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Scientific paper credits ‘the Creator’ for human hand design

Journal is forced to retract after outcry

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Published: 8 March 2016 (GMT+10)
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Controversy is raging after a peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal, PLOS ONE, published a paper1 recently by a team of four Chinese researchers (three in China, one in Massachusetts).2 The paper dealt with everyday topics such as how human hands grasp objects, and showed these actions that we take for granted require “complex biomechanical architecture”. But this would hardly have been controversial if not for its ‘unfortunate’ use of some extremely taboo language: the researchers in multiple places referred to the Creator. E.g., the Abstract states:

The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.1

The Introduction includes:

Thus, hand coordination affords humans the ability to flexibly and comfortably control the complex structure to perform numerous tasks. Hand coordination should indicate the mystery of the Creator’s invention.1

Backlash!

The public outcry was swift and fierce! One editor at the journal posted, “Just found out @PLOSONE published a paper with ‘evidence’ about some ‘creator’. If not retracted immediately, I will resign as editor.” Buckling to the pressure, the journal did exactly that shortly afterward, with the following statement:

In light of the concerns identified, the PLOS ONE editors have decided to retract the article, the retraction is being processed and will be posted as soon as possible. We apologize for the errors and oversight leading to the publication of this paper.3

Perhaps even sadder than the public response to this paper, however, was that even the authors of the paper themselves seem to have backed down. They attempted to blame references to the Creator on errors in translation, rather than a belief in intelligent design. E.g. the first author wrote in the Comments:

We are sorry for drawing the debates about creationism. Our study has no relationship with creationism. English is not our native language. Our understanding of the word ‘Creator’ was not actually as a native English speaker expected. Now we realized that we had misunderstood the word ‘Creator’. What we would like to express is that the biomechanical characteristic of tendious connective architecture between muscles and articulations is a proper ‘design’ by the ‘nature’ (result of evolution) to perform a multitude of daily grasping tasks. We will change the ‘Creator’ to ‘nature’ in the revised manuscript. We apologize for any troubles may have caused by this misunderstanding.1

But one must wonder if they really mean this, as even one of their critics responded:

We would take this defense seriously if it were the only creationist phrase in the article. But it isn’t. You also talk about hand coordination as evidence of “the mystery of the Creator’s invention.” What mystery is that? Is there a mystery how evolution by natural selection could produce the coordination in question?1

Perhaps they don’t want to be blacklisted from ever being published again?

Fallacy: “Why don’t creationists publish in peer reviewed journals?”

Misotheists and their churchian allies (‘useful idiots’), when they can’t refute a creationist argument, often taunt biblical creationists (and Intelligent Design theorists) with the following challenge:

If there’s really good evidence for Design, then why don’t you submit papers to a secular peer-reviewed scientific journal and gain the support of the mainstream scientific community?

This incident should serve as a perfect response to any such challenge, and a ‘test case’ for what happens in such a circumstance. Far from giving due consideration, the so-called scientific community does the exact opposite: they scorn and bully anyone who would dare attempt to suggest a Creator, and do their best to prevent any such evidence from seeing the light of day. There would be pressure to remove any editor who allowed this to be published.

This is the same type of behavior documented in Ben Stein’s movie Expelled, as well as the book Slaughter of the Dissidents by Dr Jerry Bergman. The simple truth is, the secular academic world is not open to considering evidence for a Divine Creator. The very concept of intelligent design is anathema to them, and they will stop at nothing to prevent any hint of such a Creator from breaking through the pages of secular scientific literature. The oft-cited ‘amazing admission’ by Dr Richard Lewontin once again is relevant here.

The Hand: evidence for design

In reality, the human hand is great evidence for the design of our Creator. For those who have not stubbornly rejected the truth, this simple fact seems obvious! One calls to mind the revulsion of Charles Darwin himself upon viewing the beauty of a peacock feather,4 which he knew he could not explain away by naturalistic means.5 I wonder– do today’s misotheists, such as the editor at PLOS ONE who threatened to resign his position over the mere mention of a ‘Creator’, experience a similar revulsion at the sight of their own hands?

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Ming-Jin Liu, Cai-Hua Xiong , Le Xiong, Xiao-Lin Huang, Biomechanical characteristics of hand coordination in grasping activities of daily living, PLOS ONE, 5 January 2016 | doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146193. PLOS = Public Library of Science. Return to text
  2. Bolton, D., Scientific paper which says the human hand was designed by a ‘Creator’ sparks controversy, independent.co.uk, 3 March 2016. Return to text
  3. Cited in Ref. 2. Return to text
  4. Darwin, F., (Ed), Letter to Asa Gray, dated 3 April 1860, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, John Murray, London, Vol. 2, p. 296, 1887; 1911 Edition, D. Appleton and Company, New York and London, Vol. 2, pp. 90–91. Return to text
  5. Note that Darwin tried to explain the peacock tail by sexual selection, i.e. in response to peahens choosing mates with this characteristic. But in reality, peahens don’t care, so sexual selection fails to explain the very thing Darwin concocted it for. See Takahashi, M., and others, Peahens do not prefer peacocks with more elaborate trains, Animal Behaviour 75(4):1209–1219, 2008; Catchpoole, D., Peacock tail tale failure, Creation 31(2):56, 2009. Return to text

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Readers’ comments
Graeme M., Australia, 16 March 2016

Risk of ridicule and position seem to be the prime source of 'silencing' scientists who manage to 'see' that their discoveries of the ingenuity contained in animate/ inanimate forms or principles of how things behave under a variety of conditions consistently and can come up with no other possible conclusion than 'designed order'/ 'creator intelligence'.

The bible declares in Rom. 1:20 that denying the obvious is not an excuse, sadly many will buckle to the lie an drag many along with it.

D. P., Canada, 11 March 2016

This article, "Chinese scholar paper is a misnomer because retractions" from ScienceNetCN states in the second heading from the bottom:

"I believe that many native Chinese friends will understand, 'Creator,' 'magic of the Creator,' 'Hand of God' ...... had Zhongxiang in 'Animal World' is all about is not it?" "Such expression in our eyes and "Nature" is no different, it does not have any concept of consciousness and religion-related. But when these things into the English environment, its meaning is often enriched." "Although this is the difference between Chinese and Western culture, but we also need to pay attention to and warning areas."

[link deleted per feedback rules]

They probably are not young-earth creationists, and this could easily be not only a translation issue, but a cultural issue. Hope it helps.

Paul Price responds

Most of that English is so broken it's hard to understand exactly what's being said, but I think I get the thrust of it. Sounds like they're trying to take the side of the Chinese researchers regarding their excuse.

Looking at the way the original article was written, though, it's still very hard for me to believe they had no intention of referencing the Creator (God). All the rest of the language in the article seems perfectly accurate and fluent, as others have noted. Most likely they are theistic evolutionists; I agree they are probably not biblical creationists.

The main point, though, is not whether they are or are not creationists; the main point is the inappropriate way the scientific community and public responded to the paper– merely over the inclusion of the word Creator. It highlights the closed-mindedness of the current academic world.

Joe B., United States, 9 March 2016

I have always believed that true science is about discovering the true nature of the world we live in. That would include secular, religious, and scientific concepts, weighing them all in the same balance of fact versus fiction which must include a fair hearing from all sides as we consider the intricate interrelationships between different perspectives. To state that the mention of God (or gods) in a scientific paper is forbidden is a direct attack on the goal of discovering the truth by denying the possibility that a creator exists when it is not possible to prove this. One only needs to look at a very old edition of the Oxford dictionary to see that “Theology” was considered a scientific discipline on equal footing with all other scientific disciplines. To get the whole picture, we must not believe that certain aspects of science can be separated into silos, they ALL must ultimately agree or we will find that our theory is at best pure fantasy or perhaps even heresy. In the end, denying the use of specific word like “creator” is pure censorship which in and of itself serves only to stifle scientific inquiry, not enhance and enable it. Opinion and anger – the tools used to discredit the article in question – is not science.

Dennis M., United States, 9 March 2016

I do not want references to god in scientific journals. Whatever purpose does it serve? What would saying that 'the creator designed the adrenal system' add to a paper on endocrinology? What can we learn about the hand from this reference? When studying the hand and its structure, why do I care if the Jewish god, the Muslim god, or Shiva designed it? It's pandering. Let's let science be science and religion be religion.

Paul Price responds

Dennis,

You're missing a very important point. Both creation and evolution are types of historical (a.k.a. forensic) science, and as such are not directly testable through the scientific method, unlike operational science (things like determining the boiling point of water, etc.).

By outlawing any mention of a Creator in scientific journals, you're actually promoting the philosophical/religious view of Secular Humanism, which says that all things can be explained naturalistically— that's not being neutral! Please note that the paper in question did not make reference to any particular religion, but simply referred to 'the Creator'— yet even that was enough to cause an uproar and calls for boycotting the journal. This is not about science vs. religion, it's about two opposing worldviews battling over the best interpretation of the evidence. Don't you feel that even a minority view deserves a fair hearing? That certainly isn't the case in modern academia, as this incident and others show.

I encourage you to check out It's Not Science as well as the other related articles below the main text.

John B., United Kingdom, 8 March 2016

This just goes to prove the mentality of evolutionists, that they cannot possibly "allow a divine foot in the door"! I am appalled at the shameful, cowardly way these bullying God haters behave, yet practically, the whole of modern science was founded by those who gave credit to our Wonderful Creator whilst conducting real science. Awful that it may sound....one day ALL atheists and evolutionists will believe in our Creator God, of course the big question is.......WHERE? As a biomedical scientist, I have never had any problem with Creation, and "evolution" plays no part in any medical, clinical, research I have ever conducted. Every thing screams of Creation, that to ignore it is wilful and an insult to Him who made us.

Jean L., United States, 8 March 2016

The paper was actually published in January, and it was almost 2 months before the 'thought police' found it and raised a stink. The paper has now had more than 150,000 views. At least the vocal critics got the paper some great publicity. The paper is still available to read, it just is preceded by a retraction notice.

James J., Canada, 8 March 2016

The scientists who submitted the paper didn't realize that they were committing a thought crime.

They have to learn that evolution is "doubleplusgood"! Creation is "doubleplusungood"!

Vern R., United States, 8 March 2016

Once again we have undeniable proof of just how fragile the evolution story really is. If even one admission of the truth is allowed, the whole house will come down.

Michael J., Canada, 8 March 2016

I seem to remember a guy named Newton mentioning the Creator in one of his minor publications.

Jennifer P., Australia, 8 March 2016

I read an interesting book many years ago about Dr Richard Brandt who was a medical missionary in India ... a section in it related a sermon he gave for his leprosy patients about the medical damage from the nails being driven through Jesus' hands ... it ended in the congregants raising their damaged hands and being so grateful and praising God their Savior for their hands ... I also reviewed the quotes by Thomas Nagel and Richard Lewontin and it is so incredibly sad that these misotheists and God haters like the PLOS ONE article objectors have such a fanatical anger that only God Himself could take away ... I guess all we believers can do is lift up our hands and pray for them?

R. W., Australia, 8 March 2016

Interestingly this secular science website that's reporting on this story states there are some other scientific stuff that relies on 'improbable reasoning' and 'faith' (!) like dark matter:

"Thus far, most media outlets have sided with the outraged readership, insisting that such papers have no place in the science arena, though some have joked about the pitchfork mentally of the virtual mob, looking for proper vengeance. What appears to be still missing, however, are the few small voices that find such outrage by science fanatics as ominous; those that call for the persecution of heretics like people of a former time; or those noting that many papers are published in respected journals that rely to some degree on improbable reasoning—Einstein and his "spooky action at a distance," for example. And other papers make their points by citing the existence of dark matter or dark energy as possible explanations for whatever they are studying, which for now at least, must be taken on faith."

[link deleted per feedback rules]

Dean R., Australia, 7 March 2016

And yet the big bang can freely be acknowleged even though secular scienctists reject it publically.

Modern science is just as political under the new church of atheistic dogma.

Naturalism gets the free ride while Theism is banished from the secular machine with its human cogs. No indifference or tolerance there just the same old bias of the enligtenment stuck on a cycle that goes round in circles.

No, Theist cant prove the existance of God through observational science but neither can Naturalism disprove God or have an inkling regarding origins. One game, two sets of rules equals bias.

John D., Australia, 7 March 2016

Again, disappointing (but not surprising) that the quality of research is denied merely on the semantics of a couple of references to God.

john P., Australia, 7 March 2016

We should be praising God that these four researchers had the initial courage to give Him the glory, just a shame they were bullied into backing down by the editors of this journal who are so terrified of the truth. It is indeed a good example of what Ben Stein and Dr Jerry Bergman talk about. What these "scientists" who opposed these four researchers will find out one day is that there is no hiding from God and the truth that He is our Creator. These four researchers need our prayers and encouragement. Maybe they can be asked to publish their findings in the Journal of Creation?

Paul Price responds

John,

They certainly do need our prayers and encouragement, but since they've already gone on record denying the very Creator they were initially acknowledging, it seems unlikely they'll be seeking publication in any creation journals. It's hard for me to figure out their motives— it seems like they were just genuinely unaware of how controversial their language would be, and then tried to save face by denying it later on. It doesn't look like a simple translation mistake, despite what they claimed afterward.

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