Is geology really a 'science'? Geologists don't really seem to be able to prove anything. That is an excellent question. As was seen in 'Landforms Part I', the method (which we called 'scientific') seemed capable of providing not 'proof', but a high degree of probability. Because geology deals so much with materials and processes that are inaccessible because of their location (deep within the earth) and/or when they occurred (millions or billions of years ago), high probability seems an acceptable substitute for 'proof'. In practical terms, high probability seems to work out satisfactorily in terms of successful prediction. In economic terms, the application of geologic principles and methods to find water, oil, gas, metals, etc. has been very successful. Geology deals with the world as it is, in all its complexity. Many areas within a science like physics seems capable of approaching 'proof' more closely than geology because they strip away the messy complexity of the real world and deal with cleaner, simpler 'abstractions'. The issue of how geologists come to agree about something (consider it 'proven') will be considered further in 'Landforms Part V'.
© 2004, David J. Leveson