This blog is about my musings and thoughts. I hope you find it useful, at most, and entertaining, at least.
Since the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate, I’ve been following the subject on Twitter. What’s come to my attention is that many people don’t understand what science is. It doesn’t help that certain terms are thrown around by people no realizing they are confusing if you don’t understand the multiple context they can be used in.
To start, science is being used to refer to methods, collections of knowledge, theories; as such I won’t use the term in this article. So, let’s define some terms:
Ken Ham claims that “historical” science isn’t the same as “observational”
science because we weren’t there to witness the past. What Mr. Ham fails to
realize though, is that a theory only discusses the past in terms of how the
present is. It’s meaningless to say “We didn’t see it so we don’t know”
because the scientific method only deals with observations, which by
definition are something from the present. As such, scientists are not
describing the past through fanciful story, but in terms of “if that
happened, then we should see this” or “We see this, one explanation (which
also fits other observations) is _____”.
Take for example the idea that a large asteroid hit the Earth:
Theory — An asteroid large enough to substantially alter the Earth’s climate for a long period of time, resulting in a mass-extinction event.
Possible counter-evidence (and reasons for rejected)
In the absence of any other reason, to explain the evidence the theory of an
asteroid impact is considered supported and not disproven. Note! This
doesn’t make it true or fact. Note! This doesn’t rule out other
explanations. This just means that it’s the best that we have right now.
Now, Ham dismisses radiometric dating because the rates of decay may have
been different “back then”. While possible, we have no observations or
reasons to support that theory. Additionally, radiometric dating techniques
agree reasonably well with other techniques, such as sedimentation rates
which rely on different physical processes. In the absence of evidence, we
cannot support Ham’s theory and continue to work with the theory that is
supported by the evidence we have today.
NB Ham mentions some basalt rock and a tree. I’ve been unable to find any
non-creationist source that even mentions this. Before a claim of “it’s
being hidden” is made, I would like you to consider that such a claim, when
substantiated, would make someone’s career and solidify their place in
Also, Ham constantly references the Bible, and by proxy God, as the reason and
proof of his theories. God is not testable. Science can neither support or
disprove God; God is outside of what science can discuss. That doesn’t make
God unreal or anything else, it simply means we cannot observe and test God,
which I don’t think a Christian (or any religious) should be terribly opposed
“Science” is not a cult or religion in opposition to religion. “Science” is
the application of the Scientific Method and the collection of observations
and previous applications. “Science” is capable of changing and admitting it’s
wrong when presented with evidence; it’s a way of understanding the physical
world around us. Religion is a way of understanding the spiritual world and
our relationship with God. Science and religion have very little to do with
each other until someone begins calling one the other.
I bet you’d get upset if I called a chess match a game of soccer.