RE: [asa] What causes students to move from faith?

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Wed Sep 06 2006 - 20:32:45 EDT

The laws of Nature that are based on experimental science are generalizations of historical propositions, viz., data obtained from repeatable experiments. Historical sciences rely on results obtained in the experimental sciences, thus the use of the word science in historical science, but deal with a single, unique event. One is not characterizing one kind as being more or less legitimate than the other but the distinction must be made to shed light in the so-called war between science and religion.



From: Ted Davis []
Sent: Wed 9/6/2006 5:50 PM
To:; James Mahaffy; Alexanian, Moorad
Subject: RE: [asa] What causes students to move from faith?

>>> "Alexanian, Moorad" <> 09/06/06 4:07 PM >>>writes:
 Experimental science has nothing to say regarding any particular
historical event.

Ted responds:
Not exactly. True, experimental science can't rule in or out something
like the resurrection or the virgin birth. Those events, if they happened
(as I believe they did), are forever beyond the realm of scientific
confirmation or refutation since we can't rerun the history itself and
subject the phenomena to scientific study.

However--and this is a very important however--the YECs and some (perhaps
many, I'm not yet clear on this) IDs make much hay about the very
distinction you are using. In their view, the historical sciences (such as
geology, cosmology, evolutionary biology) do not have status as legitimate
sciences, or if they have some legitimacy it is quite small relative to
experimental sciences. This particular move, in fact, is perhaps the most
important way in which they keep Galileo's approach to the Bible (in
relation to modern astronomy) out of the garden of Eden. I recently
completed an unpublished essay with almost exactly that title (Galileo and
the Garden of Eden).

One could say a great deal more about this. But I'll add only this.
Experimental science *does* have something to say about some historical
events, perhaps even a whole lot of them. I offer the following example.
We know experimentally/empirically (I fudge the difference here) that
Greenland has not been completely submered under water in the past 100,000+
years. We know this from evidence buried in ice cores from various parts of
that continent. I call this an experimental/empirical claim, even though it
has an historical component. We have a continuous record buried in the ice,
and it has no evidence of a massive flood. THus, we can conclude that those
who interpret Genesis to require a worldwide flood submerging all of the
land a few thousand years ago cannot be right. That particular
interpretation of world/biblical history is wrong.


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Received on Wed Sep 6 20:35:08 2006

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