Thursday, April 15, 2010

Assumptions with the Evidence

Ken Ham continues (from the last post) on why we should not base our beliefs on the shaky evidence of historical (non-observational) science.

When we are dealing with the issue of origins, we are trying to answer questions such as

  • How did the universe come into existence?
  • What happened to form the stars?
  • How did life come about on earth?
  • How did humans come into existence?
  • What processes formed the fossil record?

Forensic scientists know only too well the limitations of working with evidence in the present to reconstruct the history of the past. For instance, quite a number of people have been convicted of a crime based on circumstantial evidence, only to be declared not guilty later when new evidence (such as DNA) came along to disprove the initial interpretation.

You may have experienced a similar situation in a murder mystery such as a book or television program about Sherlock Holmes or some other famous detective. It can go like this:

Halfway through, you are convinced the butler is guilty.

Three quarters of the way through, you are still convinced by the circumstantial evidence the butler did it.

Close to the end of the book or television program, the circumstantial evidence still points to the butler’s guilt.

Then, just before the end, a piece of information is revealed that totally changes your conclusions. You suddenly realize the butler is innocent and a person you didn’t expect is guilty!

As I often say after reading such a book or watching such a program, “That was a waste of time!”

The problem is that fallible humans, who don’t know everything, who weren’t present everywhere in the past, can come to totally wrong conclusions in trying to reconstruct the past. You can never know you have all relevant evidence. One piece of evidence can totally change one’s conclusions.

No comments: