I often hear YEC objections to mainstream geology based on the assertion that it is impossible to know with certainty events that occurred prior to human history because nobody was there to witness it. I would like to discuss the validity of geology and historical science in general as methods of discovering truth about the past.
Briefly, I will just say that time is opaque to us. We can only see and experience the slice of time that is the present. We can't see the past any more than we can see the future. The only way we can know about any past event is by viewing a record of the past. Our memorys are records of the past that our brains make, and not very good ones. A photograph can be a better record, but it only shows certain information. Human testimony as a record can be affected by memories (which may be faulty), vested interest, language barriers etc. People lie. A physical record of a past event can't lie. I would much rather have a photograph, a fingerprint, DNA evidence, than a person's testimony. Our knowledge of past events depends on the quality of the records. We know that Trilobites existed in the Cambrian with more certainty than we know who killed JFK.
I often hear YEC objections to mainstream geology based on the assertion that it is impossible to know with certainty events that occurred prior to human history because nobody was there to witness it.
And, you know, geology is no different, really, than any other contemporary science. Most of the other scientific fields haven't studied anything directly observable to human beings since at least the early 20th century. The vast majority of science studies things that are too small, too far away, too fast, and/or are too inaccessible to be directly observed. Science today studies these things by observing their effects that can be observed directly.
In this light, geology is pretty much like all the sciences. Once one accepts that a definite past has occurred, and that this past has left evidence that can be observed here and now, then one can begin to test hypotheses about the past by comparing the predictions of those hypotheses against phenomena observable today. Just like every other science.
Q: If science doesn't know where this comes from, then couldn't it be God's doing?
A: The only difference between that kind of thinking and the stereotype of the savage who thinks the Great White Hunter is a God because he doesn't know how the hunter's cigarette lighter works is that the savage has an excuse for his ignorance. -- jhuger