Dallas “researchers” out to scientifically prove biblical version of creation

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The scare quotes are my gloss, but that is the headline of a credulous Dallas Morning News article on the “research” being conducted at the Institute for Creation “Research.” The article quotes Pat Robertson to the effect that it is silly – or, rather, looks silly – to deny the clear geologic record, but mostly the author appears to take the “research” seriously. Indeed, he makes the point that Charity Navigator gives ICR a 3-star rating, which, to my mind, means only that they waste contributions efficiently.

Buried at the tail end of the article, no doubt for “balance” (using a lot of scare quotes today; sorry), the author interviews Ron Wetherington, an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University. Professor Wetherington observes, correctly, that ICR puts the cart before the horse:

The problem is, they’re not scientists. They cherry-pick data in order to use it to justify the Genesis account of creation.

Sure enough, the ICR scientists claim that spiral galaxies, ocean salinity, and the (surprising) existence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones are clear evidence against what they call evolutionary naturalism. Real scientists, notes Prof. Wetherington, constantly test their hypotheses, rather than simply “line up facts to support a hypothesis.”

Professor Wetherington is careful not to disparage anyone else’s religion, which I suppose is a laudable position. But frankly when a scientist’s religion teaches something that is contrary to known fact and by his own admission prevents that scientist from getting a real job in a real research laboratory, then maybe it is time to admit that it is the religious view, not the science, that needs drastic modification.

Acknowledgment. Thanks are due again to Alert Reader for providing the link.

151 Comments

As the recent Rough Guide series on Heliocentricity points out: http://thonyc.wordpress.com/

1) The Bible was wrong about the solar system when read literally. and/or 2) Theologians did not know how to interpret the Bible when it discussed how the universe worked.

The conclusions are don’t trust the Bible when it comes to explaining nature, don’t trust theologians when explaining the Bible, and if theologians (who are supposed to be experts) don’t know what they are talking about, then you can hardly expect a layperson to know anything either.

“All scientists have a philosophy that guides their interpretation of the evidence,” said Lisle.

But not all have a philosophy that dictates their interpretation of the evidence. ICR does.

“Most secular scientists are not even aware what their philosophy is — they tend to inherit it like the measles, from whatever their professors taught them.

Which indicates that it’s not exactly a dogma that must be served, rather, a way of looking at the world that simply has worked rather well for science. Or, to put it even more pointedly, scientists who study evolution merely share the views of other scientists doing good work.

But we find that when we interpret the data through biblical lenses, it fits very well and makes sense.”

You only have to ignore masses of evidence that goes against in order it to do so.

Glen Davidosn

From that Dallas Morning News article:

Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and the research director at ICR, said he has no chance of winning a Nobel Prize, even if he makes a groundbreaking discovery. Secular scientists, he said, would never bestow the field’s highest honor on a creationist.

This is pretty clear evidence of science envy on the part of YECs. They want desperately to be recognized as top gurus of the science community; and they think it is unfair that they are not.

Lisle shows that they stew about this constantly; they lust for fame and recognition but can’t get it. It’s not about the science for them; it’s about being a feared and revered authority figure.

I find it incredibly obnoxious when people who don’t care about the evidence, mention the evidence only to attempt to rationalize it away, and don’t even bother to attempt to rationalize it away in a complete or fair manner, claim to be “interpreting” the evidence.

If your opinion is fixed no matter what evidence is found, then you don’t care about the evidence.

If you know in advance that no evidence can ever change your opinion, if you “know” in advance that any evidence that casts doubt on your position “must be wrong” no matter what, then you don’t care about, or need, any evidence.

Mike Elzinga said:

From that Dallas Morning News article:

Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and the research director at ICR, said he has no chance of winning a Nobel Prize, even if he makes a groundbreaking discovery. Secular scientists, he said, would never bestow the field’s highest honor on a creationist.

This is pretty clear evidence of science envy on the part of YECs. They want desperately to be recognized as top gurus of the science community; and they think it is unfair that they are not.

Lisle shows that they stew about this constantly; they lust for fame and recognition but can’t get it. It’s not about the science for them; it’s about being a feared and revered authority figure.

Yes, this tells you almost everything you need to know about Lisle’s personality. The few quotes I’ve heard from him have all had a tone of whining narcissism. The mean world just won’t bow to his utter superiority. No fair.

It’s fairly shocking that someone who went through an actual PhD program would still be narcissistic and naive enough to perceive the “Nobel prize” as some kind of routine designation for groundbreaking discoveries. I suppose it depends on how you define “groundbreaking”, but no matter how you do, there are a lot more worthy discoveries than Nobel prize slots. And each of those discoveries has at least dozens of people who made major contributions toward it.

Jason Lisle is set for life in a wingnut welfare position that pays more, is more secure, and requires far less work than, an actual academic or industry job doing physics. But all he can do is whine.

(To be fair, though, some wingnut welfare recipients are quite grateful for their lot, and a fair number even seem to get the joke. Lisle is a mainstream right wing creationist but also has some “lone narcissistic crackpot” tendencies.)

Dallas “researchers” out to scientifically prove biblical version of creation

Which one, chapter 1, or chapter 2?

“All scientists have a philosophy that guides their interpretation of the evidence,” said Lisle.

This is true.

The philosophy is “This is my purported fact. I have tested it and I believe it to be objectively true. I understand that others will test it also, and I fully understand they will call ‘horseshit’ on me if they find my evidence lacking”.

This has been shown to be a somewhat more robust approach than ““This is my purported fact. I expect you to believe it in the absence of any evidence because my God tells me it is correct”.

Well first of all, research is done to test hypotheses, not to try to prove that your pet ideas are correct. Second, does that article mention any actual, you know, research? What laboratory space do they have? What equipment do they use? What projects are they doing? WHat kinds of data are they gathering? How are they doing data analysis? WHere are they publishing their findings? Wait, let me guess. They only publish in their own in-house publication. Well why didn’t you say so in the first place? Case closed.

harold said:

Jason Lisle is set for life in a wingnut welfare position that pays more, is more secure, and requires far less work than, an actual academic or industry job doing physics. But all he can do is whine.

ID/creationists are no different in temperament from any other crackpot. They all want to be celebrities, and they all seek to achieve this status on a public stage in debates with real, high-profile working scientists.

Ken Ham and his staff were wetting their pants to get a debate with Bill Nye; and they have been milking that debate for all they can get out of it ever since.

Crackpots who show up at colloquia or seminars on university campuses, or at professional meetings, will seek to draw attention to themselves by arguing with the speakers. They will doggedly pursue anyone who gives them any polite attention. Crackpots will join discussion groups on the Internet; then argue with experts as though they are themselves experts. They believe themselves to be jilted geniuses who are being persecuted for their genius.

Crackpots have their own “correct” versions of “science;” real scientists are wrong in their eyes. Crackpots all have some “profound” new principle or discovery they are pushing; and they give their principles names. ID/creationists are no different in this respect.

I think most, if not all, the ID/creationists guru wannabes have this narcissistic personality trait and lust for celebrity status. They want to be obsequiously fawned over. We see it in all the members of the staff at the DI, at AiG, and the ICR. We see it with the pontificating regulars over UD.

Scientists who sign on with ICR know there is no turning back. They’ll probably never be hired again to work in academia, or at a government-sponsored lab.

Shocking.

Also, a scandalously low number of those who loudly espouse a flat earth will ever get through the interview to become a professional navigator.

Sure enough, the ICR scientists claim that spiral galaxies, ocean salinity, and the (surprising) existence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones are clear evidence against what they call evolutionary naturalism.

Sure enough, it’s “Something, somewhere, something is wrong with evolutionary naturalism.” Never are we going to hear about what does happen, how or why.

But as long as the creationists can distract attention from the lack of any alternative, why should they do any work?

Jason Lisle is set for life in a wingnut welfare position that pays more, is more secure, and requires far less work than, an actual academic or industry job doing physics. But all he can do is whine.

Isn’t that one of the listed duties of that job?

Mike Elzinga said:

harold said:

Jason Lisle is set for life in a wingnut welfare position that pays more, is more secure, and requires far less work than, an actual academic or industry job doing physics. But all he can do is whine.

ID/creationists are no different in temperament from any other crackpot. They all want to be celebrities, and they all seek to achieve this status on a public stage in debates with real, high-profile working scientists.

Ken Ham and his staff were wetting their pants to get a debate with Bill Nye; and they have been milking that debate for all they can get out of it ever since.

Crackpots who show up at colloquia or seminars on university campuses, or at professional meetings, will seek to draw attention to themselves by arguing with the speakers. They will doggedly pursue anyone who gives them any polite attention. Crackpots will join discussion groups on the Internet; then argue with experts as though they are themselves experts. They believe themselves to be jilted geniuses who are being persecuted for their genius.

Crackpots have their own “correct” versions of “science;” real scientists are wrong in their eyes. Crackpots all have some “profound” new principle or discovery they are pushing; and they give their principles names. ID/creationists are no different in this respect.

I think most, if not all, the ID/creationists guru wannabes have this narcissistic personality trait and lust for celebrity status. They want to be obsequiously fawned over. We see it in all the members of the staff at the DI, at AiG, and the ICR. We see it with the pontificating regulars over UD.

Needless to say I agree.

However, I do distinguish between two groups of people with elements of this personality type.

Professional creationists are certainly narcissistic crackpots in their way, but they have chosen to defend a crackpot stance that is the dogma/official propaganda of a large social/religious movement with many wealthy members. Therefore they are often well paid for their efforts, however repetitive, derivative, dissembling, and verbose those efforts may be.

A less crafty or less lucky group of people is the group of crackpots who adhere to their own unique wrong idea, which is usually not endorsed by a group of wealthy authoritarians. Although they may dream of great wealth, these crackpots waste vast amounts of their own time and money, and frequently impoverish themselves. This is in contrast to say, Jason Lisle or Casey Luskin, who have figured out how to make good money.

Another difference is that Lisle and Luskin would seldom bother to attend a seminar or dispute with scientists directly (or if they do attend something might do so rather surreptitiously, certainly not putting out their own views in an actual critical venue). Rather, they will mis-represent science in a creationist venue, typically without the knowledge of the scientists they mis-represent.

I’m not saying which of these types is worse, because the self-funded variety may tend to become stalkers and so on.

And of course, there is undeniable overlap between these categories. Lisle is pretty much in the paid, crafty creationist camp, though.

If Lisle actually had positive evidence for creationism, he would, of course, have taken a real physics job after his PhD, and doggedly ground out high quality research supporting that.

It’s true that he might have to write a grant on some non-controversial topic at the beginning of his career, but if the positive evidence to support creationism was there, he’d be pursuing it in a venue where he could get access to resources.

Working at some creationist web site is effectively a concession that he doesn’t want to deal with the real evidence.

The oddest thing, here, is that Dallas is a very liberal city, one of the last Dixiecrat strongholds.

harold said:

And of course, there is undeniable overlap between these categories. Lisle is pretty much in the paid, crafty creationist camp, though.

The Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University did the right thing in posting a disclaimer about Behe on their website. I hope that disclaimer has had a cooling effect on the pursuit of secular academic positions by ID/creationists.

It will be interesting to see if Ball State comes to regret its hiring of a couple of ID/creationists. Gonzalez didn”t generate any research at Iowa State; and it is unlikely he will be any more successful at Ball State. Hedin may have the same difficulty in the long haul. However, Ball State is not a major research university by any measure; so bringing in research money may not be as important in getting tenure there.

Lisle is so far out of it that he won’t ever land a position at a secular university. I suspect that you are correct that he is set for life at the ICR; unless, of course, he has a sectarian falling out with the Morris brothers. “Director of Research” at the Institute for Creation Research probably sounds quite impressive in his world.

KlausH said:

The oddest thing, here, is that Dallas is a very liberal city, one of the last Dixiecrat strongholds.

Dallas itself is very liberal, but it is surrounded by some of the most solidly conservative counties in the state. I live just to the north where all the elections are decided during the Republican primaries.

If you want to read some of the stupidest comments ever, check out the comment section on that article. Every kook, crank, crackpot and religious nutter in Texas is on full display.

And you wonder why we have a hard time establishing decent science education standards in this state. These people are why. Totally clueless, uneducated, religious sociopaths who vote! Well, we get what we vote for and so long as reasonable independents and educated people sit at home during school board elections, this is what we’re going to get. Nuts and whack-o’s.

Mike Elzinga said:

harold said:

And of course, there is undeniable overlap between these categories. Lisle is pretty much in the paid, crafty creationist camp, though.

The Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University did the right thing in posting a disclaimer about Behe on their website. I hope that disclaimer has had a cooling effect on the pursuit of secular academic positions by ID/creationists.

It will be interesting to see if Ball State comes to regret its hiring of a couple of ID/creationists. Gonzalez didn”t generate any research at Iowa State; and it is unlikely he will be any more successful at Ball State. Hedin may have the same difficulty in the long haul. However, Ball State is not a major research university by any measure; so bringing in research money may not be as important in getting tenure there.

Lisle is so far out of it that he won’t ever land a position at a secular university. I suspect that you are correct that he is set for life at the ICR; unless, of course, he has a sectarian falling out with the Morris brothers. “Director of Research” at the Institute for Creation Research probably sounds quite impressive in his world.

The Ball State situation is pretty upsetting to me, though.

Lehigh is, first of all, a private institution. Second of all, Lehigh didn’t deliberately hire an ID/creationist. Behe is one of the most patient of all the ID types. The standard move, for the few who do get a secular PhD, is the Lisle/Wells move - denounce your own education the instant the PhD has been awarded and run away to a cushy wingnut welfare job in Creationist Land. Behe pretended to be a scientist for quite a bit longer than that.

The ones who try to ensconce themselves at mainstream universities are actually the real believers, suffering somewhat for the cause. Sure, Behe has a do-nothing job at Lehigh, but he’d probably make even more money to do nothing at a right wing think tank. Dembski made huge efforts to associate himself with mainstream academia. Kenyon is the original one. They’re the ones who are trying to continuously associate the name of some mainstream university with ID/creationism. Of course Lisle is “Harvard” educated, if I recall correctly, but very few people are fooled by “Institute for Creation Research”. Yes, it does sound wonderful in his world, but it doesn’t fool anyone who isn’t already in his world.

Ball State is not MIT, but it has been a solid institution in the past, and it’s funded by the taxpayers to provide education to American students. Taxpayers of all religions. It’s beyond disgraceful that a bigot has brazenly ensconced himself and is hiring science denying “scientists” to push religion at taxpayer expense.

I wonder why Lisle left AIG for ICR. It may well have been a falling out. Ken Ham is known for not having a pleasant personality, and Lisle doesn’t seem to be a smiley sort either. On the other hand, he may simply have been “poached” (even if Ham now claims otherwise). As you noted, creationists crave mainstream credentials. His Harvard PhD is worth a lot more, economically, in right fantasy land, than it is in mainstream academia. In academia he’d be a post-doc or assistant professor. Industry might pay him what he can get at ICR, but they’d work him a LOT harder for it.

Uno problemo!

One problem!

Un problema!

The logic of both most of the Bible and Academia Evolution, is wrong, absurd, too simplistic, and naive…!

The lack of intelligence in both areas of these Society groups, is obvious!

Please refer to the Book of Pure Logic!

To live in willful ignorance and make a witch hunt about it! Regresses us all back in history to barbaric times! And the same things or similar will happen over again!

Is this the book jotqom refers to: Book of Pure Logic: Pure Logic Studies and Analysis of The Bible and of Life Paperback – by George F. Thomson. Self-published and gave himself 4 stars on Amazon? The other two 1 star reviews.

And a self-review even:

One or Two small details or mistakes. A wonderful first edition!

To all you perfectionists!

Evolution did not perfect anything, nor make anything from scratch! But people love their Books because there are no “apparent” mistakes! WELL THE WHOLE OF THESE EVOLUTION BOOKS ARE a Big logical mistake! But people buy them!

Religion Books are sold buy the millions, and their logic is also mostly A BIG MISTAKE!

MY BOOK has small mistakes, AND IS THE BEST LOGIC EVER, and it teaches you to think! You can read it, and not be told lies! BUT MY LOGIC IS NEAR PERFECT!

I think my life is too short to go any further.

… Dallas is a very liberal city, one of the last Dixiecrat strongholds.

I do not know anything much about Dallas politics, but just for the record: The Dixiecrats were anything but liberal. They were segregationists and belonged to the Democratic Party ultimately because Lincoln had been a Republican. After Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill and Nixon pursued his Southern strategy, they bolted to the Republican Party.

Re “out to scientifically prove”

Heck, all they’d have to do is identify some combination of consistently observed patterns that they are purporting to explain. That, after all, is where any actual scientific theory starts - with patterns of observations to be explained. (IIRC, Darwin started with some stuff about geographical distribution of species.)

Then, identify and demonstrate some mechanisms that would be likely to produce those patterns, and not likely to produce a different set of patterns. (If the pattern itself can be described in a way that makes testing of it feasible, that can be used without knowledge of underlying mechanism; physics will most likely always have parts that are stuck with that approach, at least until such time as the particles previously thought to be fundamental are found to have components. )

Then identify places or circumstances where those patterns would be likely if their ideas are accurate, but unlikely otherwise.

Then go look in those places.

Then either (1) Eureka!, or (2), go back to the drawing board.

Of course, extensive error checking and correction has to be employed in all the above steps, and the steps can (and should) be repeated as often as necessary to get accurate results.

Henry

Henry J said:

Of course, extensive error checking and correction has to be employed in all the above steps, and the steps can (and should) be repeated as often as necessary to get accurate results.

Henry

Extensive error checking and correction? Horrors! They prefer to use fast and furious word-gaming instead; if it doesn’t check out, word-game it into submission.

Of most interest to me is this excerpt:

Morris says, is that about 10 percent of Christians hold to the strict interpretation of Genesis advanced by ICR — one that argues humans lived alongside dinosaurs, that Noah loaded the adolescent Jurassic-era creatures on the ark in pairs with every other animal species on the planet, and that natural wonders like the Grand Canyon were formed in months instead of millions of years. Nine out of 10 Christians, Morris says, don’t buy it…

It may be a little more than 10% of Christians (~8% of Americans), but not much (I have seen 10-20% depending on poll question wording). Certainly not the 40-45% constantly touted by that idiotic Gallup poll question. Despite the media’s obsession with “heliocentric YEC” most evolution-deniers are some form of OEC. Comparing other polls, there are apparently even more geocentrists than strict young-earthers! Though the former is probably more due to horrendous science literacy than addiction to fairy tales.

While those results needs to be noted as often as possible, if only to counter common misconceptions, it is not good news by any means. It only shows that there’s massive confusion among both committed and tentative evolution-deniers, and that any effort to clear up the confusion is constantly thwarted. And not just by peddlers of anti-evolution pseudoscience. When I talk to those in the 40-45% they usually admit millions of years of life, and often that Adam and Eve may have had parents.

Anyway, ICR’s “research” may be blatant cherry-picking, but at least they take a clear position, and try to “support” it. That’s a lot more than I can say about the DI, whose official position on “what happened when” is “don’t ask, don’t tell” (though when someone does ask, which is almost never, the ones who don’t completely play dumb reluctantly admit at least ~4 billion years of common descent). And the only way the DI “supports” their “theory” is by whining that they are “expelled” by scientists who want to replace God with Hitler. Fulfilling Godwin’s law like that, which they did over 6 years ago, either means that they are either not at all serious about their claims of “weakness” of evolution, or they’re just insane.

But hey, the DI can prove me wrong. They can challenge ICR’s findings, or maybe even agree with their “pathetic level of detail” on earth’s “6000-year” history. C’mon Casey, you have an opinion on everything, so why censor yourself here!

From the Book of Illogic:

“Evolution did not perfect anything, nor make anything from scratch!”

Yes, that’s correct. But it is creationism that makes those claims, not evolutionary theory.

The book seems to be one big logical error, but this guy still wants people to buy it. Go figure.

DS said:

From the Book of Illogic:

“Evolution did not perfect anything, nor make anything from scratch!”

Yes, that’s correct. But it is creationism that makes those claims, not evolutionary theory.

The book seems to be one big logical error, but this guy still wants people to buy it. Go figure.

I feel 100% certain that the comments promoting the book here are from the book’s author.

harold said:

DS said:

From the Book of Illogic:

“Evolution did not perfect anything, nor make anything from scratch!”

Yes, that’s correct. But it is creationism that makes those claims, not evolutionary theory.

The book seems to be one big logical error, but this guy still wants people to buy it. Go figure.

I feel 100% certain that the comments promoting the book here are from the book’s author.

Well if he obviously doesn’t understand the first thing about evolutionary theory, why is he trying to criticize it? And why is it that he thinks that he is the only one who can use logic correctly? Exactly why does he think that every real scientist is illogical? And if evolution and creationism are both wrong, what is his alternative? Is he another one of these magnetic light idiots?

DS Wrote:

And if evolution and creationism are both wrong, what is his alternative? Is he another one of these magnetic light idiots?

Sounds like a pseudoskeptic, which a former PT regular (whom I hope returns) described as someone who claims to have “no dog in the fight,” but obsessively attacks one “dog” (evolution) while merely ignoring the others (creationism/ID).

Ray Martinez said:

Real scientists, notes Prof. Wetherington, constantly test their hypotheses, rather than simply “line up facts to support a hypothesis.”

I for one see nothing wrong at all with “[lining] up facts to support a hypothesis.” This is what separates truth from falsehood: facts. To see Evolutionists admit to disparaging facts is extremely rare. I suspect a round of damage control is about to happen.

He confirms that he really can’t see the difference. No more need be said.

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