Re: Error in Article & what should be done.

Steven Schimmrich (
Thu, 12 Feb 1998 18:41:52 -0500

At 03:02 PM 2/12/98 -0800, Arthur V. Chadwick wrote:

>At 03:22 PM 2/12/98 -0500, Steven Schimmrich wrote:
>> "There was a global flood around 4,000 years ago and we can see geologic
>>evidence of it preserved within the Grand Canyon." This is a statement Steve
>>Austin (maybe even Art Chadwick?) would say.
>Maybe Steve Austin would say that, but I would say: "There was a flood a
>few thousand years ago, and at least one scientifically valid interpretation
>of data from Grand Canyon is consistent with that." I would also point out
>that a lot of geologic interpretations are not consistent with that, and that
>this condition is not unexpected given the paradigm within which most
>geologists work. This not only is consistent with my own experience working
>in the Canyon, but I think fairly reflects the present state of affairs.

Let me pin you down on this. I've never done any formal research in the
Grand Canyon area (I wish I could!) although I have taught the "standard"
geologic model regarding the rock units present there. Can you steer me toward
a couple of what you consider to be the best pieces of published research (I'm
not even going to ask that they be in a maistream journal) regarding strong
evidence for a few thousand year old flood resulting in strata present within
the Canyon? I'd be more than happy to read those papers.

>> That mixing of methodological naturalistic science with appealing to the
>>miraculous makes it impossible to investigate the natural world because there
>>are no criteria for determining where to place the miracle (except the
>>investigator's ignorance and refusal to deal with problems in his model).
>You posit a false dilemma. There are alternatives you ignore which are
>consonant with interventionism and methodological naturalism. I think
>Brand makes a good case for this kind of scientist. Unfortunately, it is a
>rare breed.

As I've discussed with others before, I find it very difficult to see exactly
how one does non-naturalistic science since the conclusions would seem to vary
from person to person if they had different religious or philosophical beliefs
about what they were studying. At least naturalistic science is consistent from
one individual to another. Some form of theistic science could well vary from
Protestant to Catholic to 7th Day Adventist to Hindu to Buddhist etc.

>> You're not looking into the geologic record and seeing an event
>>preserved that appears to violate the "laws" of nature and proposing
>>a miraculous explanation (one place, for example, where I'd accept an
>>appeal to the miraculous on that basis would be the origin of life),
>>you're starting with a preconceived model (the flood, for example) and
>>then answering objections to that model by proposing a miraculous
>>explanation. That's a very different thing.
>I am not sure who the "you" here is. I certainly look for naturalistic
>explanations for things in science, or else I have to quit doing science.
>I also am aware that there are paradigms that affect what we see and how we
>interpret the world that are much more influential and pervasive than any
>"factual" data we may produce or obtain.

Sorry, it was a generic "you". I agree about the paradigms but I would
argue that one based on one's interpretation of Scripture is far more
subjective and unreliable than one based on naturalism which, for all it's
faults, seems to work.

>> Young-earth creationists can't claim scientific validation (they do,
>>after all, call themselves creation "scientists") if they don't play
>>by the rules of science and steadfastly refuse to address real and
>>substantial problems in their models.
>Scientist are defined broadly as people who play the game of science. This
>means having the right education, carrying out original research,
>publishing in the right peer reviewed journals, attending the right
>meetings, etc. By those definitions, perhaps our YEC friends do not
>qualify as "scientists", and I will not try to defend them on this point.
>But looking outside the bounds of methodological naturalism to learn things
>about the world that cannot be learned using the methods of science...I
>thought that was called common sense...unless you truly believe that
>science can answer all the important questions. And I sincerely doubt that
>because if that were true, you would not be a Christian.

I don't believe science can address all there is. I do not see, however,
how one can reliably investigate the natural world without using methodological

- Steve.

   Steven H. Schimmrich              Assistant Professor of Geology

Physical Sciences Department (office) Kutztown University (home) 217 Grim Science Building 610-683-4437, 610-683-1352 (fax) Kutztown, Pennsylvania 19530