01 January 2008

Texas Higher Education and Creation Research, Part 10

You're not fooling anyoneHenry Morris III, the ICR director, has a letter in the Dallas News this morning objecting to their recent editorial. Time for a fisking.
It came as a surprise to both faculty and administration when the editorial stated that the Institute for Creation Research "rejects so many fundamental principles of science."
That shouldn't be a surprise, since people have been pointing out that creationism isn't science for years now. There have been court cases about it. McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education in 1982 (summarized here -- # 3) was a prominent one. And ICR, then under Henry Morris's grandfather, Henry Morris, Sr., featured rather prominently in that case (search the linked text for ICR).

Odd that Henry Morris III wouldn't know about that court case.

Funny that it would come as a surprise to Mr. Morris that people don't think his institute is doing science.
ICR would like to know which "principles of science" are supposedly rejected by our school.
Methodological naturalism and willingness to revise hypotheses in light of contrary evidence.
Surely not Newton's gravitational theory.
Not a principle of science. That's a particular body of information generated by the principles of science, but it is not the principle itself.
Nor Mendel's laws of heredity.
Not a principle of science.
Nor do we deny natural selection, suggested by Edward Blyth 24 years before Charles Darwin's writings.
Yes, natural selection was recognized before Charles Darwin. Nevertheless, Darwin's contribution was huge. Darwin was the first to recognize natural selection as a creative force with the ability to create new forms of life. Stephen Jay Gould writes about this quite a bit in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.
All were creationists.
Irrelevant. They probably all had two legs, too. Nobody disputes that many scientists have been and are Christians. This is about evidence, not authority.

Also, it's a total shell game to say, "Newton and Mendel were creationists" because there really were any strong competing theories at the time! If you were able to go back, bring Newton or Mendel or any of those people to the present day, show them the evidence that we have now... would they still hold to the doctrine that the earth is a few thousand years old and that species were specially created? There's no way to say. Mendel, for example, was an Augustinian monk -- a Roman Catholic. And the Catholic Church has no problem with evolution. Indeed, one of my colleagues learned evolution from a nun.

If Mendel were alive today, he would probably not be a creationist.
What ICR scientists openly question is Darwin's "descent with modification" or macroevolution. Even renowned evolutionary biologist L. Harrison Matthews wrote that "evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory."
Oooh, a quote mine! No context, no date, no source. Let's see if I can find this in Talk Origins... and yes, here it is. It's from 1971 or 1972. And we've learned a few things since then.
Despite what The News implies, ICR is a science-oriented institution, employing experts since 1970 whose credentials meet or exceed the qualifications of numerous secular universities and who conduct research across various disciplines. Many researchers bring extensive experience from such recognized facilities as Los Alamos, Sandia Labs, Cornell, UCLA and Texas A&M.
Do they make predictions, conduct experiments, analyze data, and publish results in peer-reviewed journals? They probably have in the past, but what's their output recently?
The graduate programs of ICR, while similar in factual content to those of other graduate colleges, are distinctive in one major respect: ICR bases its educational philosophy on the foundational truth of a personal Creator-God, as opposed to the naturalistic, atheistic presuppositions of evolution.
And here comes the wedge: A real Christian can't support evolution. Only atheists support evolution. Choose!

What a tremendous disservice -- actually, an insult -- to the many, many Christians and other believers who see no incompatibility between their faith and scientific evidence.

And it also shows the the ICR does not abide by one of the working assumptions of scientific inquiry: no miracles allowed.
Perhaps before suggesting that men and women of faith have no place in teaching science, The News should verify the credentials and scientific contributions of those it impugns who are both committed Christians and recognized, productive scientists.
Interesting how the letter ends without mentioning how many peer-reviewed papers come out of the ICR. How many externally funded grants ICR personnel currently hold. I'm willing to guess that the number is low.

Not surprising to see familiar and not very substantive arguments here.

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