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In Overview we presented you with a general discussion of the place of biblical archaeology in the contemporary world and how it illuminates scripture. Here we consider the utility of the scientific method in undertaking this task.  Science refers to a research strategy for the production of knowledge and understanding. The scientific method consists of an objective means of coming to know how the real world works. The scientific model, established upon observation and replication, deals with observable phenomena (the domain of general revelation in theological terminology). This has to do with the issues of epistemology—what can we know and how can we know it?

Science deals with observable phenomena, a positivist view, with data obtained by objective means capable of replication. Scientific knowledge remains tentative and incomplete. Scientists do not attempt to expound upon "final truths" through their use of the scientific method. Scientific knowledge in general never does deal with ultimate truths. In theology we do.

Scientific research involves validating theoretical models and modifying theories. Further articulation of a theory results from the testing of research hypotheses against data and developing new explanations for observed results. The adjustment of a model occurs with a shift of theory resulting in a new theory replacing an old one, e.g., Darwinism replaced by the synthetic theory of evolution.

Scientific theory constitutes the attempt to explain observable phenomena within a specifiable domain of investigation (chemistry, physics, psychology, anthropology). In a more limited sense a scientific theory is a set of statements permitting prediction and explanation of phenomena. Science through application of the research paradigm known as the scientific method involves prediction not description. The simple testing of hypotheses and improving explanations is not science but description.

Science requires specific theories and laws that can be used to predict. The archaeological record, which exists in the here and now, remains subject to scientific inquiry and has predictive value.

Page last edited: 03/26/09 10:05 PM

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