History and science

Authentic eyewitness testimony carries more weight than physical evidence concerning events in the past – particularly the distant past. Artifacts of the past are always open to interpretations that contradict one another whereas the ambiguities in testimony are minor in comparison. If the testimony is recorded, then the transmission of the recording needs authentication, preferably with testimony from those involved in the transmission.

The situation is exactly like testimony vs. circumstantial evidence in a court of law. The former is far more significant than the latter. Indeed, the rules of evidence require that all exhibits be introduced by a witness. The prosecutor can’t just show the jury a photograph without a witness testifying about when and where it was taken or found. So history, which compiles and synthesizes testimonies and artifacts of the past, is superior to any physical science of past events. Creationists could argue this point to put evolutionists and uniformitarians in their place.

“Pre-historic events” are by definition unattested by eyewitness testimony. They may simply be dismissed since they are unknown to history. Various myths have suggested pre-historic events but these are not taken seriously anymore. But extrapolations of current physical laws and processes into the indefinite past are taken seriously. The reasons for this seem to be (1) the success of physical laws in covering events dispersed in space and time, (2) the prestige of the physical sciences in explaining phenomena and contributing to new technology; and the spread of materialistic ideas that presume everything is covered by currently known laws and processes.

The result is that many give greater credibility to physical sciences than history in studying past events. The testimony of reliable witnesses is set aside or dismissed when they seem to contradict processes and laws that are presumed to be universal in space and time. One thing that creationists can do is show how reliable witnesses do not contradict the physical sciences. But beyond this creationists should emphasize that history trumps the physical sciences in the study of past events.