Dean Kenyon: a young-earth creation scientist who was later relabeled an intelligent design proponent

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1980-12-17_Kenyon_SF_Examiner_SFSU_creo.jpgOver on the Thinking Christian blog I have been challenged on my assertion in several publications (e.g. in this PNAS article) that “intelligent design” leader Dean Kenyon – a coauthor of Of Pandas and People and a Discovery Institute fellow – is actually a young-earth creationist and “creation scientist.” Usually I get these things right, but I was recently wrong about Cornelius Hunter, and only some of the evidence is on the Dean Kenyon entry on Wikipedia, so it is worth it to review the evidence.

There are many lines of evidence for the proposition that Kenyon is/was a young-earther. It is true that he wasn’t always like this – in the late 1960s he was a young origin-of-life researcher, and he coauthored the book Biochemical Predestination which accepted the standard view on evolution and the age of the Earth. But in the late 1970s he changed his mind:

“Then in 1976, a student gave me a book by A.E. Wilder-Smith, The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution. Many pages of that book deal with arguments against Biochemical Predestination, and I found myself hard-pressed to come up with a counter-rebuttal. Eventually, several other books and articles by neo-creationists came to my attention. I read some of Henry Morris’ books, in particular, The Genesis Flood. I’m not a geologist, and I don’t agree with everything in that book, but what stood out was that here was a scientific statement giving a very different view of earth history. Though the book doesn’t deal with the subject of the origin of life per se, it had the effect of suggesting that it is possible to have a rational alternative explanation of the past.”

Kenyon, Dean, and Pearcey, Nancy (1989). “Up From Materialism: An Interview with Dean Kenyon.” Bible-Science Newsletter, 27(9), 6-9. September 1989.

(Note: both A.E. Wilder-Smith and Henry Morris are famous young-earther creation scientists. Nancy Pearcey is a young-earther too – she once wrote that humans were contemporaneous with dinosaurs. And the Bible-Science Newsletter was a famously rabid young-earth publication that sometimes even flirted with geocentrism.)

It’s not quite clear how this revolution happened – I suspect there was more to it than what happened in 1976. For example, in the early 1970s Kenyon published some weird stuff for an OOL researcher, for example several short review articles on acupuncture, on the idea that viruses may originate de novo when environmental pollution stresses the body (see also the 1972 newspaper article I found on the article by Adolphe Smith and Dean Kenyon, quoted below), and on the idea that new life was originating through self-organization in the present day. This stuff is not necessarily crazy (however, I have the articles, and they seem to be quite a ways from vaguely similar modern ideas – e.g. it looks like he is not talking about the idea that genome-encoded viruses could re-activate). However, it is a long ways from the technical chemistry and experimental work on which he did his Ph.D. in the 1960s, and which petered out in the 1970s.

In 1974 Kenyon spent his sabattical at Trinity College in Oxford on science/religion issues:

Then, during the 1970s, I began to rethink my Christian faith. I had been raised as a Christian, but I now began to take a fresh look at my beliefs and they began to have a greater personal significance. In 1974, I went to Oxford University as part of a sabbatical leave and spent the time reading and interviewing people on the relation between science and Christian faith. At that time, most of the people I talked to were theistic evolutionists. I went through a period for a couple of years of being quite intrigued with the works of Teilhard de Chardin. His writings were very popular in Oxford at the time.

Kenyon, Dean, and Pearcey, Nancy (1989). “Up From Materialism: An Interview with Dean Kenyon.” Bible-Science Newsletter, 27(9), 6-9. September 1989.

(note: this paragraph comes just before the previous paragraph I quoted)

Before that, “Kenyon spent the 1969-1970 academic year on a fellowship at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where he reviewed the contemporary literature on the relationship of science and religion. As an Episcopalian, he was not inclined to see any conflict between God and Darwinism. Yet this was for him a season of intellectual doubt. [goes on to discuss the Wilder-Smith book]” (Witham 2002, p. 163).

And finally, the early 1970s were not exactly a placid time in the U.S., especially on college campuses, and very especially at San Francisco State. There is no specific evidence for this having an effect on Dean Kenyon, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the general chaos of the times had an influence.

Anyway, to summarize some of the evidence for Dean Kenyon being a young-earther:

* Kenyon was scheduled to testify in defense of the “creation science” laws in the McLean and Edwards cases.

* In 1982, Kenyon wrote the forward to Henry Morris’s YEC book What is Creation Science?

* Through the 1980s, there was a variety of “creation science” literature which cited Kenyon as an example of an evolutionist who saw the light and adopted creation science.

* Of Pandas and People was derived from an explicitly “creation science” text, and even the published version explicitly depicted the young-earth view as reasonable, along with the old-earth view. (see also: Matzke 2009, “But Isn’t It Creationism?”, in But Is It Science?, edited by Pennock and Ruse)

* Kenyon is a speaker, writer, and board member for the Kolbe Center, a Catholic fringe group which, unlike most modern Catholics, lobbies for the young-earth view.

* In fairly recent history, Kenyon has attended/presented at some of the International Conferences on Creationism, a well-known YEC series of conferences.

* And apparently just last year, Kenyon endorsed this explicitly YEC book:

Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation 952 Kelly Rd., Mt. Jackson, VA 22842 Tel: 540-856-8453 E-Mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

For me You have created the skies scattered with stars … and all the beautiful things on earth

(St. Maximilian Kolbe) http://www.kolbecenter.org

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Pax Christi!

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I am happy to announce a new breakthrough for our apostolate. Fr. Victor Warkulwiz, our chief theological advisor, has written a major work on the doctrines of Genesis 1-11, which has just been published with a foreword by Bishop Robert Vasa of the Baker Diocese in Oregon. Bishop Vasa has this to say about Fr. Victor’s work:

The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11: A Compendium and Defense of Traditional Catholic Theology on Origins, by Reverend Victor P. Warkulwiz, M.S.S., is a wonderfully researched and thoroughly stimulating work. Father Warkulwiz, drawing on his very substantial scientific background, walks us through the early chapters of Genesis showing and giving testimony to the essential compatibility between the literal account of Genesis, the understanding of the Fathers of the Church and the modern day observations of natural science.

He very cogently points out that many of the accepted scientific conclusions which contradict the days of creation and the great flood are based on a variety of unproven premises which are pillars set firmly on sand. Father very adeptly tackles the complex issues of cosmogony, astronomy, astrophysics, mathematics, nuclear science, evolutionary theory, geological uniformitarianism, radiocarbon dating, big bang theory, and others to show that the observed phenomena which they try to explain are just as readily, properly and easily explained by such Genesis factors as direct creation by God and the Genesis Flood. In doing so he opens a clear path for dedicated Christians to read the Book of Genesis with a renewed and, to a certain extent, unencumbered faith.

Dr. Dean Kenyon, Ph.D. Biophysics, and formerly one of the leading evolutionary biologists in the world, writes that Fr. Victor “brilliantly demonstrates that the relevant results of modern science, rightly interpreted, are much more consistent with the traditional Catholic view of origins than they are with macro-evolutionary theory.” And Fr. James Anderson, Ph.D., Philosophy, and former Academic Dean of Holy Apostles College and Seminary, writes that Fr. Victor’s “scholarship is first rate and his argument is incisive. This book is a must for scholars, students and laymen.”

This is a book that can change the way that Catholic bishops, pastors, and teachers think about origins. It is a book that can do more to restore the traditional Catholic understanding of origins and human history than perhaps any book written in the past 60 years. Although expensive (roughly 560 pages, $32.95 + shipping), it is a book that ought to become a standard reference for every Catholic home, seminary, college, and high school. Please help to promote this book in your parish and community. Please pray that through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. Victor’s book will cause great numbers of bishops, priests and lay people to return to the traditional Catholic understanding of Genesis, the foundation of the Gospel.

May the Lord Jesus find a blessed home in your hearts this Christmas and always!

Yours in Christ,

Hugh Owen, Director Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation

Anyway, all of this stuff makes a darn good case. But it’s not alone. Back in 2006 I tracked down in the microfiche the original source of a series of short 1980 newspaper articles on a controversy at San Francisco State about Dean Kenyon teaching creationism in his evolution class. The first story (and the longest) appears to be a December 17, 1980 story in the San Francisco Examiner (now a free daily, but back then a standard newspaper).

And the article is – well, by itself it proves the case. Strangely, though, this history was never mentioned in any of the 1990s ID movement literature glorifying Kenyon as a scientists who saw the light and became an ID proponent, leaving out the 10+ years of his being a creation-science proponent before that. The only mention of this anywhere in ID-sympathetic literature is the following oblique mention by Larry Witham, a journalist who wrote a rosy and pretty naive history of ID in 2002 (which nevertheless dropped many interesting tidbits derived from interviews):

As Biochemical Predestination was published, Kenyon spent the 1969-1970 academic year on a fellowship at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where he reviewed the contemporary literature on the relationship of science and religion. As an Episcopalian, he was not inclined to see any conflict between God and Darwinism. Yet this was for him a season of intellectual doubt. In the mid-1970s, a student gave him a book that challenged the idea of purely chemical origins of life: The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution, by European creationist A.E. Wilder-Smith. Kenyon made time during the summer for what he thought would be a handy refutation of the work. “I found out, in fact, I could not answer the arguments,” he says. Thus began a period of “serious personal rearrangement of thought and anguish of the soul” that took him up to the 1980 fall term. He was a tenured professor [he got tenure in 1970 – Witham 2002, p. 163], and he had to make a decision.

“Just go public with my doubts? Take my chances?” He asked himself that question, then proceeded to do just that, perhaps naive about the consequences that would follow when a few students complained about his comments in class. The story would make the San Francisco Examiner. “Well,” Kenyon says, “I had no idea of the fallout.” He was summoned to three faculty hearings to testify on what he taught in his courses. Department chairman William Wu responded by laying down the “5 percent doctrine”: no more than 5 percent of a course could include criticism of or doubts about Darwinian theory, and that was how Kenyon proceeded through the 1980s.

(Witham 2002, Where Darwin Meets the Bible, pp. 163-164).

Hmm, so the controversy in 1980 was about “criticism of or doubts about Darwinian theory”, and throughout this passage and the book, Witham takes pains to make it seem like ID is disconnected from creationism.

But check out the actual article in the SF Examiner. The photo is particularly good. PDF download. Text below for posterity. Posting this is fair-use under copyright law, as I recently learned at a talk on copyright that not only is this academic, nonprofit use, but posting a single article is reproducing only a portion of the work (the “work” in copyright law being e.g. an entire journal, volume, etc.)

[Reference]

Salner, Rebecca (1980). “Professor teaches a supernatural creation of world.” San Francisco Examiner, p. zA-9. Wednesday, December 17, 1980.

[Article text]

[transcribed by Nick Matzke, 10/29/06]

‘The. better scientific model is the creationist one. Evolutionary view has too many inconsistencies’

Professor teaches a supernatural creation of world

By Rebecca Salner

Dean Kenyon is a soft-spoken, serious and sincere man who teaches evolution at San Francisco State University.

But he doesn’t believe in evolution. He believes in God and scientific creationism – an alternative theory which parallels the biblical story of creation.

Kenyon has taught the biology department’s only evolution class for 12 years. For eight of those 12, he was a believer in macro evolutionary theory as were the vast majority of his colleagues.

They haven’t changed. He has. Four years ago, after “technical evidence” convinced him that evolutionary theory was incorrect, he began including scientific creationism in his course and drawing criticism from those whose beliefs he once shared.

Kenyon defines the main tenet of scientific creationism this way:

“In the relatively recent past – 10,000 to 20,000 years ago – the entire cosmos was brought into existence out of nothing at all by supernatural creation.”

According to Kenyon, gaps in the fossil record and the lack of evidence documenting transmutation of species strongly support creationist views.

The fossil record is posing the greatest problem for today’s evolutionists, says Kenyon:

“Rather than exhibiting trends, the fossil record gives a picture of stasis and then gaps.” (Stasis is the existence of species over long periods of time without change.)

Creationists theorize that fossils and rock strata formed during a worldwide flood, not over billions of years as evolutionists believe.

“Holes are characteristic of evolutionary theory,” he says. “The better scientific model is the creationist one. Evolutionary view has too many inconsistencies.”

One of Kenyon’s most outspoken critics on campus is Professor Lawrence Swan, who calls creationism “embarrassing.”

“How can an institution of higher learning permit the teaching of an aberrant misinterpretation and what I would consider an intolerable representation of the truth?” asks Swan. “What we’re faced with is a very interesting intellectual morass. What do you do with a professor who has gone wrong?”

For Swan, academic freedom is no defense for teaching creationism.

“If this is academic freedom, almost any bucket will go in. I can talk absolute nonsense to my class.”

“Do geologists allow a flat-earth advocate to teach? Would astronomers like astrologists? But this (creationism) differs because the evidence for it is not scientific, it is religious. Does a professor have the right to teach anything he wants? Can society afford to deny science?”

Creationists’ attacks on the holes in evolutionary theory enrage Swan who claims they employ a “You don’t know, therefore God” argument.

Douglas Post, professor of ecological and systematic biology, agrees, saying, “I don’t think there is any positive evidence to prove creationism. They rely on negative evidence. Their main argument is that you can’t prove that Darwin is correct. But I don’t think that just because you can’t prove Darwin you can automatically conclude that creationism is correct.”

Kenyon denies the religious base of his group’s evidence and says creationism is not a “God of the gaps” theory.

[photo] [Photo of Dean Kenyon holding up the book Scientific Creationism by Henry Morris (looks like the General Edition).]

1980-12-17_Kenyon_SF_Examiner_SFSU_creo.jpg

[/photo]

[caption] Biology professor Dean Kenyon’s controversial course seems to be well-supported among the students [/caption]

“Our evidence is of the same status as that used by evolutionists. We talk about fossils, rocks, animal species…”

“One of the creationist’s points is to say this is not religious,” says Swan. “That’s malarky. The major premise is the first chapter of Genesis. It’s an argument, an old argument, between trying to understand what’s natural versus the miraculous.”

None of the professors in the department have expressed much support for creationism, although a few have said the issue is “interesting.”

Department Chairman William Wu also believes the theory is religiously based.

“Having listened to Dr. Kenyon on one side of the coin and some of our evolutionists on the other, I have to tend to agree with it being biblical. It fits.

“Any person who has gone to Sunday school will immediately grasp the similarity. But in fairness to scientific creationism and to Dr. Kenyon, Dr. Kenyon believes that the Bible should not be brought into it.”

Kenyon admits a connection between religion and creationism but holds fast to the belief that religion does not enter the classroom.

“If you’re not familiar with the technical literature you may think that Genesis is being taught. It is quite a radical departure from what most of our faculty learned in graduate school. It takes a lot of effort to change that. Any line of thought which tries to figure out ultimate origins will come into areas of religious thought,” says Kenyon.

Although he may not bring religion into the classroom, Kenyon personally is religious and believes there are “no errors in the Bible.”

In 1969, he took a leave of absence from the university to attend the University of California at Berkeley’s graduate theological union. Five years later he attended Trinity College at Oxford to work on a project titled “The Reception of Darwinism by the Church of England.” On his desk is a plaque proclaiming, “In Christ are hid all the treasures and knowledge.”

Kenyon, 40, is a quiet, scholarly man customarily clad in a professorial tweed blazer and conservative gray slacks. His students like him and even circulated a petition supporting his inclusion of creationism in the course.

He seems genuinely surprised at the violent reaction of some faculty and one or two students. And though he appears to be the only creationist under fire, he claims there are others on campus – three at least, but he won’t say who.

Even Swan, his critic, says Kenyon is “a very sweet, gentle, quiet, somewhat convincing man.”

Only two professors contacted were remotely supportive of Kenyon’s theory.

Sarane Bowen, a specialist in cell and molecular biology, said the issue makes the department’s course offerings more interesting.

Charles Hagar, physics and astronomy, said, “I think it’s very nice to shake up the basket and see what goes on. I’m always in favor of controversy. I think that’s how science progresses. All too often, evolution has been presented as fact and it’s kind of interesting to see that challenged by alternative theories. If they’re wrong, let the scientists knock them down.”

Kenyon has been asked to hold discussions of creationism to 5 percent of class time – a guideline developed by Chairman Wu, who said Kenyon is not policed, although a faculty member is auditing the class.

Wu believes the issue of Kenyon teaching creationism is resolved.

Swan and Kenyon want further discussion of the matter, and believe it is unresolved.

Swan would prefer that Kenyon not teach creationism, or, if he must, at another university.

Kenyon wants more time given to creationism.

“If I were to dream about it, I would say a 50-50 split” between evolution and creationism, says Kenyon.

PS: Here is the 1972 article I found (also back in 2006 I think) on Smith & Kenyon’s idea about de novo origin of viruses:

Winnipeg Free Press, Wednesday, March 22, 1972. p. 43

Prof Flips Theory Coin About Virus Production

MONTREAL (CP) - Man may be a walking virus-maker, says Adolphe Smith, a 43-year-old biophysicist and professor at Montreal’s Sir George Williams University.

In an article to be published in an international journal of microbiology, he and Dean Kenyon of San Francisco State University flip the coin of the current theory that viral infections are caused solely by germs invading the body when resistance is low.

At least some of these infections are caused by viruses produced within, the body after it has undergone damage or stress from the environment, they contend.

Viruses are infectious agents that reproduce in living cells.

“Since Pasteur, man has gone overboard in thinking germs come from outside,” said Dr. Smith in a recent interview.

However, he and his colleague do not discount external factors in the cause of viral infections such as influenza and apply their theory only to “latent” or non-contagious viruses.

He used the example of a cold sore.

“You have a recurrent infection at the same place but in between occurrences it is impossible to detect the presence of a virus – so the virus must come from within.”

According to Dr. Smith’s theory, environmental stress causes some cells to change into viruses and under certain conditions these viruses appear.

“This stress could come from poor living conditions or polluted air which damage the lungs,” he said.

That points to a need for a cleaner world.

“If stress from the environment does produce viruses in the body, then we must reduce this stress by cleaning up the environment,” said Dr. Smith.

“What I am saying, in effect, is that the environment is not just a factor, but the factor.”

Anti-pollution groups are making a great stride in preventive medicine because they are trying to improve the environment which plays such a great role in determining man’s health, he said.

Note: I had to hand-transcribe these articles to text; I caught a few mistakes today, but some typos may remain.

316 Comments

Kenyon defines the main tenet of scientific creationism this way:

“In the relatively recent past – 10,000 to 20,000 years ago – the entire cosmos was brought into existence out of nothing at all by supernatural creation.”

That pretty much seals the deal.

Even after multiple examples of this behavior, it still disappoints me when people like Kenyon obfuscate their religious beliefs in an attempt to promote their religion.

I see that the most important part of his belief system is right in line with current ID / televangelist thinking:

“It is a book that can do more to restore the traditional Catholic understanding of origins and human history than perhaps any book written in the past 60 years. Although expensive (roughly 560 pages, $32.95 + shipping),”…

BUY MY BOOK!!!

What’s amazing is the hypocrisy. Even in the 70’s, he was double talking. If you believe that the universe was created by God the way it says in Genesis, that’s what you believe. Say it honestly. But creationists never do, except when they whisper it to each other.

Now he’s supposed to be an “ID proponent”. Why? For the exact same reason that he denied that he was teaching the Bible 35 years ago. Beady-eyed weasel legal maneuvering. Judges saw through the “creation science” ruse.

I’ll say it again, each one of these ID/creationist guys is more nihilist, absurdist, and post-modern than all of the video artists and steam punks in Berlin, combined (no insult to anyone in Berlin is intended). It’s a bizarre latter day movement based on obfuscation, denial of logic and evidence, semantic games, and Orwellian pronouncements. The actual sole objective is to bamboozle judges into letting them bamboozle students in tax payer funded public schools.

as usual, “there were questions i couldn’t answer” really means “there were questions i chose to not answer”; especially when the questions were so weak. it’s a bit sad how often defenders of some true faith lie about the order of their thought processes. strobel is the best example

harold said:

What’s amazing is the hypocrisy. Even in the 70’s, he was double talking. If you believe that the universe was created by God the way it says in Genesis, that’s what you believe. Say it honestly. But creationists never do, except when they whisper it to each other.

Rehashing this stuff brings back lots of old memories. Obviously the creationist war game against science was already conceived and planned out in the 1960s and was rolling almost unopposed by the 1970s.

We in the science were not clearly aware of the nature of this war in its early stages; and many in the science community just snickered. It took a while to catch on to the game and the political nature of this war.

But the creationists were already attacking local biology teachers; and the tactic was to hit teachers with topics outside the expertise of the teacher. The same was true of the debates into which they goaded scientists or biology instructors.

The misconceptions, misrepresentations, and political tactics have remained relatively unchanged over the years. The morph into intelligent design didn’t really change the basic, underlying misconceptions, misrepresentations, and tactics; but it served mostly as an attempt to put on a “more academic face” and to get around the US Supreme Court decision in Edwards vs. Aguillard.

I found these people absolutely ruthless and despicable back in the 1970s, and my opinion of them has simply been reinforced in the years that followed.

don’t go too easy on Hunter.

his support for OE only goes as far as his personal fantasy allows it to.

He himself said in his response:

“but if you want me to quantify my position more precisely I’d need to take a closer look as the scientific details. “

because, of course, he never has really looked at the science of it himself. However, that fits with how he approaches any issue he poots about.

perfect example of Dunning Kruger, with heaping dose of sheer dishonesty thrown on top.

I recall the whole “photocopy a picture of a thylacine and call it something else, then lie about it” routine he tried to defend here on PT a few years back. That one had me in stitches, it was so pathetic.

The morph into intelligent design didn’t really change the basic, underlying misconceptions, misrepresentations, and tactics

Of course it didn’t. Why would it?

I found it revealing that Hunter accepts an old earth because “ the whole age question seems to be much less metaphysically laden than evolution”. So if somebody convinced him that believing in an old earth risked his soul then he would change his mind

What I’m blown away is that Henry Morris geology bit.

Kenyon admits he didn’t know geology, and apparently something of what he does know conflicted with what Morris was saying, but he was nonetheless impressed simply that Morris had a different view of the history of the Earth. That this is an insane view embodying multiple physical impossibilities doesn’t enter into it.. he’s just impressed that Morris said something different.

Yo, Kenyon, I’ve got a different view of the shape of the Earth. I say it’s really a toroid. Now I’m sure you may disagree with some of this concept, but I’m sure you’ll be impressed by my scientific statement about a different view of the topography of the Earth.

Dean Kenyon was also my Human Biology 101 instructor at San Francisco State University, in 1983.

He spent a required segment of the class discussing evolutionary and origin-of-life theories including Oparin et al. Then he spent a chunk of time on debunking those theories using what are now standard ID canards, including the argument that DNA couldn’t be formed “randomly” - that it’d be like “a tornado blowing through a junk yard and forming a 747”, and stuff about “transitional fossils”. I don’t remember biblical quotes but it was obvious who his “Intelligence” was.

After that segment he did a little survey, asking how many in the class believed the Darwin explanation, and how many accepted the Creationist view. About 90% of the class raised their hands for the latter. Goes to show how easy it is to sucker people.

I was appalled, and years later when I better understood the context for his ‘instruction’ I realized I had been the object of educational abuse. I wish I had gone to the administrative offices to complain.

At least I can say that Dean Kenyon gave me an ‘A’.

Soft spoken, pleasant, thoughtful (well that’s plainly not true), dressed in tweed and grey slacks; sounds like a fraud to me. The proverbial wolf in sheeps clothing.

His students defeded him? Except for a couple who were clued up. This tells me only that the ‘hotbed’ of liberal thought in the US, in the ’60s and ’70s was full of nut job flower children high on drugs or Dog.

He has been seriously ‘outed.’ So what? He won’t change, his moronic rantings will continue, albeit in the most pleasant of soft spoken tones; the turd.

Go for the jugular. His pleasant demeanor is the typical reasonable, ‘if only we could be allowed to share our views with the closed scientific community’ crap. This is where I believe Dawkins and PZ are dead right. Confront the prick, treat him with the contempt we dish out to Rob Byers and his loony rants.

Cheers Nick:)

I have followed Dean Kenyon for many years. He’s definitely YEC.

Wilder Smith’s books are horrendous for inaccuracy.

He liked to pose behind 3 earned doctorates

The morph into intelligent design didn’t really change the basic, underlying misconceptions, misrepresentations, and tactics

Of course it didn’t. Why would it?

How could it?

“In the relatively recent past – 10,000 to 20,000 years ago – the entire cosmos was brought into existence out of nothing at all by supernatural creation.”

Hey Nick, Eric, although Kenyon doesn’t promote Ussher’s 4004 BC for the date of creation he uses the phrasing of modern-day YECs like AIG and CMI, “relatively recent past.”

Do you know how AIG & CMI weasel out of Ussher’s date? I think they’re YEC backsliders. Or are they just trying the bait-and-switch, getting others to accept “relatively recent past” in order to then inject 4004 BC?

Can’t bring myself to ask them, thought you might know how they justify 10,000-20,000 years instead of 6,014 years.

Something has occured to me whilst reading this article, and I’m not sure if it’s an original thought (which, to be honest, are rare for me) or if I’m merely repeating that which better minds have realised already (highly likely).

The cDesign movement have a prevelant tendancy to refer to those who agree with the theory of evolution as ‘Darwinists’, mainly to try and associate in the minds of the public that somehow evolution is a faith based religious opinion headed by a great prophet whom we all adore, despite the fact that the theories and ideas put forwards by Darwin have largely been superceded by newer and more accurate adaptations of his theory.

If Henry Morris is considered the ‘father of the creation science movement’, perhaps we should refer to the ID/YEC/cDesign movement devotees as ‘Morrisists’, constantly and incessantly, even after they point out that ID isn’t creation science and has concepts of its own. Perhaps then they’ll get the idea we’re not ‘Darwinists’.

How about “Morrons”?

Way too cheap for my taste. I’ll stick with insisting that they use the term “EVIL-utionist” instead.

John Vanko said: Can’t bring myself to ask them, thought you might know how they justify 10,000-20,000 years instead of 6,014 years.

I have no idea how he arrived at that estimate. Maybe Nick does. Good catch though - I may stick my head over at TC and see if anyone tries to use the “20K is not real YEC” defense. That would be lame but not surprising.

As an aside to Icthyic, TC isn’t Cornelius Hunter, its a guy named Tom Gilson. Good arrow shot but wrong target :)

Ok, after a brief visit the only response to the Salner article (so far) is one person who says the quote could be interpreted as Kenyon describing a form of creationism he doesn’t personally believe in (weeeeak. Kenyon also says that’s what he teaches). So the poster doesn’t accept Kenyon is YEC even with this evidence. To their credit, the poster does admit that Nick’s evidence supports Nick’s conclusion, it just doesn’t convince him.

That’s a somewhat amusing admission in a thread that begins “We have work to do if Christianity is going to reclaim the intellectual high ground.” Yep, I would say that if you admit the evidence supports a given point and yet still claim the point is wrong, you haven’t yet reclaimed the high ground.

Even after multiple examples of this behavior, it still disappoints me when people like Kenyon obfuscate their religious beliefs in an attempt to promote their religion.

The Dishonesty Institute members frequently refuse to answer or give non-answers if someone asks them how old the earth is or if Noah had a boatload of dinosaurs.

I’ve asked a few and they did that.

It is a safe assumption that they are YECs and aware of how stupid it is to claim the earth is 6,000 years old.

Hard to say how many of the DI are YECs but the whole ID cover up seems to be devolving back to YECs. ID is too vague and sophisticated for most religious fanatics.

ID = Something undefined in the not defined past did something by magic and here we are.

YEC = Goddidit 6,000 years ago.

ID = YEC Intelligent Design is merely another name for creationism

I was an undergrad at SFSU in the late ’80s, when Crellin Pauling (son of Linus) was chair of Biology. I never met Kenyon. He was a pariah in the department, and considered an embarrassment, for obvious reasons. In fact it took a couple of years before I found out he existed. I think he taught one class, which I didn’t take. But he still collected his salary, and I suppose he had an office somewhere.

We have work to do if Christianity is going to reclaim the intellectual high ground.

When did xianity ever have the intellectual high ground?

Far as I can tell, it was when the Catholic church burned Giordano Bruno at the stake and almost torched Galileo for claiming the earth orbited the sun.

No point arguing with people if you can just kill them.

Or was it the era before that? The centuries we now call the Dark Ages.

Many YECs push it back from 6,000 years ago to more like 10,000. This “solves” a few problems like bristlecone pine tree rings and some archeology and the like. (And remember, the bristlecone pines had to have been growing not since creation, but since the Flood, which was 1000 years + after the creation.)

Bishop Usher’s number was always a guesstimate anyway. The generations in the Bible aren’t all continuous up to Greek/Roman times, and different versions of the Old Testament yield different dates, so he had to rely on other chunks of ancient history from other cultures to fill in the gaps. I guess there was a lot of this back in the 1700s, the problem was called “chronology”, and the difficulty was that people were discovering ancient records of various cultures and bringing these to Europe, and scholars there were having great trouble lining it all up with the Biblical record. IIRC this preceded even most of the geological debates.

A little bit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating[…]k_of_Genesis

Well Dean Kenyon proves the dictum, “Once a liar, always a liar”. In that respect he is no different from his fellow YEC/ID convert Paul Nelson, and both have done such “admirable” work in their capacity as Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers. IMHO so does Cornelius Hunter, and I agree with Ichthyic that one shouldn’t give Hunter the proverbial equivalent of a f “free pass”, especially with his past published record of intellectual rubbish which clearly is a putrid case of delusional mental abuse which he’s trying to foist upon a scientifically illiterate, quite gullible, public.

My question is, why is this nutcase allowed to teach a class in biology in a publicly funded school like San Francisco State? I find this to be incredible.

Nick (Matzke) said:

And remember, the bristlecone pines had to have been growing not since creation, but since the Flood, which was 1000 years + after the creation.)

1656 AA (After Adam), if memory serves. I once tried to recreate Bishop Usher’s date, and was surprised to find just how exact the old testment was early on. It was even careful enough to have the death ages of the characters and their birth dates add up to the flood date (poor Methusela might have made 1,000 years otherwise). Alas, at about the point of the twelve tribes the dates got much less exact, and multiple characters with the same names clouded the picture beyond this undergrads ability to resolve. Still, a worthwhile exercise at the time.

Probably for the same reason that the ever loony Mikey Behe is still allowed to teach at Lehigh University; tenure. Sad, but probably true, alas:

SLC said:

My question is, why is this nutcase allowed to teach a class in biology in a publicly funded school like San Francisco State? I find this to be incredible.

SLC -

Dean Kenyon has achieved the creationist’s dream. He kept his mouth shut about creationism until he got himself into an academic job from which it is hard to eliminate him. He gets lots of dough from book sales, and probably from his role as a DI fellow, as well. The benefits of not being straightforward about your intentions until after that contract is signed.

It’s harder to get rid of college professors, as they don’t have a definitive required curriculum to teach and have greater freedom to voice odd opinions, than high school teachers. It has to be that way, whether the university is private or public. However, as the Freshwater case shows, it can be hard to get rid of high school teachers as well.

Mercifully, there are only a few Dean Kenyons and Michael Behes out there. Baylor was very, very lucky to get rid of Dembski when they did.

John Kwok said:

Probably for the same reason that the ever loony Mikey Behe is still allowed to teach at Lehigh University; tenure. Sad, but probably true, alas:

SLC said:

My question is, why is this nutcase allowed to teach a class in biology in a publicly funded school like San Francisco State? I find this to be incredible.

I can’t swear to this but it is my understanding that Prof. Behes’ lectures are carefully monitored by the biology department at Lehigh to make sure that he follows the curriculum.

Just to pile on, I rediscovered my PDF of Kenyon’s forward to “What Is Creation Science?”

One interesting tidbit here that I hadn’t noticed before is that he says that first he read the geology stuff (written by Henry Morris) in The Genesis Flood, then later he read A.E. Wilder-Smith’s stuff. The role of The Genesis Flood, and the geological angle, is often left out in other histories of Kenyon…

Kenyon, Dean (1982). Forward to What is Creation Science? by Henry Morris. San Diego, Creation-Life Publishers. pp. i-iii.

[i]

Foreword

The creation-evolution controversy is entering a critical, perhaps even a climactic stage. Not only does this vital subject have great public visibility due to extensive media coverage of the various trials, hearings, and debates on the subject, but more and more professional scientists holding evolutionary views are beginning to take the creationists’ scientific challenge seriously for the first time. The eventual result may well be a major change in the way the subject of origins is taught in our schools and universities. However, there continues to be widespread misunderstanding in the scientific community concerning just what “creation science” is. Many have considered it to be simply religion in disguise and have chosen to shun it altogether, even to the point of refusing to examine any scientific creationist writings. This situation is regrettable and exhibits a degree of closemindedness quite alien to the spirit of true scientific inquiry.

[ii]

My own initiation into creationist scientific writing came in 1976 with the geological sections of Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, and somewhat later, A. E. Wilder-Smith ‘s The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution. It soon became apparent to me that the creationist challenge to evolutionism was indeed a formidable one, and I no longer believe that the arguments in Biochemical Predestination (Kenyon and Steinman, McGraw-Hill, 1969) and in similar books by other authors, add up to an adequate defense of the view that life arose spontaneously on this planet from nonliving matter. Over the last number of years I have extensively reviewed the scientific case for creation and now believe that all students of the sciences (at any level) should be taught the major arguments of both the creation and evolutionary views.

For professional scientists, teachers and students, and for laymen (including those in the news media) seeking to gain an understanding of the scientific creationist view of origins, I know of no better book that What is Creation Science?. The authors have lucidly set forth the major arguments in favor of the creation model and the major arguments for and against the evolutionary model. As an empiricist I am especially impressed with the authors’ superb ability to avoid undisciplined speculation and to keep their reasoning in close conformity with the actual data of nature.

Although the book is not written at the level or in the style of a formal scientific treatise aimed only at the professional scientist, it nevertheless conveys the essence of the creationist model vividly, cogently, and with compelling intellectual force. In fact, for those of my colleagues with sufficiently open minds, who are willing to lay aside possible objections to writing style, and the occasional temptation to dispute minor points, this book is sure to be intellectually tantalizing. Especially helpful are the authors’ discussions of created order versus the order that arises from inherent properties of matter operated on by time and chance, multivariate analysis of fossils, the punctuated equilibria theory, the concept of the “geological column,” and the vexing problem of evolution and Second Law of Thermodynamics.

[iii]

If after reading this book carefully and reflecting on its arguments one still prefers the evolutionary view, or still contends that the creationist view is religion and the evolutionary view is pure science, he should ask himself whether something other than the facts of nature is influencing his thinking about origins.

Dean H. Kenyon

Professor of Biology

San Francisco State University

Dean H. Kenyon, Ph.D., Is Professor of Biology and Coordinator of the General Biology Program at San Francisco State University. He has taught courses on evolution and the origin of life for many years and is co-author of Biochemical Predestination, a standard work on the origin of life. His published research, some of which was carried out at NASA-Ames Research Center, has been primarily on the chemical origins of life.

Science Avenger said:

1656 AA (After Adam), if memory serves. I once tried to recreate Bishop Usher’s date, and was surprised to find just how exact the old testment was early on. It was even careful enough to have the death ages of the characters and their birth dates add up to the flood date (poor Methusela might have made 1,000 years otherwise). Alas, at about the point of the twelve tribes the dates got much less exact, and multiple characters with the same names clouded the picture beyond this undergrads ability to resolve. Still, a worthwhile exercise at the time.

I tried this, too. You can get pretty close. The genealogy is exact to Kohath (born 2259 AA). Then birth dates are missing for Amram and Moses, but Moses’ death date can be correlated to the modern calendar. The only thing we don’t know is how much time elapsed between the birth of Kohath and the birth of his grandson, Moses; although we know it can’t be more than 267 years (the combined lifespans of Kohath and Amram)

From the other blog:

It’s gonna be tough to overcome Christian anti-intellectualism as long as you think that things like Noah’s Flood and humans descending from a single specially created pair are reasonable ideas.

Sorry folks, no disrespect to anyone, but the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, openly affirmed both historical claims.

(Noah: Matthew 24:38-39) (Adam & Eve: Matt. 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9)

That alone, should settle those two historical issues for His followers. Non-Negotiable. Historically accurate, not a penny less.

Permission to speak freely? If folks say they’re Christian, if they say they’ve put all their eggs in Jesus Christ’s basket, then folks should at least have the decency to AGREE with Jesus Christ and His claims (including origins claims), yes?

Stated simply, Half-Fannied Double-Dealing Darwin-Drooling Boo-Boo-Dog Mess is NOT acceptable!!

So, wanna serve Jesus? Then serve Jesus.

Wanna serve Darwin? Then serve Darwin.

But you know you cannot serve both at the same time. Too many Snags. So choose your deity there, and it better not be the WRONG one baby!!

FL

Cubist said:

SWT said:

I rather doubt the cubist wrote the things attributed to him immediately above …

Tom said:

SWT said:

I rather doubt the cubist wrote the things attributed to him immediately above …

SWT, of all people on this website I expected better of you. I am truly surprised. Are you accusing me of creating words and saying the cubist said them?

SWT was commenting on your reply to my post. If you review your reply, you will note that it start off with “Cubist said”, but before the blockquoted section which also begins “Cubist said”. So yes, you did attribute words to me which I didn’t write.

Calling me a liar?

Personally, I think SWT was merely calling your attention to an error on your part. Getting the quotes messed up is no great crime; it happens, and nobody hereabouts really minds too much about innocent errors.

Actually, I only posted because I found the misattribution mildly amusing … I wasn’t expecting any reply, or at most “Ha! My bad!” Doubly ironic, I think, since there was a typo in my post! (I meant to write “that cubist wrote” rather than “the cubist wrote”.)

Smitty said:

What you can no longer do is assert that your position is based on the evidence. You’ve admitted that your faith, and therefore the salvation of your immortal soul, is dependent on a literal reading of Genesis. How can your “reasoning” be anything but discredited with so much on the line?

I tried, early on, to engage Tom in a straightforward discussion of what scientific evidence led him to accept whatever specific age he believed for the earth and the universe. He seemed supremely uninterested in doing so, and I think you have correctly identified that his conclusion is faith-based rather than evidence-based.

I continue to puzzle over the frenetic outrage over alternative views for the origin of life (ie, information-laden biomolecules). What are naturalists/secularists worried over? Can we not have an open and mutually respective discussion over this important topic? No one has offered a reasonably plausible naturalistic mechanism for the origin of specified information that hard wires all living cells.

Anthony Joseph said:

No one has offered a reasonably plausible naturalistic mechanism for the origin of specified information that hard wires all living cells.

Now you have caught on. This is exactly why ID/creationist “science” goes nowhere.

The science community is not obligated to come up with “explanations” for the pseudo-scientific inventions and imaginings of ID/creationists. That’s what ID/creationists are supposed to do. It’s their concept; they do the work.

Anthony Joseph said:

I continue to puzzle over the frenetic outrage over alternative views for the origin of life (ie, information-laden biomolecules)… Can we not have an open and mutually respective discussion over this important topic?

Not as long as those pushing said views keep lying about what scientists have to say about them, and misrepresenting scientists as being outraged over them.

It’s the lying scientists are outraged about, not the alternative views. Got it?

Anthony Joseph said:

I continue to puzzle over the frenetic outrage over alternative views for the origin of life (ie, information-laden biomolecules). What are naturalists/secularists worried over? Can we not have an open and mutually respective discussion over this important topic? No one has offered a reasonably plausible naturalistic mechanism for the origin of specified information that hard wires all living cells.

I’d love to have an open and mutually respectful discussion of these matters, Tony. Unfortunately, you do yourself a disservice by dragging that word “secularist” in by the heels, because in my experience, only Creationists do that. So right off the bat, you’re tingling my ‘Creationist sense’. But okay, maybe you genuinely are the disinterested truthseeker you’d like me to believe you are; maybe whatever doubts you may have about evolution genuinely are rooted in real concerns about scientific issues that you genuinely do comprehend, as opposed to the dogmatic religious beliefs which underpin Creationist rejection of evolution. I’m inclined to doubt that, for reasons analogous to why I’m inclined to doubt that the Sun rises in the North – but hey, if you’re not actually a Creationist, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all demonstrating that my doubts are totally unfounded, right?
So here are some questions for you, Tony:

First question: Why did you drag the word “secularist” in by the heels, Tony? When a Creationist does that, it’s because they’re trying to sneak in an “evolution = atheism” argument without explicitly stating it. Why did you do it?

Second question: You say that living cells have “information” “hard wire(d)” into them. How, exactly, do you measure the stuff? Please describe your information-measuring protocol, in sufficient detail that I could use your information-measuring protocol myself to determine how much “information” in contained within any arbitrary cell.
Third question: According to you, living cells don’t just contain “information” – they contain “specified information”. What’s the difference, and how can you tell ‘specified information apart from plain old garden-variety ‘information’? Please describe the criteria which distinguish one from the other, in sufficient detail that I could use that criteria myself to tell which arbitrary chunk(s) of information are, or are not, ‘specified’.

Anthony has admitted in another thread that he is a creationist. I think that precludes him from having any kind of honest discussion of this point, but I would be gratified to be proven wrong.

Cubist said:

Anthony Joseph said:

I continue to puzzle over the frenetic outrage over alternative views for the origin of life (ie, information-laden biomolecules). What are naturalists/secularists worried over? Can we not have an open and mutually respective discussion over this important topic? No one has offered a reasonably plausible naturalistic mechanism for the origin of specified information that hard wires all living cells.

I’d love to have an open and mutually respectful discussion of these matters, Tony. Unfortunately, you do yourself a disservice by dragging that word “secularist” in by the heels, because in my experience, only Creationists do that. So right off the bat, you’re tingling my ‘Creationist sense’. But okay, maybe you genuinely are the disinterested truthseeker you’d like me to believe you are; maybe whatever doubts you may have about evolution genuinely are rooted in real concerns about scientific issues that you genuinely do comprehend, as opposed to the dogmatic religious beliefs which underpin Creationist rejection of evolution. I’m inclined to doubt that, for reasons analogous to why I’m inclined to doubt that the Sun rises in the North – but hey, if you’re not actually a Creationist, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all demonstrating that my doubts are totally unfounded, right?
So here are some questions for you, Tony:

First question: Why did you drag the word “secularist” in by the heels, Tony? When a Creationist does that, it’s because they’re trying to sneak in an “evolution = atheism” argument without explicitly stating it. Why did you do it?

Second question: You say that living cells have “information” “hard wire(d)” into them. How, exactly, do you measure the stuff? Please describe your information-measuring protocol, in sufficient detail that I could use your information-measuring protocol myself to determine how much “information” in contained within any arbitrary cell.
Third question: According to you, living cells don’t just contain “information” – they contain “specified information”. What’s the difference, and how can you tell ‘specified information apart from plain old garden-variety ‘information’? Please describe the criteria which distinguish one from the other, in sufficient detail that I could use that criteria myself to tell which arbitrary chunk(s) of information are, or are not, ‘specified’.

Hi. I do believe in Jesus, completely. I believe in Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, etc.

I have an excellent education from the top college in the US. I am a thinking person, not one to follow a crowd.

I think that the facts speak for themselves. For example, the polonium rainbows and the Van Allen radiation belt are a good start. The world expert on polonium rainbows said they have to occur in granite that has cooled in the time it takes to melt an ice cream cone. That means all the granite on Earth containing the polonium rainbows had to cool in a few minutes. Impossible. What do you do with the world expert? www.halos.com. The radiation levels of the Van Allen belt have been decreasing. According to the rate of decrease, by reversing the timeline, if you go back over 10,000 years the radiation was too high for life on Earth. There’s two. Just saying maybe the facts are wrong, but maybe not. I like to base my science on facts, and it doesn’t hurt to base my religion on scientific facts, either.

What do you do with the world expert?

Compare the claims of that one expert to the consensus of the hundreds of thousands of experts that he’s accusing of ignoring something basic.

flashdrive said:

I have an excellent education from the top college in the US. I am a thinking person, not one to follow a crowd.

“And all the science I know I got from AiG!”

Y’know, I’d heard that “polonium haloes” stuff before … it took me about a minute to track down the debunk on google. The van allen belt stuff was new to me. I couldn’t find much on it, partly because the google hits were overpopulated by “Moon landing deniers” claiming the van allen belts made a Moon flight fatal. (Van Allen himself told them they were full of baloney, they called him a NASA stooge despite the fact that NASA generally found him a pain.)

flashdrive said:

The world expert on polonium rainbows said …

Did you know that all ID/creationists pass themselves off as “world experts?” It is one of the hallmarks of pseudo-science.

William Dembski is the “Isaac Newton of information theory.” Did you know that?

ID/creationists like to place themselves in league with the greatest scientists of all time. That impresses the rubes so much that the rubes will believe anything they are told by their “world experts.”

Here is another expert on perpetual motion energy machines. God gave him the secret; that’s why he is now the world’s expert.

Mike Elzinga said:

William Dembski is the “Isaac Newton of information theory.” Did you know that?

In all fairness, Dembski did not say that about himself. I think I can cut him a little slack on that …

… which he has unfortunately used up by saying things like: “I don’t have to match your pathetic level of detail.” WD, you don’t even care if anyone takes you seriously, do you?

MrG said:

Mike Elzinga said:

William Dembski is the “Isaac Newton of information theory.” Did you know that?

In all fairness, Dembski did not say that about himself. I think I can cut him a little slack on that …

… which he has unfortunately used up by saying things like: “I don’t have to match your pathetic level of detail.” WD, you don’t even care if anyone takes you seriously, do you?

Yup; I should have been a little clearer about that.

What I was getting at was that the ID/creationists, as a club of mutually supporting braggarts, pass each other off as “world experts.” It’s “more humble” that way.

The net effect is the same; and the rubes don’t care.

Mike Elzinga said:

Yup; I should have been a little clearer about that.

I didn’t mean to snipe. I was just saying that, given the extended list of WD’s frontal assaults on sensibility, there’s no particular motive to make the list longer.

MrG said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Yup; I should have been a little clearer about that.

I didn’t mean to snipe. I was just saying that, given the extended list of WD’s frontal assaults on sensibility, there’s no particular motive to make the list longer.

Yeah; I don’t know how the guy lives with himself. There are definitely some disabled neurons in there somewhere.

flashdrive said:

I have an excellent education from the top college in the US.

Sorry, gotta ask: which college is the top college in the US?

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