Re: Testing in historical science
Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 16:06:40 -0500 (EST)
At 09:56 PM 11/18/97 -0600, Keith B Miller wrote:
>>I was thinking specifically of people like the bacteriologist Louis Pasteur
>>who made all sorts of important discoveries and did not adhere to an
>>evolutionary theory of man's origin. Similarly with the botanist Gregor
>>Mendel. I have no qualms with discussing that physical entities evolve. I am
>>raising the issue of origins.
>Many important discoveries and observations were made by physicists before
>quantum or relativity. Evolution provides a powerful means of
>understanding the history of life, unequalled by any competing theory. The
>origin of life is a separate although related area of inquiry, that is in
>its infancy but advancing rapidly.
>>law of thermodynamics came about in order to unify all the irreversible
>>phenomena observed in nature. But the question of why there is a law like
>>that or how did the universe start is quite a different issue.
>The origin of physical laws is a different kind of question than the origin
>of physical and biological entities. I though this discussion began with
>the implication that historical science (incl. evolutionary theory) was not
>testable, or as trustworthy as the "hard sciences" -- a position that I
>know experientially as an active researcher in geology to be false.
We are comparing two different things. Experimental science generalizes into
laws set of experiments already performed. Historical science cannot do such
a thing. All events studied are unique. There is no repeatability. It is
like forensics. Its conclusions cannot be absolute. Evolutionists say that
evolution is a fact. This is like determining who actually committed a
crime by examining the forensic evidence but with no admission of guilt from
the part of the real culprit or in the absence of eyewitnesses. The evidence
will always be circumstantial never definite. In the hard sciences, we are
fully aware of the nature of our generalizations and that such
generalizations may be proven wrong one day with the realization of further
experiments. Hence, the falsifiability of our laws.