Texas newspaper: “Researchers” want to “prove” creationism

August 16, 2014 • 8:17 am

The August 14 Dallas Morning News (headline below, click it to see the article) presents as “news” something that is neither new nor accurate:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 10.23.50 AM

This turns out to be just a report on the activities of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in Dallas. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll remember the ICR as the outfit founded in 1970 in San Diego by Henry M. Morris, co-author of The Genesis Flood (1961), the book that marked the beginning of the “scientific creation” movement, devoted to showing that the very facts of science were in absolute agreement with a literalist reading of the Bible.  This was an attempt to sneak religious views into public schools usuing the claim that those views really were scientific. The Genesis Flood  argued that geological features like the Grand Canyon reflected not gradualistic processes, but sudden, catastrophic flooding, as, for example, might have occurred in the time of Noah.  All of the ICR’s publications reflected young-Earth creationism, assuming that the Earth was less than 10,000 years old.

In 1974, Morris produced Scientific Creationism, designed as the textbook for his movement. Tellingly, it came in two versions, one for public-school classrooms and one, aimed at general readers and religious schools, that was glutted with references to scripture. If ever there was evidence for a religious motivation for creationism, that was it.

And, in fact, scientific creationism came a cropper in 1982 with the decision of McLean v. Arkansas, in which a federal judge, William Overton, ruled that an Arkansas law mandating “balanced treatment” for evolution and “scientific creationism” was illegal because the latter was really religion in disguise. (That “balanced treatment act” was in fact partly drafted by the ICR.) Judge Overton’s decision in that case is a classic, and I’m still stirred by the words of his conclusion:

The application and content of First Amendment principles are not determined by public opinion polls or by a majority vote. Whether the proponents of Act 590 constitute the majority or the minority is quite irrelevant under a constitutional system of government. No group, no matter how large or small, may use the organs of government, of which the public schools are the most conspicuous and influential, to foist its religious beliefs on others.

I wish the principal of Lebanon High School in Missouri, along with the members of his school board, would absorb that lesson!

At any rate, the ICR is still chugging along, as documented by the Dallas paper, which includes an interview with Henry Morris III, William’s misguided son. They’re still pushing creationism, and still using the same old arguments, supplemented with a few new ones about the supposed finding of soft tissue in dinosaur bones (that finding is contentious and there’s still no consensus view).

The paper’s report is okay, but I wonder why they saw fit to publish something an article that isn’t really news. It doesn’t mention McLean vs. Arkansas, and there’s one inaccuracy in the paragraph below. Can you spot it?

 When Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, it generated spirited scientific debate, but it did not become a social and political wedge issue for more than 60 years. At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1925, substitute science teacher John Scopes intentionally violated a new Tennessee law that made it a crime to teach any theory contradicting the Bible.

The paper starts its story with a tendentious video by ICR’s “director of research” Jason Lisle, who isn’t rebutted by any other talking heads. That’s a one-sided way to present news, especially since the news consists of lies. Here’s the “lab” where Lisle gives his spiel. Anybody who knows labs knows that there’s nothing going on in this place: the lab is completely devoid of activity. I suspect, as in other creationist videos, it isn’t even their lab; maybe a savvy reader can suss it out. A screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 8.51.43 AM

Further, the headline above isn’t accurate, for the ICR don’t really have “researchers” that do their own science. Rather, they comb the literature, as do many creationists, looking for things that could be twisted to disprove evolution. And anybody who sets out to “prove” something, rather than test it, isn’t really doing science. At least the newspaper poinsts that out.  But first they report the wish-thinking and “research directions” of the ICR:

“Our attempt is to demonstrate that the Bible is accurate, not just religiously authoritative,” said Henry Morris III, CEO of the nonprofit with a 49-person payroll and an annual budget in the $7 million range.

. . . Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and the research director at ICR, said he has no chance of winning a Nobel Prize, even if he makes a groundbreaking discovery. Secular scientists, he said, would never bestow the field’s highest honor on a creationist.

That’s simply not true. If the discovery didn’t involve creationism, or require invoking God, it would qualify. In fact, I’m pretty sure that at least a couple of Nobel laureates have been creationists, although I can’t name them. It’s just a matter of statistics.  The article continues:

Many of ICR’s scientists, like Lisle, grew up in conservative Christian homes that promoted young-earth creationism, while others began questioning established scientific theories later in their academic careers.

“I think everyone here is doing it because we believe in the message and we ultimately want people to be saved,” he said. “We want people to realize the Bible is trustworthy in matters of history and when it touches science. And because you can trust it in those areas, you can trust it when it comes to how to inherit eternal life.”

Well, of course it you set out to prove something, rather than test it, and especially if your motivations are not understanding but buttressing religious beliefs that you won’t abandon, you’re about as far from being a scientist as you can get. You’re a theologian in a lab coat.

That bit is handily rebutted in the article:

The problem is, they’re not scientists,” said Ron Wetherington, who teaches human evolution and forensic anthropology at SMU [Southern Methodist University]. “They cherry-pick data in order to use it to justify the Genesis account of creation.”

Real science, he said, works the opposite way. Researchers don’t line up facts to support a hypothesis. Natural laws and theories like evolution are constantly pressure-tested by the scientific community, checking for flaws and leaks in the logic.

But, of course, the ICR claims that even nonreligious scientists have their agenda:

Scientists at ICR believe the Bible is the authoritative word of God, and are unapologetic about reviewing data with a Christian worldview.

“All scientists have a philosophy that guides their interpretation of the evidence,” said Lisle. “Most secular scientists are not even aware what their philosophy is — they tend to inherit it like the measles, from whatever their professors taught them. But we find that when we interpret the data through biblical lenses, it fits very well and makes sense.”

Surprise!  But I wonder what my own philosophy is that makes me set out to “prove” something. In fact, I’ve never really had any pet theories, and so, fortunately, I’ve been able simply to explore the genetics of speciation, trying to find out if it shows regularities, and, if so, why.

I’ve thought long and hard about what “philosophy” could skew my own research, and I’ll be damned if I can detect anything other than pure curiosity. Of course there’s always a desire to gain renown among your fellow researchers, but that’s ambition, not philosophy. And anybody who fakes results to get famous, or prop up their pet ideas, is playing a very dangerous game. We do tend to fall in love with our own theories, and may be reluctant to abandon them, but that’s careerism and not philosophy. And if your theory gets sufficiently shot full of holes that it becomes untenable, hanging onto it doesn’t help your reputation.

Maybe I’m being a curmudgeonly evolutionist, but I wish the paper had also shown a video refuting the ICR’s arguments, said a bit more about the massive evidence for evolution, and mentioned Overton’s decision.  nd I wish the piece hadn’t closed with a bit of accomodationism:

Wetherington carefully notes he is not criticizing or ridiculing people of faith. In fact, he says the vast majority of believers in the world have no problem reconciling Scripture with science.

“If you do not believe the text is literally true, but rather that it is metaphorically true, then in fact there is no conflict,” Wetherington said. “If you believe God created a world hundreds of billions of years ago that led to the evolutionary transitions that we see from the pre-Cambrian era all the way to today, that is at least as magnificent a testimony to creation as any words in the Bible.”

Well, I’m not sure that the vast majority of believers in the world really “have no problem reconciling Scripture with science.” Even in America, 42% of us accept a creationist account of human origins, agreeing that our species was created within the last 10,000 years. Another 31% accept a form of “theistic evolution” in which the process was somehow guided by God. So even in the U.S., 73% of adults do indeed see a conflict between scripture and science (evolutionary theory, of course, does not accept any intervention by God). Only 19% of Americans accept a truly scientific view of human evolution, with God having no part in guiding the process.

Some other countries, like those in northern Europe, show less adherence to creationism, but the problem is large in Islamic countries (the bulk of Muslims, as far as I can see, accept an instantaneous creation of humans by Allah); and many large countries, like India, simply haven’t been surveyed. So I think Wetherington is on shaky ground when claiming that most of the world’s believers have no problem reconciling evolution and science. It’s certainly not true in the U.S.

As for Wetherington’s claim that this reconciliation has been effected by most believers seeing scripture as “metaphorically true,” he’s just blowing smoke out of his nether parts. As my book will show, the vast bulk of Americans don’t read scripture that way, nor do many Brits. And of course it’s anathema to read the Qur’an as “metaphor.”

Really, does Wetherington think that most Christians see the divinity of Jesus, and his Resurrection, as “metaphorically true”? Regardless of how marvelous evolution is, and how it has the advantage of being—contra scripture—true, Wetherington’s well-intentioned accommodationism doesn’t hold water. In the end he’s simply saying what he wants to be true about believers, not what is true about them. In that sense he resembles the ICR’s creationists.

h/t: Derek

85 thoughts on “Texas newspaper: “Researchers” want to “prove” creationism

  1. Reckon the inaccuracy is: “made it a crime to teach *any theory* contradicting the Bible”. The Butler Act (…quick wikipedia check later) is just concerned with human origins.

  2. Jerry, I’m surprised that you’re complaining (by proxy) about cherry-picking after just recently spending 2 or 3 days doing just that! Is cherry-picking OK if you do it with a c*t?

    1. Not necessarily, cherry-picking is only OK if it leads to pie. The proof of the pu… pie is seen in the eating.

    2. Surely the important criterion is, did Jerry (and pickers) test the cherries while picking them, or just pick them with QC coming later, according to pre-defined criteria.
      To modify the old Irish joke about the Kerry man working in the match factory : “This one tastes nice! This one tastes nice! This one tastes nice! …”

  3. Re “In fact, I’m pretty sure that at least a couple of Nobel laureates have been creationists, although I can’t name them.”

    I just looked over a list of the Nobel prize winners, and see both Christians and atheists in the literature and peace categories (T.S. Eliot and Bertrand Russell both in lit), and at least one Christian in the physics category (Charles Townes with whom I am personally acquainted), but what one finds more often is either a generic theist and/or the Einstein type who confesses a religious feeling towards the cosmos without any of the standard creeds.

    I don’t think any prominent creationist !*activists*! have won Nobels. If there are creationists who have won it, they’re fairly quiet about it.

    1. Guglielmo Marconi, who won the Nobel in 1909 in Physics for his contributions to the invention of the ‘wireless telegraph’, appears to have been a devout Catholic.

      1. That’s OK though, since wirelessness hardly implies godlessness. Its the cosmologists and evolutionary biologists who retain their belief in a deity that are really taking the piss.

        1. Richard Smalley, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, was a Christian and an Old-Earth creationist. He believed that the Universe was 13.7 billion years old, but also said that the burden of proof is on those who say that the Book of Genesis is not true.

          1. Yeah? Well who cares what he thinks if it isn’t in his specialised area of science and peer reviewed? My point was (WRT to evolutionary biologists and cosmologists) that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink… Children can reject Father Christmas, when they realise the sheer number of chimneys he would have to rappel down on Christmas eve, but when adults educated in the appropriate discipline are unable to do likewise, it is a cause of some concern.

            1. I wasn’t saying that Smalley’s Nobel Prize means that he was right. The question was whether a creationist has ever won a Nobel, and I named one.

              1. Ah OK, but in that case you would have better replied to JLHs post header that is making the point to which your post is a reply. That’s the idea behind these indented post constructions – i.e. the direct reply to a previous post is the next indent level down.

          2. THat’s the info I wanted.
            Thanks.

            (I wouldn’t count Marconi though. Belief in creation doesn’t per se make you a creationist- the latter generally refers to belief in a static creation of things as they are now.)

  4. I’ve been to the (outside of the) ICR in Dallas. It’s an office building and a book warehouse. If they have a lab, it’s likely a single room. Most of the equipment on the benches in the shots is in the <$500 range.. the kind of things you might find in a high school biology lab: a low-end centrifuge, vacuum pig, cheap light microscope. It looks sparse overall.

    Jason Lisle, by the way, has a background in astronomy, not biology. It's all the more amusing as he stands in front of protein identity alignments.

    1. I would guess that it is an undergraduate, non-majors lab (botany, Bio, geology) just prior to the start of term – when the lab instructor has it all clean and ready. It seems to be one student bench in the foreground and instructors table in the background.

    1. Gag me with a spoon

      I’m not really sure how to do that. Am I allowed to use some cordage too? Just ramming the spoon through your vocal cords should quiet you adequately, but is likely to have effects beyond the silencing.
      Personally, I blame Moon Unit.

      1. Yeah – who names their kids Moon Unit and Dwiezel?? Moon you could kind of live with, but Dwiezel??? Dweeb + weasel…

        1. Actually, I remember hearing the girl unit pop up in some public context a while ago and noting to myself that she’d survived the experience of youth reasonably well.

            1. Dweezil’s doing fine for himself. See his website…

              My son had a cockatiel named Dweezil. It turned out to be a she, but we figured “Dweezil” was unisex.

              1. I think I read that either Moon Unit or Dweezil or both changed her or his name at one point, but then went back to the original. Probably with Zappa for a papa that was the least strange thing about their lives.

                Also, with all the ‘creative’ hippie names back then, it was hard to come up with something unique.

  5. Over here in the UK the only creationists I have knowingly met are the ones the US sends over to do their 2 year mission ie the Mormons. They truly seem to believe it all.

    1. Have you never had to calibrate a bullshit-o-meter? It’s hard to find a stable 100% reading from a politician, but the BuyBull gives as solid a 100% reading as any bovine stud farm auction catalogue.

  6. So these frauds have been telling their credulous victims that it’s all been proven when, in ten years of searching, they still don’t have any such proof.

    How does that differ from a lie?

    1. It doesn’t. Trouble is when you think you know what your god wants and your god ain’t ‘fraid of lying( because mysterious ways ), then you are being a true spiritual warrior.

      For them it is ok to try to manipulate others into thinking that they really aren’t lying.

      Everytime you call them out on it, they appeal to whatever emotions they feel they recognize in you.

      That’s why so many people are afraid of telling them ( True Believers, Fundamentalist….etc. ) straigth up that they’re lying.

      Appealing to emotions. They do it so well.

  7. “Oh for Pete’s sake, it’s plainly obvious that Hamza Tzortzis’s ‘scientific proofs’ of the Koran are ridiculous enterprises in unwarranted interpretation, retrofitting, and just plain making shit up!”

    – Prominent Christian Creation Scientist

  8. “Anybody who knows labs knows that there’s nothing going on in this place: the lab is completely [sic].”

    Completely what, please?

    1. “…completely devoid of activity.” C0nc0rdance addressed this in #7. Sometimes my email version is missing words, or maybe Jerry fixed it (if words were missing). It’s a very clean lab, I wish I had that much empty space. As C0nc0rdance mentioned, an astrophysicist would have no use for a lab like this, unless they were trying to look sciencey to the public. At least he’s not wearing a white lab coat.

      1. I think Jerry fixed the missing phrase (deletion mutation?), for which I thank him. I was looking on the site itself, not in an emailed version. While I don’t think there’s any validity to creationism nor intelligent design so-called theory, but it’s conceivable that one could straighten up an operational working research lab for a video or a safety inspection (for example), so I don’t think that’s dispositive on its own. I’m perfectly willing to believe they don’t conduct research, however.

        I seem to recall a faked photo of a lab from the intelligent design people a few years ago, though. Their cell biologist, Ann Gauger, was seemingly photoshopped into a stock clean lab photo used for advertising lab supplies and equipment.

        http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/12/the-disco-tutes-1.html

        http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/12/ann-gauger-describes-intelligent-design.html

        1. It was a green screen film job, actually. The multimillion ICR obviously didn’t want to spend money on a live filming in their own lab, if they have one that is.

  9. Don’t get me started on the insufferable sac du merde that is Jason Lisle. Too late!

    He started off at old Hambo’s outfit, (No) Answers in Genesis. How bad do you have to be to leave that nice little creationist moneymaker to a nice little creationist moneymaker – oh, wait …

    It’s easy and justifiable to call Lisle a BIG FAT LIAR because that’s what he is. He boasts of having a PhD in Astrophysics but catch the Big Fat Lie he tells at the 1:30 mark. To children, no less.

    As for ICR, as I recall they were based in California but lost what lousy accreditation they had there. They decided to move to Texas (I speculate.) because they had “inside information” that they would get accreditation here (speculation) and be able to market their hokey online MS (creation)Science Education degree which would enable those teachers to get real jobs in public and private schools.

    They almost succeeded! A Texas state advisory panel approved their application! They were just about to get the OK when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board was alerted to what ICR really was. (Thank you Genie Scott and the NCSE!) ICR filed a lawsuit claiming “viewpoint discrimination” and it REALLY is worthwhile to look up that filing because it looks like a typical creationist website with multiple fonts and words capitalized randomly.

    They lost their bid. Forever. They are housed in a strip mall outside of Dallas. You can Google Earth it to see where Lying Lisle has his “lab.”

    1. The descriptions of the ICR saga in California and in Texas are pretty interesting. I loved the following statement from the judge when he ruled against their application for accreditation:

      the ICR “is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering and full of irrelevant information.”

      1. 😉

        I don’t think I knew the word “maundering.” Seems as though it means verbally meandering (possibly maudlinly?). I’ll have to find an occasion to use it.

        1. I know someone with Maunder for a surname. I’ve always wondered what his ancestor got up to to get landed with it.

        2. I just copied and pasted from Wikipedia. I probably read it as ‘meandering’. I love my touch of dyslexia. What will it do next?

    2. “Dr.” Lisle actually has a legitimate degree in astrophysics from the Un. of Colorado. Of course, Duane Gish and Jonathan Wells have legitimate degrees in biochemistry from the UC Berkeley, Marcus Ross has a legitimate degree in paleontology from the Un. of Rhode Island, and Kurt Wise has a legitimate degree in paleontology from Harvard (with the late Stephen J. Gould as his adviser). Just goes to show that one can’t always tell a book by its cover.

  10. Stick some Drierite on the shelf, some low-end microscopes, a couple of Fischer reagent bottles, a fire extinguisher, a lamp, some test tubes (every one in place), but keep the benchtops miraculously clean. The only people working there are Liars for Jesus™.

      1. Dry ice. There should be dry ice.
        And a wotchamacallit. A Jacob’s

        http://video.mit.edu/watch/mit-physics-demo-jacobs-ladder-and-the-melting-nail-3047/

        .
        Now, don’t get me wrong ; I’m entirely sure that the understanding of science in the ICR Lab is good enough for them to be playing with bare wires at multi-kilovolt potentials (and the occasional dripping iron) ; any deficiencies in their understanding that puts them in the wrong circuits will, of course, give their god a chance to demonstrate his beneficent mercy. “Caveat emptor. YMMV. The cheque is in the post. I’m sure I was doing 28, Ossifer. I’m sure she said she was 18, Ossifer.”
        Dad didn’t discourage me from doing such things, and I ain’t dead, y$£%$&$ NO CARRIER

  11. As a youngster growing up in the UK I can remember my grandfather suggesting with a smile that if I wanted to grow I could resort to putting manure in my shoes. Of course I smiled also and declined this farcical suggestion.
    These days I wonder because it would appear that some unfortunate children were subjected to this and subsequently grew to be illogical and unquestioning creationists.
    Is that how it’s done – lots and lots of manure?

  12. Perhaps uncharacteristically, I feel more charitable towards Wetherington’s choice of hedging words at the end of the interview.

    It sounds to me as if he’s attempting to talk to the percentage of onlookers who consider themselves religious but haven’t really thought seriously about origins to settle for accepting that parts of the bible are not literally true but may still be viewed as useful in some lesser way by other Christians.

    Interpreted that way, calling them “the vast majority” is foma — to help them distance themselves from the extreme literalists, equivalent to dubbing the creationists as a fringe belief within their in-group. Whether strictly true or not, it seems forgivable to me if that’s his intent.

    And his final comment, that the universe and life are really pretty awesome and amazing just like they really are, helps to challenge the claim that the naturalist view is inherited like measles. In fact, it sounds pretty much like their own views.

    1. Measles is an infectious disease. You don’t “inherit” the measles. I know the mistake is in the article and you are just repeating it, but still, it’s an odd thing to say.

      On the other hand, I do love ribbing people by saying things like, “oh no, I better not get the flu shot or I might catch autism.” So maybe it was intended as a snarky joke. Somehow I doubt it, though. Now I’m gonna go eat some homeopathic gluten to treat my brain scabies. Later.

      1. When I read “inherit the measles” I thought that that pretty much summarizes the level of scientific understanding. Then later, the phrase “inherit the kingdom” is used, which presumably means that one can’t really earn it but it is only obtained by the good fortune of an inheritance.

      2. You’re going to eat homeopathic gluten LATER ??? Don’t you realise the incredible power that eating nothing-at-all of the active ingredient NOW will have on your health?
        Douglas Adam’s sperm whale was going to have a homeopathic relationship with the planet Magrathea during it’s entire future, and look at the incredible effects that ultra-diluted interaction had. In the words of Slartibartfast, “watch out for the lumps of whale meat.”

  13. I’d be happy just to see them take a serious crack at all the evidence on the table.

    Example: They’d get no further than Creation Day 5 (Genesis 1:21-25), the claim that birds were created the day before beasts of the land. Let’s see them deal with the dense fossil record showing that birds came after land animals.

  14. There is too much reporting that presents alternative views as if they’re either equally valid, or written so as not to upset a particular group. For example, climate change deniers and anti-vaxers given equal time.

    This article is an example of the “we don’t want to insult people’s religious beliefs”, as if religious beliefs are somehow different than any other type of belief. Rightly, no-one worries about questioning those with racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist etc beliefs, but religious beliefs tend to be off limits. Here, they’re being accommodated. Virtually all US media does this because they’d get in trouble for upsetting the religious if they didn’t.

  15. It’s not entirely true that YECs don’t do research. Some flood geology guys had a paper in Geology (one of the most prestigious geology journals) a few years ago. Front cover in fact:

    http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/32/2/165.abstract

    You can read it here:

    http://resweb.llu.edu/lbrand/pdf/fossil_whale_preservation_implies_high_diatom_accumulation_rate_in_the_miocene%E2%80%93pliocene_pisco_formation_of_peru.pdf

    In some ways I admire YECs more than ID proponents as at least they are prepared to get their hands dirty and do research (e.g. the RATE project, various bits of geological fieldwork etc etc), even if it’s mostly nonsense. All you get from the likes of Behe are extended literature reviews in book form.

    1. I’ll grant Behe et al‘s literature-reviewing status as most “literature” is un-adorned imagination on a foundation of insecure bullshit. See Rowling for an example. But the work from Esperante et al that you cite boils down to “we’d like to make a problem out of this, but we can think of three plausible ways for this to happen, so we’re screwed before we start.” Which is barely worth printing out if you’re running low on toilet paper.
      Is there something in the water at Loma Linda? Lead, perhaps?

      A Seventh-day Adventist Health Sciences Institution Integrating Health, Science, and Christian Faith

      Hmmm, seems so.

  16. They want to “prove the biblical version of creation.” Really? They intend to prove that the first woman was made from the rib of the first man? That the firmament existed? That snakes could talk? That will be quite a task.

    On the other hand, I once read a book on the Bible written by a Catholic priest. There was a section titled “Stories in the Bible that have been confirmed by Archaeology” or something like that. He then simply listed “Adam & Eve,” “Cain & Abel,” “Noah’s Ark,” “the Tower of Babel,” and on and on. Unfortunately, he didn’t say HOW they were proven; we were simply supposed to take his word for it. In particular, I wondered how the story of Cain and Abel was proven by archaeology–did they find a wanted poster for Cain? Anyway, someone should tell the good people at the ICR that these stories have already been proven and they can go home.

    1. Unfortunately, he didn’t say HOW they were proven; we were simply supposed to take his word for it.

      Was that before, during or after being buggered in the belfry?

  17. There are a couple of small errors in this:

    At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1925, substitute science teacher John Scopes intentionally violated a new Tennessee law that made it a crime to teach any theory contradicting the Bible.

    First, Scopes was recruited by a bunch of local boosters in Dayton, who hoped to put their town on the map, not the ACLU. Second, Scopes was not sure if he had actually taught evolution; whatever he had taught, it was in the past, and not after he agreed to be the defendant.

    As an aside, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the conviction on the grounds that the judge had imposed the minimum $100 fine called for by the statute, but at that time judges could only impose fines up to $50; anything larger had to be imposed by the jury. They really didn’t want to rule on the merits of the appeal (and in fact, the governor and legislature had never expected the law to be enforced when they enacted it). They didn’t want to displease those who wanted the law, but at the same time they didn’t want the rest of the country and world to think they were idiots.

    1. Ah, but you missed one. The Butler act prohibited the teaching that humans “descended from a lower order of animals,” and that’s all. It forbad the teaching of human evolution, not anything that contradcited the Bible.

    2. but at the same time they didn’t want the rest of the country and world to think they were idiots

      well that worked well then.

  18. “Most secular scientists are not even aware what their philosophy is — they tend to inherit it like the measles, from whatever their professors taught them.”

    Think chem lab… So much of what professors teach, at least at the undergraduate level, is so well established than the experiments will produce the expected results. But the students test them anyways. Try to test God, and Cristians make excuses for God’s failures (silence really.)

    “But we find that when we interpret the data through biblical lenses, it fits very well and makes sense.”

    That’s a pretty straightforward admission. No wonder they accuse real scientists of succumbing to strong biases… They cannot conceive any method that avoids them.

  19. 18 August 2014

    Mr. Scott Farwell
    The Dallas Morning News
    sfarwell@dallasnews.com

    Dear Mr. Farwell:

    I read your article “Out to prove creation with science” that appeared in The Dallas Morning News on 15 August with interest as I was a science educator for over thirty-six years, and I had to combat the creation viewpoint every year. Generally, when I read such articles I find that the reporter has either a religious stake in the story, or that the reporter has been seduced by the creationist story, or, more likely, in an attempt to present “both sides of the story” the reporter has given far more weight to the creationist arguments than they deserve.

    I was pleased that you did not fall into any of those categories. I appreciate the fact that you noted at the outset that “Most scientists believe that Darwin got it right…” and that “His theory is taught in virtually every science class room in the world.”

    Your statements could have carried more weight had you been specific and noted that Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world and located right here in Texas, does not teach any form of creationism. That is, the biology curriculum covers Darwin’s theory and its more modern forms. Its geology department does not teach about the Noachian Flood; rather, it teaches that the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old with no evidence of a universal flood. In a similar vein, the astronomy department teaches that the universe is well more than 6,000 years old and is a venerable 13.8 billion years old. Finally, the physics department teaches the constancy of the laws of radioactive decay and the constancy of the speed of light.

    Similarly, Brigham Young University, a respectable Mormon university, follows the same curriculum that Baylor offers and does not teach creationism in any of its forms in its science classes. The University of Notre Dame, a distinguished Catholic university, does the same.

    On another matter, I do have a bit of a problem with your article in that you also noted, “But ICR generated headlines in 2009 when it sued the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board after the agency refused to certify a master’s degree in science education program that would have taught both creationist and evolutionist views, while favoring creationism.” However, you did not tell us the outcome of the suit. In fact, as reported in your newspaper on 22 June 2010, a federal judge ruled against ICR. This newspaper went on to quote the judge [Sam Sparks], “It appears that although the court has twice required plaintiffs to re-plead and set forth a short and plain statement of the relief requested, plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering and full of irrelevant information.”

    On the same day, The Houston Press noted that Dr. Joseph Stafford had reviewed the ICR graduate school catalog for the court and found that a number of the statements it contained “…constituted a rejection of the fundamental principles which guide what scientists do…”

    That brings me to my final concern: What research has the ICR staff done? Where have they published their research? Have they done any science? In all of the 40+ years since Henry Morris started this “research” effort I am unaware of a single publication in a peer-reviewed journal that has advanced their core claims. They did mount a couple of expeditions to search for Noah’s Ark that amounted to nothing. In the main, they seem to scour the real scientific literature in search of results, often taken out of context or even seriously misinterpreted, that might support their claims. They have ignored scientific criticisms of their “science”. Should you do another story on this group, you might dig a bit more into their research and the progress that they have made.

    Sincerely,

    Smith Powell

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