Well, traditionally, science changes from theory to “fact” when experiments are conducted to test a hypothesis using the scientific method.
The steps of the scientific method are to:
Ask a question about the Natural World
Do some background research
Construct a hypothesis
Test the hypothesis by conducting a repeatable experiment
Analyze the data and determine if the results statistically support your hypothesis
Publish the results through the peer-reviewed process
The statistical tools available for hypothesis testing should give a quantitative number of how good your hypothesis is (like, this experiment validates the hypothesis to within 95% certainty). The experiment must be repeatable by other experimentalists.
It’s impossible to construct repeatable experiments to test the theories of the origins of the universe AND connect them properly to describe a complete narrative from the big bang to the Red Sox, Mozart, Salsa dancing, etc. At best, we have “naturalistic observations,” which do lead to theories, but not to scientific facts. The main difference is one between causality and correlation. For example, we have centuries of data of how a rooster crows and then the sun comes up. That is a correlation. But someone who is confusing correlation with causality could say “the rooster is causing the sun to rise.”
Interestingly, this was the biggest snafu between Galileo and the Catholic Church: The Catholic church wanted Galileo to present his findings as a theory, and he chose to defy them and present them as fact. Obviously he did suffer abuses that he didn’t deserve, but the point is that the Church was trying to prevent science from descending into junk science… which is *exactly *what was have today. There is far too much “science” that has been politicized and thus become junk. If scientists went back to the traditional days of using the scientific method, science would be rescued. Otherwise, I would be very leery of believing anything just because a scientist said it.
Just one physicist’s opinion…