Item #3: My November, 2001, response to item #2 - (The headings in green were not included in the original document.)

TOPICS ADDRESSED IN THIS RESPONSE

1. Religious belief is compatible with an acceptance of the veracity of the theory of evolution.

2. Claiming that significant numbers of scientists are rejecting evolution is a creationist propaganda ploy.

3. Since Mr. Knapp admits to having "no expertise in any field of science," why does he attempt to pass himself off as someone who is qualified to speak critically about the science of evolution?

4. A review of the rules for doing science:

5. Science adheres to the concept of  methodological naturalism.  Supernatural explanations are not part of the scientific process and are strictly forbidden in this context.

6. The theory of evolution is at least as well-established as any other major scientific theory, and it now serves as the unifying principle that underlies all the biological sciences.

7. Creationism thrives on science illiteracy.

8. Religious fundamentalism has been an historical impediment to scientific advancement.

9. Where is the evidence for the claim that scientists are "defecting" from evolution in meaningful numbers?

10. The letters to the editor section of the newspaper is not the proper venue for discussing the scientific intricacies of the evolution/creation controversy.

11. On what basis does Mr. Knapp claim to have a better grasp of the scientific "evidence in question" than I have?

12. Legitimate scientists do not sign oaths or "Statements of Faith" that promise to give religious dogma precedence over scientific integrity.

13. Confessions of Kurt Wise, an honest creationist -

14. In legitimate science, peer-review by objective, qualified experts provides an effective bias filter.

15. Evolution is a fact. Even most creationists accept what is sometimes called "microevolution."

16. Mr. Knapp ignores the discussion of the evolution/creation controversy at the faithreason.org website and  fixates on its attitude toward homosexuality.

17. Is Mr. Knapp ineluctably committed to a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, or is he willing to change his mind in light of convincing evidence to the contrary?

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the evolution/creation issue with you (Here and in the rest of this response, "you" refers to Mr. Knapp.) in a format that allows for a more comprehensive treatment of the subject than that afforded by the editorial section of the newspaper. What follows are my comments regarding some of the issues raised at your website as of 11/24/01.

1. Religious belief is compatible with an acceptance of the veracity of the theory of evolution.

You erroneously contend that my "argument is to automatically disqualify those with sound scientific reasons for rejecting evolution simply because they have some sort of religious background." Nothing could be further from the truth. All scientific arguments relating to this subject should be taken seriously so long as they meet the criteria of scientific validity. The religious beliefs of an individual making such an argument are irrelevant as far as the scientific community is concerned. So long as the argument has been developed using verifiable evidence and proper scientific methodology, it will be given serious consideration. What I and other evolutionists* object to is the use of ill-founded, pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo to dupe people such as yourself into thinking that they (the creationists) are presenting legitimate scientific arguments.

* By "evolutionist" I mean someone who thinks that the process of evolution (descent with modification) offers the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth. Such thinking is based on the abundance of scientific evidence that corroborates this explanation and the lack of any meaningful evidence that contradicts it.

I am assuming that, because you find the Answers in Genesis (AIG) to be such an authoritative source of information, you must be what is known in the vernacular as a young-earth creationist (YEC)*. Like most other YEC’s, you establish a false dichotomy when you insinuate that an acceptance of evolution is incompatible with a belief in God. The facts demonstrate just how patently false this dichotomy actually is.

* By "creationist" I mean someone who believes in the literal six-day creation account as described in the Book of Genesis. An approx. 10,000 year-old earth and a worldwide biblical flood are also essential elements of this belief system.

According to most polls with which I am familiar, people in this country are roughly equally divided in their acceptance of evolutionary theory and the biblical account. For example, a 1997 Newsweek poll found that 44% of those polled were of the YEC persuasion while 49% were evolutionists. Various polls also show that only about 8-10% of the U.S. populace is atheistic. Therefore, even if all the atheists in the country were all in the evolutionist camp, most of the evolutionists (approx. 80%) would still be believers in God. The "Voices for Evolution" section at the National Center for Science Education website (www.ncseweb.org) includes pro-evolution statements from 13 religious organizations including the Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, United Methodist, and United Presbyterian churches. Clearly, based on this evidence alone, evolutionary belief is not the exclusive worldview of non-believers. If you have any statistics that would shed a different light on this matter, I would like to know about them.

The falsity of this dichotomy is further demonstrated by the fact that there are a large number of pro-evolution scientists who are also professing Christians. A brief search on the Internet turned up the following examples:

The American Scientific Affiliation is a Christian oriented organization that bills itself as "…a fellowship of men and women of science and disciplines that can relate to science who share a common fidelity to the Word of God…" This is an organization, consisting of more than two thousand scientists, which accommodates both an acceptance of evolution and a belief in the Christian God. "Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective", which can be found at (http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html), is an example of the publications produced by this organization. The introduction to this article states, "Many Christians are completely unaware of the great numbers of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent, and they are also unaware that Bible-believing Christians are among those actively involved in radiometric dating." "Taxonomy, Transitional Forms, and the Fossil Record", another paper produced by a member of this organization (www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Miller.html), states in the introduction that, "Transitional forms between higher taxa are thus a common feature of the fossil record…. Evidence from the fossil record is consistent with a wide range of proposed evolutionary mechanisms."

Another scientific organization, Christians in Science, takes a similar pro-evolution stance. For an example of their perspective on the subject, see "Does Evolution have any Religious Significance" in the Articles section at (www.cis.org.uk/index.htm). And for another example of a scientist who sees no conflict between his religious belief and an acceptance of evolutionary theory see also, "God and Evolution: Can you accept both" in the "Must read" archive at (www.talkorigins.org ).

A recent book by Michael Ruse (philosopher of science at Florida State University), "Can A Darwinian be a Christian?", answers in the affirmative. And for one of the most compelling treatments of the subject, see the recent book, "Finding Darwin’s God", by Dr. Kenneth Miller of Brown University. Dr. Miller is both a devout Christian and one of the most active advocates "at the forefront in promoting the public acceptance of evolution". From my personal experience, most of the pro-evolution scientists with whom I have been associated were professing Christians as well.

From the foregoing, it is clear that your attempt to portray evolution as a concept that has been concocted by nonbelievers to promote "their atheistic faith" is simply not supported by the facts. If that was their intention, they have failed miserably. The theory of evolution is a scientific concept that is neutral with respect to religious beliefs. This is the same religion-neutral relationship that science maintains with respect to all theories that are developed using the scientific method. Some proponents of the theory of evolution are outspoken atheists (Richard Dawkins come to mind), but most of them are theists. The same can be said for those who accept the validity of the theory of gravity or any other scientific theory.

I suspect you will respond by claiming that those religionists who do not adhere to your particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation and who endorse evolution are not really bona fide Christians. Of course that gets into the murky morass of biblical interpretation, with all its convoluted semantics, which is completely outside the purview of science. If you want to go that route, you will have to drop all pretenses that your arguments are scientifically based.

2. Claiming that significant numbers of scientists are rejecting evolution is a creationist propaganda ploy.

You claim that thousands of "highly-educated scientists" reject evolution.* So what? Assuming that your figure is correct, how many of these scientists have expertise in the life sciences and possess an in-depth understanding of the evolutionary processes? Just because a scientist is well versed in one area of investigation such as quantum mechanics, it does not necessarily follow that he/she is qualified to speak authoritatively on subjects outside his/her area of specialization, such as evolution. Science has progressed to the point that it is often very difficult for a scientist who has specialized in one particular area of research to read and comprehend the literature produced by someone in another area of study. Because of the highly specialized nature of many scientific endeavors and the arcane terminology that is often used to describe the work involved, the cross-fertilization of ideas from one discipline to another is often very difficult to achieve. It should be obvious that life scientists (biologists, geneticists, zoologists, paleontologists, etc.), particularly those directly involved in evolutionary studies, are the best qualified to speak knowledgably on the subject of evolution. Just as one should not put much stock in some life scientist’s rejection of theories pertaining to the evolution of the stars, one should also be leery of an astrophysicist who pooh-poohs theories related to the evolution of life. In order for your claim that thousands of scientists have rejected evolution to carry any weight, it is important to know how many of those evolution rejecters are trained in the life sciences and have an intimate familiarity with the subject at hand. If you can provide that information, it would be appreciated.

*Does your "thousands" include only natural scientists (i.e., life and physical scientists), or are non-scientists such as mathematicians, medical doctors, engineers, etc. also included? If those other than natural scientists are included, then your figure loses a great deal of relevancy. By virtue of their training in pertinent areas of research, it is the natural scientists (and life scientists in particular) who are best qualified to speak on the subject. Be that as it may, even if there are 10,000 evolution-rejecting natural scientists, they would still represent only 0.5% of the approx.1,824,000 certified natural scientists in this country. (see the National Science Foundation website for details.)

Your claim boils down nothing more than an appeal to authority – a logical fallacy that argues, if certain authority figures believe something, then it must be true. Unfortunately, an advanced education is no guarantee that people will be immune to erroneous or outlandish beliefs. During the 1940’s and 50’s, many "highly-educated" doctors believed that smoking was not injurious to health. Some even argued that smoking imparted health benefits. Now, of course, we know that these "highly-educated" doctors were very wrong. Astronomer, Dr. Fred Hoyle, and his associate, Dr. Chandra Wickamasinghe, spoke on behalf of creationists during a trial in the early 1980’s which dealt with the teaching of creationism in Arkansas public schools. While these scientists may be able to speak authoritatively on subjects directly related to their areas of expertise, they have demonstrated a serious lack of credibility when they ventured into other disciplines such as biology. These two have stated that they think it is likely that insects came from outer space, that they may be as intelligent as humans, but that they are hiding this fact from us. (Hoyle, Fred and Wickamasinghe, Chandra, (1981) "Evolution From Space", p. 127) (By the way, the creationists lost the trial. With witnesses like these, is it any wonder?) Today, there are "highly-educated scientists" convinced that "cold fusion" and "vacuum energy systems" represent potentially endless supplies of cheap energy. They continue to eagerly promote these technologies, even though mainstream science has thoroughly investigated them and rejected them as nothing more than modern-day equivalents of nonexistent perpetual motion machines. But these pipe-dreaming scientists who have staked their careers on the success of these ventures have a significant emotional investment in their work. And when emotions come into play, rationality can sometimes lose out to emotion-driven zeal – even in the case of scientists. This is especially true when strong religious belief, with its intense emotional underpinnings, is involved. A devout scientist who perceives something (such as evolution) to be a threat to his/her religious beliefs may not always approach the subject in a scientifically objective manner. While they may deal with most other aspects of their work in a perfectly rational manner, they can suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance when passionately held religious beliefs are called into question. Science operates by consensus opinion of the members of the scientific community. The fact that some of them (no matter how strongly motivated and how highly-educated" they may be) may champion a cherished idea like creationism, does not automatically render that idea scientifically validated. It is only those concepts that are developed in accordance with the scientific method that receive the endorsement of the scientific community at large.

You chide me for accusing you of not grasping the fact that mainstream science is pro-evolution. I wish you would get your story straight. I gave some mainstream science websites in my first letter to the editor, and then you complained in your rebuttal because they were pro-evolution sites. If you understood that mainstream science sites were by default pro-evolution, why did you make an issue out of it?

3. Since Mr. Knapp admits to having "no expertise in any field of science," why does he attempt to pass himself off as someone who is qualified to speak critically about the science of evolution?

It is truly remarkable (and laughable) that someone who admits to having "no expertise in any field of science" considers himself to be qualified to inform practicing scientists that they do not understand what "real science" is. Talk about chutzpah! (Isn’t hubris one of the seven deadly sins?) The theory of evolution represents one the best-documented theories in science and is endorsed by virtually the entire scientific community worldwide. And now along comes Mr. Knapp, who lacks any formal training in any scientific discipline, to proclaim all those poor misguided scientists have gotten it all wrong. That is analogous to the Roto-Rooter man telling a cardiovascular surgeon that he/she does not understand the proper techniques for performing a balloon catheterization. Nothing against Roto-Rooter men, but I think it is safe to say that, no matter how many books and pamphlets they had read on the subject or how many medical websites they had visited, their surgical expertise would still pale in insignificance compared to that of the surgeon. I know which one I would trust to do the operation.

The study of evolution encompasses an array of scientific disciplines, and many scientists spend much of their adult life involved in research projects related to specific aspects of evolutionary theory. Areas of study include such things as: comparative embryology, cladistic taxonomy, comparative ontogeny, biochemistry, stratigraphy, comparative anatomy, structural homology, biogeography, animal and plant breeding genetics, molecular genetics, comparative molecular biology, paleontology, and computer modeling of evolutionary mechanisms. Many of the processes under investigation are complex and the work is highly technical in nature. It usually requires many years of work for the researcher to gain a comprehensive understanding of the processes he/she is investigating. For you, a science neophyte, to insinuate that these experienced investigators don’t understand "real science", but that you do, adds new meaning to the old adage, "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.". I rather doubt that you would recognize "real science" if it jumped up and bit you on the derriere. Since, by your own admission, your science expertise is quite limited, perhaps it would behoove you to learn what "real science" actually is before you launch a crusade against real scientists.

4. A review of the rules for doing science:

Science is a process of systematizing knowledge that involves the observation of natural phenomena, the development of hypotheses to explain the phenomena, and the testing of those hypotheses to determine how accurately they describe the phenomena. Legitimate scientific hypotheses (theories) must meet several criteria as listed below:

They must be testable and falsifiable – There must be some way of subjecting them to definitive tests that can establish their validity. Concepts for which a reasonable test cannot be devised to demonstrate their possible falsity, do not qualify as scientific concepts.

They must be empirical and based on observation – Intuition and revelation don’t cut the mustard. The evidence under investigation must be observable by all interested scientists.

The principles at work must be constant and universally applicable – Science operates under the assumption that the natural laws which were in existence shortly after the inception of the universe are the same laws that have been in effect, unchanged to the present, and that they will remain unaltered in the foreseeable future.

They must be predictive – They must lead to predictions about how things will operate in situations where outcomes have not yet been determined.

They must be tentative – They are subject to modification or complete rejection if new evidence ever seriously contradicts their basic tenets.

They must deal exclusively with natural causes and effects – Supernatural explanations are strictly verboten. Science operates in accordance with concept of methodological naturalism – the concept that methods and techniques of investigation must invoke only naturalistic assumptions.

5. Science adheres to the concept of  methodological naturalism.  Supernatural explanations are not part of the scientific process and are strictly forbidden in this context.

That last rule for doing science is particularly relevant with regard to the modus operandi of the so-called "scientific creationists." ("Creation scientist" is perhaps the ultimate oxymoron.) In direct opposition to the tenet that legitimate science must invoke only natural causes and effects, the "creation scientists" insist on interjecting supernatural elements into their explanations wherever they see fit. What they are practicing, when they do so, is not "real science." It is, instead, real religion.

As stated above, science operates in accordance with the concept of methodological naturalism. (Some scientists are philosophical naturalists as well, but many are not.) Science does not deny the existence of supernatural entities, it just operates as if it they don’t exist. It does this for a good reason. Imagine a scientist trying to design a meaningful experiment if it were assumed that supernatural factors (fairies, gremlins, gods, etc.) could intervene at any time to change the natural laws and scramble the results. Scientists must make the assumption that supernatural forces do not intervene and that the natural laws remain constant, because it is the only way they can bring continuity and consistency to their work. Allowing supernatural elements into the process would turn any attempt to describe worldly phenomena into an exercise in futility and would violate other rules for doing science as well. For example, how could scientists put the actions of God to a test? How could they possibly devise a test that could falsify what God had done? And how could they predict what God might do? By following the aforementioned rules, science has become the most effective system ever devised by man to promote invention and discovery. It has a proven track record of accomplishments that is beyond dispute.

6. The theory of evolution is at least as well-established as any other major scientific theory, and it now serves as the unifying principle that underlies all the biological sciences.

One of the most powerful aspects of the scientific method is its ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. When a scientist makes a discovery and publishes his/her hypothesis in a scientific journal, it is subject to rigorous scrutiny by all other scientists in the world who are active in that particular field of study. If the results do not stand up to this detailed, and sometimes contentious, examination, the hypothesis must be modified or abandoned altogether. It is this self-correcting, bias-filtering process mediated by peer review that makes science such a powerful tool for advancing our state of knowledge about the natural world in which we live. Every scientist is entitled to present his/her theory to the scientific community for review, provided it meets the standards indicated above. But only those theories that can hold up under scientific scrutiny receive consensus support and are considered to be scientifically validated. All the whining from pseudo-scientists in the creationist camp notwithstanding, the theory of evolution has passed all of its tests with flying colors. (While "creation science" has flunked consistently.) That does not mean that aspiring scientists would not love to shoot down the theory of evolution if they could. Scientists take great pleasure in refuting or modifying established theories whenever they can. Surely if someone could invalidate the basic tenets of the theory of evolution, they would be a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize. The theory of evolution has not survived because it is sacrosanct and immune from attack by scientists. It has remained viable because there is not a shred of legitimate scientific evidence that has been advanced to refute it. The theory now stands as the very foundation of the biological sciences, and it is impossible to gain proficiency in them without an understanding of the pivotal role that evolution plays in biological processes.

7. Creationism thrives on science illiteracy.

Nevertheless, things are looking up for the creationists. There are plenty of science illiterates in the making who will be easy pickings for the purveyors of creationist pap. Most polls show that a relatively small percentage of Americans meet the standard for science literacy. For example, in a poll conducted in 1994 by Louis Harris and Associates and New York’s Museum of History, only 21% of those polled scored 60% or better on 20 questions that examined basic science knowledge. Results from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests have revealed a decrease in science proficiency amongst last year’s crop of 12th -graders compared to those who took the test in 1996. As former astronaut, George Nelson, puts it, "As these latest NAEP results indicate, the vast majority of our students today are learning very little science." Many, if not most, biology teachers cover evolutionary theory only marginally, if at all, because of concern about repercussions from irate creationists such as you. Furthermore, educators are now concerned about the substantial drop in enrollments of science majors at this country’s colleges and universities. While this is all good news for the creationists who depend on a lack of science acumen to gain recruits, it should serve as a sobering wake-up call for any nation that expects to successfully compete in this increasingly more technically oriented world economy.

8. Religious fundamentalism has been an historical impediment to scientific advancement.

It is interesting that you would bring up the Galileo episode to support your contention that recalcitrant scientists were primarily responsible for stifling advances in scientific knowledge. The truth is, it was (and still is) the religionists who represented the strongest impediment to scientific progress. The serious practice of the scientific method, the development of which is attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, did not commence in earnest until sometime after Galileo’s death. The scientific revolution did not occur until after the closing days of the Renaissance, sometime around the middle of the 17th century. Therefore, authentic scientists who operated in accordance with the scientific method did not have much to do with stifling anything since there were so very few of them in existence at the time. You are correct that "it wasn’t until a long, bitter struggle that new, more correct views [those of Copernicus] began to win out." Nonetheless, you seem to be unaware of who was actually waging the war.

Both the ancient Hebrews and medieval theologians believed in a stationary Earth and a moving sun, often citing scripture such as Ps. 104:5 and Josh. 10:12-13 to back them up. Both Catholic and Protestant leaders between the 15th and 17th centuries accused Copernicus of challenging the Bible with his heliocentric model of our planetary system. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation and a contemporary of Copernicus, commented on the astronomer’s theories as follows: "People give ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show the Earth revolves not the heavens or the firmament, the Sun and Moon… This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy, but sacred Scripture tells us the Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still, and not the Earth."

John Calvin added his two bits as well - "Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above the Holy Spirit?"

Giordano Bruno was arrested in 1592 (by that fun-filled assemblage of biblical creationists know as the Inquisition) for promoting his ideas that space is infinite, the earth is not fixed, and other worlds are inhabited. When he refused to recant, he was burned at the stake. Galileo was placed under house arrest by the Church for having the audacity to promote the Copernican view of the universe. (It only took the Church some 350 years to officially apologize for their mistake!) If there were any scientists who were proponents of the heliocentric theory, the treatment of these "heretic" astronomers by the religious authorities of the time would certainly not encourage those who disagreed with Church dogma to make their opinions known, now would it? Contrary to your assertion that scientists were responsible for doggedly clinging to the Ptolemaic picture of the universe, history shows that it was actually the attempted enforcement of religious dogma by Bible-quoting theocrats that was responsible for this failure to come to grips with the factual evidence. Religious fundamentalists never learn. In their reincarnation as modern-day creationists, they are attempting to do the same thing with the theory of evolution.

9. Where is the evidence for the claim that scientists are "defecting" from evolution in meaningful numbers?

You claim that "we are starting to see a defection from evolutionism today." Could you please provide some data to substantiate that claim? In particular, could you provide evidence that, among natural scientists who are most knowledgeable about the subject, there has been an increase in the percentage of those who have switched to the creationist camp?

10. The letters to the editor section of the newspaper is not the proper venue for discussing the scientific intricacies of the evolution/creation controversy.

You criticize me for failing to "tackle any evidence" you have presented in support of creationism and smugly contend that I "should at least have a basic understanding of some of the evidence in question." If you had an inkling of how complex most of the issues related to evolution actually are, you would understand why it is impossible to adequately address them under the restrictions imposed by the letters to the editor format. Responses to most "simple" questions related to the subject require a rather lengthy discussion to cover them in even the most rudimentary fashion. Even if the newspaper were to allow such a protracted discourse, most readers would be bored to tears by such a technical presentation. If you do not understand this, then you do not have even a "good average understanding" of the issue. If you do know it, then it is disingenuous of you to expect me to deal with your queries in the letters to the editor section of the newspaper.

Frankly, I do not recall any specific scientific arguments that you raised in your letters to the editor. But I will be more than happy to deal with some of your questions in this format, provided you meet the criterion discussed below.

11. On what basis does Mr. Knapp claim to have a better grasp of the scientific "evidence in question" than I have?

Isn’t it rather presumptuous of you to conclude that I do not have a "basic understanding of some of the evidence in question" without having any knowledge of my educational background? Just to set the record straight, I have advanced degrees in the life sciences (M.S. in biochemistry and Ph.D. in experimental oncology). And unlike you, I have spent more than a "fair amount of time" examining both sides of the evolution/creation controversy. Although I have attempted to educate myself on the subject during the last fifteen years or so, I still do not consider myself to be an expert on the subject. One must essentially make a career out of it in order to qualify as an expert on even a fairly narrow aspect of evolutionary theory. Nonetheless, I think it is a safe bet that my understanding of the evidence involved is at least as good as yours.

12. Legitimate scientists do not sign oaths or "Statements of Faith" that promise to give religious dogma precedence over scientific integrity.

You ask for proof that most creationists are not engaged in an honest scientific quest. Well, all you have to do is look at the contributors to you favorite website (AIG) to identify a good number of them. This pro-creation organization adheres to a "Statement of Faith" which says, in part, "The scientific aspects of Creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospels of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge." Apparently your "reasonably good understanding of the scientific facts" does not include the understanding that legitimate scientists do not sign statements of faith about anything, especially one that would relegate "scientific aspects" to a secondary role in the conduct of their work. The same anti-science modus operandi is employed by the other prominent creationist organization in this country, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). The "scientists" who belong to this organization must also commit to a statement of faith that includes the acknowledgement that the writings in the Bible are "infallible and completely authoritative in all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological." In other words, if anything contradicts the Bible it must be automatically rejected. Again, that’s not science, it’s the enforcement of religious doctrine.

As stated above, legitimate science does not operate under the guise of infallibility. Scientific theories are tentative, and any that do not pass scientific muster must be modified or discarded altogether. Another creationist organization gaining prominence is the Discovery Institute. The list of senior fellows associated with this group reads like a Who’s Who of intelligent design promoters. Intelligent design advocates invoke the participation of a supernatural designer in the creative process. This, of course, violates the stipulation that only natural causes and effects must be considered in the development of scientific theories. Have you ever heard of an evolutionist who swore to an oath that proclaimed evolutionary theory is immutable and "free from error of any sort" or that it is the absolute truth because it is based on the infallibility of Darwin’s "Origin of the Species"? If you have, then they wouldn’t have been practicing real science and they would be the laughing-stock of their scientific peers.

So, if you want a list of scientists who "have embarked on an anti-science crusade that involves manipulating the data to try to force it to conform to their religious presuppositions" start tabulating the names of the "scientists" who belong to these, or any other creationist organizations. These religious apologists are not interested in following the evidence where it leads. Instead, they are only concerned about forcing the evidence to fit their faith-based beliefs. What they are actually doing is science in reverse. Instead of objectively examining the evidence and developing a rational hypothesis to explain it, they are faith-bound to immutable dogma and are manipulating the evidence in a futile attempt to make it conform to their preconceived template.

13. Confessions of Kurt Wise, an honest creationist...

Dr. Kurt Wise, arguably one of creationism’s most highly qualified ( Ph.D. in geology from Harvard) and intelligent scientists commented on this matter recently in his personal testimony in the book, "Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation." In his concluding paragraph he relates the following remarkable admission:

"…I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand."

There you have it in a nutshell, the true confession of an honest creationist who voluntarily gave up a career in mainstream science because he recognized that his authoritarian and supernatural interventionist approach was not compatible with the scientific method. In other words, Dr. Wise is admitting that no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing can ever make any difference in his acceptance of creationism and rejection of evolution. Such an approach is the antithesis of the scientific method. Although one must compliment him for his honesty, he can be severely criticized for continuing to characterize himself as a scientist. By willfully ignoring the evidence and insisting on the absolute certitude and authority of a supernatural agency, he has violated critical rules for doing science. It’s too bad other "creation scientists" are not as straightforward as Dr. Wise in confessing what their true motives for trashing the theory of evolution really are.

From the foregoing, it should be evident that creationism does not qualify as science by any stretch of the imagination. And it should be abundantly clear what creationism is. It is fundamentalist religion, pure and simple. That is not to say that anyone deserves criticism simply because they derive their beliefs about the origin of life from a literal interpretation of the Bible. In this country we are all free to embrace whatever beliefs we desire. (Although how much longer that might be true with the likes of Ashcroft calling the shots remains to be seen.) Evolutionists do not dispute the right of creationists to hold their religious beliefs, but they do object to them claiming that those beliefs are scientifically corroborated and attempting to have them taught as science in public school classrooms. These are the issues that serve as the crux of the current evolution/creation controversy.

14. In legitimate science, peer-review by objective, qualified experts provides an effective bias filter.

If by presupposition you mean something like, "a necessary antecedent condition", then I agree that both evolutionists and creationists start with different presuppositions. Evolutionists start with the presupposition that the scientific method is an extremely effective means of discovering how the world operates and that this method must be judiciously adhered to in their examination of any evidence relating to how the diversity of life arose on Earth. And creationists start with the presupposition that the literal Genesis account of creation represents the absolute, invariable truth that must be faithfully defended no matter how drastically the contradictory evidence must be ignored or distorted in the process – the scientific method be damned. Bias is different than presupposition. Bias involves selectively ignoring contrary evidence and selectively embracing anything that might strengthen one’s position. While evolutionists are not completely immune to bias, the scientific method under which they must operate puts a damper on most of it. Because a scientist’s work is peer-reviewed by other scientists who are only too eager to poke it full of holes (and who are eager to gain notoriety by finding fault with accepted theories in general), the chance of bias is greatly diminished. It is very difficult for a scientist to allow personal prejudices to control his/her work when there exists such a large body of critical observers who are ready to call them on the carpet for doing so. Creationism, on the other hand, thrives on bias. The more one squelches contradictory viewpoints and the more closely one adheres to the sacred party line, the greater the rewards and accolades. Your contention that evolutionists and creationists are "bound by the same principles of bias, presupposition, and faith" is completely without merit, as far as I am concerned.

15. Evolution is a fact. Even most creationists accept what is sometimes called "microevolution."

You say evolutionists "believe evolution is a so called (sic) fact." Evolution can be defined as the change in allele frequencies in populations of organisms that occurs between generations. Do you deny the fact that this change in allele frequencies occurs? If so, how do you explain the abundant scientific evidence that shows it does?

16. Mr. Knapp ignores the discussion of the evolution/creation controversy at the faithreason.org website and  fixates on its attitude toward homosexuality.

I call attention to a website that presents a comprehensive discussion of the religious and scientific aspects of the evolution/creation controversy, and what do you focus on? Homosexuality! If this is an example of how you selectively read any material that conflicts with your ingrained beliefs, then it is no wonder you fail to comprehend why legitimate scientists think evolutionary theory has such immense explanatory value. By the way, since you appear to ascribe to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, do you think it is the duty of devout Christians to execute homosexuals as commanded in Lev. 20:13? If not, what criteria do you employ to decide which parts of the Bible to ignore?

17. Is Mr. Knapp ineluctably committed to a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, or is he willing to change his mind in light of convincing evidence to the contrary?

I would be happy to comment on specific lines of evidence that you think support the creationist viewpoint provided I could be assured you would not reflexively discount everything I had to say. I would only commit to such an endeavor once I got a feeling for how open-minded you are regarding this issue. Are you the Kurt Wise type of creationist who, despite a universe full of evidence against you, would ignore it all and continue to insist that the literal Genesis account of creation represents the absolute, immutable truth? Or, if definitive scientific evidence were presented to refute your creationist arguments, would you admit that the Genesis account might not be literally true, but that it might actually represent an allegorical story of creation that was composed by ancient, scientifically naïve, desert nomads? If you are the Kurt Wise type, then it would be a total waste of my time to respond. You would not take seriously any evidence I might present, and nothing I could offer would have the slightest chance of influencing your position on the subject. But, if you are willing to acknowledge that the Bible, when literally interpreted, might be something less than perfect in the face of credible evidence, then it would be worth my effort to proceed. Please let me know what type of creationist you are so that I can response accordingly.

Jumping the gun a bit, I encourage anyone interested in the complexity/information aspect of evolution to visit the Dr. Thomas Ray’s website (search for Tom Ray) to learn why Dr. Gitt’s arguments have been undermined by the computer modeling of evolving life systems.

Jack DeBaun

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Updated: 1/28/04