In the middle of an on-line debate a couple of days ago, I made the factual observation that there were zero scientific papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals that supported intelligent design. As a response by a Creationist, I was sent the following “evidence” that is apparently proof that evolution has now been discredited …
The scientific magazine Discover put the situation this way: “Evolution . . . is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent from the prevailing view of Darwinism.”
Francis Hitching, an evolutionist and author of the book The Neck of the Giraffe, stated: “For all its acceptance in the scientific world as the great unifying principle of biology, Darwinism, after a century and a quarter, is in a surprising amount of trouble.
After an important conference of some 150 specialists in evolution held in Chicago, Illinois, a report concluded: “[Evolution] is undergoing its broadest and deepest revolution in nearly 50 years. . . . Exactly how evolution happened is now a matter of great controversy among biologists. . . . No clear resolution of the controversies was in sight.
Paleontologist Niles Eldredge, a prominent evolutionist, said: “The doubt that has infiltrated the previous, smugly confident certitude of evolutionary biology’s last twenty years has inflamed passions.” He spoke of the “lack of total agreement even within the warring camps,” and added, “things really are in an uproar these days . . . Sometimes it seems as though there are as many variations on each [evolutionary] theme as there are individual biologists.
And Britain’s New Scientist observed that “an increasing number of scientists, most particularly a growing number of evolutionists . . . argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory is no genuine scientific theory at all. . . . Many of the critics have the highest intellectual credentials.
Anybody who is not familiar with the topic would read the above and potentially buy into the thought that perhaps there are serious concerns about evolution. However, its a con job. Let me take you for a quick tour through each of the above in more detail so that you can see what I’m on about.
What did the Discover Magazine article really say?
First we have the apparent quote from Discover that appears to say that reputable scientists no longer accept Evolution.
Were these words actually published in Discover magazine?
Yes they were, and they do indeed appear to be quite damming. But check back to the original and you find they have been pulled out of context to completely twist their meaning. Here is the complete text with just the bits they chose underlined so that you can see what was left out
“Charles Darwin’s brilliant theory of evolution, published in 1859, had a stunning impact on scientific and religious thought and forever changed man’s perception of himself. Now that hallowed theory is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent from the prevailing view of Darwinism…. Most of the debate will center on one key question: Does the three-billion-year-old process of evolution creep at a steady pace, or is it marked by long periods of inactivity punctuated by short bursts of rapid change? Is Evolution a tortoise or a hare? Darwin’s widely accepted view — that evolution proceeds steadily, at a crawl — favors the tortoise. But two paleontologists, Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History and Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, are putting their bets on the hare.“James Gorman, “The Tortoise or the Hare?”, Discover, October 1980, p. 88
This is not a simple mistake, these creationist deceivers have conducted deliberate fraud by pulling a few words out of context, it totally changes what was really written. Oh, and take note of the date for this quote, its over 30 years old. Is the rest any better? Lets see.
Who is Francis Hitching?
Next up we have a quote by Francis Hitching from his book. The claim is made that he is an evolutionist and thus implies that he has some scientific credentials and used to believe in Evolution but no longer does, but thats an outright lie. Hitching is basically a sensational TV script writer and has no scientific credentials. In The Neck of the Giraffe he claimed to be a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute, but an inquiry to that institute said he was not. He implied in the “Acknowledgements” of The Neck of the Giraffe that paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had helped in the writing of the book, but upon inquiry Gould said he did not know him and had no information about him. Hitching also implied that his book had been endorsed by Richard Dawkins, but upon inquiry Dawkins stated:
“I know nothing at all about Francis Hitching. If you are uncovering the fact that he is a charlatan, good for you. His book, The Neck of the Giraffe, is one of the silliest and most ignorant I have read for years.“.
Still think he might be a credible authority? Well think again, because if you dig even deeper you soon discover that Hitching is a complete kook. He believes in the paranormal and has written on Mayan pyramid energy. The reference work Contemporary Authors, Vol. 103, page 208, lists him as a member of the Society for Psychical Research, the British Society of Dowsers and of the American Society of Dowsers. His writings include: Earth Magic, Dowsing: The Psi Connection. This man is not a credible source for any statements on evolution.
Conference of 150 specialists
OK, so what’s next? Well, we apparently have a report of some recent conference of 150 specialists who are in controversy over evolution, sounds damming, ah but wait, lets inject a few facts and context here. Its not new, this conference took place over 30 years ago and the quote comes from a New Your Times article published on November 4, 1980. (Once again its very old and not at all new) … and once again they left bits out to twist the meaning, look what happens when I put the missing first sentence back in:
Biology’s understanding of how evolution works, which has long postulated a gradual process of Darwinian natural selection acting on genetic mutations, is undergoing its broadest and deepest revolution in nearly 50 years
In other words, it was deliberately massaged to suggest weakness in the fact of evolution rather than what it was actually talking about, the perceived mechanism.
The Niles Eldredge quote
Now, moving on we get to the Niles Eldredge quote. It is also ancient history and is a carefully selected set of words lifted out of the original context of a 1982 article.
Is he truly expressing doubt about evolution?
Of course not, the career and writings of Niles Eldredge between 1982 and now prove quite the opposite, he has published more than 160 scientific articles, books, and reviews, and his main professional passion is evolution.
Michael Ruse in New Scientist
So finally, we get to an apparently anonymous quote from “New Scientist”.
This is has been quote-mined out of an article written in New Scientist by Michael Ruse on 25th June 1981 (If curious to see the actual article, click here)
It has been three decades since this claim was made, so most of those alleged doubting scientists would be dead by now. And yes its “that” Michael Ruse, the philosopher who has been labeled “clueless” by some rather prominent evolutionary biologists.
While the Ruse quote might have been quote mined, even the original (which does support evolution) can be taken with a lrage grain of salt due to the lack of credibility that Ruse has in this domain.
There is no debate here.
Instead, what we find is deliberate fraud, deceit and zero integrity. I believe the correct term is “Liers for Jesus”. There are of course many who honestly believe in Creationism because they have been presented with a lot of apparent proof that discredits scientific fact. Tragically, they are the victims, and have been deceived by this con job. But those who orchestrated this, and have repeatedly had their creationist propaganda debunked, yet still persist in their devotion to distorting the truth, truly are lying to you.
When faced with such grossly dishonest Creationist claims for which there is not one single jot of evidence, be extremely skeptical. They will distort the truth, spout lies, and attempt to deceive you.
What you have is not simply a lack of evidence, but also a complete and total lack of credibility or integrity.
16 thoughts on “Creationist Propaganda – The Deceivers”
Thank you very much, Dave.
Peter … going back to your list of questions above,
Item 1) I’ve posted an analysis of all 12 of the peer-reviewed articles. Not one of them is credible. The link is here. https://www.skeptical-science.com/religion/intelligent-design-examined-peer-review/
Item 2) Agreed.
Item 3) irreducible complexity has been de-bunked, you they keep touting it
Item 4) Regarding bias … here is a bit of cut and paste to address that …The argument runs something like this: institutions of peer review assume that theistic explanations are invalid, since a built-in requirement of naturalism constitutes atheistic bias. While prima facie compelling, and probably enough to dupe a few uninformed bystanders, this argument does not hold up to logic. The purpose of science (and rationalism) is to determine explanations of natural phenomena, with reference only to objective natural indicia, so as to create a body of knowledge which all of humanity can use and apply, if possible, in engineering. The purposes of science – to determine objective truth, free of a precondition of religious belief, and to create usable knowledge – are incompatible with theistic explanations.
Yes … peer-review is not perfect and mistakes are made, but its the best we have. Alternatives such as science by press-release does not work (as illustrated by the cold-fusion chaps and also NASA)
Item 5) I agree. The system is one where you expect your work to be examined and to have the flaws pointed out, the “I just know I’m right” without any debate or evidence is inappropriate.
Dave, I haven’t had a reply to my questions from the creationist guy.
I have posted on your ‘Irreducible Complexity Explained’ article if you are interested.
PS Is this your own website as it is very impressive? Now I am retired I am working on setting up my own.
Thanks, Dave, I really appreciate that.
I am trying to put some of the Dover points to a creationist guy I know to see what his take is on it, especially Behe’s 3 assertions.
Peter … you have taken the time to look into all this in detail, so I feel obliged to do exactly the same. During this coming weekend, I’ll put time aside to carefully consider your 5 points.
Here goes Dave – I hope you are not losing patience with me. I’ll answer my own question first – the judge gave a very credible summary, scientist or no scientist.
1) The Discovery link was actually honest about duplicating the references. However, I counted 12 articles in journals and a number published after the Dover trial in which zero was stated in evidence. Do you accept they were peer reviewed? If so are you not wrong to state in your article above that there are zero peer reviewed scientific papers? I found this bit of information too – ‘the New Scientist acknowledged, funding for the research underlying these peer-reviewed articles was provided by Discovery Institute’
2)The Dover ruling was that teaching ID was unconstitutional in public schools rather than illegal which is a bit of a distinction.
3) I completely understood the conclusion that ID has a religious dimension and therefore by definition is not science. Science is only allowed to invoke material reasons and causes. However, the trial made the distinction that the concept of irreducible complexity can be considered science even if it has a negative leaning. The summing up however conceded -‘Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated and discussed.’
4)I wonder if you might agree that because ID proponents are not in favour, it is difficult to get material peer reviewed. Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, has said – ‘The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong’
5) I also found this quote which sums up the tension between views and the need for us to maintain respect for the views of others – ‘In fact, most scientists are skeptics, to one extent or another, about climate science and almost everything else. Of course, there are a few who actually believe with complete certainty that they are right, and that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. These folks can’t conceive of the possibility that they could be mistaken; they really are like religious zealots. However, the genuine scientific skeptics greatly outnumber the true believers, and in most scientific debates the skeptics prevail … after a while.
It is clear that some religious people are zealots but some scientists come over like that and seek to stifle debate.
Thanks for all the time you have spent on this. It has been a massive learning curve for me
Thanks Dave, I’ll chew over what you are saying and get back to you in between amusing my grandson and changing his nappies. Actually I have seen mention of the Dover trial and wondered one thing. Was the judge a trained and qualified scientist?
Peter … Good points regarding Luther … but I’ll focus on your 2nd comment. Yes indeed, I am well aware of the Discovery folks and their peer review claims. This is their evidence that they really do science.
OK, lets take an honest look. We have here roughly 40 apparently peer-reviewed articles (I did a quick speed count).
Objection 1 – Its not as big a list as you think, they double count. The featured articles are also included again below the featured section.
Objection 2 – They include books in the list. These are neither peer-reviewed nor peer-edited, and therefore should not have been included in the list.
Objection 3 – They appear to have stuff they categorize as “peer-edited” – “Peer-edited” is not a term that is in common usage in the sciences. Nobody that I know of considers “peer-editing” to be a meaningful distinction, and it is certainly not viewed as equivalent to peer-review. The use of “peer-edited” serves only to give the Discovery Institute an excuse to increase the number of listed publications
To be honest, the closer you look, the more bizzare this gets. They further inflate their numbers by first listing Campbell and Meyer’s book Darwinism, Design, and Public Education as a “peer-reviewed book” and then listing each of the book’s five chapters as a separate listing.
Whittle away the chaff and you are not left with very much. To sum up, the list of articles supporting Intelligent Design can best be described as pitiful by any measure. The list includes things that don’t belong there, lists some entries twice, inflates the number of publications, adds philosophical articles to the scientific ones … this quite frankly says a lot about their scientific credibility.
Anybody not familiar with the conversation would be very easily fooled by this con job, so I stick to my assertion … fraud.
Shall I keep going?
OK, why not …
Is anything these folks actually do real science … nope, and thats a legal fact.
During the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial (you can read all about that here …http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District
As a primary witness for the defense, Michael Behe (he is in the list) was asked to support the idea that intelligent design was legitimate science. Behe’s critics have pointed to a number of key exchanges under cross examination, where he conceded that “there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred” and that the definition of ‘theory’ as he applied it to intelligent design was so loose that astrology would qualify as a theory by definition as well
Follow the link and read about the trail, it exposes that these folks don’t do real science.
Need I say more?
Thanks for your answer, Dave. I also found this website and wondered if you were aware of it http://www.discovery.org/a/2640
Does this in anyway satisfy any of your objections? I would be interested to hear from you about what you thought of it. It is the first time I have come across it.
Hello again. I was intrigued by the Luther quote and looked it up. I think Nuke the Pope is in danger of doing what you criticised the creationists for ie quoting without a context in order to make point. This a vernacular transcript from the German:
How would it be, if this [second marriage] came up for discussion, and if he [Philip] were challenged, he would say, that he had indeed considered it, but in the end did not go through with it? And he should otherwise keep quiet. What does it matter, if, for the sake of the good and the Christian church, one tells a good strong lie! And furthermore, to shut the mouths of the people, he should put N [this refers to Philip’s second wife Margarethe von der Saale, perhaps a typo for “M”] away for four weeks, and take the other [his first wife Christine of Saxony] back and make good with her; then everyone would say, that there was nothing in it; and thus [their objections] would be broken. If that doesn’t help, then he [Luther] saw no hope.
Luther was acting a private confessor to an important public figure who had committed bigamy. To protect the situation he counselled him to put away the second wife and deny that he had married again. This is no different to politicians having to lie where telling the truth before it was appropriate could put lives in danger or crash economies.
I had a personal experience of this. A seven-year old girl in my class had leukemia. Her mother told her and myself that she was getting better when in fact she was shortly to die. You can see why she lied and in the circumstances it was completely appropriate.
Peter … let me explain the hostility.
What the creationists are doing with quotes like the above that were presented to me, is outright fraud … its not science … period … it deserves nothing but derision and abuse, and cannot be taken seriously.
I do agree that science proceeds by criticism, but that is not what happens with these folks. If they have valid concerns, then then need to do the science, do the tests, write it up and present it, I have no issue with that and fully welcome it. Instead they push lies as truth into schools and churches.
There is no room to respect folks who ignore the evidence presented to them … time and time again, the claims they make have been debunked, but they simply ignore it all, and carry on making the same old claims.
There is no contention, they have no evidence.
I don’t think you made your point very well, Dave. Also, it is a shame that discussion about important things like origins has to degenerate into abuse. I look at both sides and am waiting to be convinced. You could have been more positive. For instance you say -‘I made the factual observation that there were zero scientific papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals that supported intelligent design.’ You could have quoted peer reviewed evidence for punctuated equilibrium. Any theory of origins has its detractors. I don’t understand why there is such hostility against anyone who seeks to criticise the weak points of evolutionary theory. All science proceeds by criticism and testing of ideas. Of course there are those on the evolutionary side who are disingenuous too. I presume you know about the fake fossil Archaeoraptor liaoningensis as recently as 1999. This subject is too important to degenerate into a slanging match between entrenched opposition. Respecting one another will allow constructive dialogue.
The martin Luther quote sums it up quite well … believers are indeed quite happy to lie in order to convert you
What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church… a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.
— Martin Luther
Nice demolition job, thanks for taking the trouble. Link tweeted.
Yeah, those creationists love to quote mine. Quote mining is not science. And even if some parts of evolutionary theory are wrong, it doesn’t automatically mean all of the evidence is wrong and that creationism is suddenly correct.
Niles Eldredge was the first author I ever read on evolution, way back in 1982 or so, with his book “The Monkey Business”… I was fascinated with the concept of punctuated equilibrium and how this theory only added to our conception of evolution but didn’t necessarily suddenly prove that Darwin’s theory was wrong, anymore than Einstein’s theories suddenly made Newton’s theories incorrect.