11 October 2002
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).
Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
For anyone coming ‘fresh’ to the creation/evolution issue, it must be confusing to note the variety of arguments that are used by various creation groups and speakers. One speaker enthusiastically uses an argument which another frowns on, or plainly says is wrong. So which ones are trustworthy? How should we tell?
And then there is the fact that an argument used by a particular creation ministry some years ago has now been discarded by that organization itself. Isn’t that a black mark against that organization for using it in the first place?
Actually, we need to realize that:
a) all humans are fallen and fallible;
b) science itself is a wonderful, but fallible human tool;
c) all the hypotheses and speculations which one uses to explain things within the framework of Biblical history can only be tentative, since humanity will never have all knowledge, and new data is constantly becoming available. For the same reason, hypotheses and submodels within evolutionary theory are constantly changing. So the same thing will inevitably be true in the creationist scientific world.
We would therefore suggest that one of the greatest strengths of any creationist organization or individual would be a willingness to keep up with new information, and to discard or modify one’s favorite arguments in the interests of the highest standards of integrity and accuracy.
All this raises a legitimate question, however, namely that if everything is tentative, and all of us are fallible, should one simply accept that ‘anything goes’ in terms of theories and explanations? We think not; we think that Christians should be very much concerned about whether Biblical creation is being defended using arguments that are, for instance, factually incorrect, logically invalid, based on an incorrect understanding of the scientific evidence, etc. These sorts of things, often propagated by individuals who have very little scientific training, actually end up harming the cause of Biblical creation (and hence, by extension, the Bible itself). They can provide a potent justification/excuse for people to ‘write off’ creation.
So what mechanisms can be used to make proper judgments? How can one help the Christian public to make wise and discerning choices, without setting up some sort of ‘elitist’ mentality?
Over the years, AiG has had a deep burden to maintain the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in the vital creation ministry the Lord has entrusted to us. Recognizing the fallibility of all individuals, there has been an obvious need for continual peer review and ‘iron sharpening iron’ interaction between people with a high level of science understanding who are also totally committed to the truth of Biblical history.
To this end, AiG has sought to develop a network of scientists, theologians and others to provide the checks and balances needed to try to ensure that our speaking, research and writing are as accurate as possible. Some of that network is internal within the organization; in addition, we network with talented people outside AiG, who may be employed in private research, for example.
In addition to our carefully checked family magazine Creation, our refereed journal TJ (right) has become, along with the Creation Research Society Quarterly, a major forum for creationists to be able to formally present/debate various positions. Creationists are encouraged to present articles/papers for peer review and possible publication so that theories, evidence etc., can be tested by mainstream creationist experts in their field.
We also wholeheartedly endorse the regular Pittsburgh International Conference on Creationism, a forum at which creationist scientists can present and publish their concepts following peer-review, submitting them to the ‘iron-sharpening-iron’ process which is so vital in any scientific endeavour.
Despite our fallibility and fallenness, the existence of such peer-review processes has been a factor causing many who have developed their own personal creation ministries to look to AiG for advice and wisdom to ensure they not only keep up with the latest arguments, but are consistent, logical and accurate in their portrayal of scientific and Biblical material relating to the creation/evolution issue.
Over the years, AiG has published articles about certain ideas and interpretations of evidence that had been used somewhat in creationist presentations (including our own at times) but had been found to be incorrect or in need of substantial modification. Sometimes popular arguments (as in the ‘moon dust’ example following) have had to be abandoned because new research obtained new data. In such cases, there is always the theoretical possibility that later data may reverse the situation again, but this is no excuse for continuing to use the same argument in the same way without taking note of the newly obtained facts.
Other times, it was found that a particular quote had indeed been used out of context, or proper research had not been conducted and the material should not have been used at all. As fallible human beings, we have sometimes discovered this sort of thing in our own publications. So if this could happen even with all the checks and balances in place with a large organization like AiG, how much more difficult must it be for those who do not have easy access to such a network of internal and external professional advisers. So we thought we should embark on a program to share this sort of thing publicly, so as to be a help to others.
As part of this, AiG published a particular article entitled Arguments we think creationists should NOT use, and followed this with a related Creation magazine article Moving forward—arguments we think creationists shouldn’t use. This was not aimed at any particular person or organization, but was produced as a result of the collective wisdom of AiG’s trained scientists and other professionals, based on years of research and experience.
When an attempted critique of this article appeared on Kent Hovind’s Web site, AiG was somewhat surprised (and disappointed) to note that it frequently and significantly misrepresents and/or misunderstands the statements and positions made in our carefully researched document.
In the interests of maintaining Christian/creationist integrity, we believed we had to respond to Kent Hovind’s critique (albeit with a heavy heart), particularly because of the many mistakes in facts and logic which do the creationist cause no good.
Before responding to specifics, it may be worth pointing out the obvious: If these arguments don’t convince fellow creationists, why would any creationist think they are going to convince evolutionists? And it would be worth revisiting our articles hyperlinked above for our motivation in compiling these dubious arguments.
Our purpose is to encourage God’s people to avoid fallacious arguments and incorrect information that could become a stumbling block to those who have the background to understand the material. (By the way, AiG has met with Kent Hovind in the past to discuss many of the items below, including the fraudulent claims of Ron Wyatt.)
Point-by-point response to Kent Hovind’s reply to our ‘Don’t Use’ page
[AiG]: We certainly promote many materials produced by other creationists, but not just because they are ‘creationists’. We also promote material by some of the Intelligent Design movement for example, on merit. There are minimum criteria of quality and science understanding. We also have difficulty with the idea of promoting sites which have various overtly bizarre ideas, not just in creation issues, but also linking creation issues with other ‘fringe’ thinking (such as arguments against paying income tax, various cancer cures, etc.) which regardless of their merits or otherwise, have nothing to do with the creation issue. Our actions in this matter are not the product of aloofness, but of caution and concern for the credibility of the creation movement as a whole.
As far as Web sites are concerned, AiG policy has always been that our site is a destination site not a linking site. Therefore we don’t generally link to other creation organizations per se, but will sometimes link to individual articles on other sites on merit.
[AiG]: This is an important point. Presumably, every individual, as well as ministry, involved in Bible-science apologetics would, by definition, subscribe to such an aim. In practice, however, things are not always like that. One reason for such a list is precisely because there are many arguments still being widely used which fly in the face of ‘facts’ and reason. Sometimes this is because the people concerned are not aware of the realities involved, sometimes because they do not understand them, or because they have not bothered to really assess something for themselves. It’s often ‘easier’ to just go with the arguments which seem to ‘work’ in convincing an audience. This is why certain practices and procedures of peer-review (as discussed in this entire document) are desirable, i.e. a ‘self-critical’ process within the creation movement. It is perhaps easier for an organization composed of a substantial number of scientists and thinkers to undertake such processes than organizations which are controlled by a single individual. Nevertheless, our list was not aimed at Kent Hovind, in spite of the defensiveness in his response overall.
[AiG]: Fair comment, which is precisely why we provide the detailed arguments and information, and the links to the various papers, etc. for people to make informed judgments. One of the things AiG tries to do, as stated earlier, is to ensure that there is peer review of its thinking, i.e. ‘iron sharpening iron’ as the Bible puts it. That means there is no one individual in AiG who insists that such and such sounds like a plausible notion, but instead there are a good number of highly trained scientists and thinkers within our ministry who refine and test the major arguments and positions AiG adopts. We also attempt to network externally, i.e. interact with leading creationist scientists and thinkers outside the organization, e.g. working in research laboratories, etc.
[AiG]: This is certainly true for moral issues. It becomes a more dubious argument if it is meant to imply that ‘anything goes’ in creation apologetics. The nature of the comments suggests that AiG’s ‘Don’t Use’ article has ‘stung’ somewhat, although that was not the intent. AiG’s published list was not aimed at anyone in particular. The arguments listed are ones which many creation-supporting Christians have used, sometimes because they have been carelessly promoted by various public figures. Sometimes that was us in the past. AiG is not setting itself up as a ‘policeman’, but it is inviting people to think carefully and reason through the issues, based on the best interactive peer review processes available to the creation movement.
Since Kent Hovind has published this commentary, we choose to engage with it seriously, because it continues to perpetuate some fallacies and misunderstandings. Such can only do harm to the creation movement. In one sense, individuals have the right to use any arguments they choose; but at the same time, particularly if there is talk of creationist cooperation, there needs to be an obligation by all to the greater Christian community to ensure that rigorous testing procedures are applied to the arguments. One of the reasons (there are others) why there is such difficulty getting creation accepted in some intellectual Christian circles is that so many weak (and worse, quite non-credible) arguments are circulating which they equate with all creationist thinking. In many cases, the skeptics deliberately use these as straw men although they know perfectly well that mainstream creationist organizations reject them.
Hence it is a moral obligation, we believe, to explain openly why we, in concert with the bulk of those leading trained scientists worldwide who are fully Bible-believing, plead for certain arguments to be no longer used. We are not talking here about certain legitimate controversies in which there are preferred models, and so on, but arguments which are just plain spurious, in the main. And of course, the issue of using truthful arguments is a moral issue in itself as we pointed out. Note that we most definitely recommend/support some ministries that are not our own, but do not do so for others. We would not, for instance, be able to recommend people who do all or some of the following:
Most such ministries that complain of AiG’s failure to promote their work are in effect ‘one-man bands’. We do have cordial relations with some one-man ministries, but these inevitably are individuals who do interact with the broader creation network of scientists, which is much wider than AiG.
[AiG]: It’s also important to note that ‘AiG’ in Hovind’s response does NOT necessarily mean what AiG actually says, but Hovind’s attempt to summarize what we say. Sadly, this is sometimes far from accurate, as a cursory glance at our ‘Don’t Use’ page would show.
[AiG]: Presumably, this will include ours below…
[AiG]: As indicated, our list is not aimed at Kent Hovind. This particular one was mentioned because it is so commonly used.
[AiG]: This is so far off of the main thrust of our argument that, at the very least, it’s most unlikely that Hovind could have read the major paper we referenced, the comprehensive Snelling–Rush article Moon Dust and the Age of the Solar System in our TJ. In the final analysis, it matters not one whit what NASA did or did not expect. The issues are the actual thickness of dust, and the rate of influx.
[AiG]: This seems an easy way out of having to engage with the data while sounding appropriately ‘tentative’. But we should point out something repeatedly overlooked in Hovind’s response. We were pointing out arguments that should NOT be used by creationists in discussions with evolutionists. So even if Hovind were right that ‘the verdict is not in’, surely this by itself is enough reason not to use it as if it were a refutation of evolution!
Our point about the ‘moon dust argument’ was, and we repeat it here, that one should not use the argument in the way it was widely and persistently used for years, as proof for a young moon. To explain, the traditional argument was: The moon dust is coming in at rate x, which extrapolated at billions of years would mean a massive thickness, whereas the actual thickness is consistent with thousands of years. This argument in this way is W-R-O-N-G in the present state of knowledge (see shortly).
[AiG]: Woolly words cannot get around the simple fact that rate ‘x’ has been measured directly as being much less than the traditional assumption (the error was made by an evolutionist, incidentally). Until those measurements are found to be false, e.g. by further measurement which confirms something like the traditional ‘x’ rate, one cannot in honesty use the argument as it has been used. One can speculate all one likes about what might have been in the early stages of the solar system, but this is only very distantly related to the beautiful, simple, ‘moon dust argument’ that is still used by people ‘out there’ and which relates to current rates of influx of the dust.
[AiG]: We invite anyone to check the TJ article in question. Note that the data do not prove an old moon either by any means. But they firmly indicate by straightforward logic that the argument ‘should not be used’ in the way it has, which is quite different from saying it has ‘not been proven wrong’. To use it in a way which talks of current influx rate ‘x’ (i.e. without any numbers, implying that x is large enough that there should be a huge thickness after 4.5 billion years) is a form of bearing false witness. It verges on the painful to have to point out such simple, straightforward matters.
N.B. Walt Brown has a long-standing invitation to submit a paper refuting the Snelling–Rush conclusions to TJ if there is hard data to show that ‘x’ is different, for instance. Such a well-reasoned paper, if it appeared and ‘had the goods’, would be a powerful boost to his credibility in creation science circles. It would be preferable to merely hearing from his supporters a steady stream of complaints about why AiG does not support various of his positions.
We should not have to point out that insistence on high scientific and intellectual rigor does not imply a bias against any individuals. Nor is it incumbent on creationists to be familiar with every (generally unrefereed) article on other creationist Web sites. If someone claims to have unseated a view held firmly by creationist thinkers en masse, and which view was based on a published paper, it is incumbent on the challenger to likewise submit the challenge to the same peer review process.
[AiG]: AiG’s point was much stronger. First, it is demonstrably an update to an old myth long predating NASA and modern computers. Second, it is in principle not possible to find such a ‘missing day’ from the sorts of measurements in question. A statement like Hovind’s above might lead people to think that one day it just might be ‘verified’.
[AiG]: This is a subtle (presumably inadvertent) ‘misrepresentation by abbreviation’ of AiG’s position. I.e. it makes it sound like some pile of sand in the desert, v. the ice we all know is associated with mammoths. We do not deny that huge, catastrophic drops in temperature occurred, for instance. Note that Mr Hovind’s disagreement here fails entirely to engage with the main point, a point that he even quotes, namely that we are saying that the catastrophic action associated with the mammoths occurred during the post-Flood Ice Age, not the Flood.
[AiG]: Hovind ignores the definite adaptations to cold, such as woolly coat and small surface area of ears, trunk and tail, all of which would minimize heat loss. Of course AiG points out that this adaptation has nothing to do with goo-to-you evolution but has to do with natural selection for already-existing genes, via removing creatures lacking them.
[AiG]: However, even concerning the issue of ‘snap’ freezing v. less spectacular freezing, the point is not simply to ‘disagree’. Rather, it is to ensure that one’s disagreement with evidences and arguments published in peer-reviewed (creation-based) science journals engages with the actual arguments and evidences, rather than sidestepping or ignoring them. The world’s leading creationist researcher on the Ice Age and mammoths, Michael Oard, has published powerful reasons for putting aside some of the traditional arguments about ‘snap’ freezing, based on a lot of firsthand research. For example, the undigested food in the stomach is easily explained by the fact that the elephant stomach is a holding bay, not a digestion organ. And undigested stomach contents were found in mastodon remains in unfrozen soil at a much more southern latitude. See Oard’s detailed TJ article The extinction of the woolly mammoth: was it a quick freeze? or the Creation magazine article Mammoth: Riddle of the Ice Age (also a booklet — right).
We know of no credible refutations, not even any serious attempts to answer the issues put forward by Oard. However, our journal TJ stands ready to accept (as we are sure does the CRSQ) quality papers refuting this position, if they are based on actual data. Our ‘list’ is a current list, subject to modification. But this is not the same as saying ‘anything goes if someone has an alternative opinion’—that opinion must be prepared to withstand critical scrutiny by the entire creation science community, not just be the subject of assertion on some personal Web site, for instance.
[AiG]: This is a classic example of a Clayton’s refutation—i.e. the refutation you make when you’re not making a refutation, but still giving the impression that you have the higher ground. Let us ignore for the moment the issue of the geological column and the accuracy or otherwise of the various other ‘human remains and artifacts’ claims. (Many creationist researchers of substance say that the general notion of a column sequence is demanded by field data, without implying millions of years, and is explainable via the Flood, but we are deliberately leaving that aside here.)
AiG’s point was/is that these two particular examples are dubious. Hovind has not even engaged with this clear position, except by way of a dismissive comment and then immediately switching topics, in effect. Note that in reference to the other items in the AiG list, he has gone to great pains to say that he does or does not use the various arguments, but here there is silence. We are not actually concerned with whether his seminars have or have not used these particular arguments; the point is that he, along with other creation apologists, should now be aware that these are dubious examples to use. Our aim was a public service, not a tearing down.
[AiG]: No, we said that his ‘giant gibbon’ claim was designed to reinforce his eccentric view of evolution. Hovind has turned our point around 180° !
[AiG]: Without meaning any disrespect, it is not really relevant to the purposes of our list to find out what Kent Hovind (or anyone else speaking on creation issues) does or does not happen to know, or does or does not use. What is relevant is what is truth and what is not. Nor does the issue of Dubois’ concealing the existence of the Wadjak skulls, alluded to above, have any bearing on the simple truth of our corrective comment, which had nothing to do with defending Dubois. Many creationists keep using the argument that Dubois renounced Java man. This is a myth commenced by evolutionists. It is not true. In the above paragraph by Hovind, it seems not to matter whether this argument is untrue or not. We believe it does matter.
[AiG]: Once again, even granting Hovind were right, why should anyone think it’s effective to use an argument merely because it hadn’t been disproven?
[AiG]: Actually, we can help with that. This pamphlet was published by the Creation Science Movement in Britain and written by Malcolm Bowden. One thing Hovind overlooks is that now they are claiming that it was some ‘plesiosaur-type mammal’ hitherto unknown to science (as the title says explicitly!), not a plesiosaur (which is a reptile) per se.
NB AiG would love the evidence to permit this creature to have possibly been a plesiosaur. But those (including the authors of the unfortunate pamphlet in question who posit this novel ‘plesiosaur-type mammal’ idea) who still maintain that it was (or even that it well might have been) a plesiosaur or some other cryptozoological novelty have either not read, or simply failed to grasp, the overwhelming array of facts and evidence amassed in the TJ publications on the subject by Dr Pierre Jerlström. This array has included information gleaned from translations of the original Japanese papers, and the strength of it cannot be gleaned from Hovind’s sketchy representation of AiG’s position. To say that the ‘jury is still out’ or it is ‘not proven that it was not (a plesiosaur)’ begs the question. It is hard to imagine what more evidence could possibly be needed to make people face the fact that there is not the slightest reason to believe that there is any mystery about this specimen which would make one think of a cryptozoological explanation. Suffice to say that:
[AiG]: This seems an odd way of putting what we say; at any rate it neither engages with nor clearly represents, either our comments or our reasons for making them.
[AiG]: We presume that he means that it is impossible to determine whether or not the Second Law was operative before the Fall. However, our article deals with this as a logical and necessary deduction from knowing what the Second Law teaches (e.g. heat flowing from hot to cold bodies). This ‘objection’ is somewhat like saying ‘I do not know how it can be determined that Adam digested food pre-Fall’. The Bible says he ate food, therefore by deduction, he digested it. Digestive processes require the Second Law to be operative. Ergo, the Second Law was in operation, by simple deduction. To imply without qualification that there was no Second Law prior to sin may cause an unnecessary stumbling block to the thoughtful and informed unbeliever.
[AiG]: Again, our article was concerned with common fallacies that tend to discredit creationism, not with who uses them or not.
[AiG]: Hovind misses the whole point. What he portrays as the ‘AiG response’ was actually an evolutionist response that we showed was weak! AiG went on to show the real problem with the argument, i.e. evolutionists believe that the variation happened in a small population isolated from the main group, and there was no obligation to believe that the main group likewise varied.
[AiG]: Good. No comment needed.
[AiG]: Of course we believe that birds did not evolve from reptiles, and we do not think that Archaeopteryx proves otherwise. However, simply quoting a scientist who believed that it was a fraud avoids engaging with the reasons why AiG would take such a strong stand, explained in the article to which we hyperlink. It also tends to muddy the waters. Once again, if there are rational, quality papers showing why, for example, the discovery of microscopic feather impressions in the bones does not (inter alia) invalidate the argument by Hoyle and others, we would be interested in publishing them in TJ.
By way of aside, the argument in the last sentence of the response above is not one that we would recommend using. It is like saying that there is no conceivable fossil evidence that would validate evolution, and comes dangerously close to Gosse-type arguments that the mere presence of a fossil can never prove anything. For instance, one can never prove that the fossil was not created in the rocks to look like that. (For that matter, nothing, even our own existence, can be rigorously ‘proved’.) No evolutionist I know of has ever claimed (for any of the handful of alleged ‘transitional forms’) that a particular fossil specimen was necessarily the actual ancestor of a particular present-day type. E.g. that the actual individual Archaeopteryx preserved in the rock that was dug up was the actual one which had ‘different offspring’ which were the next step in the evolutionary chain leading to birds.
The very reason why it was alleged that Archaeopteryx was a fraud (until that became untenable for a number of reasons) was because it was perceived that it was being used as evidence in support of Darwinian transformism, not ‘final rigorous proof’. Again, the real point is that it does matter very much if creationists are going to have egg on their faces (as Hoyle very much did) defending a notion which seems like simply a desperation to ‘explain away’ evidence. The very fact that there is so much good reason to believe that Archaeopteryx does not qualify as a good ‘evidence for transformism’ is even more reason to eschew dubious and conspiratorial speculations about alleged frauds.
Dr Joachim Scheven, German creationist, paleontologist and ‘living fossil’ expert, personally examined the specimen, and was very amused at the notion that anyone could seriously think it were a forgery. And this was even before the microscopic feather insertion points were discovered. These are the ‘clincher’, since no forger would have been able or wanting to reproduce these. Bottom line: it is an argument which is far more likely than not to discredit creationism.
[AiG]: This again ‘fudges’ the issue by failing to point out that we are specifically saying that there are indeed, by any meaningful definition of the term, beneficial mutations, which is why it is a poor argument to use. The above sentence is the alternative argument which we suggest creationists should use.
[AiG]: Indeed, which our repeated comments on the matter have done, most carefully.
[AiG]: Not so. Based on nearly a quarter of a century of ministry experience, this is overwhelmingly not the case. E.g.: A beetle is born with functionless wings on a windy island, and therefore has the undisputed benefit that it won’t fly up and be blown into the sea and drown. Can that be said to be a ‘minor’ change, from winged to wingless? And even if it were true, it would be a very strange and disingenuous use of language bordering on dishonesty. Because to say, ‘There are no beneficial mutations’ says or implies nothing about whether such changes are minor or major. The degree of change is beside the point, anyway, since Darwinism is all about the notion that even the smallest change, if inherited, could add up to large change. If one says there are no beneficial mutations, in the normal use of English this means that there are no changes which benefit the organism. And this is overwhelmingly not true, which is why such arguments discredit creation apologetics. See Beetle Bloopers: Even a defect can be an advantage sometimes. This will make it clear why we encourage people to use the powerful information argument concerning mutations.
[AiG]: It is hard to be sure what this comment was meant to convey. If the writer agrees that new species have formed, then such agreement must—can only—be on the basis that he has some definition acceptable to him of what constitutes a new species. If it is not so, the statement ‘I agree’ becomes meaningless. Our articles on the subject have carefully discussed and defined the terms.
Our point is that it is a bad argument to say, ‘No new species have ever been produced’. In part this is precisely because species is a somewhat fluid, man-made definition. And once again, it’s up to those who propose the argument to define the terms. Certainly one common criterion is reproductive isolation, and by this criterion the argument that no species have been produced is indisputably wrong. So if you use this, most evolutionists will be able to shoot you down.
And yes, the Bible does teach about fixity of ‘kinds’ which is exactly why the AiG statement deserved wholehearted support, not the grudging equivocation which appears evident in so many places throughout this response. Hovind’s response ignores what we said in our ‘Don’t use’ article, i.e., “But this speciation is within the ‘kind’, and involves no new genetic information.”
[AiG]: At the risk of sounding patronizing, our comment ‘there is no basis for this claim’ means that there is no reason to believe that it was vertical. It does not mean that it can be proven that it was not. It is logically possible that the core of Pluto is made of green cheese, but there is no reason to believe that it is. Thus we stand by our statement that it is not an argument that one would recommend at this point in time — unless such a reason were forthcoming.
And once more, AiG did provide a basis for our claim, which Hovind conveniently leaves off. That is, the existence of seasons from Creation Week (Genesis 1:14).
[AiG]: The repeated use of this approach (defending against something that was not stated, is beside the point, and equivocates on definitions) is hopefully not deliberate. Our point was simply that this particular line of evidence should not be used in its present condition of weakness.
[AiG]: We agree, of course, but how does this add anything to the argument?
[AiG]: Ditto here again. It is as if we were evolutionists, and we were saying that, because the Paluxy tracks evidence is shaky (which is true), one should abandon Genesis creation (which is not our position at all, as anyone with even a cursory understanding of our materials would realize). This wording of his may inflame some less-than-careful readers of this piece, which is a great pity, as it is totally inappropriate.
[AiG]: So have several of AiG’s researchers. The evidence of genuine tracks is not in dispute. Where we urge great caution is in using this evidence as proof that they are of human origin.
[AiG]: Sadly, the implication here is that AiG’s position somehow impugns the intelligence or, worse still, the godliness, of the people who have come to this conclusion. It is not a question of godly vs. ungodly.
[AiG]: Again, false. AiG researchers, along with almost every other creationist researcher who is taken seriously in creationist science circles, have concluded in favour of extreme caution re Paluxy tracks because of reasons which have nothing to do with Glen Kuban, and none of us have ever thought that Kuban is a creationist. His Web site makes it clear that he is not, as does his alliance with the atheistic organization pretentiously calling itself ‘The National Center for Science Education’.
Those researchers who were previously enthusiastic about the Paluxy tracks and have now withdrawn their unqualified support include such creationist notables as John Morris (who even wrote a book about them, but had the courage to publicly withdraw) and Paul Taylor (head of Films for Christ, which made the famous film Footprints in Stone). It cannot be said of either of these people that they did not personally study the trails in great depth, nor that they had a motive for not wanting them to be human tracks—quite the opposite. Taylor had the courage to withdraw his popular film, because he had seen enough evidence, even in the famous ‘Taylor trail’, to have to say that one should not use them anymore. I.e. he went from open enthusiasm to extreme caution, which is our view. It seems some quarters in creationism are stuck in somewhat of a time warp in this matter. We take no pleasure in the conflicts that arise from our sticking to a rigorous standard in evaluating these tracks, as was the case for a Creation Research Society team which some time back evaluated the whole matter of what they called ‘quasi-human ichnofossils’. For Hovind to blame some masquerading computer programmer is, frankly, a ridiculous caricature. Once again, if new evidence should turn up, the whole matter of the Paluxy tracks may take on new significance. We repeat again that TJ, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, and the ICC are all available as platforms to get such new evidence (should it arise) proper peer acceptance.
[AiG]: The uncertainty in the above comment might have been dealt with by carefully reading not only our comments, but Darwin’s book. Note that we are here chastening ourselves, too, as this has been favourably cited in some of our own publications in earlier years. However, this comes from misunderstanding how Darwin wrote as a typical Victorian gentleman-scientist. I.e. he tried to give the impression that he had carefully considered opposing views as strongly put as possible, but then answered them.
So in this particular case, quoting the above paragraph out of context, it makes it sound as if Darwin agrees that it is absurd. His own words, however, make it clear that he does not think so at all, he is merely saying that at first glance, without considering the whole issue of natural selection, it seems absurd. Darwin then goes on to say the heliocentric theory likewise seems absurd on first impression but is not. Not, as Kent Hovind implies here, that he believes in eye evolution in spite of its absurdity, but that he believes it on what he thinks is a rational basis because of the arguments he has already developed which make it no longer absurd to believe it (in his view). Read how Darwin continued (Origin, 6th Ed.):
NB we are not saying here that Darwin is right (see Eye evolution), and it pains us to have to defend someone like him from misrepresentation, but integrity demands it. The reason for including it in our list is also because it can be a stumbling block to a seeker who has read Darwin’s book, who would be readily led to the conclusion that creationists must be deliberate distorters of truth.
[AiG]: Note that AiG was not really saying that only our understanding of the verse can possibly be right, although we await someone to try to refute our reasons for accepting it. Our emphasis was concerning not using one particular argument as if it were ‘factual’ Bible teaching. But it is important to investigate whether the Biblical text comes down clearly on one side or the other by the normal rules of exegesis. We think it does, but this is not worth making a big fuss about. However, since the ‘continental breakup at Babel’ argument suffers from huge physical problems (a rerun of the Flood catastrophe, no less) we think it relevant and important to recommend against using that particular argument, which is widespread.
[AiG]: Since the pro-Septuagint argument we addressed here has nothing to do with the KJV-only issue (just about all English translations, including the KJV, use the Masoretic chronology) the introduction of the KJV-only issue conflates two things, and muddies the water, even introducing an unwarranted area of potential prejudice in the reader. The KJVO debate involves the Greek New Testament.
[AiG]: Once again we are unsure why the KJV issue has been raised here.
[AiG]: This is again conflation and muddying the waters; the existence of ‘two very different Greek sources’ is irrelevant to this particular point, since they both say the same thing here (as they do over 98% of the time). Whether someone gets ‘nervous’ or not is quite irrelevant to the point at hand, which is totally evaded. Note that the word ‘science’ in the KJV cannot be legitimately appealed to, since the word ‘science’ in those days meant precisely what the original Greek gnosis did, i.e. ‘knowledge’. Words often change their meaning over time.
Another example is the English word ‘replenish’, the KJV translation of the Hebrew meaning simply ‘fill’. The KJV did not get it wrong, it is just that the English has changed so that replenish now no longer means ‘fill’ but ‘refill’. However, one old-Earth gap-theory promoting site promotes this error largely on the basis that the ‘inspired’ KJV translators chose to use ‘replenish’. I.e. they are using the same argument as Hovind uses against ours.
To support this further, let’s see below how Hovind himself argues (correctly) against this fallacious argument for the gap theory, but we have added in square brackets and a different color the AiG argument above (we think it will be clear that the AiG argument Hovind tries to counter is actually identical in principal to the argument which Hovind correctly uses below):
[AiG]: From the above, it’s clear that AiG’s argument is identical in principle to that which Hovind rightly uses against the Gap Theory. This is a good lesson on the trouble that can arise from being far too defensive on arguments that should be ‘held loosely’, which can cause one to lose objectivity.
[AiG]: Huh? No-one reading AiG’s articles on the subject could be mistaken as to the definition of the terms. Of course the Earth is the centre of God’s attention, which has nothing to do with the arguments advanced for physical geocentrism. That is, the claim that the Earth is an absolute stationary reference frame, so that the only acceptable description is that the sun actually goes around the Earth , and not vice versa. To say that the ‘jury is out’ gives credibility to a position which does as much harm to creation apologetics as would a creationist who taught that the Earth was flat. Interestingly, we have recently published a TJ article, ‘Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ redshifts show,’ by Dr Russ Humphreys (a qualified nuclear physicist) in which he shows convincingly from recent data that the our galaxy, at least, is at or near the physical centre of the universe, but this is not the same as the geocentrism that some still proclaim today as a ‘definite teaching of the Bible’.
[AiG]: This is mostly nonsense, sadly. Wyatt had as much chance as anyone else to rebut the arguments in the refereed literature, and to demonstrate any alleged ‘misrepresentations’. He produced a ‘rebuttal’ document, in fact, to his own constituency, which was presumably the ‘rebuttal’ he gave to Hovind. But it sidestepped, ignored, or failed to understand most of the geological arguments. And it completely overlooked the many evidences of false or fraudulent statements. E.g. one of us personally rang the laboratory which he was citing to sustain some of his major ‘Ark’ claims, and also we obtained this lab data ourselves. It is nothing short of outrageous to consider the way in which this lab data was deliberately misrepresented to fleece the gullible.
Incidentally, to have published this ‘upside down mudflow’ argument, were it sustainable, in say CRSQ or TJ, would have been a major coup for Wyatt or his supporters in the face of the devastating article by a Ph.D. creationist geologist which appeared in Creation magazine. (This is the article to which Hovind refers: note that he did not then go back to AiG even, to ask what we thought. We have urged Kent Hovind previously to move away from Wyatt promotion in any shape or form, for the sake of the creation movement, but felt that he did not even begin to understand the simple geological/physical issues, and, worse still, seemed totally uninterested in anything which might change his mind.)
But even assuming such an article were published showing that the mudflow was ‘upside down’ (something which has not been documented to our knowledge, but simply asserted), all it would have done would have been to show that the alternative explanation for the formation was unlikely. It would have done nothing to counter the blow upon blow dealt by this article (justly) to Wyatt’s own credibility as the claims were shown to be mostly ‘bogus’ (in the words of his former co-fieldworker, respected creationist geophysicist Dr John Baumgardner).
[AiG]: The issue is not doctrines, it is the factual nature (versus the fraudulent nature) of the evidence.
[AiG]: That is self-evidently true, but it evades the main point at issue here, and again why use an argument that is not proven anyway? Wyatt claimed to have found just about every conceivable artifact of importance to the Bible. The real Red Sea crossing site, with chariot wheels; the Ark of the Covenant underneath the actual site of the Crucifixion, replete with the dried blood of Christ (complete with a misunderstanding by this fraudster of the nature of human genetics—see the comments by a leading plastic surgeon and creationist in this interview)—and the chromosomes, it was alleged, were seen to be still dividing! Not surprisingly, the lab that was said to have confirmed all this is mysteriously unavailable for comment. O, yes, and the real Sodom and Gomorrah, the site of Korah’s earthquake, Noah’s grave, Noah’s wife’s grave (with millions in treasure which some rascal promptly stole)—even the fence from Noah’s farm, no less. To cap it off, he claimed to have the actual tablets of the Law (bound with golden links, no less) in his garage, as it were. And this is only the beginning of such amazing claims—nearly 100 in all!
Not surprisingly, even after his death, none of these treasures has ever been produced. Here is the bottom line: In the face of such an astonishing list of claims, there are only two logical possibilities. 1) The claims are the result of fantasy, confabulation and/or fraud or 2) Wyatt has been more greatly used of God than anyone since the Apostle Paul. This is the notion that Wyatt himself encouraged. He said that he prayed at the ‘Ark’ site once, and God caused the ground to tear apart via an earthquake so that he, Wyatt, could see the petrified ship’s timbers. Then it closed again. To test that hypothesis no. 2) (The Bible says, in the context of prophetic utterances, to ‘prove (test) all things’) it is not necessary to test every single claim, but to test at least one thoroughly, as was done with the ‘Ark’ claim. If one discovers, as we did (and NB at the time of starting the investigation, we did not know of most of his other claims, and investigated his Ark claim with hopeful enthusiasm) that there is a trail of repeated falsehood after falsehood, public lie upon public lie, the hypothesis of a godly, spiritual, latter-day prophet is easily discredited. We have shared this information with Kent Hovind years ago, incidentally. To no avail. See Has the Ark of the Covenant been found? And Noah’s Ark? Pharaoh’s drowned army? This is one of the big reasons for not being able to recommend Hovind’s material or trust his discernment, frankly.
As it happens, the newsletter of the Associates for Biblical Research (a conservative, Bible-believing archeology ministry) has recently published a review of an extremely thorough book carefully assessing all of Wyatt’s claims, by Russell and Colin Standish, called Holy Relics or Revelation — Recent Astounding Archaeological Claims Evaluated, Hartland Publications, Rapidan VA, paper, 302 pages. The reviewer, Rev. R. Fisher (a non-Adventist), writes:
We unhesitatingly agree. Long before this definitive work documenting these problems was published, Kent Hovind was made aware of them by us. Two of our senior staff, Ken Ham and Mark Looy, pleaded with Kent in our US office to distance himself (and hence Biblical creation) from Wyatt’s claims. Kent did not even consider for a moment doing this.
[AiG]: AiG has never questioned Carl Baugh’s integrity or Christian dedication, however, we have expressed grave concern at some of his claims and statements and are currently liaising with him about these matters.
[AiG]: We said nothing of the sort. It’s very sloppy for Hovind to completely misrepresent us. Rather, we said, ‘This is not a direct teaching of Scripture, so there is no place for dogmatism’. We further pointed out that there are a host of other scientific and exegetical difficulties involved with this notion.
[AiG]: It is not so simple — the Hebrew actually says that they fly on the face of the firmament, which is why Humphreys thinks the waters are above ‘space’. See below.
[AiG]: Many other creationist researchers have also expressed doubts about the canopy theory. Walt Brown was one of the first. Physicist Russ Humphreys points out that if ‘waters above’ in Psalm 148:4 (as seems to be conceded above) cannot refer to a canopy, since the writer is living in post-Flood times, then why insist that ‘waters above’ earlier in Genesis refers to a canopy? Larry Vardiman has spent many years modeling a canopy at ICR. Though he says that there may well have been a canopy of some sort with water vapor, any attempt to put enough water up there for 40 days and nights of rain ends up with a surface temperature which will ‘cook’ all life. Note that Hovind supports this exegetical theory because of scientific, not Biblical, reasons, it seems—because he can conceive of no other way to explain giant insects (there may in fact be a host of other ways for all one knows—e.g. genes for giantism lost in the Flood). So, if other scientific indications suggest huge difficulties for a canopy theory, it is a good reason to look again at the Biblical evidence, using the same sort of reasoning.
We would maintain that a canopy is not demanded from Scripture, and to say matter-of-factly that ‘it appears that the layer above our atmosphere fell down at the time of the flood’ goes way beyond the Biblical and scientific evidence. We hasten to add that we ourselves have in past years written as if it were a Biblical ‘given’ that there was such a canopy. But as long ago as 1989, we cautioned that while it might seem an excellent model, it should never be construed as a direct teaching of Scripture (see ‘Hanging Loose’: What should we defend?). This editorial used this as a classic example of why one needs to always ‘hang loose’ on man-made theories of ‘how’ and keep going back to the bedrock of Scripture, trying not to read our preferences and pet notions into it.
[AiG]: This is technically true, if it refers to whether or not there was rain before the Flood, and in that case Hovind’s statement confirms our call to avoid dogmatism. However, if he is saying that our statement ‘this is not a direct teaching of Scripture’ cannot be known to be true, his response is quite incorrect.
[AiG]: This neatly sidesteps the major thrust of our argument, which goes as follows:
The main point in all of this is not to dispute about esoteric points, but to try to encourage self-critical thinking within the creationist community, and to recommend avoiding the use of arguments which are logically suspect when these are NOT a clear teaching of the Bible. This recommendation/suggestion does not imply a rejection of condemnation of any who do go on using it. We would have no problem with a brief tentative mention of the canopy theory as a possible concept, but it would be honest if difficulties were pointed out at the same time, and it would not be honest to imply that it is a direct teaching from the Bible.
[AiG]: With what does he disagree? He points out the tautologous nature of one definition, and we have already said a few lines further up that we are not necessarily disagreeing with that. However, our response would be, ‘so what’? A tautologous statement does not mean an untrue statement, and what’s the point of pointing out the tautologous nature of the statement, anyway, as if it somehow ‘damaged’ the idea of natural selection, since natural selection is an observable fact? The response here actually highlights the urgent need for careful thinking through such issues, and why we say that one should avoid the ‘natural selection is tautologous’ argument.
[AiG]: We’re puzzled. We don’t deny the religious nature of evolution, but this response is confusing in re-using the word ‘theory’. We suggest a careful rereading of the argument we put forward in our article, which says that Christians would be advised not to think they have successfully written off evolution by saying it is ‘just a theory’, because calling it a theory actually gives it more status than e.g. hypothesis or conjecture. We were making readers aware of what the word ‘theory’ means in scientific terminology, which is different to lay usage of the term.
[AiG]: We haven’t either, as a careful reading would show. We are saying that this particular notion (the Setterfield theory) has unanswered problems. Maybe they will be solved, or maybe light changed its speed a long time before historic times. For a recent summary comment on our position on this matter, see Speed of light slowing down after all. This vindicates our point above that many counter-arguments against Setterfield were fallacious. But we also note that it would be fallacious for Setterfield devotees to use this latest research to vindicate him. This is because the experimental evidence it’s based on contradicts a specific prediction of the Setterfield model.
[AiG]: There is something God can’t do—lie or deceive. Unfortunately, many people are oblivious to the logic of why the ‘fully grown’ ‘light on its way’ argument falls down badly. See Dr Humphreys’ excellent book Starlight and Time (right) for a detailed explanation, or this extract from our Answers Book. (Clue: the light from distant stars falling on Earth is more than light — it contains information recording past events. If the ‘light on its way’ idea is true, God created misleading information ‘part way’ along a beam of light, recording events that never happened. It can take a while for the proverbial philosophical ‘penny to drop’ on this one.)
[AiG]: If it is not clear already from our full comment on the matter, then it is doubtful that further clarification will help. Here, as throughout this document, Mr Hovind’s ‘summary’ of the AiG position is not particularly helpful, and is sometimes misleading by omission. We strongly recommend that people look at the original paper listing the arguments, and if anything is not clear, especially after using the search engine on our site, feel free to contact us for clarification.
[AiG]: This is exactly what is meant by anecdotal evidence. The word is derived from ‘anecdote’ meaning ‘story’. There is a story, but no coal sticking to a chain.
[AiG]: Again, there is an iron pot (minus coal) in a museum, but no evidence apart from anecdotal that the coal contained the pot. I.e. a pot with a story about it.
[AiG]: Presumably ‘sole’.
[AiG]: Again we ask, where is the artifact showing the association between it and the coal? We do not deny that there may have been such artifacts, but the reason we say one should avoid their use is precisely because they are to this point not available. Sadly, this becomes just ‘one more story’.
[AiG]: Same again, exactly. There is any number of spoons, pots, etc that are said (‘anecdotal’) to have come from coal, but how can one use these legitimately to the heathen in apologetics when there is no more association between the items and the coal? It would be like showing a human skull and saying ‘My grandfather swears that he extricated this from the fossilized jaws of a dinosaur’. Exciting indeed, but totally frustrating, and totally useless, unless the evidence of the dinosaur jaw and human skull still has its original associations! Ultimately, without standards of documentation, anyone could claim anything.
[AiG]: This grossly misrepresents the situation. As our journal and our materials have said over and over, catastrophic plate tectonics is the very antithesis of the idea that the plates have always been moving. Popularizers of creation arguments have a somber public responsibility to arm themselves, even if they are not scientists themselves, with the best that creation researchers of substance can provide. At the very least, they need to know what those researchers are actually saying. This comment reveals a complete failure to have either read or grasped even the basics of the CPT concept, which even the most vocal of its creationist critics are not guilty of.
[AiG]: Who cares what the name is? Some creationists who like Catastrophic Plate Tectonics call it Pangea, but that does not mean that it is the mythical Pangea of evolutionary history, hundreds of millions of years ago.
[AiG]: We are not spreading ‘alarm’, but we are saying that this argument tends to distract from a much better one. Our purpose is to try to give up-to-date advice on those arguments which are most likely to do the most good, and to avoid those which are either counterproductive (e.g. by being wrong) or divert from much more powerful points.
[AiG]: This is worded in a way which we think is misleading. It implies that we are seeking to censor ‘honest research’, which is absolutely false. Taking into account the doubt about whether it is taught in Scripture, the current state of the historical evidence in its support, and the fact that it is not directly linked to creation apologetics anyway, we currently do not recommend its use in creation apologetics. We are not, as an organization, saying it is definitely wrong, which is what this wording implies. But when it is presented, it often excites people out of proportion to the credibility of the actual evidence when it is investigated, evidence which is somewhat nebulous in the mists of antiquity. We regret that our cautious advice to ‘not use’ in creation apologetics is depicted here as opposition to the very possibility of the notion.
[AiG]: A worthy cause, and one we should all be engaged in. Unfortunately, Hovind’s document repeatedly misrepresents or misunderstands not only our article, but the issues themselves. Our article was not aimed at any individual, but we plead with all creationist ‘lone wolf’ popularizers to familiarize themselves with the immense amount of good science being done by qualified (though fallible) creationist researchers, most of them not even associated with our own ministry. These are people who have shown that they are willing to be corrected, and to interact with their critics formally in peer-reviewed fashion.
We plead for all of us to swallow pride and, without sacrificing independence of thought and originality, be prepared to submit to the rigors of peer review and to the thoroughly Biblical process of ‘iron sharpening iron’. That would be real ‘working together’, not some artificial unity in which scientifically trained creationists (i.e. Bible-believing scientists) are supposed to smile sweetly while plainly wrong and even fraudulent claims are being promoted in the name of ‘Creationism’.
Such a process, recognizing the fallibility of all of us, would also delineate more clearly such things as the burden of proof in regard to various claims, and would help separate ‘shaky, flaky’ theories from reasonable speculations—i.e., legitimate hypotheses which seek to be constrained by Scripture, fact, and the faculties of rational thought with which our Creator has endowed us.
|Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.|
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