Little Green Footballs dredges ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense’

But Scientific American’s errors were refuted over 6 years ago


Man on chair
Photo iStockphoto

Little Green Footballs (LGF), a political commentary blog run by Charles Johnson, a web designer from California, has a reputation for incisive, independent analysis of news and events. As such, it often finds itself at loggerheads with the mainstream media.

For example, LGF played a role in the resignation of anti-Christian newsman Dan Rather of CBS over alleged documents about President George W. Bush, since it showed conclusively that they were forgeries (Rather then insisted that they were ‘fake but accurate’). Also, LGF showed that photographs taken by Adnan Hajj during the Lebanon war and circulated by Reuters news service had been tampered with.1

LGF is a popular site currently ranking at 15,500 on Alexa web rankings.

With such a reputation it surprised me to see LGF running an ongoing anti-creationist campaign, demonstrating an absence of the usual standard of independent analysis. For example, on Monday, July 7, 2008, LGF posted this:

‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

Six years ago Scientific American published an article titled: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.

All of the points covered in their article continue to be raised today, as we’ve seen in recent LGF threads related to the theory of evolution, so this is a good chance to review; the definition of “theory” is the first of those 15 answers:

1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.

Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty—above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution—or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter—they are not expressing reservations about its truth. … ”’

LGF sullies its reputation by promoting these out-of-date, long-refuted arguments after 6 years. All 15 points in the Scientific American article were thoroughly addressed by Dr Jonathan Sarfati and those refutations were published on the web within weeks (see <creation.com/sciam>). That formed a major part of Sarfati’s book, Refuting Evolution 2, which was published in October 2002.

Johnson needs to lift his game here because his anti-creationist blogs are not well researched, not up-to-date, and not incisive. He’s following the herd, adopting the same unthinking chant as the mainstream media.

Sarfati refutes Scientific American’s Answer Error 1 in chapter 3:

‘Unfortunately, some creationists actually do argue that “evolution is just a theory.” What they usually mean is “Evolution is not proven fact, so it should not be promoted dogmatically.” (Therefore, that is what they should say.) The problem with using the word “theory” in this case is that scientists use it to mean a well-substantiated explanation of data. This includes well-known ones such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Newton’s theory of gravity, and lesser-known ones such as the Debye–Hückel theory of electrolyte solutions and the Deryagin–Landau/Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory of the stability of lyophobic sols, etc. It would be better to say that particles-to-people evolution is an unsubstantiated hypothesis or conjecture.”’

Sarfati goes on to explain the crucial difference between ‘operational science’ and ‘origins science’—between what can be observed, and what is based on people’s subjective opinions:

Scientific American’s comments about the scientific study of subatomic particles, however, miss the point—these cloud chamber experiments are still observations in the present and are repeatable. A dinosaur turning into a bird 150 Ma (million years ago) is neither observable in real time, directly or indirectly, nor repeatable. Chapter 1 of this book explained this confusion about the difference between “operational science” and “origins science.”’

Scientific American is not an objective, open minded science journal, as Sarfati explains:

‘Yet behind the surface is a deeper agenda. The most recent editors, as will be explained in this book, have been working to push an atheistic worldview in the guise of “science”; and a number of corollaries, such as a radical pro-abortion, human cloning, and population control agenda.’

In other words, as well as being anti-God and anti-Christian it is very anti-conservative.

Charles Johnson is correct when he says the anti-creationist arguments published by Scientific American ‘continue to be raised’. But he is wrong to imply that they are accurate or reliable. Unfortunately, when anti-creationist arguments are recycled, as LGF has done here, there is no awareness of, or reference to, the refutations of those arguments, no matter how old.

Johnson would do everyone a favour by becoming informed on this issue. He needs to understand that the arguments are not valid and stop spreading misinformation.

Even more importantly, he fails to realize the evolutionary foundations of many of the policies he opposes (as with SciAm as shown above; see also Blurring the lines between abortion and infanticide?), and the creationist foundation of many policies that he supports, including science (see The biblical origins of science). It’s bad policy to kick out the chair you’re sitting on!

Published: 23 July 2008

Helpful Resources

Refuting Evolution
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $12.00
Soft cover