Re: Testing in historical science

David Campbell (
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 21:26:44 -0400

>At 06:51 PM 11/19/97 -0600, Craig Rusbult wrote:
>> Moorad says,
>>>We are comparing two different things. Experimental science generalizes into
>>>laws set of experiments already performed. Historical science cannot do such
>>>a thing. ...<snip>...
>> Yes, historical sciences are different in some ways. But in some ways
>>they are similar to other sciences.
>> Do your comments apply equally well to the historical science of
>>astronomy? (and to theoretical astrophysics?)
>My comments do apply to astronomy/astrophysics. However, in astronomy we can
>see the time devolvement of many different stars and so study the "typical"
>life of a star. We cannot do that in cosmology where we study the universe.
>Of course, there are theories where our universe is one of many. But again
>that is very speculative.

Historical science generalizes into laws experiments that were done
longer ago, without direct observation of the experimental conditions, but
the similarity is greater than is often admitted. Not only do young-earth
advocates try to draw a line so as to dismiss the evidence for an old
earth, but also atheists try to draw a line to dismiss the historical
evidence for the truth of the Gospel.
Historical geology is more like astronomy than cosmology. We can
observe many different deposits of different ages and compare them to
modern environments to determine how they formed and how they change. We
can put organisms in different environments and observe how they respond,
including evolutionary changes. Experimental petrology can test how
certain kinds of rock form and change.

David Campbell