This is a misconception. Philosophers of science like Dr Carol Cleland (who is an evolutionist) use this very same distinction. I wrote an essay on this in the most recent Journal of Creation, responding to some of Dr Cleland’s views.
Well, I’m just speaking of my observations. I’m pretty sure every YEC I’ve talked to here has used “that’s historical science so it doesn’t have weight” as an argument. Catastrophism and uniformitarianism is a long, though I think overly dichotomous, contention for YEC folks that I’ve talked to.
I would definitely agree that it’s not a good practice to put as much weight on historical science as you would empirical or operational science.
But there isn’t a nice clean split, that’s why I personally find the argument problematic. Certainly things in the past can’t be necessarily assessed in the same way and likely not with the same level of confidence, but that doesn’t mean it’s just completely wrong or unknowable either. Science is quite good at making sense of disparate observations and putting limits on what we can and can’t say about the data. But yet when it comes to specific areas YEC folks seem to want to throw that out the window, which is troubling to most scientists.
Not really; what YECs do is they use a different interpretive filter to look at the past. They are not throwing out science, but their science is coming from a different starting point.
I disagree. While some philosophers of science may discuss “observational vs historical” science, actual scientists rarely do. A scientific approach can reveal a great deal regarding past events.
It sounds to me like you’re saying that philosophers of science are not qualified to talk about the language and philosophical distinctions present in the field of science.
I probably should have used “practicing” scientist, rather than “actual”. What you gleaned was not my intent.
I don’t want to clutter your intro thread so it may be worth a separate thread if we want the conversation to continue, I would just say that “their science is coming from a different starting point” is the kind of thing I’m talking about with respect to it being hard to hold meaningful conversations between YEC/OEC/TE/atheists . I hope that it can be done, which is part of why I’m here, but my experience is that it’s pretty tough to do and needs patience, trust, and good-will amongst participants.
Well, for what its worth, practicing scientists would do well to listen more to what philosophers of science are saying. Practicing science without understanding the philosophy of what science means and what it can, and cannot, do, is a very dangerous thing.
I agree that philosophers of science can make important contributions to scientific conversation. I would even agree that some actual training in the philosophy of science would be beneficial for students.
Edit: I probably just overused “actual” again. Let me rephrase that to “formal training”.
Why is that? Does a scientist have to be fluent in philosophy in order to do science? What is the danger?
Yes really. YECs throw out anything in science which does not agree with their literal Genesis beliefs, which is about 99% of science. They throw out most of geology, biology, paleontology, genetics, physics. Worst of all they throw out consilience, the concept of considering all the evidence as a unified whole. It has nothing to do with “different interpretation” and everything to do with refusal to deal with an empirically verified reality they don’t like.
what, we chemists are the 1%ers?
Can you point to a place in which Cleland makes that distinction? It seems bizarre to me, as what are historical sciences if not observational?
It seems likely that creationists must throw out some chemistry, somewhere, to go with the rest of the sciences. Can you think of any?
Ultimately, I think most of the scientific disagreement is over chemistry (says the chemist), but I find that chemistry is rarely what people use to “fight” with. Geochemistry is often at the heart of the disagreement with geology, biochemistry is often at the heart of the disagreement over (molecular) genetics. Chemists measure reaction rates and why matter transforms, you’d think it would be involved somewhere. My feeling why it’s generally not, is that most chemists are too practical to be worried about these “downstream” issues and the chemistry involved is not particularly approachable for the general public.
Would the slow dissolving rate of limestone (calcium carbonate) to produce karst caves count? Or is that more geology?
Isn’t radiocarbon dating all chemistry?
Yes, it certainly has a foundation in chemistry (and further down in nuclear physics). I teach one chapter of nuclear chemistry in my freshman General Chemistry course. We talk about radioisotope kinetics and briefly talk about dating. I took a geochemistry course as an undergrad and it was essentially applied chemistry. Geochemists are the specialists on using radioisotopes, but the basic ideas (radioactivity, nuclear decay, kinetics) are taught in chemistry.