an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

REPOST: Creationist bloggers, STILL whining that mythology isn’t being treated as science

(As Stormbringer has been whining about Creationists being frozen out of science again, I thought I’d repost this article on the subject, originally posted in February)

From the comments 

I throw you a small bone, Poindexter. Creationists publish in secular journals all the time. Choke on your hate for a few minutes and read this: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/538.asp (Stormbringer)


Ah, the ever reliable Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham’s witless dishonesty generator, spreader of such falsehoods as ‘Dinosaurs and man lived together’, ‘the Earth is only 6000 years old’, and ‘Ken Ham is not a lying, twat bearded, charlatan’

The article is interesting, let’s have a look at what it claims to show, and what it actually shows. It goes through a list of creationists who’ve had scientific papers peer reviewed and published, here’s the basic list from the AiG piece –

Developmental biologist Willem J. Ouweneel, a Dutch creationist and CRSQ contributor, published a classic and widely cited paper on developmental anomalies in fruit flies

In 1983, the German creationist and microbiologist Siegfried Scherer published a critique of evolutionary theories of the origin of photosynthesis entitled ‘Basic Functional States in the Evolution of Light-driven Cyclic Electron Transport’

‘Enzymic Editing Mechanisms and the Origin of Biological Information Transfer’, by the creationist biochemist Grant Lambert

Dr D. Russell Humphreys, a physicist working for the prestigious Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico (who is involved with the laboratory’s particle beam fusion project, concerning thermonuclear fusion energy research) is a board member of the Creation Research Society. He has about 30 published articles in mainstream technical journals from 1968 to the present. In the last eight years a lot of his work has been classified, so there has been less of it in the open literature.
His most recent unclassified publication is a multiple-author article in Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 63(10):5068–5071, October 1992, ‘Comparison of experimental results and calculated detector responses for PBFAII thermal source experiments.’

Here is just a sampling of some of his earlier articles:
‘Inertial confinement fusion with light ion beams’, (Multiple-author) International Atomic Energy Agency, 13th International Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research, Washington D.C., 1–6 October 1990.

‘Progress toward a superconducting opening switch’, (Principal author), Proceedings of 6th IEEE Pulsed Power Conference (Arlington, VA June 29 – July 1, 1987) pp. 279–282.

‘Rimfire: a six megavolt laser-triggered gas-filled switch for PBFA II’, (Principal author), Proceedings of 5th IEEE Pulsed Power Conference (Arlington, VA June 10–12, 1985) pp. 262–2265.

‘Uranium logging with prompt fission neutrons’, (Principal author) International Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 34(1):261–268, 1983.
‘The 1/gamma velocity dependence of nucleon-nucleus optical potentials’, (Only author) Nuclear Physics, A182:580–592, 1972.


Notice something? Yup, none of those papers are about Creationism. So some Creationists have written papers about subjects that are nothing to do with Creationism. If anything doesn’t that completely undermine the argument that creationist scientists are being frozen out of the mainstream? Clearly they’re not, not when they put forward papers that are based on actual science, without mentioning the supernatural.

 Creationists who publish scientific research in mainstream journals have found that they can publish articles with data having creationist implications, but will not get articles with openly creationist conclusions published. When they attempt to do this, their articles are usually rejected. 


Even Answers in Genesis has to admit to the truth of this. Creationists often publish peer reviewed papers, just not about creationism.

In the summer of 1985 Humphreys wrote to the journal Science pointing out that openly creationist articles are suppressed by most journals. He asked if Science had ‘a hidden policy of suppressing creationist letters.’ Christine Gilbert, the letters editor, replied and admitted, ‘It is true that we are not likely to publish creationist letters.’ This admission is particularly significant since Science’s official letters policy is that they represent ‘the range of opinions received.’ e.g., letters must be representative of part of the spectrum of opinions. Yet of all the opinions they receive, Science does not print the creationist ones.


Setting aside the fact that AiG are resorting to quoting quarter of a century old letters to magazines, it is clear that ‘Science’ doesn’t publish articles or letters that aren’t about Science. I’m pretty sure that, say, ‘The Christadelphian’ or ‘Watchtower’ wouldn’t publish an article about model warships, so why should Creationists think their supernatural mythology has any place in a scientific title?

On May 19, 1992 Humphreys submitted his article * ‘Compton scattering and the cosmic microwave background bumps’ to the Scientific Correspondence section of the British journal Nature. The editorial staff knew Humphreys was a creationist and didn’t want to publish it (even though the article did not contain any glaring creationist implications). The editorial staff didn’t even want to send it through official peer review. Six months later Nature published an article by someone else on the same topic, having the same conclusions. Thus, most creationist researchers realize it is simply a waste of time to send journal editors openly creationist articles. To say that a ‘slight bias’ exists on the part of journal editors would be an understatement.


I’m sure there’s more to it than AiG are claiming here, but even if there wasn’t, who can blame publishers for feeling skittish when a known Creationist presents a paper to them?

The article continues

In the 70s and early 80s, physicist Robert Gentry had several articles with very significant creationist data published in mainstream journals (Science, Nature, Journal of Geophysical Research, etc.), but found he couldn’t publish openly creationist conclusions. Gentry had discovered that granites contain microscopic coloration halos produced by the radioactive decay of primordial polonium. According to evolutionary theory, polonium halos should not be there. Some believe that the existence of polonium halos is scientific evidence that the Earth was created instantaneously. 


Needless to say, Answers in Genesis doesn’t bother to mention that Gentry has been roundly and comprehensively debunked. What does geology have to do with Evolution anyway? Is that an example of AiG conflating two separate topics to try and press their point?

Another example of blatant discrimination is Scientific American’s refusal to hire Forrest Mims as their ‘Amateur Scientist’ columnist when they found out that he was a creationist, although they admitted that his work was ‘fabulous’, ‘great’ and ‘first rate’. 


Again AiG fails to mention several important facts about the whole Mims story, luckily others have presented them for you to read.

The article rounds off with a quick look at a few other ‘notable’ Creationists and Christian scientists

Dr Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University author of Darwin’s Black Box, is not even a biblical creationist, but has experienced blatant censorship simply because he highlights the strong evidence for an intelligent designer of life. Like Dr Gentry, he wasn’t even given a chance to respond to his critics—see his Correspondence with Science Journals.


See also how Kenneth Miller, himself a Christian, has thoroughly debunked Behe’s ideas of ‘Irreducible Complexity’. Behe doesn’t get published purely because his single idea has been shown repeatedly to be completely wrong. I’m not even sure why AiG are mentioning Behe, as his belief in Intelligent Design flatly contradicts their Young Earth Creationist ideals. I guess they’re keen to grab onto anyone who even slightly supports them – ‘my enemies enemy is my friend’ indeed.
 

Scientific American refused to allow Phillip Johnson to defend himself against a vindictive and petty review by the atheistic Marxist, Stephen Jay Gould. So Johnson published Response to Gould on the Internet, from Access Research Network. 


Beautifully put! This part ‘…defend himself against a vindictive and petty review by the atheistic Marxist, Stephen Jay Gould’ (my emphasis) is hilarious. What Gould’s politics have to do with anything is anyone’s guess, but the pettiness of the AiG author shines through!

So, to sum up, some Creationist scientists get papers that are nothing to do with Creationism published, whilst papers that include demands on the supernatural, mythical, or religious, are rightly ignored, due to not being actual science.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Creationism isn’t science, and Creationist papers are rejected purely because of that fact. As we see, claiming that Creationists are frozen out of science is untrue, when they write about science they get published, it’s when they start writing about their religious beliefs that journals start to reject them. This is as it should be, and believers in the supernatural have no grounds to complain when their untestable fantasies are rejected by the scientific community.

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