Aside from the documentation HBO produced, some Creationists are actively trying to spread their idea of ignorance over fact. That is required in order to claim with a straight face that there is scientific proof that the whole universe is only 6000 years old, and that the story of Genesis, as narrated by the Abrahamic Bible is literally true.
In a recent debate, Creationist Ken Ham asserts that instead of science, we really have two kinds of sciences: ‘observational’ and ‘historical’. The ‘real’ science Ken claims, is the ‘observational’ one, with ‘historical science’ being a lesser discipline. To someone who doesn’t know what science is, his words may even make sense.
Alas, they don’t. Ham simply tries a semantic sleigh of hands, hoping that his audience doesn’t know better. He even tried this in the debate. He asserts that the word ‘observational’ is closely linked to ‘eye witness evidence’, hence ‘observational science’ is science where you see the result with your own eyes.
Now, in science – and in court – evidence from eye witnesses is generally regarded as the least reliable form of evidence. Need I really detail the eye witness accounts of UFOs, Yetis, Loch Ness Monsters and Alien Abductions? No, the human eye, memory and mind are easily fooled.
The brouhaha surrounding the issue of ‘observational’ science results from Ken’s deliberate misrepresentation of what the words ‘observational’ and ‘historical’ mean in scientific terms. The truth is that all scientific evidence is observational, including indirect evidence that can’t directly be seen with your eyes. Paleontologists never saw a living dinosaur – but they observed their remains, and deduced, after correlating lots of similar evidence, how these animals looked and lived. That knowledge then was used to predict future findings, most famously when paleontologists predicted that they should be able to find smaller dinosaur remains in the footprints of Argentinosaurus huinculensis. And they were, equally famously, able to deduce how fast such a large beast could walk.
So why the false distinction? According to Ken, only experiments that can be reproduced in a lab should be accepted as ‘observational science’, all other is ‘historical’. Any science dealing with the past is therefore merely conjecture, not science. So if a scientists comes up with some findings in a lab today that nevertheless touches upon something of the past (say age of Earth), Ken is now free to dismiss that as ‘historical science’, and, therefore conjecture.
Plus, that’s where the Bible comes in. For everything in the past, we should use eye witness accounts, and Ken asserts that the Bible is full of accurate eye witness accounts. If all historical science is conjecture, he argues, the Bible is as accurate as the Big Bang theory (not the series).
Put that way, it’s actually quite pathetic. Too bad so many fall for it.