[asa] "historical" vs "operational" science, yet again

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Oct 18 2007 - 13:43:39 EDT

I've often stressed the importance of this particular distinction for YEC (crucial) and ID (important, perhaps crucial), and the information below only reinforces my view.

Shortly, incidentally, I will be leaving to teach a short course on "Religion and the Rise of Modern Science" at Wuhan University in central China. I'm grateful to those whose hard work made this possible--I had nothing at all to do with generating the opportunity. Thus, I'll shortly be dropping off the list again for several weeks.

Ted

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http://www.probe.org/radio-program/radio-program/this-weeks-program.html
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Origin Science
Kerby Anderson
Origin Science versus Operation Science

Recently Probe produced a DVD based small group curriculum entitled
Redeeming Darwin: The Intelligent Design Controversy. It has been a
great way to inform Christians about Intelligent Design and show them
how to use a conversation about this topic to share the gospel.

This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of a book Norman Geisler
and I published entitled Origin Science.{1} In light of the current
controversy concerning intelligent design, I want to revisit some of the
points we made in this book because they help us better understand some
of the key elements in the debate about origins.

The foundational concept in the book was that there is a fundamental
difference between operation science and origin science. Operation
science is what most of us think of when we talk about science. It deals
with regularities. In other words, there are regular recurring patterns
that we can observe, and we can do experiments on those patterns.
Observation and repeatability are two foundational tools of operation
science.

Origin science differs from operation science because it does not deal
with present regularities. Instead it focuses on a singular action in
the past. As we say in the book, “The great events of origin were
singularities. The origin of the universe is not recurring. Nor is the
origin of life, or the origin of major new forms of life.”{2}

We argued that “a science which deals with origin events does not fall
within the category of empirical science, which deals with observed
regularities in the present. Rather, it is more like forensic
science.”{3} In many ways, origin science is more like the scientific
investigations done by crime scene investigators. The crime was a
singular event and often there was no observer. But CSI investigators
can use the available evidence to reconstruct the crime.

Likewise, research into origin science must use the available evidence
(the bones and the stones) to try to reconstruct a past event. We
therefore concluded that:

     In origin science it is necessary to find analogies in the present
to these events in the past. Thus, for example, if evidence is
forthcoming that life can now be synthesized from chemicals (without
intelligent manipulation) under conditions similar to those reasonably
assumed to have once existed on the primitive earth, then a naturalistic
(secondary-cause) explanation of the origin of life is plausible. If, on
the other hand, it can be shown that the kind of complex information
found in a living cell is similar to that which can be regularly
produced by an intelligent (primary) cause, then it can be plausibly
argued that there was an intelligent cause of the first living organism.{4}
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Received on Thu Oct 18 13:45:09 2007

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