Bruce Salem History or Science? So my question, why does the creationist focus on +quot;sc
History or Science?
> So my question, why does the creationist focus on "science?"
The glibb answer is so he can lie and say that his religious
beliefs are science. A more complete answer is that he thinks everything,
science, history, MUST square with what he takes to be religious prophesy.
Another possibility is that he is fundementally confused about language.
Whereas the mystic and the truly devout person who wants to live his
life as Christ did, and I have known such people, is not bothered by
the essential difference between his mystical and devotional language
and the language of Science, the average Creationist is unable to under-
stand that there is a difference.
Another way to put this is that his religious life and experience
is so insubstancial that something as whimpy as tentative in Truth as
science can pose a real threat to his beliefs. If this isn't so, if he
is truely secure in his beliefs, then it points to a real authoritarian
problem where he wants to find a leagalistic and objective voice for the
authority of his beliefs over others. I fear the later possibility more
than the former one. A little education resolves the language problem
of faith and science, The latter position is one of political coersion.
There is a deeper problem here as well. It is the interplay of
history with doctrines of various sorts. History is not just out there.
Mankind views the past with biases and with filters. Certiantly in human
history, people selectively destroy the past in order to revise the
evidence for history. This is much harder to do with natural history.
Even if some Creationist purge happened where all the revered fossils
in all the collections were destroyed, there would be enough record
hidden deep in the earth for millions of years to be rediscovered. The
essential facts would be recovered.
So, what is history about? What does science have to do with it?
History deals with artifacts whose meaning in the present can be reliably
determined. If we examine the tunic that Abe Lincoln wore the night he
was shot, we can be sure that it is safe to make some assumptions about
the object that are invarient over time. The foundations of an historical
science are the same. If I dig out a metaquartzite (metamorphized sand-
stone) out of the Laurentian Shield with what looks exactly like ripple
marks I can make in sand at the bottom of a tank of water, I can assume
that the rock was formed in shallow water, unless something else can
suggest otherwise ( Foliation in a metamorphic rock might fool one.).
The point is that there must be enough invariance in the way we interpret
objects so that we can place them in time and history, even though some
things change. Consider that if nothing changes over time, we cannot have
history. Natural history is only possible because change is broadly
registered. The dating methods of science are based on the invarience of
radioactive decay rates, but the change that makes dating possible is
registered in isotope ratios which change in a simple way with time.
These rates have a direct relation to time measure for present events,
the decay can be observed over measured time, so the ratios in artifacts
and objects from the past is a measure of time past.
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