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Author Topic:   Applying Science to Past Events
NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 1 of 354 (128205)
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


There have been a number of literalist posters who claim that science can't be applied to past events since "you weren't there". This is used to rule out paleontology, much of geology, cosmology and more.

Others have countered this in a number of ways. I'd like to see the issue discussed here under on roof and stop it from dragging other threads off topic.

Here are some answers supplied elsewhere:

quote:
History uses the same hypothetico-inductive method science does. Hypotheses are inferred, there are potential falsifications & predictions.

Mark


quote:
But the evidence that past events leave is witnessed, and the tests that can be performed on them are repeatable.

So in fact events in the past are accessable to science. In fact, one popular field where that is regularly done is called "forensics." You know, that stuff they do in labs on all those cop shows like "CSI".

If you believe that science cannot investigate the past, then you'd better open the prisons, because there's a lot of people convicted for crimes based only on forensic evidence.

Funny, though, that "science cannot investigate the past" has not ever succeeded - probably hasn't even been attempted - as a legal defense. Why do you suppose that is? Probably because you're wrong about science being able to investigate the past.

CrashFrog


In addition, it has been pointed out that no one who wrote about the crucifiction and resurrection was there either. I guess that can't be considered as supported at all then.


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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 354 (128456)
07-28-2004 7:04 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 354 (128458)
07-28-2004 7:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


quote:
There have been a number of literalist posters who claim that science can't be applied to past events since "you weren't there".

And then in the same breath they will assert that Walt Brown's hydroplates make "more sense". It is strange that they will deny that science is able to describe the past, yet they try and make scientific arguments for creationism. It appears to me that their view of science is that theories are incorrect and misapplied if they don't meet preconcieved ideas, but theories that meet preconcieved ideas are more accurate. It is not the scientific method that they argue against, but the conclusions that the method requires given the evidence that is found.


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mark24
Member (Idle past 3361 days)
Posts: 3857
From: UK
Joined: 12-01-2001


Message 4 of 354 (128465)
07-28-2004 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


Nosy,

There have been a number of literalist posters who claim that science can't be applied to past events since "you weren't there". This is used to rule out paleontology, much of geology, cosmology and more.

But usually only once their "evidence" has been stuffed out of sight. It's like a plan "B" for them. Most creationists come here full of "evidence" for the bible, the flood, a young earth. Only when they have been well & truly refuted does the it's-in-the-past-so-you-can't-prove-it mantra get uttered.

Mark


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those that understand binary, & those that don't
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Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 354 (128655)
07-29-2004 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by mark24
07-28-2004 7:40 PM


quote:
But usually only once their "evidence" has been stuffed out of sight. It's like a plan "B" for them. Most creationists come here full of "evidence" for the bible, the flood, a young earth. Only when they have been well & truly refuted does the it's-in-the-past-so-you-can't-prove-it mantra get uttered.

This is accurate to the point of being creepy.


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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 6 of 354 (128703)
07-29-2004 4:52 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Loudmouth
07-29-2004 2:24 PM


Topic
This is NOT the topic of this thread. Appropriate discussion is:

1) Why can we apply science to past events?

or for the other side

2) Why can't you?

That has nothing to do with how this is used or misused in dabate. Ok!


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pink sasquatch
Member (Idle past 4189 days)
Posts: 1567
Joined: 06-10-2004


Message 7 of 354 (128729)
07-29-2004 5:46 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


science vs. method
a number of literalist posters who claim that science can't be applied to past events since "you weren't there".

Ned, perhaps part of the problem is nebulous use of the term "science". In most people's minds I would guess that "science" conjures up ideas of an academic class or department across campus from what they would think of as "history". Attempts to explain how history can be a science are thus met with ridiculous comments because many see that two as essentially different, black and white, based on academic preconceptions. Since in simple terms history is the study of the past, the literalist problem you cite is carried over to geology, evolution, etc...

In my mind, "science" is happening any time the scientific method is correctly being applied to a problem. I recently tried to use auto repair as an example of this (and was essentially laughed at by my opponent) - the idea being that though auto repair is generally not considered "science", the scientific method could be used to analyze a novel problem arising with an automobile. Indeed, the scientific method is sometimes used to investigate accident scenes, which brings us around to Crash's example of criminal forensics.

"History" is only a science when the scientific method is applied to its subject - but then it is a valid science, as Mark's quote explains in the OP.

Just as "history-vs-science" is bogging down other threads, so is "misunderstanding-the-nature-of-scientific-method".

Perhaps use of the term "scientific method" or similar should be used in place of "science", which conjures up academic preconceptions in non-academics... however, this would require those same people actually understanding the method behind science.


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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 8 of 354 (128734)
07-29-2004 5:54 PM


I would have to ask what in this line

observation---->hypothesis---->test---->theory---->conclusion

could not be applied to history?

In addition, you can also apply the

hypothesis---->prediction---->future observations---->confirm or deny

to history just as in any other science.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 354 (128741)
07-29-2004 6:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


We could also look at how Histories are produced. The depictions of prior civilizations that we read in textbooks are not dreamt up whole cloth. There is not a group of crusty old men, smoking cigars, dreaming up stories about Roman civilizations. Instead, the histories we read are consistent with the evidence that these cultures left behind. In fact, Civil War battles have been reconstructed using evidence left behind in the form of cartridges and other things droppped by the soldiers on the battle field. They are even able to determine which gun fired each bullet by the markings on the casings. If we are able to do this in history, then science being history doesn't diminish it's capability of describing life on this planet in years past.
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Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 2535 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 10 of 354 (130066)
08-03-2004 4:33 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NosyNed
07-27-2004 9:03 PM


It is a accurate point and I'm a believer in the story, about the crucification and resurrection not being supported by evidence.
Well certainly not scientific evidence which is our contention.
It is in fact a revealation and accepted as that. Any other evidence is fine too but again evidence leading to a persuasive conclusion is not the same as scientific evidence leading to a persuasive conclusion.
Rob
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Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 2535 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 11 of 354 (130069)
08-03-2004 4:47 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by pink sasquatch
07-29-2004 5:46 PM


Re: science vs. method
You are right science is taking place anytime the scientific method is accurately employed.
And I suspose this could happen in Auto repair. i don't know. However it would be a special case. Auto repair and its doers are not engaged in science. Otherwise everything (even creationism) could be said to be science. You'all ready to do that?

Since the scientific method is a method as opposed to other methods in fields of inquiry. One must not confuse these fields.
Where the past is pronounced upon as in origin subjects it is beholden upon them to demonstrate thier conclusions are based on the scientific method and not other ways of evidence gathering. (Even if valid)
Dr Morris the great leader of creationism himself has said origin teachings by creationists or evolutionists are both not scientic subjects. (yes though we use the term science but anyways). They are subjects of history.
Whether evolution etc is a subject of history or science shoud not be in contention. Yet it is so someone has it wrong.
Maybe its us.
But I don't see how.
Rob


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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 12 of 354 (130074)
08-03-2004 4:58 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Robert Byers
08-03-2004 4:47 PM


Re: science vs. method
You are right science is taking place anytime the scientific method is accurately employed.

Agreed.

And I suspose this could happen in Auto repair.

It most certainly does. In auto repair, the mechanic looks at the evidence. Based on the evidence he or she makes a hypothesis as to what is wrong. He then tests the hypothesis and either comes to a conclusion or revises the hypothesis based on the tests.

Otherwise everything (even creationism) could be said to be science.

Not really. Only if Creationists are willing to place the conclusion last, to throw it out, could it ever be considered science.

You see, science is perfectly willing to throw out the TOE. All that is needed is something that explains the evidence better.

Are Creationists willing to throw out GOD?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 13 of 354 (130077)
08-03-2004 5:02 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Robert Byers
08-03-2004 4:47 PM


What is Science
At the risk of running badly off topic here, could you explain what you think the process of science is? I think you have some misconceptions here too.
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 15049
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 14 of 354 (130081)
08-03-2004 5:08 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Robert Byers
08-03-2004 4:47 PM


Re: science vs. method
Past events leave evidence. Indeed virtually all obsrvations are in fact the effects of past events. If you see something with your own eyes your brain interprets an image formed on the retina, produced by the effects of photons reflected or emitted from the objects you are looking at. It takes time for the photons to reach your eyes and for all the rest of the process. All observations are of the past.
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pink sasquatch
Member (Idle past 4189 days)
Posts: 1567
Joined: 06-10-2004


Message 15 of 354 (130085)
08-03-2004 5:21 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Robert Byers
08-03-2004 4:47 PM


Re: science vs. method
Auto repair and its doers are not engaged in science. Otherwise everything (even creationism) could be said to be science.

Imagine if, instead of going to an "auto-repair-mechanic", you went to "the-fan-belt-is-loose-mechanic". No matter what your car's problem, even if the engine was on the ground and in flames, the mechanic would explain to you that your fan belt was simply loose, and then went on to give you speculation as to how the loose fan belt alone was causing your car not to run. When asked for evidence to support his theory, the mechanic simply states that the problem is obviously not the muffler, so it must be the fan belt. Seems ridiculous, no?

This is why "creation science" is not science. The conclusion comes first and is unchangeable, regardless of evidence. And creation scientists seek justification of this conclusion by trying to disprove an unrelated theory.


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