A Response to Mr. Knapp's "Evolutionist Challenge"
Tit For Tat
In my "Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists" (here), I listed a number of natural observations and challenged young-earth creationists (YECs) to explain how their "Flood" model accounts for these observations at least as well as does the theory of evolution. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Knapp sidestepped the issue completely and concocted a retaliatory challenge of his own, the "Evolutionist Challenge," which can be found (here). Whereas I simply asked YECs to show how their model compares with the evolution model in explaining some natural observations, Mr. Knapp would have evolutionists engage in preparation and publication of a full-fledged scientific research paper in a creationist journal. Despite the fact that Mr. Knapp has ignored the serious problems raised for YECs by my "Challenge," his counter proposal might have some merit - if, in fact, there were actually such a thing as a creationist science journal in which to publish. However, as is evident from what follows, no such journal exists. That being the case, his challenge is nothing more than a pointless diversionary tactic.
Carefully Chosen Peers
Mr. Knapp says - "...creationists have established several of their own pier [sic] reviewed science journals for discussion and debating over concepts of the creation model. Both the creation model and theory of evolution are discussed. These journals have been established for a considerable number of years expounding the creationary model and refuting evolutionary claims. This fact refutes the notion that no in-depth, scientific discussion exists regarding the creationary model."
Use of scientific terminology and claims of peer review do not automatically transform a publication into a reputable scientific journal. There are astrology journals that claim scientific support for the notion that human behaviors are influenced by planetary alignments. These journals are "peer-reviewed" by likeminded astrologers. However, the fact that they employ scientific jargon and are reviewed by "peers" does not mean that they report reliable scientific information. One could establish a journal that specializes in promoting some form of junk science such as homeopathy. (Someone probably already has!). The articles could be written in arcane scientific language, and one could assembled a team of homeopathy advocates (scientists and doctors) to "peer review" them. But that wouldn't change the fact that homeopathy is junk science. If the articles are bunk and the reviewers are not following sound scientific principles in scrutinizing the papers submitted for publication, the end product does not constitute an authentic science journal no matter how impressive it may appear to the scientifically naive. In order for a publication to qualify as a legitimate science journal, it must set standards that require all work reported to have been conducted and presented in keeping with the tenets of the scientific method. Despite their pretence of scientific authenticity, creation journals fall far short of meeting those specifications.
Sign on the Dotted Line
One of the journals Mr. Knapp specifies in his "Challenge" is the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ). Indeed, of all the creationist publications, this journal is considered by most creationists to be of the highest quality. However, any resemblance between what the CRSQ reports and real science is purely coincidental. The journal uses scientific terminology alright. And its articles are "peer-reviewed." Nonetheless, the primary concern of this and other such creationist journals is the preservation of non-negotiable religious dogma, not the advancement of scientific knowledge. One serious problem with the journal arises from the preconditioned mindset of the peers who are doing the reviewing. The members of the Creation Research Society ( the peer reviewers) must all sign a "Statement of Belief" which reads in part as follows:
1. The Bible is the written Word of God, and because it is inspired throughout, all its assertions are historically and scientifically true in the original autographs. To the student of nature this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths.
2. All basic types of living things, including man, were made by direct creative acts of God during the Creation Week described in Genesis. Whatever biological changes have occurred since Creation Week have accomplished only changes within the original created kinds.
3. The great flood described in Genesis, commonly referred to as the Noachian Flood, was an historic event worldwide in its extent and effect.
Mainstream scientific organizations do not require their members to sign proscriptive oaths - least of all statements demanding that all that is written in an ancient religious text must be off-limits to critical rebuttal. Particularly detrimental from the scientific standpoint is the Bible-based requirement that supposed supernaturally caused events such as those described in Genesis (including a worldwide Noachian Flood) must be accepted as factual and that confirmation of such events must serve as the ultimate criterion in determining eligibility for publication.
The "Statement of Belief" requires that the CRS members (i.e., the peer reviewers) must view all evidence through a lens of supernatural causation and must consider miraculous events to have played an integral part in the phenomena they investigate. Many of the articles in the CRSQ attempt to explain "scientific" observations in terms of these miraculous occurrences. Since scientific inquiry is restricted exclusively to the study of natural phenomena, this reliance on supernatural causation disqualifies the CRS, ipso facto, from practicing real science. (See here.) Furthermore, the second statement above virtually guarantees that a mainstream, pro-evolution article that calls some aspect of the "creationary" model into serious question doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of making it past the Bible-thumbing reviewers. Odds are, anything that would seriously jeopardize acceptance of the "truths" elucidated in the "Statement of Belief" would not make the cut. I didn't look at all the abstracts listed on the CRSQ homepage, but I did read a number of them. I couldn't identify a single abstract that did not dutifully promote the official party line of the CRS. With real science, any idea is acceptable so long as it can be substantiated by hard scientific evidence. In creation science, anything that raises embarrassing questions is quietly swept under the rug. (Apparently Mr. Knapp actually believes that, if an evolutionist were to submit a high-quality article that raised critical questions about the "creationary" model, the CRSQ would welcome it with open arms. Only someone whose brain has been thoroughly washed could experience such a disconnect from reality.)
If for no other reason, the CRS's "Statement of Belief" eliminates its official publication from consideration as a legitimate science journal. But there are other reasons to question its scientific integrity as well.
1. CRSQ resorts to supernatural/miraculous explanations to try to force fit the Flood model to conform to factual evidence. For example, in CRSQ 27 (12/1990), John Baumgardner explains the present configuration of the earth's mountains as resulting from God causing the earth's crustal plates to move one million times faster during Noah's Flood than they do today and the rocks to cool at least ten thousand times faster than the laws of physics allow for. The CRSQ blithely ignores the fact that miraculous explanations such as these are not acceptable in science.
2. CRSQ ignores hard evidence that contradicts the worldview they are sworn to defend. See "The "Transformation of a Young-Earth Creationist". And this comes from an insider who has published over 20 articles in the CRSQ.
3. CSRQ relies on outdated and disproved evidence. See "The Legend of the Shrinking Sun", particularly the section discussing the CRSQ reports by Hilton Hinderliter.
4. CRSQ makes use of selective editing to give the false impression that there are insurmountable problems with evolutionary processes. See "Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look".
5. CRSQ refuses to publish anything that does not conform strictly to the religious guidelines stipulated in their "Statement of Belief". See here and here. The fundamental criterion of a legitimate science publication is that the author(s) must have adhered to the rules spelled out by the scientific method in conducting and presenting his/her work. If a scientist has some novel scientific insight to share and communicates his/her findings effectively in writing, his/her paper is eligible for publication, so long as the rules for doing good science have been followed in producing it. Unfortunately, there is not sufficient space to print all the papers submitted to the available scientific journals and some must be rejected. Nonetheless, reviewers for a reputable science journal would most certainly not reject a submittal on the grounds that it might somehow result in a paradigm shift in thinking. On the contrary, it is sound scientific work that calls into question some important aspect of an existing theory (such as the theory of evolution) that generally has the highest priority in the publication queue. Unlike the situation with the immutable premises of creation "science," real science thrives on questioning and controversy. And it is through considering all the options and selecting only the best that science methodically advances the state of knowledge and improves the human condition. That brings up another question for Mr. Knapp. Could he please identify a significant technological breakthrough that has emerged from creation "science" research?
6. Some of the contributors to CRSQ champion some very dubious "theories" that have arisen out of the struggle to harmonize a literally-interpreted Genesis with the factual evidence. One such contributor is Dr. Gerardus Bouw who maintains a website (here) that shamelessly promotes the "theory" that the earth is the center of the universe and that it does not revolve around the sun. He uses the same kind of fancy "scientific" lingo to support his geocentric view as he does to support his other pro-creationism arguments. It just goes to show how strongly held religious beliefs can warp a person's (even a Ph.D.'s) thought processes and coerce them into dreaming up all manner of fanciful scenarios in an attempt to preserve their faith. Although Dr. Bouw is somewhat of an extreme example, the same basic principle is at work with every one of the contributors to the CRSQ. They are all in a state of religion-induced denial. If someone like Dr. Bouw can be so easily led by his religious convictions to mangle the data and disregard contradictory evidence, what is to say that the other contributors to CSRQ are not suffering from the same lack of objectivity? Certainly if Dr. Bouw is an example of the mindset of the scientists who are allowed to publish in the CSRQ, it is prudent to take the pronouncements of all of them with a very large grain of salt. Scientists like Dr. Bouw may be perfectly capable of publishing about mainstream science topics in mainstream science journals. It is when they enter the realm of religious apologetics (such as they do when publishing in the CSRQ) that rationality takes a back seat to contrivance and wishful thinking.
Straight From the Horse's Mouth
As I mentioned above, I scanned some of the abstracts listed on the CRSQ website to get some idea of the caliber of papers that are published in this so-called "science" journal. Excerpts from some of those abstracts are given below. My comments are enclosed in parentheses.
"Why then did Mendel's work lie unappreciated for some 35 years? No one really knows; therefore, anyone is free to speculate. My own speculation is that Darwin's ideas were immediately adopted because they gave fallen men a justification for ignoring their Creator, even for denying His existence." (Personal speculation based on religious doctrine does not belong in a science journal.)
"The recent creation view is often held up as an object of ridicule and caricature. However, those who promote a vast time scale, sometimes called deep time, must address several serious theological issues." (In other words, forget that the hard evidence makes our "theory" look ridiculous . Theological issues have precedence over scientific concerns .)
"Various events within catastrophic plate tectonics also appear to be in conflict in their relative timing and potentially in disagreement with the biblical record. Caution should be exercised in applying catastrophic plate tectonic concepts to field situations until these problems are addressed and resolved." (In other words, data must be considered unreliable until they can be reconciled with the Bible.)
"Therefore, evolution is identified here as the wantonly lethal antiscience ruling the summit of criminality. As a first step for self defense against imminent permanent human and biosphere mass extinction, the evolution movement must be expunged worldwide." (Since when do science journals use such militant, disparaging rhetoric to discuss scientific concepts?)
"Histological microtechnique for electron microscopy is also reviewed and some cyst ultrastructural data are reported. A caring God may have designed trematodes, now recognized as parasites, to serve other functions before the Fall of man (Genesis 3)." (Speculation regarding how a supernatural being might have designed an organism prior to the purported occurrence of the biblical "Fall of man" is not appropriate for discussion in a real science journal.)
"Biblical history, which recognizes a revelatory basis for knowledge, is shown to be superior to uniformitarian mythology, and naturalism is shown to be without an adequate grasp on any history whatsoever." (In other words, supernatural revelation trumps empirical observation. Sorry, but that's not the way science looks at things.)
"During the Flood period at least three blankets of basaltic or andesitic lava were extruded over the original Ararat which may have only been about 10,000 to 12,000 feet high originally." (Wild speculation about shrunken mountains that were covered with miraculously caused blankets of molten lava is not valid science.)
"Unbelieving man, willfully stubborn, prefers to believe this marvelous system could have evolved from properties inherent in the neutron. How much more reasonable to accept the clear proclamation "In the beginning God created . . ." (Science is not based on proclamations from religious texts. It is based on factual evidence.)
"Man's hopes cannot refute God's word. Faith and revelation are also required in the great new discoveries of Nature's laws. The latest supposed "proof" of evolution is contradictory, internally." (Since when are faith and revelation integral components of scientific inquiry?)
"Molecular genetics shows the DNA code to be a marvelously complex one. Surely in studying it we are coming close to understanding how God is daily at work maintaining and preserving all creatures. (There's that unscientific claim of supernatural intervention again.)
"He presents nine explicit reasons why the current astronomical idea that the earth came from the sun or from a proto-sun is not true. He closes with a section on the importance of stellar creation in God's eternal purposes." (Elaborating on God's purposes is not part or the scientific process.)
"What do biochemical affinities really mean - relationship by descent from a common ancestor, parallel evolution, or are they examples of God's quotation of His previous work?" (God talk is not a part of legitimate scientific discourse.)
"Only the genius of a remarkably intelligent Being we worship as God could have designed such an efficient yet intricate system." (Falsely assumes a complete knowledge of what natural processes can and cannot do. And what about that God talk?)
"Regarding man, the truth of the literal Genesis account of his origin is attested by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:4-6. That the Creator ceased at the end of Creation week to form new basic types of organisms is stated in Genesis 2:2 and verified in nature." (Real science journals do not quote revelatory teachings from the Bible [or from any other religious document] as a legitimate source of scientific evidence.)
"The Christian camp is more clearly divided than before in the face of the realization that only two options are left: altering present geology or totally removing the Bible from history." (In other words, since the Bible can't be wrong, present geology must be modified to fit it.)
"Belief in God is the greatest need of the peoples of the world today. There are many things in biology for which the evolutionists have no explanations. One of these, that demands the infinite intelligence of God, is how the human body defends itself against germs." (Ignores scientific understanding of development of the immune system. And there's that God talk again.)
"This model is based upon the concept of creation and the Noachian deluge." (Using supernaturally caused events to explain anything is verboten in science.)
"For each class of compounds is the number of different molecules that may be synthesized is truly immense. Such versatility of design and construction is seen as a tribute to the infinite wisdom of the Creator." (Science does not pay tribute in journals to the miraculous actions of supernatural entities.)
"The miracle of instantaneous healing from a look at a brass snake on a pole is readily understood in light of John 3:14,15." (Science does not deal with miracles of any kind, nor does it make use of religious scripture as part of its explanatory process.)
"Finally, although neither creationism nor evolutionism is strictly a "scientific concept, creationism should be favored because it is more consistent with our knowledge and at the same time rooted in the word of God." (Whether or not a concept is rooted in the word of any supernatural being is irrelevant to its validity as far as science is concerned.)
"September 1971 The methodology of thermodynamics is not advanced enough as yet to be applied quantitatively to life. However, it is felt that the complexity of living systems is a result initially of creative acts by God and not as a result of evolutionary processes." (Scientists do not base theories on what is "felt" in a religious context. They base them on cold, hard evidence.)
"The only escape from some possible heat-death is seen in a transformation of the cosmos as a consequence and fulfillment of the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Attributing anything to miraculous events such as resurrections is not permitted in science.)
"It is asserted that progressive creationism is farther out of keeping with the nature of God than is theistic evolutionism." (That may be true, but why is this religious issue discussed in a self-proclaimed science journal?)
"A young wasp lies dormant in a caprifig all winter, but hatches at the exact time to lay her eggs in the summer crop of caprifigs which is necessary to pollinate the fruit. This all requires exact timing which means God controls it." (Supernatural guidance isn't a scientific concept.)
"...bacteria, which are also capable of forming protective structures, termed cysts, are discussed in relation to their part of the perfect plan of God as revealed in life." (God may have a perfect plan, but discussion of such a plan does not belong in a science journal.)
"Data from two sources (the Septuagint and Masoretic Texts) are used to generate exponential functions for expressing the post-Deluge life spans of the Genesis Patriarchs." (Using the Bible to prove the Bible is circular reasoning, even if it is gussied up with exponential functions.)
"It is therefore postulated that conditions described by the second law came into existence after Creation and prior to the Fall, that the disruptive and degenerative effects of random processes upon living systems were divinely constrained, and that the removal of this constraint constituted one aspect of the curse. (Explaining anything in terms of divine constraints is not part of real scientific argumentation.)
"Patterns in nature, indicative of the existence of a Creator-God, are evident in the spiraling of pine cones." (This completely ignores the processes of self-organization in favor of anti-science God talk.)
"The author concludes that Christian thinkers should agree that philosophy may be understood to be the activity of right reason, and science may be said to be the knowledge of things knowable to sensory perception (direct or indirect), and these cannot be studied without reference to religion, but must serve religion which is Christian truth and life." (Scientific knowledge is not formulated with reference to any religion nor does it serve any religion. It is strictly naturalistic.)
"Scripture is taken to be reliable. If any error is found in Scripture, then some doubt could be cast on other parts. This would be especially true were errors to be found in the historical and chronological parts of Scripture." (In other words, errors cannot be acknowledged in any part of the Scripture because to do so might cast doubt on other parts. Unlike the case with science, doubt is anathema to religion.)
"For, to suppose a Creation untold ages ago is really to dismiss the notion of Creation, as a serious matter; and to do that, in turn, is to play down, and eventually ignore or deny, the difference between the Creator and His Creation." (In other words, forget the evidence and do everything you can to protect a literal interpretation of the Bible.)
"The primary purpose of the Creation Research Society is to carry out, or to encourage, Creationist research in the natural sciences, and to publish the results of such research. By Creationist research is meant research which proceeds from a belief in, and attempts to correlate with, special Creation." (This revealing statement from Duane Gish boils down to the following: If you can't make it correlate with a literal Genesis, we don't want to hear about it.)
"Thus it would be premature, at the least, to say that results supposed to be obtained from tree rings have to be accepted, particularly if they should conflict with Biblical evidence." (For God's sake, reject anything that does not agree with the Bible.)
"It is recommended, then, that because of the discrepancies which may be introduced, that these arguments about populations not be used in popular public lectures." (Translation - Discussion of population growth raises some embarrassing questions for the creationist. Therefore, avoid the subject at all cost.)
'The doctrine of supernatural creation in a short time is supported by the scientific evidence." (Oops. Another one of those attempts to intermix science and supernaturalism.)
"God, in creating the world as it is, did not make it thus for the purpose of deceiving men, but for very good reasons, which, of course, may or may not be apparent to men at the present." (In other words, just because the scientific evidence contradicts much of the Genesis story of creation, don't throw in the towel. The confusion may only be temporary.)
"The usual aim has been to provide explanations which involve only natural forces without divine miraculous intervention. Critical analysis of these models shows that the provision of a substantial part of flood waters or of ice either from a canopy or form extraterrestrial sources is impossible apart from special divine miraculous intervention." (Oh oh, there they go with those miraculous explanations again.)
"It is suggested that Creationists may work more efficiently by noting that there are some doctrines about which they are certain, others which admit some uncertainty. Those which are firmly based on Scripture, and are matters of faith, are certain; there is no need of research to establish them, although corroboration may be satisfying." (In other words, if it says so in the Bible, it must be true regardless what the evidence shows.)
"Creationists have sometimes hesitated to maintain the doctrine of creation with apparent age, fearing that to do so might seem to be to hold that God has deceived men. But there is no deceit, since God has stated the truth plainly in revelation." (In other words, the earth is really young. God just made it to look old. We know it's young because the Bible says so. But just because God gave it the false appearance of age, we should not jump to the conclusion we have been mislead in any way. [A perfect example of creationist "logic" in action.] )
Although the list could be greatly expanded, the aforementioned excerpts provide a good indication of the quality of the "science" that is reported in the CRSQ. (And these excerpts were only from the abstracts. The reports, themselves, are even more blatant in promoting a religious agenda.) It should be obvious to anyone who understands scientific epistomology that such overtly religious statements as those above have absolutely no place in an authentic science journal. Science journals, in keeping with the naturalistic assumptions of the scientific method, do not deal with theological issues such as those prominently featured in the CRSQ. Statements insisting that any evidence that does not gibe with Scripture must be wrong are also in conflict with the scientific requirement for tenability and falsifiability. While such blatant apologetics as expressed above might be appropriate in the context of a sermon or a Bible study class, they are profoundly ill-suited for a science journal. The fact is, the CRSQ is not a science journal. It is a religious apologetic tract dressed up in scientific camouflage. Until creationist journals admit the potential for falsification (and spell out precisely under what circumstances "creationary" theory could be falsified) and acknowledge the possibility for error and incorrectness in their basic assumptions, they will not be recognized by real scientists as anything other than the pseudoscientific curiosities that they are.
TJ - Yet Another Repository of Creationist Pseudoscience
Another religion-oriented publication which Mr. Knapp lists in his challenge is the inappropriately-titled "Technical Journal" (TJ) [Now called "Journal of Creation"]. (See here.) The only thing technical about it is that it misuses technical jargon in an attempt to cover up the fact that it is promoting religious dogma. All the factors discussed above that prevent the CRSQ from qualifying as a legitimate scientific journal apply equally to the TJ.
As with the CRSQ, the members of the editorial board of TJ are also required to promote and defend the literal Genesis account of creation. In this case they must sign a "Statement of Faith." (See here.) The very first tenet of this "Statement of Faith" listed under "Priorities" is the following:
"The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer and Judge."
In other words, right from the get go, the proprietors of this publication make it abundantly clear that reporting objective scientific evidence is not their top priority. Instead, in this publication, real science must take a back seat to the promotion of a literal interpretation of a religion-based creation story. The biased agenda of this organization is further revealed by another of their tenets:
"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record."
This statement represents the antithesis of what real science is all about. Science does not selectively disallow evidence because it contradicts some cherished story, legend, or myth. Science considers all well-substantiated, well-documented evidence to be valid and follows that evidence wherever it leads - even if it means abandoning or modifying existing scientific theories. The "Statement of Faith" signed by the publishers of TJ and the "Statement of Belief" required by the publishers of CRSQ clearly expose the inherent biases of these groups and automatically disqualify them from consideration as serious research organizations. Legitimate scientists simply do not sign oaths that demand evidence must be interpreted only in a manner that forces it to conform to some preconceived scheme.
The section on instructions to authors of the TJ states, "All members of the Editorial Team adhere to the Answers in Genesis (AiG) Statement of Faith and most papers will be designed to support this. Rarely, other papers may be accepted for publication on merit, so that certain issues can be clarified." How rarely? Out of the hundreds of articles published in this journal, how many have been authored by prominent evolutionary scientists who have been allowed to present evidence which raises serious questions about some aspect of creation theory? Why should an evolutionist waste time preparing a manuscript if "most papers" must be designed to support the "Statement of Faith" and the publication of anything that contradicts the accepted storyline occurs only "rarely?" From AiG's list of selected articles (See here.), I could not find any pro-evolution papers that were prepared specifically for publication in TJ by a mainstream scientist. Mr. Knapp should enumerate how many creation-unfriendly technical articles have appeared in TJ so that evolutionists can get some idea whether it is worth the effort to try to publish anything critical of creationism in it.
And then, of course, there is the problem of trying to engage in meaningful scientific discourse with an opponent who sees nothing wrong with trotting out supernatural explanations to counter any arguments that refute their claims. It is a total waste of time to argue science with someone who doesn't abide by the rule that supernatural causes and effect are not permitted as scientific explanations. Since the supernatural can be used to explain anything and everything, it explains nothing as far as science is concerned.
Mr. Knapp Throws Down the Gauntlet
Mr. Knapp says - "Here is the challenge. Instead of piping the same old inaccurate representations of creationist thought and hiding from creationist debates, put forth your arguments in a creationist science journal."
Evolutionists might be tempted to do that, if there actually were such a thing as a creationist journal that demonstrated sound scientific practices. However, since even the CRSQ (which is touted by some as the closest thing to a real creationist science journal) and the TJ fail so miserably in the science department, I reckon evolutionists will have to pass on Mr. Knapp's challenge until such time as creationists start publishing a real science journal.
I hate to break it to Mr. Knapp, but the truth is, the vast majority of scientists do not pay any attention to fringe-science journals like the CRSQ and the TJ – except perhaps as an occasional source of amusement. Most scientists are too busy doing real science and publishing in real science journals to waste their time on such irrelevant diversions. Most, I would venture to say, are more familiar with the Journal of Irreproducible Results than they are with the CRSQ and the TJ. And most would probably find the articles to be equally persuasive in both publications.
Why do Creationists Publish Fake Science Journals?
The question then arises, why do the CRS and AiG (or any other creationist organization) go to the trouble of publishing something like the CSRQ and the TJ which they then so enthusiastically try to pawn off as "science" journals? Certainly, the CRSQ and the TJ are not published to convince mainstream scientists that the creationists have developed a valid theory to account for biodiversity. Any mainstream scientist who bothered to thumb through the CRSQ and the TJ would quickly come to the realization that religion-based pseudoscience is the sole product they have to offer. And it is highly unlikely that the members of the CRS and AiG are so naive as to be unaware of this fact. However, as much as creationists might berate mainstream science, they still cannot deny the fact that it is an institution that enjoys a privileged reputation in modern society. Although most lay persons do not fully understand the scientific method, they do recognize that its application has led to unmistakable benefits for mankind. But, because creationists don't play by the rules for doing science (i.e., by ignoring contradictory data, incorporating miracles into their theoretical explanations, manipulating data in an attempt to force it to conform to religious scripture, etc.), they are denied publication in legitimate science journals - and rightly so. So what do these science outcasts do in an attempt to gain the scientific respectability they so desperately seek? Well, they create their own "peer-reviewed" journals in which they can publish all the religious pseudoscience they want. As members of this mutual admiration society, they can then compete with one another to see who can cloak their religious apologetics in the most scientific-looking disguises. Then they can point to the CRSQ and the TJ in an attempt to con the uninformed masses into thinking that creationism is supported by valid scientific research which is published in a "notable refereed" journal. And Mr. Knapp, oblivious to game they are playing, can then be hornswoggled into thinking that he is presenting a viable alternative to my "Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists" when he dares evolutionists to publish in the CRSQ and the TJ. Strange as it may seem, when "creation scientists" become habituated to reading and publishing the science fiction that appears in the CSRQ and the TJ for a considerable number of years", some of them actually appear to start believing it themselves.
Pot, Kettle, Black
Mr. Knapp says – “If science is going to prevail then intellectual honest and open minded debate must be allowed.”
Tell that to the publishers of creation “science” journals like the CRSQ and the TJ who do all they can to stifle such debate.
In summary, Mr. Knapp’s challenge to evolutionists to publish in the CRSQ and the TJ is a sham. It is a sham because creationist journals such as CRSQ and TJ are grossly inappropriate vehicles for reporting serious scientific work. They are inappropriate because they are published by pseudoscientific organizations such as the CRS and AiG. Creation organizations like the CRS and AiG are pseudoscientific because they require their members (i.e., peer reviewers) to sign a statement of belief or faith which specifies, a priori, which experimental outcomes will be acceptable, i.e., only those that harmonize with sacrosanct miracle stories derived from ancient religious texts. Reputable scientific organizations do not fix experimental outcomes (especially those of the miracle-based variety) in advance nor do their journals restrict publication only to those articles that support such outcomes. To do so would negate the aspects of tenability and falsifiability that are absolutely crucial to the proper conduct of scientific research.
A Challenge Only a Masochist Could Enjoy
Mr. Knapp also challenges evolutionists to submit their critiques of creationism to Mr. Wallace's feedback page. (See here.) My first concern has to do with Mr. Wallace's qualifications for addressing scientific questions related to the evolution/creation issue. I may have missed the citation of his credentials, but I was not able to determine if Mr. Wallace has any advanced training in the life or earth sciences that would qualify him to speak authoritatively on the subject. While an advanced degree is not required to comprehend the gist of the theory of evolution, it is a virtual necessity when it comes to properly understanding the details of the scientific processes involved. If Mr. Wallace truly lacks such training, then his opinions on the subject must be considered to be those of a dedicated amateur rather than those of a knowledgeable expert.
Of further concern, Mr. Wallace's "Theory of Creation" (See here.) is suffused with miraculous elements which automatically disqualify it from consideration as a bona fide scientific theory. The model which Mr. Wallace proposes utilizes such supernatural occurrences as a literal six-day creation and Noachian flood to explain the diversification of life on earth and the composition of the geological column. But, as stated above, supernatural explanations are not permitted as part of a legitimate scientific theory. Science only deals with naturalistic phenomena which must be accounted for by naturalistic causes and effects. Why would an evolutionist want to waste time carrying on a scientific discussion with someone who doesn't even know the basic requirements of the scientific method? It would be an exercise in futility for an evolutionists to try to engage in legitimate scientific discourse with someone who would think it proper to advance some miraculous explanation or another any time they were seriously backed into a corner.
Another problem with this challenge is that Mr. Wallace has not updated his feedback responses for almost three years. (This is the situation as of 2/29/04.) Why bother entering into a discussion with someone who is so tardy in posting his exchanges with his opponents on the Internet? Could it be that he has run into more stiff competition than he cares to acknowledge?
A number of evolutionists have submitted feedback to Mr. Wallace, and for many of them the experience has been frustrating, to say the least. As indicated by this exchange, Mr. Wallace has a tendency to simply cease responding when he is confronted with facts that raise serious questions about his "Theory of Creation." And, as shown in this exchange, he is not averse to violating agreements, quoting out of context (a favorite creationist past time), inconsistency, historical revisionism, avoiding scientific questions, ad hominem attacks, and deceptive tactics when they suit his purposes.
From the foregoing and from the material reproduced on his feedback page, it is clear that an exchange with Mr. Wallace does not represent an objective discussion of the scientific evidence. Instead, any evolutionist foolish enough to take him up on his offer is commonly treated to a rhetorical snow job in which Mr. Wallace reveals a profound disconnect from mainstream scientific thought. If a scientist wants to grapple with pseudo-scientific arguments based on creationist misrepresentations of factual evidence and scientific knowledge, then Mr. Wallace's feedback site is where they should be. Or if they fancy banging their heads against a wall of obfuscation erected by an evolution-denier suffering from religion-induced cognitive dissonance, they might also find the experience rewarding. But if they are seeking an honest dialogue with a knowledgeable scientist who plays by the rules for doing science, they should avoid it like the plague.
Dr. Brown's Pseudo-Challenge
As far as Mr. Knapp’s invitation for evolutionists to debate Walter Brown is concerned, that has already been accomplished. I invite Mr. Knapp to take a look (here) where Dr. Brown turned in something less than a stunning performance in one such contest. This article also reveals some of the shenanigans the creationists pulled while setting up the debate. For an overview of Dr. Brown's dubious approach to debating scientific issues, search the talkorigins.org website for "Walter Brown." He seems to have the true creationist knack for ignoring any mainstream scientific evidence that conflicts with his worldview. (Unfortunately for him, that includes virtually all the mainstream scientific evidence in existence.) It should be emphasized once again that, since the validity of scientific theories are not determined in the heat of public debate, this aspect of Mr. Knapp's challenge is as irrelevant as the one proposing that evolutionists publish in a creationist journal. (See here, here, and here for previous discussion on the problems associated with live evolution/creation debates.)
Joe Meert has been trying to engage Walter Brown in a debate for years without any success. (See here for details.) Dr. Brown refuses to allow any discussion of Bible stories in his debates even though they form the very core of his creationist beliefs. Excluding a discussion of biblical origins stories from debate gives Dr. Brown an unfair advantage since it effectively excludes many of the counterarguments available to his opponents. As soon as an opponent begins discussing the problems associated with stuffing all the animals on the Ark and tending to their needs for a year, the good doctor can start hollering about infringement of the debate agreement. It makes very little sense for anyone to enter a debate with the deck stacked against them like that. It would be like trying to debate the merits of an architectural model without allowing any discussion of the blueprints. When Dr. Brown finally relents and allows Joe Meert to debate him on reasonable terms, we will know he is serious about carrying on a meaningful discussion. Until then, evolutionary scientists have more important things to do than subject themselves to such an exercise in futility.
[It should be noted that Joe Meert has agreed to debate Walter Brown even if his request to include Bible stories in the debate is vetoed by a neutral third party. Still Dr. Brown has refused to accept his challenge. One wonders why Dr. Brown is so reluctant to include a discussion of the Bible if it makes so compelling a case for creationism as its proponents claim it does.]
See here for another example of the difficulty of publishing pro-evolution articles in creationist journals.