More nonsense from Professor Plimer


6 April 2001


Ian Plimer is a mining geologist and a former Australian Humanist of the Year, best known for his vicious and far-fetched attacks against creationists. After apparently lying low for a while after his drubbing in the ‘Ark Search’ court-case in the lower court, Appeals Court and High Court, Plimer is now up to his old tricks again. He wrote an anti-creationist diatribe in the popular-level journal Australasian Science 22(1):36–37, January/February 2001.

Dr Don Batten of CMI–Australia, a plant scientist with substantial publications to his credit, wrote to the editor, requesting a chance to reply:

Dear Mr Nolch,

Ian Plimer was given two pages to criticize scientists who are creationists. He made defamatory statements about two persons by name and questioned the personal integrity of all creationists at a number of points. He also made many other errant claims.

In the interests of natural justice we request your undertaking to accept a reply to Plimer, from the accused. We undertake to reply within the word limit you specify (assuming this is a reasonable limit), and unlike Plimer, to make the reply non-defamatory.

The editor, a Mr Guy Nolch, refused this reasonable request:

Thank you for your communication regarding the article “CREATION SCIENCE—Neither Science nor Religion”. I fail to see how Professor Plimer’s remarks were defamatory as they stated fact about the publication history of the people concerned. Nor did Prof. Plimer mention Answers in Genesis[the name of CMI in Australia in 2001].

Australasian Science supports the views of Prof. Plimer and will not jeopardise its credibility by publishing a response to his article by your organisation.

Dr Batten responded by pointing out that Mr Nolch’s journal’s credibility was already jeopardized by publishing demonstrably false material, since the truthfulness of the accusations was not checked with the accused—something that a responsible journalist would do.

Our Plimer Files have amply demonstrated Professor Plimer’s scientific and ethical unreliability. In these articles, Mr Nolch could have checked that one of Australia’s most famous public corruption fighters led a detailed enquiry into Plimer’s allegations, which included alleged documentation of immoral and unethical behaviour, and found them to be completely without substance. He would have found that even some fellow atheistic Skeptics (at least American ones, as opposed to the Australian ones) think that Plimer gives the Skeptics a bad name.

No qualifications were listed for Mr Nolch, and his publication of Plimer’s arrant unscientific nonsense and refusal to publish any challenge didn’t lead us to think that he had any scientific qualifications. But he indignantly pointed out that he had some, albeit inferior to those of the CMI staff scientists, but even these came as a surprise to us. Admittedly they shouldn’t have done, since we’ve often pointed out that evolution is a deduction from materialistic ideology, not science, and believing in such a false ideology does cloud the thinking of others with scientific credientials.

Nolch, evidently threatened by the fact that CMI can bypass his censorship, also attempted to bully CMI into removing this article, based on a misunderstanding of copyright law provisions for fair use for the purpose of criticism.

But this is one good thing to come out of this—further evidence of the censorship of creationist submissions to establishment science journals, even to the point of denying the natural justice of a right of reply. Dr Robert Gentry has documented this in his book Creation’s Tiny Mystery. Recently, Scientific American refused to allow Phillip Johnson to defend himself against a vindictive and petty review by the atheistic Marxist, Stephen Jay Gould. So Johnson published Response to Gould on the web site of Access Research Network, which promotes Intelligent Design. It just shows that materialism is an entrenched ideology in the scientific establishment that must silence all critics. Scientific American has also shown that it is willing to practise religious discrimination in its hiring policies to achieve this aim—see Revolutionary Atmospheric Invention by Victim of Anti-creationist Discrimination.

This can be utilized in response to vexatious critics of creation who have demanded that every single creationist paper should be submitted to a secular journal to be worthy of credibility. The above strongly suggests that it would be a waste of time, no matter how good the paper was.

Another good thing to come out of it is the chance to write a far more thorough refutation than would have been possible in a Letter to the Editor of Australasian Science, and on a web site whose daily visitor number is many times the circulation of that journal. The words in

coloured indented text
are Plimer’s words from Australasian Science or, where stated, from Plimer’s other writings:

Neither Science nor Religion

Ian Plimer continues his crusade against creationist pseudoscience.

Creation science has nothing to do with science or religion. It is the political arm of a branch of Protestant Christian fundamentalism exported from the USA.

The first of many outlandish accusations, refuted by several indisputable facts:

Creationism attempts to redefine science as a matter of belief or faith.

However, science is underpinned by repeatable evidence obtained by measurement, observation, experiment, calculation and deduction. This evidence is international, transparent and available for all to evaluate.

The explanation of a natural phenomenon uses processes of logic, deduction, induction and coherence with existing knowledge.

But what answers can be found in the natural world, really, because nature doesn’t comprise propositions? To provide propositional truth, the data must always be interpreted in some framework, and the framework depends largely on the axioms, i.e. propositions accepted as true without proof. CMI unashamedly starts with the axioms of Scripture, while evolutionists start with the axiom of materialism (many without even realising it!). But the data are the same for both—we don’t deny any observations by evolutionists, but interpret them in a different framework.

Furthermore, Plimer confuses operational science (chemistry, physics, biology, etc.) with beliefs about the past. Operational science (discovering how the world today operates) is open to experimental testing in the present, but beliefs about the past (such as molecules-to-mankind evolution), are not open to the processes of experimental science. There is no way anyone can do experiments on events that happened once in the past. Because the past is not accessible to the processes of experimental science, it is very much driven by the philosophical (religious) worldview of the practitioners. Today this worldview is overwhelmingly atheistic/materialistic, so that ‘coherence with existing knowledge’ means agreement with materialism, which begs the question of whether materialism is valid or not.

Also, experimental science depends on presuppositions that cannot be derived from materialism, but historically and logically were derived from biblical axioms—see Correcting a severe misconception about the creation model.

Such explanations change with new evidence, recalculation or new thought.

This just goes to show the folly of those ‘churchians’ who try to reinterpret the Bible to fit in with current science.

If new evidence disproves a scientific theory, then the existing theory is rejected or undergoes revision in the light of the new evidence.

This naïve view is often promulgated to the public, but in reality, scientists are often in the grip of paradigms (belief systems, mentioned above). The philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn argued this in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, characterizing scientific revolutions as paradigm shifts. On the other hand, Kuhn argued that ‘normal science’ between the revolutions works within the paradigm, and even tolerates anomalies and some contrary evidence for some time in the hope of solving them within the paradigm. Prof. Evelleen Richards, a non-creationist historian of science at the University of New South Wales, Australia, pointed out that during periods of ‘normal science’, scientists challenging the ruling paradigm find it hard to get published or receive research grants (see quote).

Scientific methodology has no foundation in race, religion, gender or culture. For example, the speed of light does not change with culture, race, religion or gender. Science therefore cannot be qualified as ‘creation’ science, ‘Maori’ science or ‘Feminist’ science.

Science, like other disciplines, is temporarily fettered by bias, dogma, authorities, fraud and fads, but scientific methodology avows a short time for such behaviour.

Evolutionists have biases too. See Darwin’s real message: Have you missed it? and Lewontin’s amazing admission of his a priori faith in atheism, regardless of how absurd it seems.

To be a scientist is to be a skeptic.

Pity that most self-described ‘Skeptics’ are ultra-gullible when it comes to evolution—here their scepticism is very limited!

By contrast, creation “science” requires an untestable supernatural being, and hence is not science. Creationism first starts with an untestable conclusion and then trawls for evidence.

The “science” of creationists has been tested numerous times. Creationists claim that there is evidence for a planet some 6000–10,000 years old, that evolution does not occur and that there was a global flood some 4000 years ago.

Like many evolutionists, Plimer contradicts himself here. First he derides creation science as ‘untestable’, then claims that it has after all been ‘tested’! And Plimer does not even seem to realize that he starts with the untestable axiom of materialism.

To promote such ideas in schools in a pluralist society is an abuse of the tolerance of society.

The contradiction of suppressing creationist science in the name of tolerance is breathtaking.

If there was reproducible science to support such religious ideas, then the laws of physics would not work, biology would cease to exist and there would be no geology and chemistry.

What would a mining geologist like Plimer know about physics or chemistry (my specialist fields) or biology (Dr Batten’s speciality)? Note that later on, he castigates creationists for allegedly speaking outside their fields!

Creationism is a religious form of post-modernism where all knowledge is denigrated. If creationists did not believe modern science then they would not check the weather report, fly in aeroplanes or drive a car.

These two sentences are contradictory. First, Plimer claims that creationism denigrated ‘all knowledge’, then tacitly admits that creationists do believe in modern science. Of course, creationists have never had a problem with real operational, experimental science, dealing with repeatable events in the present, which was responsible for putting men on the moon, and helps in curing diseases, etc. What we object to are just-so stories about the past, taught as fact, purporting to explain the present world in a framework deliberately designed to exclude God.

Creation “science” attacks new phenomena in science in an attempt to support religious ideas. For example Argon-Argon dating of young Hawaiian volcanic rocks gives an age that is older than the age measured and calculated for the Earth. Rather than show that all radioactive age measurements are incorrect, these data throw light onto a new process—the adsorption of excess argon by mica minerals.

More likely, it shows that evolutionists, far from accepting radiometric dates as absolute, are only too happy to make excuses when they give ‘dates’ contrary to their desired beliefs or contrary to firmly established historical dates. But if rationalisations are acceptable when the methods fail on rocks of known age, how can evolutionists criticise creationists for pointing out flaws in the methods when applied to rocks of unknown age? See Q&A Radiometric Dating.

Straw man arguments are a favourite creationist ploy. For example, they claim that the Piltdown Man fraud was an example of scientific fraud. However, what is not mentioned is that the fraud was perpetrated by a lawyer and was shown to be a fraud by the standard methodology of science.

What Plimer doesn’t mention in his spin-doctoring is that it took them 40 years to expose the hoax! If it weren’t for the evolutionary blinkers, the file marks and chemical stains would have been detected far sooner.

Another tactic is to befuddle lay audiences with statistics. For example, it is argued that it is statistically impossible for a modern aeroplane to form by chance and. ergo it is impossible for life to form by chance. What is not stated is that more than 100 years of experimentation, modification and calculation increased the knowledge base before the modern aeroplane could be built. The aeroplane was not formed by chance; it evolved.

Is Plimer serious?! Goo-to-you evolution is supposed to explain the origin of complexity without any intelligent designer. The simplest living thing is more complex than an aircraft and, according to evolutionists, is supposed to have just come into existence ‘by itself’, without any intelligent designer to create it. Note also, the inventors of powered heavier-than-air flight, Wilbur and Orville Wright, were staunch creationists, and were greatly helped by examining the (designed) control systems of birds. See also 100 years of airplanes—but these weren’t the first flying machines!.

Similarly, creationists argue that there must be an intelligent designer, and use the mousetrap as an example. They argue that the mousetrap was the result of intelligent design but fail to mention that its inventor, John Mast of Pennsylvania, borrowed from six existing patents. The mousetrap is a hybrid and is a result of evolution and not intelligent design.

So a human inventor borrowing ideas is not intelligent? Did the mousetrap really arise by time and chance and natural selection? One must question the credibility of a journal that publishes such arrant nonsense.

Intelligent design arguments are nonsense. No intelligent designer would own up to the human eye, …

No human designer would dare to be so presumptuous, because anyone who knows anything about the eye knows that it’s beyond the limits of human technology. If Plimer disagrees, all he has to do is design an instrument as complex as the eye, with its resolution, ability to detect a single photon (impossible to improve on this sensitivity!) dynamic range, colour perception, and ability to maintain and repair itself! No camera comes near the eye in performance, and it certainly cannot maintain itself. I refute the alleged bad design of the eye in more detail in this section of Who’s really pushing ‘bad science’?

… the knee, …

Again, this is far from bad design; rather, the intricate pattern of ligaments is an example of irreducible complexity (that is, a less complex structure would have no value, so evolutionary processes could not ‘create’ it in small steps from no structure)—see Critical characteristics and the irreducible knee joint.

… rogue genes, cystic fibrosis or cancer.

Creationists explain these as the result of God’s curse on creation because of Adam’s sin. As a self-proclaimed expert in creationist thinking, Plimer surely knows this. But to reveal that would be counter-productive to his purpose, of course.

Did the intelligent designer drop the ball when yeast cells were ‘designed’ with 30% of their genes redundant?

How does Plimer know that they are redundant (he has no qualifications in genetics for one thing, so by his own standards Plimer should not be pontificating about genetics)? Much so-called ‘junk DNA’ has been shown to have important functions—see Q&A: Vestigial Organs.

Many scientists, including myself, have documented the creation of facts ex nihilo by creationists and have claimed that fraud underpins all creationist arguments.

On the contrary, Plimer’s ‘documentation’ of such allegations has been exposed as fraudulent by a committee headed by the former chief magistrate of New South Wales, Mr Clarrie Briese, famous in his day as Australia’s leading corruption fighter, and at the time of his inquiry into Plimer an active member of the NSW Crime Commission. Plimer tries to evade the force of this conclusion, when challenged, by pointing out that the committee members were all Christians, asked by us to take part. However, they were deliberately chosen as people with impeccable public reputations independent of this ministry, who would have no motive to put those reputations on the line by lying for this ministry. See Prominent inquiry committee concludes: Plimer allegations baseless and unsupported by the facts and CMI’s point-by-point rebuttal of Plimer’s Book.

When exposed, these ‘facts’ have not been removed from creationist writings and creationist ideas have not been amended.

What ‘facts’? Plimer has demonstrated his disinterest in facts, as our Web site amply documents. His own distortions, even those exposed by his own kind, the Skeptics, are again repeated shamelessly, without correction, in this article of his.

Creationist audiences do not seem to know that one of their Australian leaders, Dr Andrew Snelling, has published in the scientific literature about rocks thousands of million of years old and about processes that take hundreds of million of years; concurrently he publishes in the creationist literature about the exact same rocks yet claims that they show that the planet is only a few thousand years old.

This is an old chestnut, first promulgated by Plimer’s fellow atheist, Alex Ritchie (The Skeptic [Australia] 11(4):12–15, Summer 1991). Ritchie is another fanatical anti-creationist who’s more interested in creationist-bashing than promoting real science, as shown by his admission to Warwick Armstrong (CMI Sydney) that Dr Snelling’s paper was ‘a very good piece of work’. Dr Don Batten refuted this silly charge of ‘duplicity’against Dr Snelling long ago:

‘In the context of reviewing the work of others in a secular publication on the Koongarra uranium deposits, Dr Andrew Snelling used the geological term mya (millions of years ago) in describing the ages of various formations.

‘For his paper, Dr Snelling was asked by the mining corporation for which he consults part-time to review all the published information on Koongarra, summarising the work of other people. These people assumed the conventional belief in millions of years in their writings, so reviewing them necessitated stating their beliefs. It is understandable that someone unaware of Dr Snelling’s own beliefs could think that it was his opinion that certain rocks were millions of years old. However, any caveats inserted by Dr Snelling to distance himself from these beliefs would certainly have been deleted by the editors, who, along with his part-time employers, are fully aware of his creationist position.

‘Ritchie, as well as his parrot, the atheist Ian Plimer, imply that Dr Snelling tried to conceal his creationist views from secular geologists. However, Dr Snelling has been upfront with his views and has more than once vigorously defended his creationist position in the most open secular geology forum possible, in the newsletter of Australian geological community, The Australian Geologist (The Australian Geologist 68:16–21, 20/9/1988, pp. and 71:18, 30/6/1989).

‘In the context of his own research, Dr Snelling has published the geological system of the rocks studied, but this is not the same as publishing the age of the rocks. The basic geologic column was derived before the millions and billions of years became attached to the systems identified. The generally accepted age of the systems has changed considerably since they were first interpreted as representing long periods of time (by Lyell et al., including his fallacious arguments about Niagara Falls), but the basic system naming has not changed much (except for the addition of further subdivisions in the systems).

‘Creationists use the same naming system, although do not accept the uniformitarian belief that the geologic column represents eons of time. Before the development of evolutionary geological beliefs, the periods were called “groups” or “systems”; the eras were called “classes” and were named Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. The naming of the eras, in particular, now reflects evolutionary beliefs (Palaeozoic / Mesozoic / Cainozoic), but the period names (Ordovician, Silurian, Cambrian, Cretaceous, etc.) still generally do not. Thus, the naming of the geologic systems is not tied to the assigned ages and assignment of an ore body to a particular geologic system does not necessarily define its absolute age.

‘Dr Snelling published work on the Pb/Pb isochron dating system, showing that this technique could not be used to derive an evolutionary age for the ore body. This hardly implies belief in the dating systems.

‘On the other hand, in a creationist context, Dr Snelling’s papers in the Journal of Creation, frequently cite the assumed evolutionary ages of rocks he writes about (eg. the Journal of Creation 8(1):12, 1994).

‘Another consideration: co-authoring publications with other researchers means that one’s own beliefs have to be tempered to satisfy co-authors. I have experienced this. I wanted to acknowledge a dream I had which inspired some revolutionary research, thanking God for the dream in the acknowledgments. My co-author (not a Christian) was accommodating, but the paper had to be approved by someone senior to him and he scrubbed out the ‘offending’ sentence! If he had not done so, I’m sure one of the journal referees, or the editor, would have. If Dr Snelling had written a creationist paper, no matter how well it was argued, it just would not have got published! Then the Skeptics would have accused Dr Snelling of having no scientific credibility because he had not published in secular journals! Whatever you do as a creationist is wrong as far as these Skeptics are concerned. “You’ll be hanged if you do and hanged if you don’t!”’

Note that the behaviour of the Australasian Science editor amply confirms the fact of anti-creationist bigotry and censorship, as does the article Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?

Another leader, Dr Tasman Walker, has written a thesis at The University of Queensland about rocks 230 million years old and yet writes in the creationist literature that the planet is only a few thousand years old.

Dr Batten explained this to an enquirer as follows:

‘Tas’s thesis was an internal document and his supervisors knew his position. Tas was deceiving no one. Furthermore, Tas included in the thesis some interesting data which showed excellent ‘isochrons’ of non-radiogenic elements. Of course such nice lines cannot be the result of age. He made the point (gently) that, if such nice lines exist for non-radiogenic minerals, then how can we be sure that whatever physical/chemical processes were responsible for the non-radiogenic relationships were not also responsible for the lines relating radiogenic ratios which are interpreted as ages? His supervisor was not that happy about this material being included in the thesis, but nevertheless, Tas prevailed and it is there. So what chance would Tas have had if he had inserted an overt disclaimer about the inaccuracy of radiometric dates? Plimer of course ignores this high-quality (1st Class Honours) primary research invalidating one of the pet old earth ‘evidence’, and instead resorts to ad hominem, as usual.

Of course Plimer wants creationists at universities to reveal their full hand when they write theses and exam papers, then people like him can fail them. The Skeptics’ claim that ‘no real scientists are creationists’(which is arrant nonsense, of course) might then become a self-fulfilling “prophecy”!’

I should point out that we unashamedly advise people to answer exam questions with the answers the lecturers want to hear, rather than risk failing. We advise that if they have the opportunity they preface the answer with ‘most geochronologists believe …’ or ‘the consensus among zoologists is …’ so they can give the required answer in good conscience. If Plimer et al. have a problem with this, all they have to do is stop the anti-creationist discrimination!

In my case, the reverse situation has applied: I was a university teaching assistant for many years, and used to mark exam questions on radiometric dating. I marked answers as correct if students could calculate the ‘ages’ according to the formula N/N0 = e-kt, and derive from this formula (or at least memorize) that k = ln2/half life—because this is what the course expected of them. It wasn’t the place to point out the assumptions about initial conditions, decay rate constancy and system closure before this formula will give a valid ‘age’ from the observed isotope ratios. Of course, if Plimer were consistent, he would have to accuse me of dishonest marking, but wouldn’t there have been a fearful hullaballoo from the various NZ sceptical/atheist groups if I had marked any students according to my own beliefs!

Evolution is constantly exposed to testing. New bacteria evolve at a frightening rate.

As is common with evolutionary propagandists, Plimer is incredibly sloppy in his definitions, creating the illusion that evolution happens by changing definitions from one sentence to the next. Earlier, ‘evolution’ was so flexible that he could claim that aeroplanes had evolved (by intelligent design!). Now it’s flexible enough to include any and all changes in living things. But as we have pointed out many times (and Plimer must know this, because he’s an expert on creationist teachings by his own admission), the issue is whether mutations and natural selection actually increase the information content of the biosphere so as to allow the development of new kinds of animals and plants with new features.

For example, a bacterium named Dinococcus radiodurans thrives in the cooling systems of nuclear power systems. This critter did not hitch a ride on Noah’s Ark; …

It’s actually Deinococcus—I wouldn’t normally point out spelling errors, but Plimer has often gloated at spelling errors he claims to have found in creationist correspondence, while many times he’s shown that he’s hardly likely to win spelling bees himself. As we’ve pointed out in articles such as How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?, bacteria (and plants and marine creatures) were not required on board as obligate passengers, because they could have survived off the Ark.

… it must have evolved in the post-World War II nuclear age.

Here again, Plimer is using ‘evolve’ to mean ‘change’, but goo-to-you evolution requires a natural process for the addition of vast amounts of genetic information (e.g., specifications for making brains, limbs, kidneys, etc). There is no evidence that the changes we observe, such as mutations, add new functional information to the biosphere. Dr Lee Spetner, who has studied mutations and information, said ‘All point mutations that have been studied on a molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not increase it.’ (Not by Chance, The Judaica Press, NY, p.138, 1997).

If Deinococcus radiodurans does actually represent a new adaptation, it does not prove goo-to-you Evolution —see Q&A: Mutations. The changes required could have been horizontal or even downhill in an informational sense—this would be expected from everything we know about genetics and information. In fact, it seems that D. radiodurans may not have had to develop any new abilities, but features already designed to cope with dessication and maybe heat also happen to cope well with radiation damage. It has two ingenious DNA repair systems, called single strand annealing and homologous recombination, and other useful features such as multiple copies of its genome and it may also align the loops of DNA so that identical sequences are adjacent. Because of the shape, this is called the ‘Life Saver Hypothesis’. Of course, this is compatible with their having been designed for a very dry environment; conversely, ‘The evolutionary origin of D. radiodurans’ repair system remains unresolved.’ (John Travis, Meet the Superbug, Science News 154(24):376–378, 12 December 1998)

In general, the enzymes of thermophiles are not that different from their counterparts in non-thermophiles, but just have more strong bonds (e.g. ionic and covalent bonds). Thermophile DNA often has a higher ratio of G-C to A-T linkages, because the former have three hydrogen bonds (which enhance stability at high temperatures) while the latter have only two.

The ultimate test of evolution is to wipe out life on Earth and start again. There have been five major mass extinctions and more than 20 minor mass extinctions. Each extinction shows that whole ecologies have been wiped out, only to be replaced by a new ecology.

This presupposes that the fossil record is due to successions of eons of time rather than to successive burials of ecosystems by a global Flood.

Although creationists have the smile of the truly saved and abandon rationality for the life raft of security, they cannot be dismissed as unbalanced religious Zealots.

As shown, Plimer has not been very rational in his campaign against creationists, so should he be trusted to judge the rationality of others? It is also strange that he makes a virtue out of insecurity.

Many have been “born again” or embraced non-mainstream religious views as a result of a personal catastrophe.

More imagination. In Telling Lies … Plimer made similar claims, and evidently expects his doting God-hating admirers to recall those words of his:

‘I was interested to learn whether his [Dr Carl Wieland’s] childhood in South Africa had been traumatic and whether there was any relationship between a serious car accident and his embrace of creationism’.
  1. Dr Wieland not only didn’t have a childhood in South Africa, he’s never been there in his entire life! [Editorial Note: Carl has finally made his first visit to South Africa on a speaking tour in early September 2003.]

  2. At the time of that very severe accident, Dr Wieland had been a leading creationist for many years—he had founded Creation magazine (then called Ex Nihilo) a decade before.

But Professor Plimer has never let the facts spoil his storytelling. [For more information, see Dr Wieland’s article Regenerating ribs: Adam and that ‘missing’ rib.]

Many have embraced Biblical creation because of the evidence, e.g. Dr Gary Parker—see his personal testimony, From Evolution to Creation.

As a chessmaster, I’m accustomed to playing people at their own games, so I suppose I could match Plimer at his little games of cheap psychologization of his opponents, but I prefer to stick to the issues rather than commit the genetic fallacy as Plimer is doing (the issue is not who believes something, or even why, but is it true?).

Creationist leaders cynically exploit the ill-educated, frail, the weak and the lost by giving dogmatic “scientific” answers underpinned by scriptural authority.

That’s a most interesting assertion, coming from a man who, to the best of our knowledge, has never been to a CMI meeting!

A real science journal, even by Plimer’s simplistic definitions, would demand evidence, but Australasian Science is not such a journal, so evidence is apparently not required to back up even ludicrous assertions.

They are excellent communicators who call on a mass of unrelated and extraordinary “facts” to denigrate science. Most talk in areas outside their expertise, …

This statement comes from a mining geologist who in this article pontificates about radiometric dating, biology, philosophy and theology (although he is a fanatical atheist)! Plimer does the same thing in his book, e.g.:

‘As a scientist, I would be prepared to predict that within the next 50 years a self-reproducing RNA molecule will be manufactured. This will be the test for various ideas on the origin of life.’
Of course, Ian ‘I’m a professor’ Plimer’s proclamation ‘as a scientist’ is way outside his field, and he wouldn’t have a clue about answering the very real problems with this idea (see Q&A: Origin of Life). He also seems not to have noticed that if it takes heaps of intelligent input to produce such a molecule, it would hardly support the idea that life arose without any intelligence!
… ignore the epistemological basis of knowledge, are hostile to the normal scientific methodology (e.g. cross-checking, coherence) …

Here is ‘coherence’ Plimer style: ‘In my view, the Bible is not true. However, it is the Truth.’ (Telling Lies p. 289).

… and are somewhat failed Faustian figures who exert power over audiences searching for a meaning to life.

Public meetings of creationists normally allow no time for questions because they are bad for business.

Absolute nonsense, and it is impossible to think that Plimer would not know this. Several of his Skeptic colleagues from Canberra, for instance, spent almost a whole day asking questions at a seminar of ours there. Questions are the norm at CMI seminar-type meetings in public or in a church, and even at many church meetings we often offer Q&A sessions.

Any questions are screened …

For larger seminars, where there are one or more sessions devoted to panel discussions, we ask people to write down questions, and once those questions are answered, we invite questions from the floor. The only ‘screening’ is to get rid of questions that have nothing whatever to do with the topic of creation/evolution, and to group related questions together to give some structure to the question time! If there are just too many questions to answer, we select questions to avoid overlap and to answer a wide range of topics rather than spend the session just answering questions on one or two issues. All this is done to be as fair as possible to all who have asked questions, not to censor anyone.

Actually, we like it when a Skeptic tries out one of Plimer’s arguments, because they are so easy to knock down! See Plimer’s bloopers (a selection).

… and there is no attempt to answer scientific questions.

Demonstrably false. Most of the questions that are answered pertain to scientific issues. If one were to be generous, one could say that Plimer gets it wrong because he’s never had the courage to front up to a CMI meeting! In which case, of course, he has no right to say such things.

However, Plimer fronted up to a meeting in Brisbane arranged by the Qld Skeptics last year. At this meeting, short (20 minutes each) presentations were made by CMI’s Carl Wieland and an atheist, Professor Almond, head of the Religion Department at the University of Queensland (a bit like putting Dracula in charge of the bloodbank!). Then the rest of the evening was given over to questions from the floor, for the Skeptics to ‘do their best’. Indeed Plimer himself asked a question (actually more of a long-winded rant than a question). In other words, Plimer knows that what he writes is downright wrong. And readers of Australasian Science have been seriously misled on many other counts in Plimer’s article.

Also, in his book Telling Lies …, Plimer devotes a lot of space to a woman who was permitted to ask a question from the floor at a major creation seminar at the University of Melbourne in 1992 (where there were highly qualified scientists including a paleontologist, geologist, biologist, etc.). So his own words refute him (with a lot of his customary distortion of events). While it’s inexcusable for Australasian Science to publish allegations without checking the other side (and censoring the other side when they attempt to correct the misinformation), it’s just daft to publish allegations refuted by the alleger himself!

It also must be noted that Plimer tried to portray the woman in question as a puzzled supporter, whereas the hostility and sarcasm in her voice and demeanour should be apparent to anyone watching the video recording of the event. It’s even more curious that Plimer didn’t reveal that it was his own wife!

Scientists involved in creationism “debates” are often asked to sign a contract specifying that certain arguments are not to be presented.

More fairy tales from the Plimer woods. If such a ‘contract’ existed it would not affect Plimer, because he never presents any real scientific arguments but resorts to abusive ad hominem.

Debates use diversionary tactics and are never in the format of a true debate.

This is an excellent description of Plimer’s own debating tactics! CMI has engaged in many formal debates (see Carl Wieland against one of Plimer’s buddies, Paul Willis, which is available on DVD, and CMI v Australian Skeptics on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

Few scientists have the stomach for such forums where most scientists become trapped in trivial aspects of science rather than dealing with the misleading, deceptive and unChristian conduct of creationists.

It’s curious what a fanatical atheist like Plimer could mean by ‘unchristian’ … And Plimer is just side-tracking from the issue that he has shown himself to be incapable of answering the real scientific arguments of creationists. Instead, he tacitly admits to preferring ad hominem arguments.

Debaters are unable to cope with Christians who are scientists, Christians who see no conflict between religion and science and Christians who abhor the methods and tactics of the creationists.

Unable to cope? Our web site has much material that challenges the unbelief of such compromising Christians. See, for example, Some Questions for Theistic Evolutionists.

Many debaters have shown that creationism is underpinned by scientific fraud and that the financial structure of creationist organisations are questionable.

I wonder if Plimer understands the subtle difference between “shown” and claimed? Plimer lacks both the scientific competence outside his own narrow field and the ethical framework (he is a materialist and morality does not derive from mere matter) to be a reliable judge of whether ‘scientific fraud’ has been committed. His claims here repeated about financial impropriety are baseless and Plimer knows that he is misleading the readers of Australasian Science with this innuendo.

Unlike mainstream religions, creationist organisations engage in no charitable activities.

A proper comparison would be creationist organisations and Skeptics organisations! Both organisations aim to present and defend a particular viewpoint, not ‘engage in charitable activities’. However, it must be stressed that many individual creationists and creation-supporting churches are at the forefront of charitable activities. A World Vision worker indicated to us some time ago that conservative churches (i.e., those that are creationist) are the most generous. Conversely, liberal ‘Christian’ churches (basically the ones Plimer likes to call ‘mainstream’) are typically more interested in lobbying for more socialistic government intervention than in personal charity, and usually ignore biblical principles, except when they can be twisted to support their agenda. One theologically liberal minister in New Zealand even proclaimed that it was OK for poor people to steal from supermarkets! After all, if Darwinian survival of the fittest is true, then there is no logical foundation for charity or moral laws. And atheists have a far lower rate of charitable activities than Christians, so if Plimer were really so interested in charity, he would stop pushing evolution, which according to Dawkins makes it possible to be an ‘intellectually fulfilled atheist’. See also ‘You should be feeding the hungry’.

It is not surprising that theologians and mainstream Christians claim that creationism damages Christianity.

If that is really true, because Plimer is an ardent secular humanist he should be cheering on the creationists! However, atheist/Skeptic/humanist organisations lead the charge against creationism, knowing full well that our teachings seriously challenge their atheistic faith. Conversely, they hardly bother with modern ‘mainstream’ churchians, precisely because they pose not the slightest threat to the humanist religion.

Plimer’s comment is designed to woo compromising Churchians who might be repulsed by too overt a display of atheism. To use Lenin’s phrase, atheistic evolutionists try to cultivate them as ‘useful idiots’. Such are too gullible to realise that they are helping to undermine their own structure. See The Skeptics and their ‘Churchian’ Allies. To reinforce the attraction, Australasian Science even published a picture of Plimer with a backdrop of a church’s stained glass window.

Science is advancing at a breakneck speed. More than 90% of scientists who have ever lived are alive today.

Maybe, but how does this prove that evolution is superior to creation?

Each year major aspects of science are recast in the light of new scientific advances, and each year science challenges theology.

This reveals precisely the folly of professing Christians re-interpreting the Bible to fit in with current ‘science’. If ‘major aspects of science are recast in the light of new scientific of advances’ so often, then why should Christians be challenged by something that’s likely to be outdated in a year or two?

These exciting times allow people to use science to understand the natural world and to use theology to understand what it is to be human.

An atheist using theology?? As usual, the materialistic propagandist invokes the dubious fact / value distinction to pretend that science explains everything to do with the real world, while leaving a vague place for ‘theology’ in the area of ‘values’. But it’s important to note that the materialist such as Plimer has the axiom that the natural world is all there is! So despite their language designed to suck in the gullible churchians to their cause, they won’t give up a single thing to ‘theology’, at least in its normal sense of ‘the study of God’.

Debating Skeptics in general

We advise people not to waste lots of time in newsgroups etc.—the same discredited anti-creationist arguments and point-scoring rhetoric becomes boring after a while (I’ve been there and done that). But even those not involved with newsgroups may have to deal with anti-creationists who parrot stuff by Plimer and his uncritical admirers from the Australian Skeptics. The most important principle is not to stay on the defensive, but follow the practice of Jesus Christ and ask opponents to justify their credibility under their own belief system.

Instead of wasting lots of time refuting all the wild allegations these people make, point to a few demonstrably false charges and examples of scientific incompetence by Plimer. Then ask why we should waste any more time dealing with a demonstrably unreliable and vexatious critic, or trust people like the Australian Skeptics who condone such scientific incompetence and unethical behaviour.

Ask why we should even trust an atheist to tell the truth in principle? If atheists believe they are just rearranged pond scum, and that there is no absolute moral lawgiver, then on what grounds can they justify truth-telling? They can’t say that there is some absolute moral law that says it is objectively wrong in the cosmic theme of things. The usual rationalization is that it is a behavioural pattern that conferred a survival advantage in our alleged ape-like ancestors or in primitive societies, or they argue from expedience by saying that truth is merely useful for harmonious function of society. The evolutionists Lanier and Dawkins agree that evolution entails that our ‘best impulses have no basis in nature’—see Evolution—No Morality.

And since under their world view, truth-telling may only be a matter of expedience, then if it’s expedient to deceive for the sake of the cause, then what in their own worldview is stopping them? Plimer is on record as justifying outright lies and other sorts of deception if it helps the anti-creationist cause. So we advise asking any Plimerite: ‘how can we know that anything else you or he says isn’t just more deception to support the cause?’

Conversely, Christians by definition are followers of the One who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6), and who commanded us not to lie. While there are examples of professing Christians who lie, they are being inconsistent with their professed belief system. But humanists who lie are being perfectly consistent with an evolution-based worldview.

Futher reading

Published: 3 February 2006

Helpful Resources

Refuting Evolution
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $12.00
Soft cover