Evidence, generally speaking, is in context of an assertion and the necessary aspects to support it, regardless of its strength or weakness. Direct proof is considered the strongest form of evidence. Where indirect (or "consistent") evidence, such as circumstantial evidence, may support (or contradict) the assertion or strengthen a decision.
One of the foundation stones of freedom from tyranny is the requirement of evidence in court proceedings. However in both law and science, tyranny can come in many forms. In science, the tyranny can arise in a small cadre of "gatekeepers" who protect their version of scientific truth, dismissing or ridiculing all others. The academicians of Galileo's time were all steeped in Aristotelean geo-centrism, so no acadamic forum would hear Galileo's claims to the contrary. This could serve as a warning to Old-Earth-Creationists and the like, who attempt to align Scripture with (often fleeting) secular interpretations of scientific evidence.
- 1 Purposes and Limitations
- 2 Common Definitions
- 3 Burden of Proof
- 4 Universal vs Functional Truth
- 5 Scientific Evidence
- 6 Historical (e.g. Documentary) Evidence
- 7 Scientific v Historical Evidence
- 8 Common Evidence
- 9 Preponderance of Evidence
- 10 Hostile Witness
- 11 Scots Law
- 12 Reasonable Doubt vs Logical Proof
- 13 Scientific Method
- 14 Chain Of Custody
- 15 Reification Fallacy
- 16 Counterfeit/Fallacy Detection
- 17 References
Purposes and Limitations
"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." - (Jhn 18:37)
The important aspect of evidence is that it supports truth but cannot establish truth. Only eyewitnesses can establish truth. Jesus said he came to "bear witness to the truth". The truth requires a witness. Scientists of our time will claim that this is not true, but in so doing they are playing the role of the eyewitness. No matter what, evidence is inanimate matter. It cannot speak for itself. It requires a human voice to speak for it, to interpret what it means and its context. In fact, the human mind is what corroborates the evidence, not the other way around.
The most popular form of forensic application is embodied the character Sherlock Holmes, who could gather evidence and context, synthesize them in real time and draw truthful conclusions. It is the evidence plus its context that the human mind uses to establish truth. Also consider the methods of forensic investigation, which is the fulcrum of evidences supporting creation or evolution.
- Forensic scientist uses the Scientific Method to establish a baseline of truths using repeatable, observable experiments.
- Forensic analyst enters the crime scene and draws from the body of established baseline truths, for applying context to the evidence.
- The analyst gathers the evidence, documents it, perhaps takes pictures to preserve context.
- When the evidence is presented in court, the analyst is required to testify as to the context, how it is established with the baseline of forensic truths, and draws conclusions on this.
- At no time does the Scientific Method enter the foresic process from the time the evidence is gathered until the courtoom. The Scientific *Method is only applicable to forming the baseline of forensic truth to compare against the evidence.
- If the scientific method could be applied to the evidence, we would be able to go back and repeat the crime in observable reality (a time machine).
- Since we cannot use the scientific method on the evidence, we would apply the baseline's findings to the evidence and draw conclusions
- This is deductive reasoning, not the scientific method
A simple application is the protection and preservation of a crime scene. If people trample through it, don't wear gloves, etc, they contaminate the scene. This contamination erodes the integrity of the scene by introducing more context, such as the fingerprints or DNA of the investigators, or soil from their shoes. Context preservation is very difficult to maintain over time because the crime scene "ages" and the original context erodes. This happens so quickly that the erosion of context can sometimes be measureed by the hour. If a dead body is found in an apartment twenty days after the time of death, the investigators may be able to use the body's decay to pinpoint the death within a day or so, but if the body is discovered quickly the time-of-death may be pinpointed using the body's decay to within hours. This significant difference only expands as time wears on.
Why is this important? Because fossils and other artifacts in the ground have had no "preservation of the scene" applied over the ostensibly millions-of-years since their burial. There is no visibility to the wide variety of events and conditions that could have imposed on the evidence. Context in this regard becomes razor-thin, eroding the ability to accurately pinpoint the time when the fossil may have been buried.
When creationists debate evolutionary thinkers, they need to be cognizant of this factor: the evolutionist believes that the forensic model actually uses the scientific method directly upon the evidence when it does not and cannot. In this belief however, they also believe that they can use baselines of information in the present and extrapolate them into the past where they cannot be corroborated.
As such, scientists will appeal to the forensic model as establishing their methods. They are missing a very significant piece. The forensic model requires the establishment of a baseline of truth. The only baseline of truth that is available to the scientist is that which can be corroborated through eyewitnesses. Concerning the age of the earth, for example, human records and even "allowable" measurements such as Bristlecone Pine, only establish a baseline for several thousands of years. When the scientist uses this as a springboard to go back farther in time, this moves away from the baseline so that the results are no longer valid.
Consider if this were to happen in a court of law. The criminal investigator presents evidence and then compares it to a baseline of truth. Upon cross-examination, the defense attorney learns that the investigator is using old data and methods that have since been re-established to support the opposite of the investigator's claim. Or worse, the investigator claims that he is testifying as to his personal experience and upbringing in establishing the evidence's context. These discoveries would dismiss the evidence outright, opening up the possibility of re-interpreting them in another context. Moreover, what if the court established that the evidence presented was actually gathered at another crime scene entirely? Wouldn't this "distance" place the evidence in doubt? This is exactly what a secularist does when diving into deep-time, attempting to manufacture a context for which no corroborating baseline exists.
A significant part of crime scene reconstruction is the establishment of a "timeline". The events leading up to the crime both for the victim and any of the suspects. The timeline is also established by human minds, not the evidence. The timeline can wrap context around the evidence but the timeline is not itself the evidence. The timeline is a tool that human minds shape in context of the evidence and the testimony.
Why is this important? In any creation/evolution discussion, the timeline of Earth history is front-and-center. Evolution may seem like a scientific theory, but it is really a historical narrative masked in scientific terminology. This is where it competes for space with the Scripture, because the Scripture is a historical narrative also. The primary difference in the two - the evolutionary narrative is manufactured while the Biblical history is established by eyewitnesses.
The first objection to such thinking is: So science can't establish anything about the past without an eyewitness? Is that right? And if we discuss this reasonably, we will arrive at the same truth: Is there anything in history that we know for certain where it exists on the historical timeline, without an eyewitness having recorded something about it? Clearly not.
In terms of the Age of the Earth, the most common objections to a young earth are things like radiometric clocks. These are however, clear examples of manufacturing a context outside the boundary of empirically gathered facts, the most important of which is that nuclear decay is affected by solar activity can cannot be relied upon to be consistent over millions of years. Radiometric dating methods are examples of confirmation bias (only allowing evidence that agrees with the hypothesis). The primary problem is that the clocks are "calibrated" using known baselines of dates that exist within human history. This allows the scientists to calibrate-out any anomalies causes by solar or cosmic activities. It does not allow the scientist to "see into the past" to account for additional anomalies over many more magnitudes of time.
When discussing the Earth's timeline with a secularist, the Biblical template is not something they will accept. It doesnt matter if it fits the evidence. It doesn't fit what they already believe about the age of the earth. While this does not resolve the debate, the point is: the evidence cannot be used to conclusively prove that the Earth is old, so it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the Earth is younger. At this point the discussion is on a different footing: not whether the Earth is younger, but how much younger.
Human Bias and Expert Witnesses
On various discussion boards, an exchange between a secularist and creationist might look like this:
- Sec: Show us a peer-reviewed paper on it!
- Cre: There are plenty of peer-reviewed papers on it
- Sec: Really? I just checked a very extensive database and could not find even one.
- Cre: Are you suggesting that you are applying an ideological filter to your search?
- Sec: What do you mean?
- Cre: Simply that you are only looking in places where people agree with your ideology.
- Sec: I am looking at the only sites that count! Professionally-peer-reviewed.
- Cre: Well, certainly the only sites that count to you. But there are plenty of professionals who can peer-review that are not associated with those sites at all.
- Sec: Then they don't have any credibility.
- Cre: Again, you are applying an ideological filter to determine if someone is credible or not.
- Sec: No I'm not. Anyone who publishes there will get a fair review.
- Cre: Oh, I doubt that completely. One has to agree with the ideology of their gatekeepers, and this is what constrains science.
- Sec: There are no gatekeepers. Anyone can publish.
- Cre: Including a creationist?
- Sec: A creationist wouldn't make it past the front door.
- Cre: But you said it was fair and scientific and unbiased.
- Sec: But not for nutjobs.
- Cre: Looks to me like you are one of the gatekeepers, using that kind of language.
- Sec: There are no gatekeepers.
- Cre: You are missing the point. You are even now behaving as a gatekeeper, while claiming there aren't any.
Worldwide the practice of peer-review is coming under greater and greater scrutiny to the point of crisis . The objective of peer-review is noble but as actually practiced has become a means to prop-up in-bred thinking. From ideology to money, the many factors driving peer-review outcome have less to do with science and more to do with ideologically-driven thought.
As noted in the above, are we talking about professional peers or about ideological peers? The secularist will immediately claim that they are not drawing an ideological distinction while at the same time only accepting peer-review from places that already agree with their ideology.
When this specter is raised by a creationist, the first comeback is "Oh, you think there's a conspiracy". The response to this is that the scientific community is driven by money, and large quantities of it. This tends to feed the problem in that researchers will submit papers that can capture money for them, or keep money flowing. In realistic terms, people who have a family, responsibilities and is building college funds for their kids, want to keep their jobs. Would they have any reason whatsoever to move against this tides of current thought? The system actually feeds itself with deception. The maxim is: You get what you pay for. If you want a paper on global warming, and are willing to pay for it, plenty of people will sign up to provide one regardless of whether their research is valid or viable.
In terms of "fallacy", the "unbiased human mind" is a primary fallacy that even the most educated secularist will deny. Ironically, with each encounter and exchange, more and more of the secularist's bias will emerge until the truth is obvious: all humans are biased.
Therefore the Creation/Evolution debate is not really about whether someone is biased about the evidence, but whether their conclusions are reasonable.
Incriminating Evidence and Reason
The courts of law maintain a concept of "incrimination", that is when a person's guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt, usually through the presence of evidence that cannot survive a reasonable explanation. Note that the explanation may actually defy scientific proof and still be perfectly reasonable. "Incriminating" establishes a boundary with context and reason, using testimony and evidence as the fulcrum.
As another example, someone may discount the reality of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, but this is unreasonable (no different than denying the Holocaust or landing on the Moon). A person may also claim that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. While they are perfectly capabable of reaching that conclusion, a more reasonable answer is that He did in fact rise from the dead. How do we arrive to the conclusion of the Resurrection? Evidence plus Context plus Reason (see below). The point being, if Jesus Christ were on trial for having resurrected from the dead, does enough evidence exist to incriminate him? Likewise, the evidence and context of the Resurrection is far above par from the Holocaust or a lunar landing, shifting the burden of proof from the defender to the denier.
The human mind may reasonably reach a conclusion about a historical incident, even though it contradicts scientific evidence to the contrary (e.g. people don't rise from the dead). This is merely an example of the limitation of science to reach into history, and the ability of the mind to draw a reasonable conclusion while synthesizing evidence and context. A common fallacy of the mind is "begging the question", that is, presuming that Jesus didn't rise from the dead "because people don't rise from the dead". An alternative example is the secularist presumption of the [Origina of Life], which presumes that life arose from non-living material. Scientific evidence falsifies this presumption with the Law of Biogenesis, that life only comes from life. Setting aside this law is an appeal to the fallacy of "special pleading" (make an exception just this once) and "begging the question" (life is here so must have spontaneously happened).
An important factor here is that the advocates and the decision-makers (in law: the attorneys and jury, in the marketplace: the debaters and the listening public) are actively applying reason to establish truth. The advocates will skillfully shape the interpretation of the evidence in their favor, and do it as adversaries. Each will promote their own theory of the truth, and each will attempt to point out the fallacies of the other.
For example, a person claims that they were nowhere near the crime scene. A traffic camera places them within one block of the crime scene within minutes of the crime. This does not establish guilt, but it definitely establishes opportunity. The jury may wonder why the defendant lied about his whereabouts. When questioned, the defendant claims that when he said, "nowhere near" he meant that he was in his apartment for the evening and left the building in a direction opposite the crime scene, even though he lives in the same apartment complex as the victim. A witness testifies to an argument that the defendant had with the victim, claiming that he would "kill" the victim. The defendant shrugs it off as everyday invective, while an adversary tries to establish motive. The witnesses are having a hard time establishing the right aspects of the context in order to establish truth. At the crime scene, evidence was gathered of a fingerprint of the defendant in the apartment of the victim. This is set aside because the defendant was friends with the victim and occassionally visited his apartment to watch sports. The investigator then produces the murder weapon, a knife from the defendant's apartment that has traces of the victim's blood on it. This too is dismissed because the victim had borrowed that knife some time prior and had returned it, without telling the defendant of having cut himself while using it.
We can see in the back-and-forth that the reconstruction of context is very daunting, and what may play-out as "incriminating" in a television drama has to be rigorously established. A person's life is on the line (the defendant) it would be a travesty of justice to convict the wrong man while the real killer still walks the streets.
Creation and Evolution
In a debate, the evolutionist will stand to the podium and announce "I intend to make a case for evolution using the fossil record, DNA and geology." The creationist stands and asserts "I intend to make a case for creation using the fossil record, DNA and geology". Can both of them be right, considering they reach such different conclusions? What if they use exactly the same evidence? The answer is YES, and this is because they approach the evidence from a different starting point. It is this starting point that will guide their path to a conclusion. Creationists may call this starting-point a "worldview" but the more general term is "context". The secularist will freely accept the use of a common context for interpreting data. They will reject that this context is the equivalent to a worldview. "You phiosophers and religionists have your worldviews, but we have science!" This ironically, is the assertion of a worldview!
As commonly applied by a human mind, the evidence is examined in context using human reason. The reasoning mind establishes a truth and then acts in faith on that truth. The following progression shows that Faith is an incremental step from reason, not a blind leap.
A case in point, people wake up each morning with the "presumption of intelligibility", that is our senses are not betraying us and we are able to understand and examine the world around us. If we touch something, our hand-eye coordination and other senses confirms to our minds that we are interacting with physical reality. This becomes so commonplace that we forget how much faith we place in our senses to help our minds, otherwise trapped in our craniums, to examine the physical world. Our faith is shaken when we lose this capacity, our hearing or eyesight fails, we lose our balance, etc.
Consider then what happens if the opposite path is taken:
In this case, the person's faith constrains their reason, which likewise puts guardrails around the context and then this is the only context or reasoning ever applied to the evidence. Secularists accuse Creationists of doing just this, where they claim faith in the Bible is the primary constraint that taints the pathway to the evidence. But is this really true? No, this is a strawman fallacy.
While the Bible provides context, it does so in the forensic model of eyewitness corroboration of past events. The Bible is an eyewitness baseline of historical truth that provides context to the evidence.
Now think in terms of the evolutionary narrative. Is there any eyewitness corroboration of the Big Bang? Origin of Life? Gradual deposition of fossils? No, these do not exist, so secularists must inject or manufacture a context to explain the evidence. The process of manufacturing a context also produces what are called "rescue devices" (below). This also produces an effect called "confirmation bias", where the investigator tends to rule out evidence that does not agree with the hypothesis.
A significant problem in scientific circles today is the de-facto promotion of a hypothesis to a theory, or even "settled science" while forgetting that it is still an unproven hypothesis. While we may consider evolution in this form, consider how secularist speak of the Big Bang and Dark Matter. Neither of these are established truths and both are gossamer-thin hypothesess, but both have been arguably promoted to theory or even fact before ever being confirmed.
A rescue device is a hypothesis that attempts to explain all the things that need to be explained! For example, the hypothesis of "Dark Matter" attempts to explain certain anomalies in the cosmos that require more matter to be present in order for gravity to continue to make sense. However, if dark matter isn't real, then it's just a prop to avoid re-addressing the mysteries of gravity. Also, dark matter isn't "normal" or "baryonic" matter as we understand it (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc) but is another form of matter entirely. One that cannot be seen nor measured. In short, dark matter does exactly what we need for it to do, to explain the things we cannot explain. It is a rescue device.
Evolutonary thought is replete with rescue devices, including the Big Bang, the Origin of Life, the Oort Cloud, and even evolution itself. Each of these hypthothesis attempts to explain the universe but only in terms of handling what humans don't yet understand. Evolution after all, has its timeline starting point with an "imperfect replicator". This gizmo does exactly what it needs to do to answer all of the unanswered questions! It is a rescue device. The Big Bang asserts that physics was completely different than it is now, in the nanoseconds before it actually happened, and whatever it was before that, was exactly what we need for it to be so that the Universe can come into existence without God. It is a rescue device.
It is important to recognize these root assumptions for what they are, rather than presume their reality.
Importance of Context
When we remove evidence from its original context, the meaning of the evidence is lost. For example, in a court of law a prosecutor may present a murder weapon as "Exibit A". The weapon is in a bag with a number on it, or an identifying tag. Those who watch courtroom drama often see these things as "background noise" of the program, implicitly understanding what they mean without thinking-it-through, to wit: The evidence was gathered at the crime scene by another human and carefully identified and handled through a chain-of-custody process that guarantees the evidence before them is in fact the same evidence gathered at the scene. All of this is very important context, because if the chain-of-custody has been lost, the integrity of the evidence is in question. This is only one context for the evidence.
Another critical context is the documenting of the circumstances of the evidence's discovery. Was it in plain sight? Could it have been planted? Do we have photographs of the crime scene to enhance the context? The human mind coalesces these artifacts using reason, any of which can be torn down (or reinforced) as the various contexts are elevated or discarded. A primary example in the O.J. Simpson trial is the assertion by the prosecution that the defendant washed his hands of blood, yet no trace of the victims' blood could be found at the defendant's residence. This context does not remove the defendant's guilt, but removes one context within which guilt could be established.
When a fossil is removed from the ground, the researchers document the discovery in the same way. The context that is applied however, can be manufactured in the sense that presuppositions are injected into the context. What layer of rock contained the fossil? How old is the layer of rock? If presuppositions inject context into these questions, circularity may drive the fossil's evaluation. For example, according to the (contrived) Geologic Column, insects should appear in the Pennsylvanian period. If we find a giant dragonfly, the fossil will be declared to be 200 million years old because it is in the Pennsylvanian period, which happened 200 million years ago. The circularity is that the Geologic Column arbitrarily assigns insects to the Pennsylvanian period because it is based on the idea that evolution is true and the layers are ordered in the presumed order-of-appearance. So the circularity is obvious:
- Look at this giant dragonfly!
- How old is that giant dragonfly?
- 200 million years old
- How do you know?
- Because of the layer of rock I found it in
- How old is that layer of rock?
- It's 200 million years old
- How do you know?
- Because it has insects in it!
The secularist will deny this circularity because of radiometric dating. The problem is that all radiometric dating has to be calibrated to metric, and this metric is invariably tested against its alignment with the presumptions of the Geologic Column. These presuppositions drive the context and can actually overlay or hide important context in favor of the bias of the person discovering the evidence.
Another important context is the presupposition of the discoverer as to the acceptablity of the evidence's context. In a court of law, the acceptability is driven by the process and protocol used to obtain the evidence. If it is obtained through illegal search, for example, its discovery is also tainted (another person could have planted the evidence, etc) and this compromises the context. In scientific terms, the acceptability of the conclusions reached by the discoverer can backwash into the context. For example, if a scientist arrives at a date of "a few thousand years" for an artifact that "should be" much older (based on the a-priori assumptions of the scientist) then the artifact's age may be re-characterized to a more "acceptable" age. Driving the "acceptability" is the presupposition of the scientist. In short, the scientist's "expectations" align with ages in the millions-of-years. If the measurement process does not meet the expectations, the scientist presumes that he/she is "doing something wrong" and may go about re-calibrating or re-characterizing the measurement until it falls in line with the scientist's expectations. However, an unsseen driver of the scientist's expectations are the expectations of his/her peers, their funding sources, the members of the peer-review process and any trade journals where the findings might be published. Each of these have strong expectations as to the "age" of the evidence and will not tolerate extraordinary deviation from these expectations. As a result, the entire process of discovery, examination, calibration, explanation, peer-review and publication can be directly driven and constrained by the expectations of the participants, and not as strongly driven by the actual context of the evidence.
This is why creationists often "re-interpret" the evidence in another context because they are tearing down the inbred fallacies that manufacture a false context. This is also why secularists counter with a defense of their methods or a critique of the methods used by creationists.
Evidence has greatest meaning in its original context. This is already difficult to reproduce in a criminal case in near-time, but even more so in a scientific case involving deep-time. The passing of time erodes context and so erodes the integrity of the evidence. Many people understand the concept of "contaminated crime scene" where one or more individuals trampling on the scene may add evidence as to their presence or disrupt evidence as to the presence of another. As for context, in one triple-murder in East Texas the handprint of the accused was found on the bathtub. But the accused was the boyfriend of the victim and was a frequent visitor. In short, the context of the handprint could not be tied to his presence at the time of the killing. Fifteen years later, however, he was convicted when technology had matured enough to properly examine some of the gathered evidence, and the accused confessed to the killing.
A crime scene starts to grow cold within hours of the crime, and rapidly erodes in the hours thereafter, so it can quickly become a "cold case" if no investigators are assigned to close it. Translated to the evolutionary narrative, deep-time context is claimed to be "known" in the same scientific sense as gravity or magnetism but this claim is more a statement of faith than of fact. If a crime scene can be contaminated in minutes or hours, even after deliberate protection, what does this say for evidence found in-the-wild, with little context and plenty of opportunity for random contamination?
Interestingly, DNA matching in criminal cases is very error-prone regardless of the mystique given to it by television drama. In fact, Hollywood has placed an aura-of-reliability around criminal evidence and the processes of collecting it to the point of setting an entirely false expectation. Criminal evidence is simply not that reliable. This problem is so pernicious that nearly half of all murders go unsolved in the United States, meaning that over 6,000 murderers get away with it.
A common definition of scientific evidence includes: "Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. Such evidence is expected to be empirical evidence and in accordance with scientific method. Standards for scientific evidence vary according to the field of inquiry, but the strength of scientific evidence is generally based on the results of statistical analysis and the strength of scientific controls."
The common understanding of scientific evidence presumes empirical terms, such that if a theory cannot be tested, falsified or validated through observation, repetition, measurement, etc then it cannot be regarded as a scientific theory, even though it may attempt to address scientific questions (e.g. cosmology, biology, physics etc). This is why "origins" cannot be proven with scientific evidence or methods. (origins cannot be repeated, measured or observed). However, speculations on origins can be falsified using scientific methods. This is because while the scientific method cannot be used to prove, it is ideal to falsify. Legal/historical proof must then be leveraged to reach a reasonable conclusion. Many scientists use comparative analysis (e.g. Crime Scene Investigation) techniques to derive conclusions, not realizing that such comparative analysis requires a known baseline for comparison, where the known baseline has been empirically verified using methods for scientific evidence. Because there is no known baseline for origins, comparative analysis is highly problematic.
A common definition of legal evidence  includes: "There are several types of evidence, depending on the form or source. Evidence governs the use of testimony (e.g., oral or written statements, such as an affidavit), exhibits (e.g., physical objects), documentary material, or demonstrative evidence, which are admissible (i.e., allowed to be considered by the trier of fact, such as jury) in a judicial or administrative proceeding (e.g., a court of law)."
The difference between legal and scientific evidence is often blurred when discussing origins. This is because the scientific evidence exists in the present but the context of the evidence's production exists in the deep past. This means that the original context is impossible to reproduce. However, if an experimental model can be produced which can physically reproduce the observed evidence, this provides a means to make a comparative analysis. However, simply contriving the original context through speculation doesn't mean that this represents the actual conditions. It remains speculation if it cannot follow the legal/historical rules of evidentiary quality.
Concerning creation origins, the common objection from naturalists is that the creation event cannot be repeated. But this is true of the evolutionary model as well. Another common objection is that the creation model of origins does not dovetail with other observations. However, this is not true. It may not dovetail with naturalistic interpretations of those observations. Naturalists often cannot discern the difference between fact and interpretation, or between evidence and interpretation of evidence. Or whether a model/simulation is itself fact, or merely represents an interpretation of fact.
Burden of Proof
Is the obligation of one party in a dispute to provide sufficient evidence to sway another party's initial position in favor of their own. The burden of proof may include confirming and/or negating evidence. If a party perceives failure in fulfilling the burden of proof, this may also translate to challenges towards the conclusions drawn from the evidence.
Two principle considerations are:
1. Who is responsible for the burden of proof? On whom does the burden of proof rest? 2. How much, or to what degree of evidence or certainty is required to support the assertion(s).
The nature of the assertion will usually determine the quantity or quality of evidence required to meet the burden of proof.
In both criminal and civil proceedings in the United States, the prosecutor and plaintiff respectively carry the burden of proof because American courts are based on a presumption of innocence of the accused. Each must convince a judge or jury that the preponderance of evidence is on their side.
Likewise in matters of philosophy, the party asserting a claim assumes the burden of proof. Why is this important to creationism? The secular community has essentially taken over ownership of the public forums concerning scientific discussion, ensconcing themselves as the gatekeepers of all scientific truth. While practically every claim of the evolutionary narrative remains unproven, secularists do not accept the burden of proof but rather throw it back into the lap of creationists. The secularists claim neutrality and unbelief but this position is not possible in a human mind, especially concerning human origins (everyone has an opinion on it).
In common philosophical debates, a "gentleman's agreement" may be used in circumstances where both parties agree to certain truths without requiring evidence for support. This is rarely the case in debates concerning creation and evolution, where both sides will not lightly disregard the other side's lack of evidence for support of a claim.
The creationist will do well to not allow the secularist to presume ownership of the truth such that the burden of proof is entirely upon the creationist. While the creationist should accept a full burden of proof, the secularist should be required to fully justify their position with the same degree of rigor.
Universal vs Functional Truth
Pontious Pilate asked Christ "What is truth?" John 18:38 and Christ had already claimed to his disciples John 14:6 that he was Truth incarnate. The secular mind rejects such claims and also purports that truth is relative. Something that is true for one person is completely false for another. Claiming that such differences are universally applicable in the physical world is both naive and foolish on the surface. Humans understand that the concept of "4" is the same for all people, languages, time-frames and locations. The concept of "4" is the same on the Moon as it is on the Sun, as it was in first-century Rome. The human mind accepts such constants without challenge. By the same token, if a secularist claims that there is "no such thing as absolute truth", this itself is an absolute truth, nullifying the claim.
While the creationist may drive for literal, absolute truth, the secularist will settle for "functional" truth. That is, secularists are willing to accept that certain truths are immutable (e.g. laws of science and logic) but that other truths (e.g. philosphy, morality, justice) are relative.
The primary difference in these two viewpoints is the starting-point of the observer. Even Einstein posited that a frame-of-reference governs the observer's perception of reality. Both sides agree to some common ground for "functional" truth. But both sides disagree as to what should be absolute. Evolution undermines the authority of universal truth. Creation fortifies the authority of universal truth.
Without the ability to declare a universal truth, the secularists are left without meaning. Aldous Huxley  actually claimed that this was a good thing. However, once the secularists have "won the argument" and all things are declared meaningless, so are their own words. They are essentially sawing the limb off behind themselves. As some have answered If you are striving for the meaningless of your own words, why not start now? We'll just agree that your words are meaningless and move on. Win-win. While such sentiments and humorous and tongue-in-cheek, they do not address the more serious nature of the problem, that mankind, according to God, really wants life to have no meaning for the very reasons that Huxley championed: liberation in sexuality and politics. Power and sex are very powerful prime-movers in the human heart and cannot be swayed by human logic alone.
A scientific observation or assertion, or scientific evidence, is acquired knowledge through controlled, reproducible experimentation. This is then reviewed by others to eliminate bias and mistakes in the process that could lead to erroneous conclusions. It is normally used to accept or reject a hypothesis.
Scientific assertions should be based on evidence. While mathematics is often used to fortify or extend the reach of a claim, basing the claim on mathematics alone is problematic. Recent claims in Population Genetics and Cosmology have been solely based in mathematics rather than the observable universe, creating a false basis for trust in the claims. A case in point is Black Holes and the Oort Cloud, neither of which have ever been observed but are surrounded by scientific calculations and mountains of lore just as though they are real.
Scientific assertions are strongly bound to what is testable, repeatable and observable. And while all these activities might be "in the past" for any given experiment, they are certainly reproducible in the present. Such evidence is generally cumulative, ammassed as a body of knowledge that is applicable in ongoing or planned experimentation.
As for burden-of-proof, a standard approach is to require the person contending with established science to defend the claim (see Burden of Proof) against the challenges of reviewers, the marketplace or observations that challenge the claim. A hypothesis is not generally rejected until the claimant has exhausted all defenses.
Concerning scientific evidence in court, a common aspect of the court system and the scientific community at large is the role of a "gatekeeper". In courts-of-law, the judge is given the authority of gatekeeper. The judge may draw testimony from experts and other sources, but ultimately the judge holds the final authority in the decision as to whether scientific evidence is admissible. Generally speaking, several factors apply to the judge's decision:
(1) Is the approach/method widely accepted? (2) Can it be both subjected to and survive peer review? (3) Is the rate of "false positive" acceptable, or are errors acceptably explained? (4) Is the theory or technique testable?
In creationist context, some of the above gateways may problematic for the acceptability of purely creationist assertions. For example, creationism may be widely accepted by the public but not by the majority of the scientific community. Peer review is also problematic because the secular scientific community claims to own this discussion with themselves as the sole gatekeepers. They do not consider a creationist to be a scientist, regardless of education, secular accomplishment or significant contribution to science. So they certainly do not consider such a person to be their peer. However, a peer in its legal definition, is someone who is like-minded to the defendant (e.g. a jury-of-peers). The courts may then construe that the scientific research of a creationist may be reviewed by the peers of the creationist, such as other like-minded scientists.
But again, with the judge as the sole gatekeeper, it is up to the judge whether this definition of "peer" is acceptable. Many judges have taken sides with the secular scientific community in rejection of creationist peers. The Supreme Court  ruled that it was unconstitutional to require creation to be taught in school. In another case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, ultimately decided against creationism in US District Court on 12/20/2005. At issue was not whether the science was valid, but the method and agenda through which the science was introduced to the schools. Testimony clearly revealed that the decision-makers in the Dover district were infusing the subject matter for religious purposes rather than a pursuit of academic excellence or broader scientific inquiry.
More unfortunately, the last two factors, false-positives and testability, are rarely if ever applied in the courts to claims from secular scientists in regards to origins or anti-creationist assertions. In fact, the anti-creationist assertions are often considered the standard that must be disproved by the creationist .
A primary difference in courts-of-law versus the scientific community is the Burden of Proof. In a court, the quality and amount of evidence required may be significantly lower than the threshold required by the scientific community. Both, however, require or honor the same types of evidence, which may include testimony, documentary or physical evidence.
Forensic Science is using scientific knowledge that was gathered in controlled observations and applying it as a baseline of comparison to conditions or events in the past. This is usually done to intersect the past events and conditions with the baseline of knowledge, such as authenticating ancient artifacts or determining innocence or guilt in a court proceeding. The forensic analyst must be careful not to make broad presumptions about the state of the past. Case in point: If a perpetrator places evidence in an icebox and then removes it one year later, the lack-of-decay in the evidence may change the presumed context of evidence's origin and may artificially remove it from the original crime-scene's timeframe. Likewise if a historical artifact has no corroboration as to the context of its discovery, this can either compromise the authenticity of a true historical artifact or disqualify an artifact as fraud.
Historical (e.g. Documentary) Evidence
Generally applied in courtroom proceedings as a defacto standard. Historical evidence is ordinarily regarded as physical evidence such as artifacts, documents, latent biological elements such as fingerprints or DNA, any electronic or time-sensitive record that can establish a timeline, etc. In courtroom proceedings, the most significant aspect of such evidence is the preservation of its original context (see also Chain of Custody) because this fortifies authenticity.
Unsupported evidence such as that gathered outside of a Chain of Custody or testimony violating "rules of hearsay" may be excluded from examination for purposes of maintaining the integrity of the proceedings. Testimony entered into a public record follows a formal, protected process so that all words used have a common, known source of record. For example, in defamation cases, any defamatory content placed into the public eye by the plaintiff is inadmissible because the plaintiff is in court ostensibly to have such content suppressed. The "public eye" therefore, is different from the "public record".
Historical evidence in archaeology or documentary authentication may use additional metrics such as carbon dating, chemical testing, etc. to establish authenticity. For example, mid-20th-century nuclear testing has put certain isotopes into Earth's environment that show up in a variety of ways. One if these is in authenticating wine. Any wine bottled before this time will not carry the telltale signs of nuclear contamination, which is one method of guarding against fraud. More generally applied to such things as antiques or art, other factors may be the type of pigments used, the composition of the canvas, the chemicals in them, carbon-dating of the chemicals, certain pollens or spores that were indigenous to the artist's homeland and many more. These are converged to authenticate an artifact to a high statistical standard.
Establishing a timeline for an artifact is critical to its authentication because fraud takes place in near-time with an attempt to simulate the original timeline history of the artifact. This is especially true of something found "at the scene of the crime" because it is only material to the case if it can be placed at the scene during the timeframe of the crime itself. A perpetrator may have removed articles or may have "salted" or contaminated the scene with irrelevant artifacts to distract or derail the investigation.
Scientific v Historical Evidence
Crime Scene Investigators will use Scientific Evidence as a comparative baseline to historical evidence in an effort to infuse context to the historical evidence. For example, if a Crime Scene Investigator testifies for the evidence in a case, the CSI will be expected to present comparative analysis between known, baseline scientific observations and the evidence gathered at the scene. While the CSI may be able to prove (with photographs, cadavers etc.) that pushing a serrated blade into a human heart will kill that human, this does not automatically translate to asserting (scientifically) that "John killed Mary with a knife on August 10th" because this event cannot be tested, repeated nor observed. The CSI must use other historical evidences and artifacts to establish a timeline that places John at the scene of the crime.
In a February 2014 webinar debate between Bill Nye, popular science personality and Ken Ham, founder of Answers In Genesis , Ken Ham presented a case for separating "Observational Science" versus "Historical Science".
Bill Nye made the assertion that "everything is in the past - even what you are seeing now is light that is arriving to you after the event has transpired, so it's already in the past when you are observing it." Such assertions are simply naive and deflect from reasonably accepted truth.
For example, we cannot prove scientifically that Abraham Lincoln was President. We cannot prove scientfically' that Jesus Christ walked the Earth. But reasonable human minds accept these limitations of science and easily shift context between scientific proof and documentary/legal-historical proof for such things.
However, Ken Ham makes a viable case against the secular scientific community and how it plays on the mind's ability to easily shift context between observational and historical, blurring the distinction to deliberately confuse the human mind into thinking that they are truly interchangeable. In short, they declare that the "same science" that produces technology is the "same science" that asserts the Earth is millions of years old. These are not the "same science", but the secular scientific community blurs the distinction in their favor.
In addition, the secularist and creationist alike must guard against selective bias in reporting results or gathering observations. A case in point: Whenever a scientist sets up an experiment to prove evolution, the laboratory must be "contrived" to look like the presumed evolutionary model. Anything observed within this model is assumed to be proof of evolution, when in fact the experiment itself was contrived through biased minds. The Miller-Urey experiment contains this bias, as does the Michelson-Morley apparatus and Time Dilation.
The secular scientific community and the creationist scientific community both share the same evidence. What they don't share, is the same interpretation of the evidence. Each group approaches the evidence from a different starting point, which establishes the context within which the evidence will be examined, interpreted or even included/excluded.
This approach can be illustrated with the following continuum:
That is, Evidence, gathered and preserved with its Context can be Interpreted by human minds through the application of Reason. This leads the human mind to Truth, usually an integrated truth, which is a foundation for Faith.
This makes Christian faith a reasonable faith, that is founded in earthly things that ultimately describe heavenly things. The opposite of this continuum begins with faith-first. That is Faith, a person's presuppositions, constrain the boundaries of "acceptable Truth", which is then used to guide all forms of Reason. This then constrains all Interpretations, effectively excluding or accepting the Context within which Evidence is admissible, and likewise accepting or rejecting Evidence based on presuppositions. This is often seen when unreasonable assertions, claims or even methods of defense are used to fortify a position. Invoking unknowns in the natural world (such as strings, black holes, Oort clouds, wormholes, dark matter, dark energy, convoluted mathematics and the like) to justify observations in the natural world, are entirely unreasonable.
Applied to the evolutionary narrative, the secularist accepts on Faith that the theory of evolution is true, and this drives What John Sanford has called "The Primary Axiom" that man is the product of mutations plus natural selection. Any scientists guided with this Axiom, holds to an immutable boundary that taints all Reasoning and Interpretation of Evidence. It is the only Context within which Evidence will be included, excluded or examined.
Secularists will accuse creationists of following a faith-first approach without realizing that they themselves follow the faith-first approach on a regular basis. Evolution is not science, but a narrative that must be accepted on faith. Secularists are constantly being caught in their inconsistent application of evidentiary standards as a direct result of their presuppositions.
Josh McDowell, in Evidence that Demands a Verdict points out numerous cases of people who were unwilling to hear or regard evidence that disagreed with what they already believed. And in one case, of a man who refused to hear additional evidence because he knew that, upon hearing it, he would be responsible for it. Such positions are unreasonable.
In the final analysis, we can use DNA, the fossil record, geology etc and interpret them in equally reasonable ways toward a creationist conclusion or a secular/evolutionary conclusion. The real test, then, is whether the conclusion is borne on all evidence in all context, or borne on selective evidence in a limited context.
Preponderance of Evidence
The court systems apply certain rules because they align with human nature and the ability of human minds to seek a "truth" (or the nearest truthful conclusion) in a matter. The concept of "logical proof" never enters a courtroom because the human mind can only use logical proof as a stepping stone. Logical proof supports reason but cannot replace it.
For example, a computer could be used to hear all the testimony in a courtroom and render a decision. What the computer cannot see nor understand, is the additional context gathered by a human juror in real-time. Did the defendant fidget in the witness stand? Did the other witnesses have mannerisms or behavior that makes their testimony credible, or less so? Was the witness believable? Is the evidence credible? Computers cannot discern the subtle nuances of context that humans so easily and automatically discern.
The court requires and supplies means for a structured "preponderance of evidence" which is based on the weight and value of evidence rather than the amount of it. In fact, in today's information-rich society, a flood of evidence can muddy the truth or make it harder for proponents/opponents to sift through in making a case.
However, in the case of fossil evidence, too much is in the favor of creationists primarily because of an easily discernible pattern in the aggregate of the fossils: lack of transitional forms. Darwin himself lamented the lack of fossil evidence as being a reason his theory could not be fully accepted. With the proposal of Punctuated Equilibrium, Gould and Eldredge publicly and formally recognized that the gaps throughout the fossil record are pervasive and immutable, and required an answer. Moreover, the scientific community's public acceptance of their assertion is derived from the theory's widespread and heralded popularity: that gaps rule the fossil record.
How does preponderance apply to creationism? The many "evidences" for an old Earth may be rich in number but are light in weight. Any one of them can be easily dismantled into a pile of assumptions and presuppositions. However, secularists reject interpretations of the data that yield unacceptably young ages for the Earth, even when the very same uniformitarian principles are clearly applied. Apart from a wide range of scientific proofs for creation and a young earth, the evidences for the construction and preservation of the Holy Scripture are fewer in number but are heavy in weight, and not so easily dismissed.
Also known as "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," which in the case of creationism, is not completely true but its side effects are very useful. The creationist's enemy may be nay-sayed or countered by another of his enemies. But in tearing down his enemy's argument, they are doing the creationist a favor that should be exploited.
A strong argument that brings weight to the preponderance is the availability of a witness to testify in our behalf, but is also predisposed to be biased against us. A case in point is a man who is accused of murder of another man's wife. In the proceedings, it is learned that the man was also having an affair with the victim. However, the victim's husband was with the defendant during the timeframe of the murder so can testify in his behalf. This is a classic hostile-witness case. The victim's husband, on account of adultery, has every reason to want the defendant punished. That he will testify in the defendant's behalf, carries strong weight for the jury's consideration.
How does this apply to creationism? The secular scientific community is renown for tearing down the argument and assertions of their secular peers. In so doing, however, they are also providing fodder for the cannons aimed against them as a whole.
A case in point is the aforementioned Punctuated Equilibrium, first posited by Gould and Eldredge as an answer to the abject lack of transitional fossils in the fossil record. This theory was hailed throughout the world as having explained the problem of missing transitional fossils. Yet it merely explains the lack of evidence. First the secularists said evolution happens so slowly we can't see it (gradualism) and now they say it happened so fast we missed it. All they are really saying is that there's no evidence at all.
This is a case of using a hostile witness (Gould and Eldredge are no friends of creationism) and using their words to shift the weight of preponderance to creationist side.
Another case in point is the propensity of secularists to rely on uniformitarian presuppositions in that the unobservable deep-time processes in nature have always proceeded at the same rate and in the same way as those in the current-day. This is then extrapolated into the past to "show" long ages for the earth. However, secularists are constantly presented with new findings that challenge such presuppositions. Mary Schweitzer's discovery of soft parts in dinosaur bones (complete with vertebrate DNA) did not cause the secularists to slap their foreheads and say 'we were completely wrong about how old the dinosaurs are' but rather elicited statements such as 'we need to figure out how soft parts could last so long'. So even in the face of the evidence, the secularist will not budge from their a-priori assumptions.
A common practice in court proceedings is to require at least two independent pieces of evidence with corroborating witnesses. One witness alone cannot be used to corroborate both pieces of evidence. This protects against false accusation and wrongful conviction.
This is also the reason why God establishes truth through more than one witness Deuteronomy 18:15 because one witness can twist the truth. The creationist has to overcome this aspect because the "truth" of evolution is "established" by many hundreds of witnesses in the secular scientific community. Or is it?. The secular scientists interpret what they see in a common way, but their interpretations do not establish truth. They are not simply rendering an observation, but an observation with an interpretation. In courts of law, witnesses are expected to testify as to what they saw but not to interpret it. Creationists can deflate secularist claims by sticking with the observations and countering the secular interpretation.
Reasonable Doubt vs Logical Proof
While the human mind readily leverages logic to conclude basic thoughts, the more rigid aspects of logical proof can easily confuse an untrained human mind. Logic is expressed in both verbal syllogism or mathematical proof. Human minds are trainable in each of these, but also recognize their weaknesses in representing reality. For example, the concept of "4" is only in the human mind. It is applied as a mnemonic to the real world, and all human minds, once trained, can agree on what "4" means, but the concept itself remains in the human mind and is not part of the natural world.
Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, ultimately makes the following statement of logic: The existence of the universe, as it appears, seems improbable. If God created the universe, then God is also improbable. The glaring hole in this logic is that the universe seems improbable without God to have made it probable. Introducing God simply to accuse him is an ad-hominem attack and would disqualify the most experienced debater.
Conversely, people have made the following error: "Things that are designed are clearly the products of intelligent minds. Humans are clearly the product of design and understand how to design things so that design itself is understood by humans." This is countered by "You claim that God is not a product of design and apparently has the ability to design things. Therefore if we presume that mankind is not the product of design, why is it odd that mankind knows how to design things?" The logical trap is the logic itself - because reasonable minds can discern, without the rigors of logic, that God can design and create, and that we have no a-priori knowledge as to God's origins so cannot make any assumptions about it. In short, each assertion of the logical sequence must stand on its own. But "the origin of God" cannot be known so is invalid to assert. Likewise with the origin of life. Anything requiring an a-priori assumption must be agreed upon by the participants, but the "origin of God", being unknown, is accepted by faith on one side of the argument and rejected on a lack-of-faith by the other side. Neither side accepts it as standalone truth that is objectively true for both sides.
A believer falls into a trap by accepting such premises at all. It opens the door for other strawman premises that likewise have no weight.
The reasonable conclusion is that "intelligent minds can design things" and this truth is reasonably understood by human minds. Therefore if evidence of design is a reasonable interpretation of the data, it is likewise reasonable to assume the involvement of an intelligent designer.
This is one of many reasons the court systems are based on the concept of "reasonable doubt". This approach presumes the innocence of the accused and requires the accuser to prove guilt "beyond reasonable doubt". If the jury has are reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused, the jury should find for "not guilty". Some additional legal standards of proof include "reasonable suspicion", "probable cause" (as for arrest), "prima facie evidence", "credible evidence", "substantial evidence", and "clear and convincing evidence".
Anecdotally, trial attorneys use grandstand tricks to leverage reasonable doubt in their favor. One in particular was when a defense attorney claimed that the police had found the actual perpetrator and were about to bring him through the doors of the court, then he waited for an awkward pause and said - you really believed that someone else could have done this, and that's called reasonable doubt. This tactic backfired on the same attorney when his client didn't look backward with everyone else, signaling to the jury that he already knew nobody was coming!
This is also a primary reason that God does not appeal to logical proof, but to reason. Isaiah 1:18 Come, let us reason together, I Peter 3:15 ...be ready always to give an answer to any man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you..., I Samuel 12:7 ...stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord...
How do these concepts apply to creationism? Secular scientists will attempt to disprove God using logical syllogisms that do not play out in the real world. Reasonable people can easily discern the simplest of evidences, connect them to the real world and dispel the absence of God with reasonable doubt. In fact, the Bible says that reasonable doubt about God's existence is impossible Romans 1:20 .
One particular logical syllogism follows:
P:Religious fervor can have dangerous consequences. P:Dangerous consequences should be avoided. C:Religious fervor should be avoided
The problem with the above sequence is the use of the word "should". There is no secular standard of morality to determine "should" or "ought" (they reject God and embrace moral relativism). In using this argument, they have betrayed the fact that they don't really subscribe to moral relativism at all, but another form of moral tyranny - their own morality imposed upon another. They want to control the behavior of others (make them stay out of religious fervor) while decrying what they already think is an unacceptable control model (religious fervor).
In addition, if we presume that God is the accused in the discussion, that is, accused of being non-existent, the burden of proof is on the accuser to prove reasonable doubt as to God's existence. Likewise if we were to place Jesus Christ of Nazareth on trial for lying about his claims to be God-in-flesh, could we reasonably exonerate Him or convict him? By the same measure, if we were to place Jesus on trial for lying about having Resurrected from the dead, could we reasonably exonerate or convict him?
A common logical trap follows: "Can God make anything that he cannot destroy?" This question attempts to prove that God is not omnipotent. If we answer "No" that we have identified something God cannot do, but the same is true if we answer "Yes". However, we are told in Scripture that God is unable to sin and it is impossible for him to lie or break a promise. A promise from God arrives as words from God, which are claimed to be eternal.
This means God can already make something he cannot destroy: a promise. This is simply an example of attempting to place God into a logical box.
In the above cases, reasonable doubt plus a preponderance of evidence allow the human mind to both grasp a functional truth and embrace a universal truth.
Interestingly, the Scientific Method cannot be used to prove anything. Thus we can never use science to prove the existence of God. Likewise acience cannot prove that God does not exist. Secularists will simply use this as "proof" that there's nothing to consider. In short, something that cannot be scientifically proven nor disproven is outside the realm of science to address. The "first origins" questions fall into this bucket as well, that neither creation nor evolution can be proven because they cannot be reproduced. Likewise if a process (such as evolution) requires millions of years, it is impractical to attempt observing it. It is ironic that evolution is at the forefront of "scientific" discussion when it is already outside the realm of science to address. Ken Ham had it right, this is historical science and an entirely different method of proof is necessary. Observational science does not apply.
This applies in creationism in that the claims of deep-time are beyond the capacity of science to validate. If one attempts to validate deep-time assertions, one requires the same documentary or legal-historical proof as would be required of any historical claim. Yet with evolution, no such proof can be obtained because no eyewitnesses existed in deep-time. This places the claims of evolution outside of science and outside of the capacity of the Scientific Method.
The Scientific Method is also subject to tautology, that is, circular reasoning. David H. Freedman points out that scientists regularly attempt to skew their observations in favor of their hypothesis, selectively include/exclude evidence that would disfavor the hypothesis, or simply outright falsify the results. This is largely due to the extraordinary expense of scientific experimentation. If a hypothesis fails, funding sources are often unforgiving. While Edison may have failed over 1000 times in attempting to create a light bulb, he brushed it off as "being a process requiring 1,000 steps". Today's high-tech and high-expense research landscape is unforgiving for such repeated failures, eliciting fraud and deceit among scientists who want to keep their funding dollars flowing. It is simply a matter of survival and the funding sources are highly skewed in favor of evolutionary claims.
The Lenski evolution experiment has attempted to reproduce the evolutionary process but instead has actually proven a loss-of-function model as outlined by John Sanford Genetic Entropy through generational genetic decay and Specialization (Genotype). The researchers attempt to "spin" the observations to support evolution but in the end, they are lining-up to a loss-of-function model, not a gain-of-function as required by evolution. Nor are the bacteria evolving into new and different life forms. After 50,000 generations, they remain bacteria. This is a clear example of the person making the claim but never achieving the threshold of the burden of proof. Claiming victory is very different from achieving it.
Chain Of Custody
An important aspect of evidence integrity and authenticity is the validation of chain-of-custody, particularly where it applies to ancient artifacts.
For example, Oded Golan was acquitted of forgery but the artifacts he promoted and sold are still under investigation for their authenticity. If he is not a fraud, then the worst he is guilty of is sloppy recordkeeping. He has no documentation or verifiable testimony as to the origin of these artifacts. If they are truly forgeries, this merely means he was brokering forgeries without prior knowledge. We can see, however that a documented chain-of-custody reduces doubt as to the authenticity of an artifact.
In courts-of-law, any evidence presented must have been kept under a strict chain-of-custody. Any breach in this chain means that the defendant may be acquitted. Any number of cases in the news (and ripped-from-headlines for television drama) play on this need for maintaining authenticity through chain of custody. Some of the sloppy forensics in the famous OJ Simpson trial created reasonable doubt in the jury when they discovered that many evidentiary artifacts had not been entered into a formal chain of custody.
The scribes who preserved Scripture kept a strict chain-of-custody driven by their zealotry to serve God. An example of this preservation is exemplified in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly the book of Isaiah . The discovered copy of Isaiah was dated to before the first century, bridging almost 1000 years from the earliest known copy. Apart from minor punctuation, they were identical. Historians called this "miraculous" but it is perfectly explicable in the light of the scribes' dedication to maintain the integrity of the Scripture. Their rules for transcription far exceed those commonly used in modern-day computer operating systems for copying data.
Some "ancient" manuscripts that seemingly "popped into existence" with little wear-and-tear but were "found" in trash heaps or obscure locations. Where is the chain-of-custody? How do we know those weren't placed there fraudulently? These include the Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Thomas, Lost Books of the Bible, Lost Years of Jesus, etc.
In this group of ancient manuscripts, two additional artifacts are strongly held in question because of the obscurity of their existence, clear lack-of-use (pages are not worn) and lack of a chain-of-custody. These artifacts have strongly influences the construction and content of modern Bibles. They include the Codex Vaticanus  and the Codex Sinaiticus  .
How does this apply to creationism? In attempting to link transitional fossils, secularists must resort to drawing imaginary lines between known life forms and filling the gap with a "narrative". There is no true transition between the forms and no means to go back and reproduce the transition. This "transition" is just as representative of a chain-of-custody as that required of any trial court. How can we know for certain that one set of genes handed-off to another?
The famous Tiktaalik was discovered in the rocks, dusted-off and rushed into the courtrooms just in time for final arguments. This so stretched the credulity of onlookers that the find was (much later) dismissed out-of-hand. Later follow-up completely dismantled the argument in favor of Tiktaalik, but the court case was concluded and decisions made. This race-to-judgment is typical of the scientific community, considering that Nebraska Man was used in the Scopes Trial as ammunition against the creationists, but shortly thereafter was found to be a pig's tooth. Evolution lost in the Scopes Trial. In both cases however, sloppy forensics, lack of identification and foreshortened processes of scientific integrity led to serious and embarrassing mistakes in judgment.
This fallacy is committed when a subject or idea is given emotional or other human characteristics. A common fallacy in presenting or discussing scientific evidence are the following reification statements:
(1) That's not what the evidence says (2) Let the evidence speak (3) You are disagreeing with the evidence (4) Scientists seek a consilience of evidence (5) The evidence indicates/suggests/points/elicits/calls for/etc
This fallacy asserts that evidence has independent objectivity outside of the human mind, when evidence is passive, inanimate matter and cannot speak or act on its own. Evidence must always be interpreted, analyzed, compared etc by a human mind. It is the human mind that speaks, disagrees, finds consilience, indicates, suggests, calls-for etc. Evidence has no capacity whatsoever to do any of these things. People do that.
Considering that evidence must be interpreted, we now understand that the interpreter is shaping the evidence toward the interpreter's bias. There is no such thing as an objective interpreter.
This fallacy is a logical trap for creationists and rears its head regularly in debates and discussions. How is this fallacy managed without appearing as if the evidence itself is being rejected?
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
This "don't answer/answer" approach is very effective in dealing with reification. If we answer according to their folly (their fallacy) we are agreeing that their initial assertion has a basis. If we don't answer within the context of their fallacy, but rather answer the fallacy itself, we gain the higher ground.
A possible response might be: "Evidence is passive, inanimate matter and cannot speak for itself. So I am not disagreeing with the evidence. I am disagreeing with the interpretation of the evidence coming from biased human minds."
A common practice of creationist believers is to examine a scientist's white-paper or abstract and filter the observations from the interpretations. Secular proponents of evolution rarely do this, rather they glean the interpretations and use them as interchangeable with the observation. When this is pointed out, we invariably see that the observations can be easily interpreted to support creationism, and are often better explained in the light of creationism. In short, the scientist's interpretation is flawed and the secular argument are based on these flaws, not the observations themselves.
In Genetic Entropy, John Sanford make a compelling argument that Darwinian natural selection does not apply to genetics in any form whatsoever. In fact, the genome is invisible to selection because it must occur in all-or-nothing form. Natural selection has no ability nor visibility into individual genes. An individual of a population is accepted or rejected in-total, not through gene-level selection. Likewise, genes appear in unbreakable linkages which are part of unbreakable clusters, many of which may be buried in several layers of functional activity. Natural selection has no visibility to any of this, so any mutations (good or bad) that appear on a given individual (a) cannot be presumed to pass to the next generation and (b) cannot be naturally unhooked from their biochemical moorings in support of selection. Humans can engage in selective breeding, but this is an artificial injection of human intelligence to the process.
We can see the obvious fallacy in play here: Accepting that natural selection is actually selecting anything, or for that matter, accepting that natural selection is a reality. The reality is that the genome is the acting agent and the environment is passive.
The United States Secret Service is charged with elimination of counterfeiting of American currency. The primary method used for this detection is "education and training concerning the unique aspects of American money". In short, the subject is first trained on what the "real thing" looks like so that a counterfeit is easily spotted. The secondary training is on counterfeiting techniques, such as the propensity for a counterfeiter to pay for small items with larger bills, effectively laundering the counterfeit into valid currency.
In short, the primary means to guard against "counterfeit science" or "pseudo-science" is to know how science actually works, what doesn't work, and what investigative methods are acceptable to discover the facts. For example, humans know that science should be driven on observation, but much of cosmology and evolutionary biology is not driven on observation, but on mathematical models, many of which are not required to directly intersect with the real world.
In the above example of Genetic Entropy, Sanford points out that the community of biologists and geneticists working with DNA-based experiments passively accepted Population Genetics because nobody promoting it was saying anything other than what they already believed. Population Genetics was borne on the need to preserve the evolutionary narrative because scientists realized that the complexity and depth of the genome precluded natural selection from ever working at all. Seeing Darwin on-the-ropes, they concocted Population Genetics to obfuscate this reality with convoluted math. In other examples in Cosmology, physicists can only use mathematical models coupled with specious interstellar observations. the result is an embarrassing display of mathematical conclusions, everything from wormholes to string theory and even black holes. As of this writing, over six different types of black holes actually exist (all the way up to super-massive!) but none of them have ever been observed or measured. Likewise for the Oort Cloud, dark matter and dark energy.
When cosmological physics cannot explain it, they will retreat to their mathematics rather than engage actual observations. What would Galileo have to say about this?
- Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987)
- Selman v Cobb County School District, Georgia 2002
- John 3:12
- Genetic Entropy, 2005 Elim Publishing, John Sanford, Prologue
- WRONG - Why Experts Keep Failing Us, 2010, Little, Brown and Company, David H. Freedman
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Hebrews 6:18
- Titus 1:2
- Matthew 24:35
- WRONG - Why Experts Keep Failing Us, 2010, Little, Brown and Company, David H. Freedman