Re: Testing in historical science

Bill Payne (
Sat, 15 Nov 1997 23:57:50 -0600

Keith B Miller wrote:

> The historical sciences (including evolutionary science) certainly do make
> specific testable predictions. Many past theories have been disproven -
> evolutionary science is quite different than it was 100 years ago. You
> should not think of "evolution" as a single theory - it is composed of a
> myriad of subsidiary theories which each rise of fall based on how their
> predictions stand the test of time. Evolutionary theories have proven
> extremely productive as an organizational framework for understanding the
> history of life and modern genetic, morphological, and biogeographic data.
> No other theory presently exists that has this explanatory power.

Except creation by divine fiat. If evolution is a universal fact, then
why do blue-green algae still look the same today as they did in the
preCambrian? How do you explain stasis over a billion years when
evolution was rampant, leading up to the Cambiran Explosion?

> If the similarities of sequences of genetic code did not generate branching
> patterns consistent with common descent, evolution would be convincingly
> disproven.

These similarities could be the result of a common design applied to
distinctly different kinds. You've proven nothing; you've only selected
the model which fits with what you want to believe.

> If the pattern of diversification of taxa through geologic time
> were not consistent with the Earth's changing paleogeography as determined
> from geologic investigation, common descent would be disproven. The
> scientific community was driven toward the concept of common descent
> because of accumulating evidence from diverse sources.

I am also a member of the scientific community, but I (and many others
in the scientific community) are not driven to the same "concept of
common descent". Just as you referred to the scientific community
incorrectly through your evolutionary bias, so also you see geology as
supporting what it may not. I do not deny that your interpretations are
reasonable as a working hypothesis, but to then conclude that your
hypothesis is fact is unreasonable. I understand that you still refer
to evolution as a theory, but you think as if it were a fact which it is

There's room enough on the table for more than one theory. As a
professional geologist, I agree with Moorad; physics is testable,
historical geology is guessable.

Bill Payne