RE: historical science, from Payne-Miller

From: Joel Z Bandstra (
Date: Mon Jun 18 2001 - 23:56:31 EDT

  • Next message: "Re: historical science, from Payne-Miller"

    To add to David's chemistry experiment example, in this case the data are,
    generally, removed from the interpretation not only in time but also in
    kind. The data produced by chemistry experiments often consist of
    absorption of electromagnetic radiation over a spectrum of frequencies.
     The interpretation, however, usually has something to do with atoms and
    molecules and electron orbitals and so on, yet, no molecules or electrons
    or any such thing were observed. In this sense, observing a structural
    pattern in a rock out-cropping and subsequently interpreting something
    about sedimentation is really no different than looking at an FTIR spectra
    and interpreting something about the kinds of chemical bonds present
    between sorbed molecules and a clay surface. The monikers "historical" and
    "empirical" do not provide two disjoint categories. All science may well
    fit into both categories.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: bivalve []
    Sent: Saturday, June 16, 2001 12:11 PM
    Subject: historical science, from Payne-Miller

    Although the difference between historical science and that dealing with
    present-day events has its uses, it is quite blurry. For example, an
    experiment in a chemistry lab seems to be a straightforward example of
    non-historical science. Yet the analysis of the data is an attempt to
    reconstruct the historical events that transpired shortly before in the
    lab. Likewise, the data interpretation depends on the assumption of
    reliability of historical evidence about previous experiments, as well as
    on the constancy of natural laws. Conversely, a study on the forming of a
    particular rock can involve various experiments to simulate different
    possibilities, several analyses of its component parts, and other
    activities just as empirical as any other analysis.

    It should also be kept in mind that the reliability of historical evidence
    is crucial to Christianity. To dismiss historical science as history and
    therefore unreliable (a claim that goes beyond what Bill said but is
    presented by some young earth advocates) calls the Bible into question. By
    making science (as defined by them) the most authoritative source of
    information, they show themselves guilty of scientism even as they accuse
    others of it.

        Dr. David Campbell
        "Old Seashells"
        Biology Department
        Saint Mary's College of Maryland
        18952 E. Fisher Road
        St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001 USA
        Fax: 301 862-0996
    "That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks"-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    Droigate Spa

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