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On making assumptions in science

In the March 17th Independent, Mr. Phil Drietz of Delhi writes about assumptions. Non-scientists call a statement an assumption to imply it is an incorrect statement.

Scientists make assumptions to simplify a thought process or calculation.

A physicist might say, “Assume there is no air drag for objects falling near the Earth’s surface.” A billiard ball falling 10 feet encounters an air drag of less than 3% of the ball’s weight. Thus, air drag has little effect in this falling body problem.

In science, assumptions are testable.

Mr. Drietz calls the idea that Earth life started with chemical reactions an invalid assumption. He then states the idea that the Earth is billions of year old is also an invalid assumption .

What assumptions does he suggest instead? That life results from the magical actions of an invisible sky god? That the Earth is only 6,000 years old?

Mr. Drietz’s first assumption is untestable. It is not a scientific assumption. It is a belief.

Mr. Drietz’s other assumption is testable. One test is the study of tree rings.

Deciduous trees make one ring each growing season. Overlapping the rings of many trees creates a continuous set. At the present time, the longest of these sets is 11,750 years old. That is almost twice the 6000 years claimed by religious believers.

A variety of other measurements show the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. This is NOT an assumption, it is a measurement.

Several experiments show non-organic chemicals can combine to form organic chemicals.

Science has not created life in a test tube. Rather, the chemical compounds of life result from the reactions of non-living chemicals.

If Mr. Drietz is serious about finding truth, he must start with testable facts. He can not start with his untestable beliefs and then “cherry pick” evidence to support them.

Harold Shuckhart

Minneota

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