Scientific American threatens our ministry

Demands ‘immediate removal’ of Web rebuttal

The prominent magazine Scientific American thought it had finally discredited its nemesis—creationism—with a feature article listing ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense’ (July 2002). Supposedly these were the fifteen best arguments that evolutionists could use to discredit the Bible’s account of Creation. (National Geographic TV also devoted a lengthy report to the article.)

Within 72 hours, Dr Jonathan Sarfati—a resident scientist at Creation Ministries International (Australia)—had written a comprehensive, point-by-point response to Scientific American article and posted it on this website.

So Scientific American thought it would try to silence us with the threat of a lawsuit.

In an e-mail to Dr Sarfati, Scientific American accused him and CMI of infringing their copyright by reproducing the text of their article and an illustration. They said they were prepared to ‘settle the matter amicably’ provided that CMI immediately remove Dr Sarfati’s article from its Web site.

CMI’s international copyright attorney, however, informed Scientific American that their accusations are groundless and that CMI would not be removing the article. Dr Sarfati’s article had used an illustration of a bacterial flagellum, but it was drawn by a CMI artist years ago. CMI had also used the text of SA’s article, but in a way that is permissible under ‘fair use’ of copyrighted materials for public commentary (CMI presented the text of the SA article, with Dr Sarfati’s comments interspersed in a different color, to avoid any accusations of misquoting or misrepresenting the author).

Why the heavy-handed tactics? If CMI’s responses were not valid, why would Scientific American even care whether they remained in the public arena? One can only presume that Scientific American (and National Geographic) had the ‘wind taken out of their sails.’ Dr Sarfati convincingly showed that they offered nothing new to the debate and they displayed a glaring ignorance of creationist arguments. Their legal maneuver appears to be an act of desperation. (CMI is still awaiting SA’s response to the decision not to pull the Web rebuttal.)

Published: 3 February 2006