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I held the plastic Coke bottle up and suggested we view it as a fossil. Both the atheists and myself had the same data in front of us. None of us were ‘there’ historically to observe what happened, so we had to find a way to ‘interpret’ the data in front of us—my imaginary fossil.
Very quickly Peter and Paul suggested we would need more information in order to interpret this ‘fossil’. I agreed. All of us would need additional information in order to interpret the data.
But what if the other information we had was wrong? Could we still ‘interpret’ this fossil with incorrect data? Of course not, they agreed. But the ‘scientific method’ had within it steps to check and confirm the accumulation of data collected along the way, they reminded me. I agreed that might be the scientific method, but these two atheists were about to learn a lesson about jigsaw puzzles.
I suggested that the ‘facts’ of the universe were like a giant jigsaw puzzle. In order to complete the puzzle, you eventually have to get each piece in its correct place. Sometimes when you play with jigsaw puzzles, you find two pieces that seem to fit together, but later on you realize they don’t go together at all. So you pull them apart and try to find where they really belong in the puzzle.You can puzzle this out in its full context at "The Street-Preacher's Guide to Jigsaw Puzzles".