[b-hebrew] Science

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Oct 23 13:53:15 EDT 2007


On 10/23/07, K Randolph wrote:

> The reasons I like to cite this book are the following:
>
> 4) it gives one of the strongest arguments I have seen why evolution
> is not a scientific theory with an emphasis on "scientific", never was
> and never can be. Because the presentation of scientific method is so
> clear that science has to be on the basis of observation, and the
> definition of evolution is so clearly defined in such a way that it
> could not have been observed, the logic is clear, but the authors
> illogical. I use this as a perfect example of Romans 1:22.

First, I find no reason for you to quote Romans here.  Romans here
will not make any meaning of Hebrew clearer, a situation which would
have justified quoting it, in my opinion.

Now, a more accurate way to state what you stated above is that
according to your interpretation of what this book says, the author
contradicts himself or is otherwise illogical since he provides
inconsistent definitions of science and evolution.  Of course, it may
be possible that you are not reading the definition of science and/or
evolution appropriately.  You did not provide a quote and apparently
it is a book that you viewed in the past and no longer have on hand.
In any case, Dr. Simpson is only one of several authors of the book.
He may not have written what you paraphrased, perhaps only
reviewed the original text (before your paraphrasing).  His position
regarding evolution is contained in the following statement,
apparently signed 1977:
http://www.americanhumanist.org/about/affirming-evolution.html

Philosophy of science is a field of study and a more appropriate
place to look for a definition of "science" is in a book devoted to
philosophy of science.  The following is a site where you might
find additional extensive definitions of "science":
http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/What-Is-Science.htm

Yigal Levin's suggestion that "the natural laws did not change" is
a scientific principle is in my view inaccurate but largely true.
More accurately, this principle generally makes for economy.
However, in various conditions, and when experimentally
verified, it might turn out that certain laws change over time.
But we must have explicit evidence to prove the change and
the way the law changes over time.  For example, perhaps
a natural law is related to the temperature of Earth which
changes over time.

Your definition of observable events is not the scientific
definition.  Thus, the following statement:

> Linguistic theories that cannot be observed, such as the
> theory that chet was originally two letters that were merged in
> Biblical Hebrew, has neither historical nor scientific evidence to
> back it up because it is not based on observation.

is wrong.  The Septuagint does transcribe words in a way that
is best explained as that Hebrew had two values for Het.  The
cognate correspondences in various Semitic languages are best
explained by the theory that these languages developed out of
a common stock of some 29 consonantal phonemes, and shifted
in a regular manner.  Since regular sound shifts are observed in
all modern languages, and appear to have taken place in ancient
times as well in other languages, assuming the same for Semitic
is not only a good idea -- it requires a good reason not to.  The
theory that these cognate correspondences are the result of a
regular sound shift essentially makes predictions regarding
cognate words.  That is, given that we see a word with cognates
in Arabic, Aramaic, and Ugaritic, we could predict what we
should expect to find in Hebrew.  This lends to falisification
and observations.  Yes we can't observe what took place so
many years ago directly.  But then, until the 20th century,
scientists couldn't observe what happens outside the
atmosphere directly.  They still discovered Neptune.  Why
should the dimension of time be any different?  We see the
reflexes today -- and based on those reflexes can make
predictions for the past.  Just like we can we see reflexes
of light here on Earth, and based on those reflexes can
make predictions about the existence of things, planets,
galaxies, black holes, etc,  that take place far away and
which we may never physically observe with our own eyes.
We can test those predictions by further observations,
themselves only of reflexes of the actual predicted entity.
Whether it is a language in the ancient past, or a planet
far away, the observations are still valid even though they
are removed in time or space.

Yitzhak Sapir



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