Today I delivered my testimony on the inclusion of creation science in the classroom to the state education committee in Indianapolis. Here is a transcript of my talk:
Today we are talking about creation science. I hope to show you there is a strict difference between operational science and historical science.
Operational science is the science that puts computers on our desks and men on the moon. It is what we have to thank for the technological wonders we have today. Operational science is based on modern observances and experiments.
Historical science is the study of the past based on modern observances. This type of science attempts to give us answers about the past by using modern day calculations and extrapolating them back through time. This is how we get the theories of evolution and the big bang.
Operational science observes changes in genetic makeup such as mutations and adaptations. These changes, otherwise known as natural selection, are proven. I don’t dispute that.
Historical science then takes those observations within species and attempts to make a case that given enough time these small changes have led to major changes. That is where creationists feel that these theories defy the scientific method and cannot be tested and repeated.
Evolution requires an old age of the earth. The majority consensus of scientists is that radioisotope dating confirms an old age. I want to clarify that radioisotope dating is based on modern decay rates extrapolated back through history to declare a date. The modern decay rates are operational science. We can test those, and repeat those here in the present. The extrapolation is historical science.
All the conditions necessary to stay consistent through all of history for that extrapolation to be reliable can never be verified. Observational science can be verified, historical science cannot.
Let me give you another example. The moon has been recorded as receding away from the earth at a rate of 4cm per year. If we extrapolate that back through time the earth cannot be older than 750 million years old. That may sounds very old, but it is about 1/6 of the length of time most scientists agree on for the age of the earth, and not enough time for evolution to have worked.
Now, which part of that experiment is operational science and which is historical? The 4cm withdraw rate is observed, the extrapolation is applying that observation to all of history. Now, where does the experiment go wrong? We cannot know all of the variables for all of history. Perhaps the rate slowed down in the past, or is sped up today. So, the historical part of the experiment is technically unscientific. I would argue that the same applies to radiometric dating. Their decay rates in the present are accurate. The extrapolation to the past is unverifiable, and therefore unscientific.
A final example: we are taught that fish evolved into mammals, and yet somehow failed to leave behind a trail of gills transforming into lungs. What we observe in the fossil record is gills or lungs, nothing in between. Again, observational verses historical science. Charles Darwin himself said “if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed…” and… crickets.
I fail to see how scrambling existing DNA information creates new biochemical pathways. Seeing that by definition natural selection can only select from existing information, how do you turn a pool of slime into a human being? And how did sex originate? Non-intelligent processes cannot predict the future coordination of male and female organs. And why do we have living fossils? Creatures that have remain unchanged for “millions of years”. Why would some creatures be evolving and not others?
So what are the conclusions we can draw from this? Do we throw out all of historical science? No, not at all. But we need to be fair. We need to acknowledge that no theory of the world’s origins can ever be proven. We need to recognize that assumptions about the past will always remain just that – assumptions. We need to recognize that both sides of the debate have the same evidence (same rocks/same bones), different conclusions. It is not the evidence in question, it is the conclusions.
If I tried to reconstruct today the events of the Civil War, but only studied the rocks and bones left behind, I think all of us would agree that I would get the story wrong. It would appear right based on that evidence alone, but just because the logic works does not make it fact. I think everyone would agree that to teach that to our children without offering the other side of the story would be deceitful. Science itself is just the search for knowledge. What can it hurt to offer more options for that knowledge?
Observational science is the science of what we can see – that needs to be taught. And since historical science cannot be proven, our schools are being irresponsible in not educating its student on the various historical perspectives that exist. Thank you.
The committee approved the bill at an 8-2 vote. It will now proceed to the amendment phase where certain parts will be reworded to work better. From the discussion I can presume that it may be rewritten to better suit history or world religion classes rather than science classes. This is both a small victory and a subtle defeat at the same time. Although school children will have access to the creation story, it may not be in science classrooms where they are taught that evolution is the only accepted theory for our origins. We’ll keep an eye on the legislation, and keep you updated!