Science and Creationism
skala at INCOMA.CZ
Fri Apr 5 09:50:35 CST 2002
From: Kirk Fitzhugh [mailto:kfitzhug at NHM.ORG]
>While it is true that all fields of historical science do not have the
>luxury of "experimental" testing of hypotheses, testing does nonetheless
>take place by way of deducing specific consequences that one can
>investigate under the assumption that the causal events hypothesized were
>the case. ... Historians can only project into
>the future what might be found in the way of evidence that discounts one
>causal event in lieu of some other causal event. The differences between
>the historian and experimenter are matters of temporal scale and ability >to manipulate.
The main difference IMO is that historical science apply its deductions to processes that are *past*, i.e. nonexistent by definition. What is existent are patterns (be it palaeontologic data, taxic/character patterns or whatever). It is well-known, though, that different processes can generate one pattern and hence are not from that pattern fully deducible. The only thing historical science can do is to (1) declare that patterns are "traces" of the historical processes and then (2) generate different models of the past and eliminate those of them that directly contradict the observed patterns. Still, several models can "explain" the observed patterns equally well. What this "well" means depends - in the absence of falsifiable hypotheses - more on the social-scientific context than on any logical procedure. This is probably also the main weak point of evolutionary science when arguing against creationism.
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