Evidence from Ancient Texts

How do we know things about the past? Whether in history or in the natural sciences, it involves working with surviving data and using deductive reasoning and logical inference.

Dennis Venema has been blogging about “Genomes as Ancient Texts.” In the latest installment, he provides diagrams illustrating how scientists deduce that two organisms are related in a particular way. Here’s one example:

Anyone from my own area of expertise who has studied textual criticism will recognize the line of argument and appreciate its force. Sharing a single “typo” does not prove anything, since human make the same typos regularly. But when one manuscript reproduces most or all of the transcription errors in another, it becomes most likely that the latter copied from the former.

Click through to read the rest of Vennema’s post. And I recommend circulating it to people you may know who do not understand what the evidence for evolution is and why it is so persuasive.

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  • Brian P.

    What would happen to a population if its genome could not be affected by natural selection over generations? What would happen to a text if it can not be adapted? Is hermeneutics something akin to a text’s phenotype? To borrow a concept from Dennett, can an intentional stance be taken toward a text and/or its characters within?

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