We have another winner from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He’s famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.
Everyone is familiar with ol’ Hambo’s claim that there are two kinds of science — “operational” science and “historical” (origins) science. He mentions it even more than he mentions that he once debated with Bill Nye. It’s summarized in his sneering question: Were you there?
We debunked Hambo’s silly dichotomy in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. One thing we didn’t mention there is that forensic science is a form of historical science, and even if the investigators weren’t there to witness the crime, no one doubts that crimes can be solved that way. That’s what we’ll be talking about here.
It seems that the subject of forensic science has been mentioned to ol’ Hambo often enough that he feels obligated to deal with it. That’s why he just posted this at his blog: Can Forensic Scientists Prove Evolution?
The question in Hambo’s title distorts the issue. We would put it like this: If forensic science works — and it does — then what’s wrong with any other kind of historical science? Anyway, here are some excerpts from Hambo’s brilliant essay, with bold font added by us.
After introducing the topic of historical vs. operational science for the zillionth time — and also mentioning his debate with Bill Nye — Hambo says:
One branch of historical science is forensic science. It involves collecting clues and trying to piece together what happened in the past to solve a crime (or determine if indeed a crime even happened). … Now, evolutionists will often say that evolution is just like forensic science. They say that we can examine the evidence at a crime scene and piece together what happened, often with reasonable assurance, so therefore can we look at the evidence around the world and see that evolution happened.
Yes, that’s right. Okay, dear reader, get ready for a rough ride. Hambo tells us:
Now, there are many similarities between historical and forensic science. After all, forensic science is a branch of historical science. Just like in historical science, the facts don’t speak for themselves. They must be interpreted by the investigator. Sometimes the interpretation is pretty straightforward, but other times it’s not.
We know that. So what? Let’s read on:
The investigator must painstakingly collect all the data, find eyewitnesses, and compare the data with the eyewitnesses’ accounts of what happened. All of this is in an effort to reconstruct what happened in the past to produce the evidence left behind. But at times in this world, forensic scientists have come to the wrong conclusion and so the wrong person was charged with a crime.
Oooooooooh — sometimes forensic scientists get it wrong! We know that too. Hambo continues:
The investigator does not know if the evidence was tampered with, planted to frame someone, or was contaminated, or perhaps the investigator purposely falsified the evidence. And sometimes evidence that would be very relevant is missed because the investigator did not know of its relevance! Now, after all of the observational evidence has been collected, the data must be interpreted. Reconstructing what happened is historical science.
According to Hambo, forensic science is often a mess, sometimes even a fraudulent mess. Hey, Hambo — there have also been occasions when “operational” scientists have overlooked something, and on very rare occasions, they have faked their lab data. Does that invalidate “operational science” too? Here’s more:
When evolutionists say that the science that gives us forensics works the same as evolution and “proves” that evolution happened, they are neglecting to understand that forensics is a methodology, not a conclusion. We use forensic science to help us understand what happened, but the conclusion doesn’t come from the forensics — it comes from the interpretation of the evidence collected by the forensic scientists.
No one says evolution is “proven.” But all the evidence certainly points to that conclusion. It’s only the creationists whose “interpretation” of all that data causes them to deny it in favor of the totally un-evidenced tales in the bible. This isn’t a problem with historical science, it’s a cognitive disorder unique to creationists. Moving along:
There are plenty of examples of where the evidence was interpreted wrongly and, later, new evidence shed light on what really happened. For example, in 2002 a woman was convicted of robbing and murdering her neighbor because her fingerprint was supposedly found on a pill container. Later it was found out that the fingerprint wasn’t actually hers — she had been wrongly imprisoned because of an incorrect interpretation of the observational evidence.
That sort of thing is rare, but yes, it happens. A fossil can be misinterpreted too. When other scientists discover the error (creationists never do such work), the error is corrected. Is there any other field of endeavor that so readily corrects itself? Well, there are a few. If a business offers a new product that flops, it’s quickly withdrawn. Like science, business is reality-oriented. Creationism, on the other hand … well, you know. Here’s another excerpt:
This is the same as evolution. The evidence from historical science must be interpreted. The assumptions of the researcher or scientist determine how the evidence is interpreted. An evolutionist interprets the evidence through the lens of man’s ideas about the past — millions of years and evolution. But a biblical creationist looks at exactly the same evidence and comes to a completely different conclusion because we have a completely different starting point.
No, Hambo, it’s not the same. The biblical creationist’s starting point is Oogity Boogity, and not surprisingly, that’s also his conclusion. With that kind of circular reasoning, it’s no wonder creationists are so irrelevant. On with the article:
Now, a big part of forensic science is reliable eyewitness testimony. In historical science, Christians have an eyewitness testimony from the Creator of the universe recorded for us in His Word. This testimony is the most reliable because it comes from the God who never lies [scripture reference]. But evolutionists totally ignore this eyewitness testimony — something a forensic scientist would hopefully never do! They reach the wrong conclusions because they have the wrong starting point.
Aaaargh!! We dealt with that topic here: Sherlock Holmes and the Mystic. Then Hambo really jumps the tracks:
Evolutionists also ignore other interpretations of the data. Unlike a forensic scientist who tries to look at all different angles for how the crime may have been committed and by whom, evolutionists are committed to their interpretation of the evidence. Few stop to question the assumptions of millions of years or evolution. Biblical creation — even if it provides a far more consistent and better explanation of the evidence — is automatically rejected because it doesn’t match with the starting assumptions of secular scientists.
No, Hambo — creationism isn’t rejected because of its starting assumptions. Rather, it’s because of a total lack of verifiable evidence. And now we come to the end:
Forensics doesn’t prove evolution. Forensics merely provides a good illustration of a historical science system that uses observational science methodology. The evidence must be interpreted, and what you believe about the past determines how you interpret the evidence. We need to start with God’s unchanging, infallible Word and reach our conclusions from that firm foundation.
So there you are. Now, whenever the subject of forensic science is raised, Hambo can link back to that blog entry as his response. Case closed. Oh, if Hambo is right we should immediately open the jails and release all prisoners. They were convicted on false assumptions.
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