You’re probably familiar with the false distinction made by creationists between “Operational” (or “Observational”) science and “Historical” science. We’ve written about it several times, originally in Creationism and Science.
Creationists insist that bible history (six-day creation, Noah’s flood, etc.) is true, and to preserve their dogma, they claim that “historical” science which contradicts those bible tales is a belief system based on unproven assumptions, because there is no way to go back in time and use observational science to prove those assumptions are correct. We discussed this in Common Creationist Claims Confuted.
Our favorite rebuttal is described in The Lessons of Tiktaalik, where we said:
[H]ow can we explain (or try to explain) to a creationist that the scientific approach to learning about the past has actual scientific value — the results of which are far more “true” (i.e., objectively verifiable) than some account that rests upon mere assumptions? There’s probably little to be gained from a philosophical lecture about the relative merits of natural versus supernatural explanations, because creationists are programmed to reject the former and prefer the latter. However, there is yet another method of explaining the merit of a scientific explanation of the past — cross-confirmation by independent lines of evidence.
Today we have another example of cross-confirmation, described in PhysOrg. Their headline is Geology and biology agree on Pangaea supercontinent breakup dates. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have found that independent estimates from geology and biology agree on the timing of the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent into today’s continents. When continents break up, single species are divided into two and drift apart – physically and genetically. Lead researcher Sarah McIntyre said geologic dating of the continental drift and biological dating of the genetic drift provided independent estimates of the break-up dates over the past 180 million years.
Ol’ Hambo won’t like that, because he insists that the global Flood in Noah’s time — a mere 4,000 years ago — accounts for everything. He probably has his team of creation scientists working on a rebuttal. PhysOrg says:
“This is by far the most comprehensive comparison of genetic tree-based dates and the geological dates of the continental breakups,” said Ms McIntyre, a PhD scholar at the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. “After excluding species that could easily move between continents, a new comparison of these two independent dating methods, applied to the breakup of Pangaea over the past 180 million years, finds good agreement between the two methods. Geological dating provides important independent support for the relatively new field of using genetic trees to date biological divergences.”
Here’s the paper, published Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Global biogeography since Pangaea, but you can’t read it without a subscription. Back to PhysOrg:
“In collaboration with biologist Professor Colin Groves, we came up with a vetting procedure that excluded species that could easily migrate from one continent to another,” Ms McIntyre said.
That makes sense. Here’s one more excerpt, a quote from co-author Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver:
“Along the way, we had to verify if geological and biological dating methods agree. We found that they do. This concordance between biology and geology gives phylogenetic dating more street cred,” Dr Lineweaver said.
So there you are. Yet more evidence that what Hambo calls “historical science” is a wee bit more than a godless evolutionist contrivance. What will the creationists do about this? We don’t know, but it’s going to be fun to watch them struggle.
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