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

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Mon Sep 11 2006 - 09:18:12 EDT

On 9/10/06, Bill Hamilton <> wrote:
> --- George Murphy <> wrote:
> > I thought we had agreed that paleontology &
> > astrophysics could be considered experimental sciences because "Nature" has
> > provided them with a great number of relevant entities (fossils, stars &c)
> > under different conditions & thus in a sense "done the experiments" for
> > them. If this is not the case, can you explain why? If it is the case, can
> > you explain why your restatement above is preferable.
> >
> I believe the creationist objection to this view (which I accept (the view, not
> the objection)) would be that you can't establish continuity. You have a set of
> observations of stars in different stages of development, but you don't have
> foolproof means of connecting the images together in a time sequence -- that is
> you can't establish beyond doubt that image B represents a precursor stage to
> image A. Maybe image Q is better. Of course the same "reasoning" has been
> applied to the fossil record ad nauseum. It might be useful to collect in one
> place references to the means that astronomers use to tie images into a
> timeline of stellar development, and means paleontologists use to develop
> reasonable confidence that fossil A is in the ancestral line of fossil B.

You mean you want an HR diagram? That's in all undergrad Astronomy
texts. Actually the paleontologists do that one better than what you
are asking. They predict using evolutionary theory where say a
transitional form say a fish that can walk might exist. Here's how
they knew where to look for Tiktaalik according to Nature News:

"Daeschler and Shubin set off to find this missing link in the
evolutionary chain back in 1999. The pair targeted Ellesmere Island
after noticing that it was listed in an undergraduate textbook as
exposed Devonian rock that had not previously been explored for
vertebrate fossils.

The desolate area was reachable only by plane, and the weather was so
bad that field work could only be done for about two months each
summer. The team first walked around the rocky outcrops looking for
fossils of plant life that indicated stream or delta sediments, in
order to target areas that had once hosted shallow waters. 'That is
where the action is on the fish-to-tetrapod transition,' says

Sure enough they found the fossil there. This is how you make
so-called historical sciences experimental. Similar techniques are
used in astrophysics where colliding galaxies were recently used to
determine whether dark matter exists.

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Received on Mon Sep 11 09:18:58 2006

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