Worries about apparent dishonesty repeatedly occurring within YEC scholarship


(Casper Hesp) #1

Last summer, the Institute for Creation Research published [this article][1] written by Brian Thomas (MSc in biotechnology) about how scholars supposedly disproved evolution.

Well, I don’t have to be an expert in biology to understand that the findings of that research group are grossly misrepresented by Mr. Thomas. For example, he conveniently generalized the finding to all proteins… Also, he discredited the analysis of possible evolutionary pathways of this protein by the research group, without real reasons. I’ll leave the detailed explanations to the biologists among us.

Now, my worries are as follows. I just can’t believe that someone with a Master’s degree in biotechnology such as Brian Thomas misrepresents findings such as these by mere mistake. I want to believe in someone’s best intentions, but there is a limit…

Examples such as these (and much, much worse) are ubiquitous among YEC groups. How can it be that Christian ministries show such systematic lack of honesty and transparency?
[1]: http://www.icr.org/article/8214


Do YEC ministries employ the same rhetorical tactics as Richard Dawkins?
(Christy Hemphill) #2

I think they honestly believe there is a war for the hearts and minds of people, and their ethics are filtered through their idea of the greater good. I don’t think it’s intentional dishonesty so much as misguided and misdirected passion for the cause.


(James McKay) #3

On the whole, I’d agree that we should be cautious about calling dishonesty. I think there is a large element of getting carried away with themselves and possibly cognitive dissonance as well. However, having said that, some things do cross the line. One example was the YEC researchers who sent recently erupted lava samples to a laboratory that specifically stated that it couldn’t handle samples expected to be less than 2 million years old, and have been parading the results they got back as proof that radiometric dating is unreliable ever since.

This raises the question of course: where do we draw the line between over-enthusiasm and outright dishonesty?


(Casper Hesp) #4

I appreciate your desire to look for the good in people and assume their best intentions. But that’s exactly what my post is about. The countless examples seem to be too extreme in their obviousness to fall within the range of human error? Either that, or my own worldview is somehow so extremely different from theirs that I even can’t assess their assessments.

With “filtered ethics”, do you mean that they adopt tactics under the motto "All is fair in love and war." ? Because I never heard of any group of Christians among which such reasoning was accepted practice.


(Casper Hesp) #5

^ Exactly that! I know it is usually the best thing to assume the best… But there must be a limit, somewhere? I don’t have a problem with non-scholarly YECs. They merely have a misplaced trust in YEC scholarship and I don’t blame them for that. However, what about the people with expertise… Is over-enthusiasm for one’s cause really enough to explain the variety of examples? I am also talking about quote-mining and faulty quoting, show-casing obviously flawed computations, ignoring internal contradictions, assigning motivations to researchers they don’t know, et cetera.


(James McKay) #6

Here’s something I wrote a week or so back about this:

I am talking specifically about people who:

  • are claiming that a young earth is supported by scientific evidence;
  • are citing arguments for a young earth that do not meet scientific standards;
  • should be reasonably expected to know that their arguments do not meet scientific standards, either through having a science degree or having had it explained to them in terms that they understand;
  • are persisting in citing those arguments as scientific evidence despite having been made aware that they are not.

Hope that helps.


(Henry Stoddard) #7

I also do not believe that dinosaurs and human beings lived together. Also, the dinosaur foot print along with a human foot print was false. They were two dinosaurs. :laughing:


#8

When I was still within the “creation science” movement I had a conversation with Henry Morris that greatly distressed me at the time. I pointed out some glaring examples of contradictions between answers given audience members during the Q&A which flatly contradicted what continued to be stated in the lectures and even new editions of books. And rather than the leaders engaging what I saw as a disturbing problem of ethics, I got the same response I’d always gotten in such circumstances: “The atheist scientists lie and misrepresent all of the time. Why aren’t you complaining about them?” I replied, “Because I’m not an atheist! They don’t speak for me. So when they lie, that doesn’t directly reflect upon me as a Christ-follower. But when other Young Earth Creationist speaks lie or appear to lie, it impacts my credibility. Not just theirs.”

There was this constant theme that one must be 100% loyal to God’s side in a great ideological war. So any concerns I had about contradictions, hypocrisies/double-standards, quote-mines, and misrepresentations always provoked another question: “Which side are you on?” (My reply: “Jesus said that he was the way, the truth, and the life. So doesn’t being honest about the evidence matter? And do we really want the standard of behavior to be comparing ourselves to our opponents rather than to Christ?”)

It seemed that even when a “creation science” ministry colleague would agree with me in my identification of something that was incorrect or unethical, it was cast as “nit-picking” and the excuse that “Evolutionists do that all of the time! Why are you complaining about us doing it? Complain about them for a change!”

It always came down to “Whose side are you on?” Incredibly, that was back at a time in the 1970’s when fundamentalist Christians in America kept complaining about situation ethics and the loss of absolutes. Yet it seemed like the answer to every observation about science misrepresentation and dishonesty within our ranks was met by excuses and “Maybe. But the evolutionists are far worse!”

Postscript: In the 1970’s I had, obviously, no idea that the ethical problems would be a hundred times worse two generations later. The Internet seemed to be the catalyst which magnified the extremes and the abandonment of ethical restraints.


(Christy Hemphill) #9

More that ideology trumps rationality. People are not rational most of the time, and really wanting to win blinds people’s judgment even more. (Witness the recent current events…) I bet it all makes sense in their own minds in some convoluted way because they have decided “science” can’t be trusted and is in league with the devil.

Dishonesty implies intent to deceive. I don’t think they intend to deceive because I think they see everything as defending undeniable truth. You could argue that there is definitely intent to prevent people from ever coming into contact with threatening ideas, even if it means grossly misrepresenting the opposition. Is that dishonest? Or is it a symptom of the twisted kind of paternalism that runs rampant in Fundamentalist leadership? I am suspicious of groups that are making a lot of money off of creationist propaganda and I do question their motives and honesty. But I think the rank and file are just trying to be faithful to the faith as it was taught them and don’t feel they have a choice. I talk a lot to people who have “escaped” Fundamentalist churches. Depending on how dysfunctional their family/faith community was, it can really do a number on a person’s mind that takes years of counseling and healthy relationships to work through.

Again, I think this makes sense to them. They preemptively reject the idea that any rocks are more than 6,000 years old and think all scientists who claim otherwise are playing a big fraudulent game. In their minds, all scientists who send rocks to that lab are sending rocks less than 2 million years old, so how is it dishonest for them to do so? It just shows that when you categorically reject basic premises of a discipline (i.e. rock strata dates can be estimated based on observable features) you can’t really understand the discipline.


Criticisms vs. Attacks: Where's the line?
(James McKay) #10

Sure, but the wording on the Geochron Labs website didn’t say “less than 2 million years old” but “expected to be less than 2 million years old”.


#11

Absolutely! We must always be compassionate toward the rank-and-file followers who are the very real victims of the movement’s leadership. I try to always emphasize that I’m talking about the leaders and celebrities of such movements and not the people whose only “crime” was being born into a church fellowship which probably started with a lot of great goals and motivations—but the cult-like influences grew over time. I’ve always hated the scientifically inaccurate frog in the boiling water analogy, but the process of “cultification” is something which happens gradually.

The “creation science” movement began so slowly and with a strong awareness that this was NOT central to identifying the True Christian™. In 1961 most of us realized that even the authors of the “founding documents” of American Fundamentalism did NOT assume that everybody was a Young Earth Creationist. (Surprise: Believing in a young earth just wasn’t something many obsessed about. That’s why John Whitcomb Jr. looked to an obscure devotee of Seventh Day Adventist “prophetess” Ellen White, George McReady Price, for a set of beliefs that were NOT at the time considered central to fundamentalist Christian doctrine.)

By the way, in the 1970’s some of us still within the movement started discussing among ourselves how there was a growing “rewriting” of our history to make “creation science” and Young Earth Creationist seem like something that had always been central to orthodox Christianity. We saw parallels to the historical revisionisms of Communist ideologues. (Yes, Communism was still a big deal in the 1970’s. The Soviet Union would remain the “evil empire” for a long time yet.) This process happened right alongside the increasing emphasis on who was and wasn’t a True Christian™.


(Martin Mayberry) #12

I just want to know why on the Bio-logos website you only believe in pro evolution comments and refuse to give anti evolution pro "God spoke and it happened"comments the same airing and respect? You are supposed to be a balanced pro-God web site but you only seem to be balanced as long as the the person replying dances to the the “evolution dance” If you think That is honesty you need to review what the word honesty means!. it happened on the video Expelled: no Intelligence allowed! Biologos website acts just like that movie! It is a shame and that not all voices are approved to get the same weight as evolution is


(Christy Hemphill) #13

@martin
Maybe you should review the “about us” page http://biologos.org/about-us/

People of all perspectives and faiths are welcome to participate in our forum and share their opinions, but BioLogos is a Christian organization that exists to promote evolutionary creationism, not to be a generic “Pro-God” website.


(Martin Mayberry) #14

Being pro -God is never generic ,it is just being completely honest! evolution does NOT exist except in mans imagination! I see NO animals what so ever evolving into or from anything else anywhere and that is a Big hole{gap}to fill for the evolutionist! because if Evolution were true you would see evidence of it in many animals! That you do not should cause you to pause and ask why do I not see it happening in real time?I will tell you, because God spoke and{Bam} it happened! He did not use evolution!


(Martin Mayberry) #16

You probably did not believe that a person could find so much fallacy in your pro evolution beliefs did you? well I sure can!


#17

What fallacy are you talking about? You have just been making noise.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #18

I’m really glad you used these terms. This is exactly what it is. Because…

I have, and it was in another Christian group that exhibited quite a few cultlike characteristics.


(James McKay) #19

The truth or otherwise of evolution, or censorship (real or imagined) by BioLogos, isn’t really the topic of this thread. Perhaps you may want to start a new discussion as a linked topic if matters such as these concern you?

The whole point being discussed here is that, as Christians, we must be honest in the way we uphold whatever position we choose to adopt on matters such as the age of the earth, evolution and so on. As I keep saying, the Bible has far, far more to say about the need for honesty than about either the age of the earth or evolution, and if we are making claims that are demonstrably untrue, this will do far, far more harm than good, as they shatter our credibility in the eyes of the world.

Unfortunately, there is clear evidence that YEC leaders have made, and continue to make, statements that they know, or should reasonably be expected to know, to be demonstrably untrue. The topic being discussed here is, to what extent should we expect them to be aware that the claims they are making are untrue, and how we should respond to such claims.

Finally, I’d caution you against launching into knee-jerk tirades against things that you don’t understand: it’s counterproductive and doesn’t help you. We owe it to ourselves and those to whom we are witnessing to carry out some due diligence to make sure that our testimony is accurate, informed, clearly and coherently expressed, and spoken graciously. It’ll also make you sound a whole lot more convincing :smiley:


(Thomas) #20

Dishonesty in the YEC movement!? STOP THE PRESS!!!


(Thomas) #21

Because there is no honest evidence for this method of instant existence. If you look around the World you live in, you will see that EVERYTHING comes about via process. From the Big Bang to boiling water. Sea Shells to Skyscrapers. All come about via processes, sometimes very long ones too. The Judeo-Christian God clearly also works this way. Otherwise the Bible would be a very short book.