not exist, then everything is permitted”, and scientists
are no less exempt from the moral consequences
of atheism. Postmodern man is learning that while
being the lone atheist in a tolerant, ethical society
may be fun, ruling in one of evil and despair is not.
Kuhn highlighted relatively minor issues of fallibility;
recent events would shock him. We see the political
corruption of science, 26, 27 and the persecution of
dissidents in academia is now reaching politically
incorrect secularists as well as Christians. 28, 29 We are
even seeing falsified research results. 30 Today’s science
needs Christian ethics as well as Christian truth.
So Cleland correctly notes that the theory and
practice of science cannot bear the weight of absolute
truth. Science minimizes the unknowns and maximizes
confidence, but confidence in its results and truth was
historically undergirded by faith in the absolute truth
of revelation and in man’s ability to comprehend it.
Secular man is finally seeing that science;s biblical
foundation was not displaced without consequences.
In light of these problems, can the status of historical
science be advanced by devaluing experimental science?
If ;justificationism; fails the test of induction and
;falsificationism; does not account for all of the variables in
the equation, then science, doomed to uncertainty, certainly
has no room for the arrogance of positivism. In Cleland’s
opinion, comments by those like Henry Gee are the pot
calling the kettle black.
Renewed assessments of historical science, whether from
philosophers or scientists, should prove beneficial to a brand
mired in early 19th century positivism. As such, Cleland’s
work is a welcome contrast to the ideological ideas of the
mid-20th century. But her work also highlights the failure
of Christians to retake this valuable ground.
Many orthodox Christian ideas seem archaic to the
postmodern generation. For example, the foundational
nature of special revelation to any human truth seems
preposterous, because ‘everyone’ knows truth is relative.
It is hard then to acknowledge that human knowledge is
epistemically inferior to God’s simply because humans
are metaphysically inferior to God. The epistemological
hierarchy inherent in Christianity (figure 2) has been
forgotten. Positivism has been unable to provide a viable
substitute, and epistemological egalitarianism contributes to
the confusion Cleland seeks to dispel. To make things worse,
postmodernists cling to positivism, but as a presupposition,
not an intellectual proposition. Thus, they continue to
conflate science and history, just as Cleland does.
Cleland raises an immediate red flag in her decision to
critique experimental science. Why not simply present a
positive case for historical science? Why diminish another
discipline? It seems uncomfortably like an emotive appeal
to those victimized by the unbridled arrogance of secular
scientists. Truth, not equality, should be the objective.
Her negative case exhibits several problems. First and
foremost, most of her arguments against experimental
science also apply to historical science. Are experimental
scientists unable to overcome Hume;s challenge? Historical
scientists rely on induction too. Are experimental scientists
prone to ignorance, error, bias, dishonesty, greed, or
pettiness? Historical scientists are people too. Do unknown
or uncontrolled variables preclude absolute certainty in
experimental science? Historical science is worse—its
uncertainties are much greater, and cannot be reduced by
controlled, repetitive experiments. At root, her fundamental
error is building a straw man of science as the arbiter of truth.
Furthermore, her ;epistemic competition; between
experimental and historical science misses the point. Why
do all empirical disciplines have to be ;science;? This is a
category error; science is a part of empirical knowledge,
not its sum (figure 3). Adler;s31 classification of natural
history as a ‘mixed question’—in which philosophy, science,
history, theology, and revelation all play a part—is a better
description both in theory and in practice. 32 That subtlety
of an inherent positivism has led us to reject the ‘origin/
operation’ model; it repeats this error by labelling origins,
history, and even the supernormal, as ‘science’, This view
also denigrates history, which is a valid empirical discipline
that does not need the appellation ‘science’. Modernists
are like a compass needle; they always point to science
Figure 2. In Christianity, interpretive forensic models are constructed from
data shaped by forensic paradigms, which in turn are shaped by philosophical
and theological assumptions. For that reason, an epistemological hierarchy is
affirmed. Positions are determined by any step’s need for presupposition supplied
by another. Metaphysical truth presupposes revelation, defining their relative
positions. Forensic models of Earth history occupy the end of a hierarchical
chain, depending on a chain of presuppositions.
Interpretive Model Construction Resulting Epistemological Hierarchy
Philosophy of History