A revealing comment from Abilene creation museum director

There is this thing called the Discovery Center in Abilene, Texas.

It is a strongly YEC organization. Chick tracts, arguments that Darwin’s ideas led to Hitler’s policy of ethnic cleansing, etc.

They are definitely inspired by ICR and Answers in Genesis.

But there are three Christian universities in Abilene. How conservative or liberal, I don’t know.

This director guy is named Paul Cornelius.

I should mention Abilene is two hours west of Fort Worth, where historically the “Wild West” began. Cowboy and outlaw history are a big part of the Abilene area.

But Paul said something striking when I asked about the support network of churches and pastors behind his museum.

He said a lot of pastors quietly support what he is doing and what his museum stands for.

But they hardly ever mention science issues from the pulpit, because they are afraid.

Afraid of alienating their own people.

I heard from a Dallas pastor that “pastors are only the help”. The real power rests with the elders or wealthy families or somebody else in leadership of the church.

Something has shifted generationally.

Suddenly it seems antievolutionist institutes like ICR or Discovery realize Christian people respect mainstream science a lot. Or at least their kids do. Maybe Bill Nye on PBS has something to do with that.

So now Discovery has decided to take down Nye. A simple target in a binary battle.

But pastors don’t face binary systems. They face pluralism within their congregations. Ad they are scared about alienating people.


I would never want to be in the position of pastors in this and from other perspectives, too. Your kind approach as a friend can be a blessing, whether they agree with you or not. Thanks.

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Dear Josh,
These types of situations are perfect case studies for a study of the history of dogma and the Bible. The current fight you are witnessing can show us how others have been discredited in the past, like how Constantine discredited Arius and how Justinian discredited the Arians.

Keep a close eye on it.
Best Wishes, Shawn

I bet it was Ms. Frizzle and Dinosaur Train.


Abilene is definitely conservative, but the universities are actually pretty moderate. In fact the Baptist (Hardin Simmons)one has a seminary that in part was established to give an alternative to the fundamentalist movement in the SBC, the Church of Christ one is moderate so far as Church of Christ goes, and at least tolerates moderate to progressive voices like Richard Beck who blogs at Experimental Theology. The Methodist one (McMurry) is Methodist. However, the rank and file in West Texas are older, and predominately conservative.

I can at least anecdotally confirm this and suspect it may be generally true. As a husband of a PK (preacher’s kid), as well as being a congregant seeing this from the pew side, I can attest that if a pastor fails to have chemistry with key influential members of a congregation, that pastor probably won’t be with that congregation long. And this can be over issues farther down the controversy ladder than evolution. When you have a small body of members who very deliberately and self-consciously keep tight grip on reigns of power in any organization, they will not be the type that tolerates a pastor (or any ostensible “leader”) pushing things at odds with their own agenda.

This has led to interesting proposals such as churches swapping pastors (i.e. my church paying for, and being responsible for hiring / firing the pastor at your church while your church does the same for mine) so that the pastor is not beholden to the people that she or he is preaching to and can therefore preach whatever the Spirit leads. An interesting idea that develops all sorts of new problems of its own and will obviously never ever be used. But the point is well-illustrated. If you’ve just finished cleansing the temple and driving out the money changers, you are more likely to wind up on a cross than you are to get your name on a wall-plaque of powerful, respected benefactors of the temple.

[which all may serve as confirmation that … "A prophet is never welcomed among their own … "]


I would agree with you. Of course, that is pretty much the way the world works and unfortunately churches have failed to be an exception. In some respects, I think the Methodists had a good idea in that the upper leadership assigned pastors to their church, though it was tough on pastors and their families to be moved a lot. Baptists tend to steal pastors instead, which can be hard on churches, as well as pastors.

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Yeah - and it isn’t even just a matter of those rascally power-mongers “over there”. I can see that tendency in my own heart too, to want to “protect” organizations precious to me from untoward “outside” influences at odds with my own agenda (which is a good agenda, of course! :wink:). So I have seen the enemy and he is me.

In some ways this is accomplished informally by itinerant and visiting pastors / pulpit fillers. It is also why organizations and forums like this one can help fill an important purpose as a safe space for anybody to anonymously speak without restraint since they have very little to lose (except getting silenced by mods if they really just can’t share the sandbox with any of the other children.)

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After reading Bill Nye’s “Undeniable” I think Bill is doing that himself.

ICR, Discovery Institute, and CMI always have respected science, and have a corresponding distain for junk science such as what Kerkut called the General Theory of Evolution.

Hi Chris,

Hope you are doing well this Lord’s Day.

Kerkut was writing his critique of the evidence for evolution sixty years ago. To give you context, that was before anyone knew anything about genomic sequences. That was before the discovery of magnificent 170 million year old bird fossils in China. That was before the discovery of tens of thousands of cetacean (and antecedent) fossils whose dates range from 60 MYA to the present. That was before the development of computational power to build reliable, highly statistically significant maximum likelihood approximations of nested hierarchy. And I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on…

The fact that YEC organizations and you think, in spite of all this, that a 60 year old critique accurately assesses the state of the evidence for evolution today tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much respect the YEC camp has for the scientific discipline of biology.

Chris Falter


Yes, Chris, I know how old the Kerkut ref is but I am only using his definition for clarity since it is nice and succinct.

Kerkut’s definition is basically the same as Jerry Coyne used in Why Evolution is True but less wordy.

Thanks for the clarification.

So on the respect question: you said that 99% of the researchers in a discipline of science are practicing “junk science.” That doesn’t sound very respectful to me.

My $.02,

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But you didn’t actually interact with the definition. Just threw out a reference as if that is good enough. And when you know how old it was then failing to mention that makes your usage suspect. Science doesn’t stand still and 60 years is a very, very, very long time ago. And while it might be “nice and succinct” is it still considered correct based on the current knowledge? That is like the YEC folk that argue against evolution using Darwin’s original statements as if nothing has changed since then.


Shawn…Constantine discredited Arius? Was not Constantine baptized by an Arian-leaning ecclesiastic?? Constantine is controversial and what he believed versus what he may have found “politic” will always be open for debate. But the current situation is probably not the same as the issue of the Trinity or nature of God.

Robin, The reason I pointed to this is to look at how Constantine did it. He invited Arius, his most well recognized opponent and then none of the arian-leaning supporters. By isolating Arius at Nicea, he showed the Christian community that Arius was a radical.

It is not the same, but good to recognize all the methods used to discredit Christianity.
Best Wishes, Shawn

Um, sure. They have disdain for the actual work done by actual scientists in actual science departments (and who belong to actual professional science associations and actual academies of science), work that is funded by actual science funding agencies, published by actual science journals, and studied by actual historians, actual philosophers and actual sociologists of science. But they’ve got great respect for real science.


Yes. Which is why I was careful to specify what sort of evolution I was talking about. It’s not their fault in most cases since they are simply using and repeating what they have been taught. Even in that 99% probably 99% of what they do is good science. It’s only when they venture from the special theory to the general theory that they move into junk.

What exact criteria do you use to determine whether something is good science or junk?

Does it fit my predetermined answers of course. :wink:

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when they venture from the special theory to the general theory

Kerkut, G.A. (1927–2004), Implications of Evolution , Pergamon, Oxford, UK, p. 157, 1960 (available online in the Public Domain at ia600409.us.archive.org/23/items/implicationsofev00kerk/implicationsofev00kerk.pdf).