Here's Percy in Message 499:
You say you're not using the word prove in any mathematical sense, but you're still using a definition that is tangled up with the concept of "truth" or "correctness". I think the definition of prove that you're using goes something along these lines: To establish the truth of, as by evidence or argument. Do I have that right? If so then you can't really use that definition with science, because science doesn't establish anything with finality. Science is tentative. Truth, once established, doesn't change, but scientific conclusions, once established, can change.No, it's a lot simpler than that. All it really means to say you can't prove something is that you don't have the evidence you claim to have. In this case, the evidence claimed for events in the distant past is all heavily biased, that is, it's bound to interpretations already determined by your theory. The contents of the rock strata are used as evidence for what past eras were like, what creatures lived then, what the climate was like, and so on, but the very idea that the contents of the strata define a time period is already an interpretation based on the theory that the strata represent time periods that succeed one another over hundreds of millions of years. But of course if all the strata represent is a layer of sediment filled with dead creatures deposited during the Flood event, all that is nothing but fairy tale. But I've already said this.
And again it seems important to point out that the very idea that a succession of slabs of rock could represent time periods on the planet is so absurd it takes a massive delusion to maintain the idea. Is time continuing to be represented by such layers? Layers that extend across whole continents? Which built up miles deep over those supposed hundreds of millions of years. But now, for some reason, NOW and only now, that process has stopped and the surface of the earth is not flat like those rocks as one might expect from the Old Earth theory that eras of time are represented in such rocks. For some reason NOW the surface is all mountainous and tectonically disturbed, only now, not during those hundreds of millions of years. Not just in the Grand Canyon but across entire continents. But that can be rationalized away too, at great cost to reason and sanity but who's noticing?
Rationalization is always possible with the unwitnessed past where mere conjecture passes for fact. Which is of course what is meant by the untestability of the unwitnessed past, but fear not, all you have to do is deny that too and assert that it's false. No need for that evidence you keep saying you have, which you can't produce because it doesn't exist.
There's no reason for me to try to answer the next few posts which are the usual accusations I've answered over and over again already. I'll just note that Dr. A in Message 504 is repeating the typical notion that criminal forensics is the scientific method used with the ancient past, but as I've anaswered many times before, it's not the same thing because it deals entirely within the historical past, effectively the present, where there are many witnesses in the sense I've been using the term, such as access to all kinds of documented information from previous events in the historical past. Whereas in the ancient, prehistoric or unwitnessed past there is no such information forthcoming from those time periods. No witnesses from the prehistoric past, but witnesses galore -- in the sense I've been using the term, which is conveniently forgotten -- in the historic past, which is as good as the Present.
And Percy again in Message 510:
Good points, though I do think I'll try to keep things more simple in the discussion with Faith where she's claiming we can't prove anything about the distant past. Hopefully she'll eventually come to understand that we're not trying to prove things about the ancient past, we're only trying to examine and analyze evidence from the ancient past to see what it can tell us. It turns out it can tell us quite a bit.Except that it's all based on conjecture and interpretation as I keep trying to get across. And this reminds me of one more point I forgot to make above, which is that as I've pointed out below, and many times before at EvC as well, the science of the ancient past is frequently expressed in terms of dogmatic fact, far far from the tentativity you keep claiming for it.
And do note, please, that you continue to make assertions, recite the creeds of sciencedom as it were, rather than actually summoning any of the supposed evidence you claim is the important thing. That's all the quoted paragraph above is, a statement of what you believe science does, or wish science did, with the ancient past, without any proof that it does it.
Oh, just one more very brief comment, on dwise's post 512:
Actually, Faith's beliefs are not based on the Bible itself, but rather on her theology.He's said this before and I have no idea where he gets his own convictions about the Bible and theology -- his entire post is nothing but assertions, apparently completely of his own invention -- but since I have no interest in continuing such debates there all I can say as usual is that he's wrong, and my beliefs are about as standard and traditional Protestant Reformed Bible-based as you can get.
As for the creationist arguments I make, I've never claimed the kind of certainty for them I claim for the Biblical revelation itself, since the Bible gives very scant information about the character of the original Creation and the physical effects of the Flood. Creationists try to stay within both the Biblical descriptions and the known scientific information, but I don't claim any more certainty for my own conjectures than that they seem inherently more plausible than what official science has to say about the ancient past.
But as usual we are just repeating ourselves and I hope this is my last.
UPDATE:Do have to say a word in answer to RAZD's later post about the age of the earth. Yes, there is lots of evidence of a sort for an ancient earth, but as I've said before, that too is untestable evidence since it purports to reveal information about events in a completely opaque unwitnessed past. The methods themselves cannot be confirmed is the point, so what they seem to say remains hypothesis and not fact. As long as there is no other way to confirm a particular age estimate it remains theory or hypothesis. Also, other explanations for some of those numbers have been suggested, also unconfirmable explanations, but that's the way it usually is with the untestable past.
Meanwhile I'm not focused on the question of age as such, my arguments are all about the reasonableness of explanations for phenomena such as the strata and the fossils. Scenarios really, fictional stuff that's all too frequently treated as fact, BECAUSE there's no way to confirm or disconfirm it, without a shred of that highly touted tentativity so often imputed to science. The Old Earth explanations for these things remain absurd apart from the age of the earth.
I don't think there's much point in continuing this discussion but I'll respond to this last one from Percy at least:
Percy responds to the above in Message 519:
I said "No, it's a lot simpler than that. All it really means to say you can't prove something is that you don't have the evidence you claim to have."But of course, have it your way if you must but you know what I mean. It isn't evidence if it doesn't lead to the conclusions you claim for it.
and Percy replies: "I think you must have meant to say something else, because this makes no sense. Of course we have the evidence we say we have, so I think you must have meant to say that the evidence we have doesn't lead to the conclusions we claim, especially since your subsequent discussion goes on as if you had said exactly that."
[I said] The contents of the rock strata are used as evidence for what past eras were like, what creatures lived then, what the climate was like, and so on, but the very idea that the contents of the strata define a time period is already an interpretation based on the theory that the strata represent time periods that succeed one another over hundreds of millions of years.Limestones do not normally build up as layers among layers, they had to have formed elsewhere and been transported and deposited as a layer. Water, of course, makes sedimentary layers; this is demonstrated in deltas and along the coastal margins.
[Percy]This is self-evidently false. Sedimentary layers will always contain evidence from where and when they formed. This is true of both flood geology and actual geology (e.g., a limestone layer could only have formed where and when there was calcium carbonate in the environment) and was established well before we knew how much time each layer actually represents.
The content of a limestone layer shows that it had a marine origin but not that it formed where it is found. The Dover cliffs didn't form where they are either, but just as the entire British Isles are layered like so much of the rest of the planet, that chalk was layered there along with all the rest of them, it didn't form in place, as none of the layers did, which were all laid down one on top of another and then after they were all in place (which took hundreds of millions of years according to standard theory, but only a year or so on Flood theory) the whole stack was upended by tectonic force, as indicated on those diagrams I posted over there. The order is obvious: Layers laid down, one after another, horizontally, then tilted or twisted or otherwise deformed. That is the order of things just about wherever we look, and it supports the Flood explanation and NOT the Old Earth explanations.
But of course if all the strata represent is a layer of sediment filled with dead creatures deposited during the Flood event, all that is nothing but fairy tale.Discussed it to death at EvC. Your term "a single flood" as usual totally distorts the Flood arguments, trying to imply that it was like any old flood which of course has been argued down time and time again. Obviously there is no point in continuing the discussion.
The evidence doesn't support a single flood as responsible for all the sedimentary layers of the Earth for a number of reasons that you invariably ignore or dismiss, so I shan't waste my time listing them yet again, but will gladly do so upon any indication from you of a willingness to discuss them.
[Me] And again it seems important to point out that the very idea that a succession of slabs of rock could represent time periods on the planet is so absurd it takes a massive delusion to maintain the idea. Is time continuing to be represented by such layers?So it was said but it isn't true. They are "continuing" elsewhere, while the fact is that the strata that define the former time periods span entire continents but sediments are no longer accumulating on that scale in those same locations, which they should if there's anything to the idea that they represent the time periods of the Geologic Time Scale.
[Percy]You participated in an entire thread about this ([tid=17517]) and cannot pretend to be unaware of all the evidence that sedimentary layers are accumulating today just like they did in the past.
Rationalization is always possible with the unwitnessed past where mere conjecture passes for fact. Which is of course what is meant by the untestability of the unwitnessed past...I've made the case many times. Actually, it's intuitively obvious.
[Percy] You have yet to offer any valid arguments for why prehistoric evidence is untestable. You continue on to repeat your argument that makes no sense:
[Me] I'll just note that Dr. A in Message 504 is repeating the typical notion that criminal forensics is the scientific method used with the ancient past, but as I've anaswered many times before, it's not the same thing because it deals entirely within the historical past, effectively the present, where there are many witnesses in the sense I've been using the term, such as access to all kinds of documented information from previous events in the historical past. Whereas in the ancient, prehistoric or unwitnessed past there is no such information forthcoming from those time periods. No witnesses from the prehistoric past, but witnesses galore -- in the sense I've been using the term, which is conveniently forgotten -- in the historic past, which is as good as the Present.They ARE witnesses in the sense I've used that term -- there are some, but they can't tell you anything about WHEN they occurred, just that they DID occur -- and they are evidence that something walked there in the past, as you say, such as, for instance, between waves or risings of the tide during the Flood, which I've explained many times, contrary to your assertion.
[Percy] To make clear why this objection makes no sense just take the example of the Laetoli footprints. At a minimum they are evidence that something walked there in the distant past. You've never been able to explain how the absence of any human witnesses changes that.
[Me] And do note, please, that you continue to make assertions, recite the creeds of sciencedom as it were, rather than actually summoning any of the supposed evidence you claim is the important thing.And Percy pointed to some other threads which he claims give lots of evidence and prove me wrong. I suppose he believes that.
I think I might try to assemble all the information I can find about the fossil contents of the various layers that are used for evidence of evolutionary progression, whereas all they really show is the accidental collection of living things along with sediments in the Flood waters. This can probably be shown pretty well but it would take quite a bit of work.
Now I'm hearing that back at my blog I revert to my old ways which they think get cured or at least modified while I'm at EvC. It's true that when they keep insisting on a particular idea I accommodate at least to their language, but if there's more to it than that I'd have to go review those other threads which isn't on my schedule at the moment.
What comes to mind is the lengthy discussion about whether the Geologic Time Scale has come to an end as I was saying it obviously has, or the Geologic Column. They kept insisting that as long as sedimentary deposition is continuing anywhere that's the continuation of the Geologic Time Scale, even if the deposition is not on anywhere near the same geographic scale -- covering whole continents -- and not anywhere near the same locations -- now at the bottom of the sea or willy-nilly here and there and so on. So basically they've defined away my argument. Which of course is still convincing to me so I'll continue to state it from time to time.
They also argue that there is evidence of volcanic activity lower in the column than I'd seen before, and that may be the case, but the only actual evidence of that is a typed sheet that indicates "tuff" in two locations in the Grand Canyon, in the Muav formation, no photos, no other references. Still it may be true. Other evidence they supplied of volcanic activity during the laying down of the column occurs at the very top, indicating, on the Flood model, that it occurred in the last stages of the Flood. Someone produced a picture that at first looked like an actual layer of magma between layers but it turned out that the whole formation was volcanic so it wasn't a volcanic layer between sedimentary layers, which is the same situation with the evidence they produced from Ascension Island. And there is still the Cardenas layer at the base of the Grand Canyon which they insist is an actual layer and not a sill because of the way the edges interact with the sediment on either side. But I still have questions about that since a layer that formed at the surface and then hardened before the next sedimentary layer was laid down just wouldn't be straight and flat like that is. Lava is pretty lumpy stuff at the surface of the earth. But it's a question, not a definite opinion yet.
They also insist that just because faults don't penetrate through all the layers of a given geologic column / stack of strata, that is evidence that the layers were not already in place when the faults occurred, and I'm definitely skeptical of that. It's a lack of evidence, not positive evidence. And other cross sections are similarly subject to interpretation, so all that remains inconclusive.
Still looks to me like the strata are good evidence for the Flood.