Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let's Bring "Proof" Back to Reality

It's true that I lost track of the subject of the meaning of the words "prove" and "proof" in my last post as I went from Update to Update, which got noted at EvC in the most recent posts on the subject. They keep insisting on formal definitions, stating it all in the abstract, which loses track of what I meant in the first place which is really pretty simple. It's just another way of saying that when you are dealing with the prehistoric past you can never be sure of your hypotheses because they aren't testable, as you can be with those that are testable. This standard objection by creationists is strenuously opposed by evolutionists of course, and it has come up again at EvC here too.

This second link exhibits the tendency of anti-creationists to reduce Christian creationist arguments to Christian belief even when the creationists are sticking to the scientific questions. This is an annoying distraction at best. The argument about the difference between observational and historical/interpretive science is completely valid. You can nitpick about terminology, about the terms "observational" and "historical" and all the rest of it, just as you can about the terms "prove" and "evidence," but there is a legitimate argument here that is being evaded by all this abstract nitpicking.

In all the dithering about the meaning of "prove" the argument itself got lost so let me try to restate it. The main argument I've made along these lines is that both Old Earth Geology and Evolutionist Biology make assertions about what they believe occurred in the distant past that they couldn't possibly PROVE, by which I mean all they have is their conjectures and hypotheses which they have no way of confirming, although they treat their conjectures about these things as if they were solidly proven facts. I've given the explanation for this in terms of the lack of "witnesses" to that past, which I say are necessary to confirming such conjectures and are always present in the tests of the "hard" or laboratory sciences. The structure of DNA for instance has been "proved" in a way you could never prove the scenarios concocted about the distant past that are palmed off on the public as fact.

And I'm using the term "scenarios" here because I think that's where the problem lies. We can reconstruct a Stegosaurus from its bones, but when you go on to describe the supposed habitat of that animal, based on the other contents of the rock in which its bones were found, you are giving your hypothesis about those things. If you go on from there to talk about it as if it were known fact you are asserting theory as fact though it can't be verified; in a word you are committing fraud.

I did make a list of the kind of thing that is presented about the past that is often asserted dogmatically that is nothing but this sort of unverifiable or unprovable conjecture.

Looking for other kinds of examples of unprovables described in dogmatic terms I found the Wikipedia article on Stegosaurus where such unknowable/unprovables are asserted, such as when the creature lived:
They lived during the Late Jurassic period (Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian), some 155 to 150 million year s ago...
This is interpreted simply from the fact that it is found in a particular layer of sedimentary rock. That is the entirety of the evidence for the scenario. This rock with its contents becomes a time period because that's what the theory says it is.

The usual scenario based on fossil contents of the same strata is discussed in the section on Paleoecology:
The Morrison Formation is interpreted as a semiarid environment with distinct wet and dry seasons, and flat floodplains. Vegetation varied from river-lining forests of conifers, tree ferns, and ferns (gallery forests), to fern savannas with occasional trees such as the Araucaria-like conifer Brachyphyllum.The flora of the period has been revealed by fossils of green algae, fungi, mosses, horsetails, ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and several families of conifers. Animal fossils discovered include bivalves, snails, ray-finned fishes, frogs, salamanders, turtles, sphenodonts, lizards, terrestrial and aquatic crocodylomorphans, several species of pterosaur, numerous dinosaur species, and early mammals such as docodonts, multituberculates, symmetrodonts, and triconodonts.[54]

Dinosaurs that lived alongside Stegosaurus included theropods Allosaurus, Saurophaganax, Torvosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Marshosaurus, Stokesosaurus and Ornitholestes. Sauropods dominated the region, and included Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, and Barosaurus. Other ornithischians included Camptosaurus, Gargoyleosaurus,Dryosaurus, and Othnielosaurus.[55] Stegosaurus is commonly found at the same sites as Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, and Diplodocus.[56]
The Morrison Formation is a layer of rock. Here it is called an "environment." This is of course because the theory says each of the layers represents a time period. The whole rock "formation" represents a time period, its very own time period. The formations above and below represent different time periods. Slabs of rock interpreted as time periods. Time periods start and stop where the rock ends and another kind of rock begins.

Whatever has been found within that layer along with the bones of the Stegosaurus, goes to make up the interpretation of its "environment," the climate and the kind of vegetation that grew in that "time period."

I am of course emphasizing the rock=time period equation because it is so absurd, but that is a different subject here. I do have to admit that they are less assertive these days in such descriptions. The assertiveness will still be found on signs posted at various natural wonders, however, that inform you that such and such a marvelous phenomenon is so many millions of years old etc.

I will probably come back and expand on this post.

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