species came from after Noah's flood. Did they put 1,100 species of bats on there boat during the flood? Did they put AIDs on there also? And 400,000 types of plants? Life is extremely diverse.
The "Age of the Dinosaurs" is not the only pre-historic world that existed before mankind. Here is a very rough and simplified time line:
- Cyanobacteria (bacteria that obtains energy through photosynthesis)
- Animilia (vertebrates, invertebrates, sponges, fish, reptiles, mammals, etc...)
- Chordates (vertebrates and some closely related invertebrates)
- Vertebrates (chordates with backbones or spinal columns)
- Cephalopods (ancestors of octopuses)
- Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates / fish)
- Eurypterids (largest ever arthropods, giant "sea scorpions")
- Embryophyta (land / terrestrial plants)
- Tetrapods (4 footed/limbed vertebrates, *amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, snakes)
- Amniotes (first fully terrestrial tetrapod vertebrates)
- Amniotes-synapsids/theropsids (mammal-like reptiles / proto-mammals)
- Ornithodira-dinosauromorpha (bipedal reptiles, *dromomeron, marasuchus)
- Dinosauria (*eoraptor, herrerasaurus, coelophysis)
- Pterosaurs (first known vertebrates with powered-flight, *rhamphorhynchoidea)
- Birds (winged, bipedal, endothermic, vertebrate)
- Monotremes (first true mammals, still lay eggs)
- Theria/therian (live birth mammals, no shelled eggs, evolves into placental mammals and marcupials)
- Phorusrhacids ("Rag-Bearers" or terror birds)
- Canidae (true dogs)
- Felidae (true cats)
- Machairodontinae (saber-toothed types of felines)
- Hominidae (chimpanzees, gorillas, humans and orangutans)
- Homo sapien (human beings)
On Earth, there have been many different worlds, made up of completely different animals with there own unique circles of life. When sabertooths first appeared, there were no lions. When eoraptors appeared, there were no birds. When there were giant terror birds, there were no t-rexes. The fossil record clearly shows not all species existed at one time. The fact that this is true was observed well over 100 years ago by Christians themselves, and is used today in biostratigraphy to help find petroleum to fuel cars. Thats a nice thing about scientific theories, they are not just simply answers to questions, they actually have real life uses. You can't do anything with creationism or intelligent design, they are scientifically useless ideas. They can only serve as ego-centric theories that cater to human emotions.
Life on this planet is something that has been continually changing over time. This was first observed in the earlier 1800's, by someone who wasn't even a scientist, and decades before Darwin published The Origin of Species. Because this fact was observed in a pre-Darwinian time, even though they saw that species seem to come and leave existence over and over again, they didn't consider evolution. They were all "creationists" back then, and tried to explain it with multiple flood stories to separate all the many different species and unique pre-historic worlds apart. Once it required about 30 Antediluvian floods, they gave up. They didn't throw there bibles away, they just didn`t think about it, and went on doing science.