Re: Testing in historical science

Keith B Miller (
Sun, 16 Nov 1997 16:27:32 -0600 (CST)

Bill Payne posted;

>> If we had found that every species had its own unique genetic code or means
>> of reproduction, that would have clearly ruled out evolution.
>Come on Glenn, you know better than that. :-) That would have only
>pushed evolution further back into the past, like the Cambrian Explosion
>> Alternatively, if we were to find all the modern species of animals in all
>> the geologic layers, that too would eliminate evolution as an explanation.
>See above, brother.

The examples given by Glen and myself would flatly refute common descent as
would many other possilities. That common descent has not been refuted may
just mean that it represents a true understanding of Earth's biological
history. I grow tired of the constant accusation that those of us who
accept evolutionary models and who work in the historical sciences are
driven by previous metaphysical assumptions. It just is not true. I would
argue that for most of us our science and theology matured together. For
some, scientific conclusions were made in the face of contrary theological
expectations (This was the case for some prominent scientists during the
rise of historical geology in the late 1800's).

You also posted:

>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

Respond to what I say, not to what hidden beliefs you think I have. It is
inappropriate, I believe to refer to _any_ scientific model as a "fact."
It is not a "fact" that the Sun is the center of the solar system. It is
just a very well supported and nearly universally accepted understanding of
our solar system. As a christian,, I believe that there is an objective
physical reality, and that God has given us the ability to know that
reality. As more observational evidence accumulates for a particular model
of that reality, our confidence in it grows correspondingly. My confidence
in common descent is strong because of the wealth of data in its support.
New observations in my field of paleontology have only increased that
observational support. Common descent is a model of the history of life in
which I have great confidence.

Would it not be more productive to assume that those Christians who accept
evolution may just have been driven there my the evidence? If I state that
that is the case for myself, then on what possible basis can you charge me
with holding my view because of metaphysical bias? Such atributions of
hidden motives make any meaningful dialog impossible.


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506