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Feedback archive › Feedback 2006

War on creation, continued

8 July 2006

A physiology student called Michael Tan sent us an email on 2 June 2006 criticizing our article Intelligent Design—‘A War on Science’ says the BBC. As his email was lacking in documentation, we asked him:

In your 2 June email you also alluded to errors in other articles on our website. We would be very anxious to know of these errors in order to investigate and correct them where necessary. It may be easier to submit separate feedbacks for those articles.

So he wrote another email on 9 June. Both are printed below, then reprinted with responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati interspersed. We leave it up to readers to work out whether Mr Tan has documented any errors, or even done the slightest legwork to find out what we actually claim.


2 June 2006
Your article on page:
Intelligent Design—‘A War on Science’ says the BBC
was obviously not written by anyone with an understanding of what motivates a scientist: the search for fact based on observations. In fact, many of the propositions in this article are simply unintelligent and unfounded (If you wish, I can point these out one by one).
As this documentary claimed, creationists survive only in the ‘gaps’ of science, and provide no explanation for anything, other than human-written texts which they claim to have divine origin … which means nothing to the genuine scientist who seeks ‘observable and demonstratable facts’ and not ‘interpretation of ancient literature’.
Scientists do not have motive to disprove religious texts. Evolutionary theory (Darwin) is the scientifically universally accepted method for our existence, simply because the evidence is everywhere. There is NO contreversy between unbiased scientists on this, such conflict only exists between scientists and creationists with a motive to promote religion (as the judge agreed in this 2006 case). Are vestigial structures, mutation, or adaptation demonstratable? Yes of course they are. What about Noah’s ark? Granted there is no direct evidence one way or another (2000 year old manuscripts are NOT evidence I am sorry, no matter how much they ‘sound like an eyewitness account’) but do you think that he had all 350,000 documented species of beetles? Or did speciation occur after this time? Or do you consider Noah’s ark a metaphor? Nonetheless, I’m sure you’ll find frail reasoning for this based on interpretation of literature and not logical conclusion from observation.
Even though I thought this documentary was brilliantly and fairly written, it is inevitable that many people will concoct contrary arguments which fall in a heap if analysed by someone without ‘faith in divine (undetectable) sources’.
I welcome a response.

9 June 2006
I have also glanced at many of your other articles and feedback and I am beginning to realise what Prof. Dawkins was eluding to when he mentioned that the ‘theory’ of ID does nothing except ‘waste the time of scientists who should be getting on with their work’. I am afraid I might be falling into this category.
It is obvious that your website is not interested in genuine scientific scrutiny, just magnifying the scientific uncertainties with emotion and faith based reasoning, which is based on unacceptable scientific logic, and declining to respond to gaping holes in your own propositions. You are comparing peer-reviewed unbiased scientific research with statements such as ‘… sounds just like an eyewitness account’. Also, in relation to this statement from Out of his depth on radioactive dating, but still a match for his chemistry prof.:
I can see how many lay people will just take the scientist’s word for truth, because not many people, like myself, actually ask those deeper questions.
Absolutely. It’s a bit like reading tea leaves. It is controlled by the paradigm, administered by an élite and held in awe by the masses.
Historians of science agree that the paradigm’s grip prevents challenges from receiving grants or having their papers published. Philosophers of science note that paradigm holders merely tweak auxiliary hypotheses rather than allow the paradigm to be touched. 99.9% of people have no idea about how it is done or what assumptions are made.
This statement is absolute nonsense, and suggests we scientists are governed by prestige and fear reprisal to the point of suppression of genuine results (not ancient literature) which contradict our own. This is nothing short of insulting, not to mention untrue. Any plausible theory which even derails current understanding is embraced and further studied by scientists in an effort to seek knowledge and reason. (I know everyone loves a conspiracy theory but such a ‘paradigm’ does not exist. Nobel prize winners are generally those who ‘went against the tide’ to make their amazing discoveries. As you would have seen in the mentioned documentary, Charles Darwin likened publishing his evolution results to ‘confessing to a murder’.) I think what your authors were trying to say is that ‘You should not trust ‘scientists’ because their conclusions contradict our faith, and the real reason that our theories are not accepted by scientists is because we faithful are more intelligent than they are.
I would like to know where Dr Walker received his scientific training, or whether he simply has an arts-related research PhD in history or some such. Working in Radiation Health and Safety for several years with an initial degree in Physics, I have a good understanding of radioactive decay, and I have tried to follow Dr Walker’s response to the questions raised, and I can not find a scientific argument that directly challenges radioactive dating, rather just presenting a few unfounded ‘what-ifs’, andemotional responses such as that pasted above. Please note: ‘Assumptions’ of dating are taken from extrapolation of the emitted radiation over time of predictable radioisotopes. They are solid and demonstratable assumptions. This is science.
I have studied theology as well as science, and the two are simply not consistent. Please, PLEASE do not continue to pollute the beauty and purity of science, with the ignorance and misinterpretations of human history and mythology.
Please believe this letter is sent with the kindest regards.
Michael Tan
Dept of Physiology
University of WA, Australia

2 June 2006
Your article on page:
Intelligent Design—‘A War on Science’ says the BBC
was obviously not written by anyone with an understanding of what motivates a scientist:

What’s this? Instead of the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy (aka stipulative definition), it’s the ‘no true scientist’ fallacy, and equally circular:

A: No true scientist believes in biblical Creation or doubts goo-to-you evolution
B: Not so, because Prof. X is a scientist by any normal criterion, with an earned Ph.D. in biology, a world expert in his field and with 106 refereed scientific publications and five patents, yet he believes in biblical Creation and is sceptical of goo-to-you evolution.
A: As I said, no TRUE scientist doubts evolution!

As it happens, the article was actually written by two authors with high science qualifications.

the search for fact based on observations.

That’s what they tell high-schoolers anyway. More experienced scientists know very well that ‘Facts do not “speak for themselves”; they are read in the light of theory,’ as the late Stephen Jay Gould pointed out [Ever Since Darwin, 1978]. Another way of putting it is that evidence must be differentiated from the explanation for the evidence.

In fact, many of the propositions in this article are simply unintelligent and unfounded (If you wish, I can point these out one by one).

Hence the request to do so. But does Mr Tan’s second email actually fulfill his promise?

As this documentary claimed, creationists survive only in the ‘gaps’ of science,

Chronological snobbery … the truth of any document is not determined by the calendar but by the correspondence to facts.

And as we pointed out, creationists do nothing of the sort, and base their claims on what we do know about science!

and provide no explanation for anything,

That’s definitely wrong. Creation does explain why living things ‘appear to have been designed’, in the words of Dawkins we cited.

other than human-written texts which they claim to have divine origin.

Not that Mr Tan would bother to address the evidence for this claim, since he evidently knows without examining it that it must be false. Some would say that this is not a very scientific approach.

which means nothing to the genuine scientist who seeks ‘observable and demonstratable [sic] facts’

So, have you observed or demonstrated life coming from non-living chemicals, single-celled creatures evolving into multi-celled ones, land mammals and reptiles turning into bats and pterosaurs

and not ‘interpretation of ancient literature’.

Chronological snobbery, eh? But the truth of any document is not determined by the calendar but by the correspondence to facts. Note also, since the evolution/creation debate is about history, it makes sense to trust eyewitness accounts rather than the accounts proposed by people who weren’t there.

Scientists do not have motive to disprove religious texts.

Have you actually read the atheistic tirades by Dawkins, Dennett, the Huxleys et al.? There was ample documentation in the article that you claimed (evidently falsely) to have read? Of course I would agree that their atheistic tirades are not science at all, but merely masquerading as science.

Evolutionary theory (Darwin) is the scientifically universally accepted method for our existence, simply because the evidence is everywhere. There is NO controversy between unbiased scientists on this, such conflict only exists between scientists and creationists

Such conflict is in your mind, since like many others I am both a scientist and a creationist (astute readers would notice Mr Tan’s dishonest debate tactic of poisoning the well, as well as the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy again).

with a motive to promote religion (as the judge agreed in this 2006 case).

This is US federal judge John E. Jones III, whose previous claim to fame was on the State Liquor Control Board, but is now known as ‘the moderate, thoughtful and universally well-regarded Bush-appointed Judge Jones’, giddy with excitement that this case would finally get him noticed—he even made the cover of Rolling Stone! But it is silly to look to a judge to define good science, and justify banning all criticisms of a theory. [Update: a new analysis shows that Jones’ verbose (139 page) decision was largely plagiarized from the ACLU submission. The report summary states:

In fact, 90.9% (or 5,458 words) of Judge Jones’ 6,004-word section on intelligent design as science was taken virtually verbatim from the ACLU’s proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” submitted to Judge Jones nearly a month before his ruling. Judge Jones even copied several clearly erroneous factual claims made by the ACLU. The finding that most of Judge Jones’ analysis of intelligent design was apparently not the product of his own original deliberative activity seriously undercuts the credibility of Judge Jones’ examination of the scientific validity of intelligent design.]

Of course, it’s OK to encourage questions about well-supported theories like atomic orbital theory, but we must never subject evolution to any criticisms in case students end up not believing it, as the antitheist Eugenie Scott admitted. And you ignored the other court case where atheism was declared a religion.

Are vestigial structures, mutation, or adaptation demonstratable? Yes of course they are.

If you had spent a minute or two researching what we actually say, you would realize that we have never had any problems with either adaptation or mutation. Indeed, the usual examples of real observable changes are in the wrong direction for evolution from goo to you via the zoo.

And what sort of ‘vestigial organs’ did you have in mind, and how would they demonstrate evolution as opposed to devolution?

What about Noah’s ark?

You can find out for yourself. Remember two simple rules:

  1. The search button is your friend
  2. Frequently Asked Questions will frequently answer your questions
Granted there is no direct evidence one way or another (2000 year old manuscripts are NOT evidence I am sorry, no matter how much they ‘sound like an eyewitness account’)

Then what would count as evidence for things that occurred in history, e.g. Julius Caesar conquering Gaul or even existing?

but do you think that he had all 350,000 documented species of beetles?

No, because beetles and other invertebrates were not among the animals that Noah had to take, because they could survive off the Ark. Our core literature such as The Creation Answers Book explains this in ch. 13.

Or did speciation occur after this time?

Of course, and quicker than you think, but as shown, irrelevant to the first question. But it doesn’t look like you have anything more than an ill-informed strawman about what creationists mean by ‘kind’.

Or do you consider Noah’s ark a metaphor?

Only those who can’t differentiate metaphor from metacarpal would. See Yes, Noah did build an Ark.

Nonetheless, I’m sure you’ll find frail reasoning for this based on interpretation of literature and not logical conclusion from observation.

The biblical framework is the only one that provides the foundation for science, voluntary will, logic and morality.

What we would find is that one can make logical conclusions from premises not observations. Rather, one must interpret the observation within a framework so that a proposition can be generated and logic applied to it. And one should consider meta-science issues, such as the presuppositions needed for science to work at all—that the biblical framework is the only one that provides the foundation for science, voluntary will, logic and morality, as I explained in this feedback response.

Even though I thought this documentary was brilliantly and fairly written,

Of course, ‘fair’ to an antitheist means giving antitheists the last word and censoring the most informed opposition. And of course, opposing coercing funds from taxpayers for the ABC is ‘unfair’.

it is inevitable that many people will concoct contrary arguments which fall in a heap if analysed by someone without ‘faith in divine (undetectable) sources’.

I have already explained to an agnostic why it is rational to trust the axioms of Scripture.

I welcome a response.

As there was not too much of substance to respond to (although as above it gave us the chance to make teaching points and illustrate that many critics knock down strawmen) we asked for more. Mr Tan attempted to provide it below.


9 June 2006
I have also glanced at many of your other articles and feedback and I am beginning to realise what Prof. Dawkins was eluding [sic] to when he mentioned that the ‘theory’ of ID does nothing except ‘waste the time of scientists who should be getting on with their work’. I am afraid I might be falling into this category.

Probably so; the truth does seem to be ‘eluding’ you (as well as Dawkins). And Dawkins probably hasn’t been in a biology lab for years, being too busy ‘wasting time’ writing antitheistic propaganda disguised as science.

It is obvious that your website is not interested in genuine scientific scrutiny, just magnifying the scientific uncertainties with emotion and faith based reasoning,

Oh, of course, it’s OK to reason on the basis of an atheistic faith and launch emotional tirades against creationists as Dawkins does. That’s because atheism is the politically correct religion that should be immune from criticism (along with radical Islam, aka ‘The religion of peace’, it seems).

which is based on unacceptable scientific logic, and declining to respond to gaping holes in your own propositions.

Since you have not deigned to name any, it’s hard for us to respond.

You are comparing peer-reviewed unbiased scientific research

Watch for people claiming to be unbiased; it should be a red flag that they are totally blind to their own bias! Hmm, ‘peer review’ is merely an excuse to reject creationist arguments, as pointed out in a previous feedback, because some of them break the ‘rule’ that science must be materialistic. It really boils down to another stipulative definition with all that entails about circularity:

  • Creation isn’t real science because it isn’t peer-reviewed.
  • Creation isn’t peer-reviewed because it isn’t real science.

But peer review does have the merit of passing the Piltdown Man and Hwang Woo-suk’s embryonic stem cell claims … Also, while our Journal of Creation and even Creation magazine are peer-reviewed, it would be worth reading the interesting article Is Peer Review Broken? from The Scientist 20(2):26, Feb. 2006.

with statements such as ‘… sounds just like an eyewitness account’.

Based on objective analysis of the text.

Also, in relation to this statement from [Out of his depth on radioactive dating, but still a match for his chemistry prof]:
I can see how many lay people will just take the scientist’s word for truth, because not many people, like myself, actually ask those deeper questions.
Absolutely. It’s a bit like reading tea leaves. It is controlled by the paradigm, administered by an élite and held in awe by the masses.
Historians of science agree that the paradigm’s grip prevents challenges from receiving grants or having their papers published. Philosophers of science note that paradigm holders merely tweak auxiliary hypotheses rather than allow the paradigm to be touched. 99.9% of people have no idea about how it is done or what assumptions are made.
This statement is absolute nonsense,

You really must inform Dr Evelleen Richards and Imre Lakatos then (OK, a bit late for the late Lakatos).

and suggests we scientists are governed by prestige and fear reprisal to the point of suppression of genuine results (not ancient literature) which contradict our own.

Did you check the links for supporting information?

This is nothing short of insulting, not to mention untrue.

‘I’m offended, therefore you are wrong,’ is apparently the only line in the ‘logic’ textbook of the politically correct hegemons of the modern Western university.

Any plausible theory which even derails current understanding is embraced and further studied by scientists in an effort to seek knowledge and reason

But you haven’t dealt with the point blank refusal even to consider challenges to materialism.

(I know everyone loves a conspiracy theory

You might but I discourage them, and instead leave them to the likes of Dan Brown and his drones.

but such a ‘paradigm’ does not exist. Nobel prize winners are generally those who ‘went against the tide’ to make their amazing discoveries.

This proves my point that there is so often a tide to go against. And Nobel prizes are awarded for operational science, where axioms play a much smaller role than in historical science and propositions can be tested with experiment (what experiment can demonstrate that dinosaurs evolved into birds in the past?). See Naturalism, Origin and Operation Science and A valid distinction.

As you would have seen in the mentioned documentary, Charles Darwin likened publishing his evolution results to ‘confessing to a murder’.)

So? It was well documented that T.H. Huxley desperately wanted Darwin to publish it because it would give him a stick with which to beat the Church. And Darwin had long ago become embittered towards Christianity, partly because of his daughter’s death.

I think what your authors were trying to say is that ‘You should not trust ‘scientists’ because their conclusions contradict our faith, and the real reason that our theoriesare not accepted by scientists is because we faithfulare more intelligent than they are.’

No, it’s that we should not trust scientists who weren’t there, don’t know everything, make mistakes and sometimes even lie, over One who was there, knows everything and never makes mistakes or tells lies. The travesty of justice against Lindy Chamberlain exposes the folly of trusting circumstantial evidence over credible eyewitness accounts.

I would like to know where Dr. Walker received his scientific training, or whether he simply has an arts-related research PhD in history or some such.

You could have found out easily enough by clicking on the link to his name.

Radiometric dating theory

Radiometric dating theory pictures a simple hour glass model.

Working in Radiation Health and Safety for several years with an initial degree in Physics, I have a good understanding of radioactive decay,

And I taught undergraduate students on radiometric decay and took a postgraduate course in nuclear physics. Dr Walker has much first-hand experience in radiometric dating of igneous rocks, e.g. 1st class Honours or Summa cum laude from the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Queensland, 1998. Indeed, he showed that wonderful straight-line ‘isochron’ plots could be drawn from elements that had nothing to do with radioactive decay. This means that features other than decay over time can produce the straight lines that are interpreted as ages. See also Radioactive dating method ‘under fire’ for more of the same—NB by a Ph.D. geologist, Dr Andrew Snelling.

and I have tried to follow Dr Walker’s response to the questions raised, and I can not find a scientific argument that directly challenges radioactive dating,

That might just be because you are apparently click-on-link–challenged.

rather just presenting a few unfounded ‘what-ifs’, andemotional responses such asthat pasted above.

What emotions? And we leave just-so stories to the evolutionists. Rather, Dr Walker pointed out the assumptions which you evidently take for granted. Another critic of the same article, an earth science lecturer no less, recently emailed him indignantly (3 June 2006):

‘It is not true that scientists need to assume what they are trying to prove before arriving at an answer. Scientists measure the decay rate of radioactive nuclides today and assume that it was always the case in the past.’ (our emphasis).
Please note: ‘Assumptions’ of dating are taken from extrapolation of the emitted radiation over time of predictable radioisotopes. They are solid and demonstratable assumptions.

Radiometric dating theory

Radiometric dating practice requires multiple assumptions about the past.

Then please demonstrate that radioactive decay has been constant for billions of years. We have known about radioactivity for little more than a century, so don’t you think that extrapolating for billions of years is a stretch? In fact, Dr Snelling’s latest research in isochrons shows different slopes for different elements, which is consistent with differential acceleration of decay for different radionuclides. A recent feedback explains another strong piece of evidence for accelerated decay: helium diffusion in zircons.

This is science.

I have studied theology as well as science, and the two are simply not consistent.

I suppose we will have to take your word for that. But it is true that science that has been straight-jacketed by materialistic axioms, such as illogical origin of life scenarios, is inconsistent with biblically-consistent theology.

Please, PLEASE do not continue to pollute the beauty and purity of science, with the ignorance and misinterpretations of human history and mythology.

Please, PLEASE do not continue to pollute the beauty and purity of science, with the ignorance and misinterpretations involved in vacuous evolutionary just-so story-telling. Instead, let us return to the attitude of the great creationist founders of modern science such as Kepler, who said he was ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him’, and Newton, who wrote even more about biblical history than science.

Please believe this letter is sent with the kindest regards.
Now you want us to exercise blind faith?! :)

Michael Tan
Dept of Physiology
University of WA, Australia

Jonathan Sarfati
CMI–Australia [now USA]


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