A TRIP DOWN YEC MEMORY LANE: Few YECs Speak of It To This Day

The April Fools Day Massacre: When “Creation Science” Suffered Its Worst Public Humiliation

Yes, in the 1970’s, I was known as a speaker/debater for the “creation science” movement.

While some of us naturally “outgrew” the movement as we actually came to grips with the contrary evidence—both the evidence from science and the evidence from the Biblical text itself—there were those, like Dr. Frank Tipler of Tulane University, who seemed to go further and further towards Looneytown. Not just for a visit. I mean….. as a final destination.

It started innocently enough. Some of us Christian academic types started camping out in the Looneytown square only on the weekends, that is, attending only as regular audience members, and then as “special guests” to be introduced at the beginning of the program, and eventually as featured speakers at the “creation science conferences” weekends, Saturday and Sunday only, but always returning to our respectable professor jobs at our respective public universities, Bible colleges and seminaries during the week.

Yet, Frank Tipler was different. He didn’t just like it there. He really loved Looneytown. And not just on the weekend. Tipler was among those who liked it there so much that he finally got a store front on Main Street itself, bought a condo, and ran for City Council. Eventually, as an honored citizen, he became eligible for a YEC Lifetime Achievement Award, also known as……well…….uh….. Sorry, I’m just too polite to say it. But do you remember the Woody Allen movie where his character and Diane Keeton’s character take their “mentally disadvantaged” friend to the town that is hosting the friend’s convention? I’ll always remember the “Welcome!” banner stretched over the city’s Main Street.

Thankfully, as a cocky, young professor who lectured and debated for the “creation science” cause during the 1970’s, I never really felt at home at that destination, even in what would eventually become the sprawling and luxurious suburbs of modern-day YECdom. [Wow, I sure can milk a metaphor for all its worth.] While at least initially I was warmly welcomed by Looneytown residents, for me it soon became a “Nice place to vi$it but I wouldn’t want to live there.” After all, the full-timers appreciated my helping with the pep rallies and joining the Looneytown Pledge of Allegiance, but asking questions, especially the wrong questions of the town fathers, eventually got me into a lot of hot water.

{{Author’s Note: I’m a retired Christian minister, professor, and Bible translator. My writings about “creation science” are meant to skewer the deserving mega-ministry leaders who exploit others, not the rank-and-file young earth creationists who are their prey. As a member of the “creation science” movement long ago, I have specific people in mind—both then and now—and they know who they are. This is NOT a denegration of Christians in general, nor fundamentalists in particular, nor the Bible or anyone’s faith in Jesus Christ. This is about exploitation, dishonesty. and greed and the leaders and opportunists who serve that unholy trinity.}}

The April Fool’s Day Massacre

The story of my final speaking appearance as a “creation science” speaker and debater is rarely mentioned openly among YECs today. And the strangest aspect of the story is that my final “statements” were not even at the pulpit when I had control of the audience and the microphone. Mostly, I just sat back and watched the events unfold—-almost like it was an assassination in slow motion. Of course it was. Because that is exactly what it was. Almost surreal. But real, nonetheless.

I sat. Yes, nervously. I wondered: How would my plan play out? Would all of my people correctly carry out their assigned role at the proper time? Would anyone lose their nerve? At the last minute, would even one of them rationalize, “Everyone in the audience is an innocent bystander. They came here for some encouragement. And just a pleasant time after a long work-week. And the entire day has been so calm and uneventful. Is it right to have them suddenly jolted into witnessing the “nasty business” and the very rude awakening that is about to happen?”

I anxiously counted each of the seven as they took their places near the audience microphone in the center aisle. But where is #7? Where could he be? The plan could get by without #2 and even #6…..but not #7. Not without #7! Yet just as I was about to panic, #7 walked swiftly to his assigned spot….carrying of all things a coffee and a doughnut! Are you crazy, #7?! Everybody knows you can’t bring food and drink into a church’s carpeted sanctuary. Everybody knows that! Even the dullest creation scientist knows that! But nobody seemed to notice.

And as if on cue, each of the seven took out the piece of carefully prepared paper which I had given each of them. Good, they were rehearsing their question, going over it one last time. Perhaps the plan would work out perfectly after all. Hadn’t we practiced just the night before in this very building? Hadn’t we discussed and rehearsed contingency plans in case the creation science speakers started to realize too quickly what was happening to them? I realized how fortunate I was in seeing *The Dirty Dozen* on TV the week before. Having the seven memorize the contingency plans by poetic verse was a great way to make sure everyone remembered what to do. Yes, there was room for some errors here and there……even for someone to lose their assigned paper and forget their question entirely. But to make this my final swan song as a part of the “creation science” movement, I wanted to give my long-time colleagues, the founders of the movement, a shellacking they would never forget. Yes, if nobody lost their nerve…and if they all stayed on script….and if they carefully read aloud the questions I had written for them, “creation science” was going to die in the kind of systematic, ruthless yet surgically precise way that I had carefully planned for it—and the way in which they were NEVER willing to try and debunk the theory of evolution. Yes, I knew that “creation science” would have to be shot and killed many times. Like any other lifeless zombie, it keeps coming to life and seeking out the gullible, those slow enough to stumble, and fall before it, and be overrun even though it could barely maintain a slow walk. Yes, I couldn’t kill it forever in just one night. But I could still enjoy watching it die, knowing that it would come back to life in another place, but just a little bit weaker than before because of my efforts.

After all, nobody deserved it more than creation science did. And I wasn’t going to feel an ounce of remorse. I was about to kill the scourge which had only a little to do with creation and absolutely NOTHING to do with science——all so that future minds might live in freedom and dignity. And a lot less confusion.

My mind drifted to the audience. Would anybody panic? Would anybody run? Would there be a mass stampede for the exits, all fearing that perhaps their entire religious faith was about to be demolished just as easily? Would the organizers cut power to the microphone and mounted speakers? Would the conference organizers realize what was happening before it was too late? Would they call an end to the Q&A session after the first two questions? Most of all, would they suspect that they were about to witness a carefully plotted assassination—and that the target was the guest of honor: “creation science”?

Each of the seven kept reviewing the scripted question I had assigned to him. I felt as if I had personally smelted the lead in each bullet and then passed them out with each pistol. The plan, at least at first, was that I would be considered just an innocent by-stander, just another speaker on the platform. Yet, I knew that my older colleagues would soon figure out that the plot had my fingerprints all over it from the beginning.

Today, so many decades later, the mega-ministry websites dare not speak of it. The average rank-and-file “creation science” buff has never been told of it. But among the millionaire origins ministry entrepreneurs who lead the creation science industry today, rumors about that dark day are spoken only in hushed tones. They were very young then and only know of it from the old ones. The younger, third generation YECers and YECist opportunists (and the IDers) who came along after the premiere of You-tube wonder if “The Massacre” really happened at all. Today the few surviving old ones speak only in a few carefully measured words, as their faces turn ashen gray and their voices grow weak and trembling. They warn the younger ones, the Jason Lisle generation, not to be so sure of themselves: “After all, it could happen to you too. You just never know. We were too reckless. We were so sure of ourselves. We thought evidence and reason could never find us. We dared allow an open microphone for the Q&A. No master of ceremonies to post as look-out. No screened questions submitted in index cards in advance. Just expect it to go as planned. Doesn’t the audience all love us? That was our hubris.”

Those who’ve actually talked to the old ones, those who survived the carnage that night, compared all of their first-hand accounts and still wonder: “Could it happen again?”

“Was the body count really that high? Was Dr. Gish literally knocked off of his horse in mid-Gallop? Was that night really the reason why all of the major names in the “creation science” mega-ministry world today are never allowed to travel together nor all scheduled to appear at the same creation conference on the same day?”

As for me, I educated my way out of the embarrassment of “creation science” before the Internet and ubiquitous video cameras preserved an indelible record of my foolishness. Unfortunately, the legacy of that bloody confrontation forced me to change my name, to undergo plastic surgery to change my appearance, and to enter the Witless Protection Program for “criminal” ex-YECs. (Those of us who have brazenly left the “family”, who have dared to emphasize disloyal, forbidden words like “evidence” and “logical thinking”, and have publicly testified against the millionaire origins-mega-ministry entrepreneurs, we have angered those mob bosses to the point that they put out the ultimate “hit” against us: declaring us “compromising Christians” and even “not a TRUE Christian at all.” Ken Ham repeats those two criminal counts often on video—-because he knows that somewhere out there, I am watching. He wasn’t at the Massacre. But he has promised that he won’t be taken down so easily. After all, Answers in Genesis has a security staff budget that Morris and Gish could only have dreamed of. He even has plain clothes security walking every room of the Creation Museum. What he doesn’t have are answers to any of my questions challenging his “creation science.”)

Yes, I was forced to adopt my “Professor Tertius” pseudonym** and constantly change proxy servers, lest the YEC “enforcers” track me down using all of that incriminating C-14 residue left in my wake and the two mobile RF-tracking units which Don Hambo, Don Ray Comfort, and the other YEC-mafia bosses held a rare “creation science inner sanctum” meeting in order to finance and staff. The enormous parabolic antennas on flatbed trailers pulled by full-size, diesel-fueled semi-tractors use state-of-the-art tracking technology and triangulation techniques to react with a moment’s notice in order to locate the secret short-wave transmitter/receiver unit which I use in order to get my daily marching orders from the infamous WWEAC headquarters. (As all evilutionists know, WWEACT stands for the “World Wide Evil Atheist Conspiracy Triad”, which is also known by the motto: “Like, ya know, WE ACT like we scientists have all of the answers and stuff!” The Atheist Triad, of course, stands for the three central pillars of our world-wide conspiracy: the lies of Evolution, Abiogenesis, and Zombies. Heck, you can’t have an evil triad without at least a FEW zombies in it. Get real! Otherwise you’d just have science and evidence and……well…. ya know, all that boring stuff! And boring stuff like real science and real evidence just ain’t all that scary.)

Of course, back in those olden days of yore, Ol’ Hambo was just a young pup still learning to herd kangaroos in Australia. Yet even today, as head mafioso and De Facto if not De Jure Mayor of the City of Looneytown, Ol’ Hambo and YEC leaders around the world will never forgive me for what eventually became known as the April Fool’s Day Massacre. After all these years I think it is high time for me to tell my side of the story, so that the facts can be salvaged from the gross exaggerations and obfuscations which always confuses the memories of legendary events.

It was a fairly typical weekend in Looneytown for most folk. But for me, I was reaching my limits of tolerating my colleagues’ pseudo-science, reckless proof-texting, misuse of evidence, and pathological dishonesty. You see, for once or twice a month I had been coming to town to lecture on the great “creation science” struggle against the evil evolutionists and atheist scientists of the world. But backstage and privately, I had been asking the City Fathers of Looneytown increasingly pointed questions, both damning and quite embarrassing for my senior colleagues. Dr. Duane Gish and Dr. Henry Morris, together with the local parson, Dr. John Whitcomb Jr., became increasingly dismissive of my questions and what they called my “nit-picking over scientific details” and “minor matters of citation.” I became increasingly disturbed by the pathological lying, because to share an untruth accidentally and unknowingly is one thing, but once one has been fully informed of the truth and yet continues in spreading error, that ignorance degenerates further into dishonesty. For me, one of the last straws was the shoulder-shrugging rationalization, “The evolutionists lie all the time! Why are you only worried about our honesty and not the atheists?” My answer was a simple one: “Because as a Bible-affirming Christian I get identified with YOU and not THEM. So what you do reflects upon me and all other Christ-followers. Secondly, if we truly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, we should base our conduct on the standard of truth and virtue which Jesus taught, not what somebody else allegedly happens to be doing.” But my colleagues’ misuse of scientific terms and concepts kept getting more outlandish and all the more misleading. Their misuse of scripture was not much better. Plus I saw inconsistency and contradiction growing like a fungus on deadwood. Deceptive quote-mining started to become a weekly spectator sport, with the reckless use of the ellipsis becoming a kind of quotation wildcard, able to transform any excerpt into a statement, or even an entire position, opposite of the author’s original intention.

I was reaching my limit. Looneytown had always been quite quirky and its leaders a bit reckless, but the average citizen was almost always well-intentioned and generally law-abiding by the standards of the surrounding county. The local parson, John Whitcomb Jr., by now had became a politician and raging demagogue much like the city bosses. Speaking invitations, appearance fees, important deep-pocketed donors, and the growing pride which comes with exalted positions can change a person, and gradually they did. Not so much the average person walking the streets, mind you, but the city fathers took on more of the “city slicker” strut and the “big city” arrogance which comes with bigger, more plush offices and the adulation of larger, adoring and enthusiastic crowds. Book signings began. Tribute banquets were held. Made-up awards were awarded to one another. (Very reciprocal, you know.) And all with a passing of the hat, mind you! “After all, those evil evilutionists are just behind us! Coming ever closer! They are monsters, you know! Why…..all that we hold dear will soon be a distant memory. They will kill us all! And they want to burn all of the Bibles! But you can stop them. You can stand up for all that is good…..by sending to us now what WE hold dear!” [HINT: It rhymes with “dollars”.]

By that time in the 1970’s, after asking my insightful but all too embarrassing, backstage questions about “creation science” to the Founding Fathers of the city of Looneytown*** over many weeks, Duane Gish and Henry Morris had dismissed me with a few final shrugs and their all too lame rationalizations. So I was pondering whether I should cross the Rubicon as I watched Dr. Gish at the pulpit continuing to use a discredited quote-mine, of which just two weeks before he had promised an audience-member, “Yes, I suppose you are right about that. I will make sure that that error is corrected in the next edition of my book.” If he was admitting an error and promising to remove it from the next edition of his book, why was he sharing it with a new audience, so soon thereafter, as if there was nothing wrong with it? I had witnessed the last compromise which I was willing to tolerate in silence. I would end my association with the “creation science” movement in a public confrontation of fact against failed fantasy which they would never forget—though they would try.

At the bigger conferences, there were audience Q&A periods after each individual speaker and a final Q&A of the entire speakers’ panel in the plenary session at the end of the day. For that last session I arranged for my confederates in the audience to be seated nearest the audience microphone so that they could be first in line to ask, one-by-one, the kinds of questions which my senior colleagues had tried so hard to ignore, dodge, belittle, and obfuscate. At the appointed time, as unanticipated surprise denouement, the celebrity “creation scientists” of the YEC elite would have no choice but to address these incriminating questions, each asked by its own member of the audience at the microphone:

(1) “Dr. X, you spoke at length and gave examples of how modern science is hopelessly flawed because of the use of uniformitarian thinking and methodologies. You kept deriding the idea of “using evidence collected in the present to understand what happened in the past”. Yet virtually every one of the arguments and evidences you gave us for a young earth were based on those very same uniformitarian methods—– and you even calculated direct extrapolations from present-day rates, such as when you used a modern-day population formula to establish the years since Noah, and the age of the oceans based on a rate at which the dissolved salt increases in seawater. You did likewise with the moon’s distance from the earth and many other examples in your “99 Evidences for a Young Earth.” I don’t understand why uniformitarianism is bad for other scientists to use but perfectly fine when “creation scientists” use it. Isn’t that hypocritical?”

(2) “Dr. Y, you said that you have superior answers to what happened in the beginning because you have an eye-witness who was there. You said that that eye-witness was God. But later you said that Moses wrote Genesis many centuries after the fact. So then Genesis is NOT the report of an eye-witness, is it? Moreover, Moses in Genesis doesn’t even say, “God gave me this first-hand report which I recorded here at the beginning of my scroll.” And because Moses doesn’t preface the seven-day outline at all, how do we know that it isn’t some other type of literary genre, such as a parable? How do you know that Genesis 1 is not a poetic parable meant to teach us that God is the Creator and that he has sovereign control over each of the six domains of the world which the pagan societies neighboring the Land of Israel assigned one-by-one to various gods and goddesses? Why shouldn’t I listen to the many Biblical scholars who have explained that historical context to me, especially when it makes so much more sense?”

(3) “Dr. Z, you made fun of modern science for allegedly saying that “everything came from nothing.” You said it was ridiculous. Yet, for many centuries you and many other Christian theologians using the Bible have taught EX NIHILO as your doctrine of creation. EX NIHILO means “out of nothing”, so why do you make fun of scientists if you are saying that they speak in the same EX NIHILO “out of nothing” terms as you do?”

(4) “Gentlemen, you made fun of abiogenesis, which means “biological life from non-living ingredients”. Yet, at least four times in Genesis 1 and again in Genesis 2:7 we see biologically living creatures described as coming from non-living ingredients. The Biblical texts say, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life…” and and “Let the land bring forth plants…” and “Let the land bring forth living creatures…” In all of those scriptures, life came from non-living ingredients, water and soil, and that also complies with the definition of abiogenesis. Whether or not a CREATOR was involved in making all of that happen is a THEOLOGICAL issue that science doesn’t address because the scientific method has no tool or procedure for detecting deities, let alone determining what they do. So aren’t you just complaining that science fails to be theology and simply doesn’t take a position on whether there was a creator? Are you implying that you wish to change the definition of science to be more to your liking?”

(5) “Gentlemen, you made fun of ‘molecules-to-man’ evolution. Let’s put aside for the moment the simple fact that the theory of evolution only deals with changes in living things over time and NOT the origins of the first living things. Genesis 2:7 says, “And God formed the human one from the dust of the ground.” Some translations use the Hebrew word as a name and call him “Adam” but no matter how you translate it, it is talking about a man. And “the dust of the ground” is clearly just molecules from the earth’s crust. So Genesis 2:7 clearly speaks of a molecules to man transformation of some sort. It doesn’t say whether it happened quickly or took billions of years. So why do you deride the “start with molecules” and “end up with the human body” idea from science when this scripture so explicitly describes a molecules-to-man transformation?”

FOLLOWUP to #5:
(5b) “In fact, I asked my Hebrew professor at seminary about this and he said that Hebrew culture and language in general are far less concerned about tense and time considerations than English. He said that we should read Genesis 2:7 and not put ideas into the text which aren’t there. He says that the text is simply saying “dust of the ground” got formed into a human body and God wanted that to happen. Any arguments about time spans and processes are not answered by the text. What say you?”

(6) “You said that scientists have hijacked the word ‘science’ and that it’s original meaning was just ‘knowledge’. But if you change the meaning of ‘science’ to just ‘knowledge’ then our knowledge of Aesop’s Fables, for example, becomes science and scientific knowledge! Are you saying that you want to expand the definition of “science” to mean EVERYTHING that we know? If you do that, then what becomes of the scientific method? Haven’t you made the meaning of science meaningless if you get your way?”

(7) “Finally, gentlemen, you said that we can’t know what happened in the past based on evidence collected in the present. Are you saying that you don’t use that methodology in your daily life at all? Or are you saying that you apply that to every area of your life but not in your use of science? After all, if you drive home after work and find smoldering embers and ashes where your home once was, do you not assume that it burned down in your absence? Or if someone broke into your house, would you tell the prosecutor that he can’t use the defendant’s fingerprints found all over the inside of your house because ‘evidence collected in the present can’t be used to explain the past?'”

Ahhh….fond memories. By the time my 7th confederate’s question was clumsily and barely addressed, tempers were on the edge, you could cut the tension with a knife, and the audience was very very quiet. How was I to interpret the silence? What were the average audience member’s conclusions? I don’t know. And before I could think another thought, the pastor of the host church seized the microphone at the sound console at the back of the church sanctuary and announced, “That brings our Question & Answer session to a close. We will take a ten minute break before we return to the sanctuary for a few announcements, a closing hymn, and our final benediction.” Then a great roar welled up from the audience, as he each turned to their neighbor and said “Wow! I don’t know what to think about what just happened! Do you?”

The speakers on the dais quickly huddled. Yes, some of the speakers immediately recognized some of these questions as those which I had been asking them privately, and they scowled at me appropriately. The other speakers were delightfully unaware—-yet dazed, as if a carcass they had thought long dead, and which they had danced around so blissfully and carelessly for years, had suddenly come to life when they had least expected it. And that filthy beast had somehow eaten them alive, but they knew not who or what to blame! “It must have been another of those evil atheist conspiracies! Clearly, those dastardly denizens of the deep had planted undercover evolutionists in our midst!” At the height of their confusion, while they were trying to regroup among themselves during the the short intermission—and before the Founding Fathers of Looneytown could “finger me” as the shooter—-I silently made my escape into the night though the fire exit behind the choir loft and baptistery. Along with my seven assassins, we leaped into the back of our awaiting Volkswagen Minibus, its engine revving, and Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible Theme” playing loudly on the 8-track tape player inside. I left Looneytown for the last time that evening, never to return. And I went to the desert on a horse with no name and it was good to be out of the rain. But in Looneytown, they still remember my name. Oh its good to be out of the rain. It truly is.

As an ex-YEC, I’ve quietly lived out my years in the Witless Protection Program, never knowing if around that next street corner, the next time the elevator door closes behind me, or the next time a stranger at church asks me for the time while holding an extremely large Bible that could double as a violin case, I may at last see my score settled by a disgruntled young earth creationist. (And believe you me, the last person you’d ever want to run into is a young earth creationist without his gruntle.)

At last my story is told. And now you know why this legendary event became my last participation in a “creation science” conference. Yes, there have been rumors that one of the “creation scientists” on the speaker’s panel managed to utter some sort of semi-cogent collection of random, sciency-sounding words that the home-team, friendly audience was willing to regard as an answer to one of my questions. But that is all they are. That is all they’ve ever been. Just rumors. And nothing more.

I have been “on the lamb” ever since, hiding from the “creation scientists” of the younger generation, the “Were you there?” You-tubers of a new kind of “creation science” cult: Big on sound bites and slogans; not so big on evidence and logic. Yep, they are pretty much the same as the old ones.

And they too will try to avenge the bloodshed and unholy carnage which was The April Fool’s Day Massacre.

Now some will surely ask me if at least the general gist of my tale is actually true. They will ask if there was at least a modicum of exaggeration. They will ask if I really was a speaker/debater in the early “creation science” movement. They might even ask if I truly do have to use a pseudonym online. They will ask if I have used satire to make a point. They will ask if there really are “creation science” leaders who would like to get even with me and silence me. They will ask if a shockingly large percentage of what I have just shared is all too true. They will ask if I will EVER finish my story that has gone on seemingly forever.

The answer to all of those questions is an unreservedly, definite yes.

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** FOOTNOTE: As the elusive “Professor Tertius”, I have become the “Dr. No” of the villainous ex-YEC underground. (Cue the James Bond theme music here) Yes, I tried “Dr. Gnosis” for a while, but I had to give it up when too many YECs didn’t realize that it refers to one their stupidest quote-mines from the Bible: “The GNOSIS, the science so-called.” Yep, they didn’t even KNOW that GNOSIS referred to KNOWING a religious secret KNOWN only by first century cult members, not science in any sense of our English word. [Ironically, in my serious writings I’ve often called YEC-ism a modern-day Gnosticism and have explained several reasons why that word is a very appropriate description.] Of course, even those who did get the fact that it had a connection to the Bible didn’t realize that the Apostle Paul was referring to a first century religious cult known as “Gnosticism”, which had infiltrated and posed a threat to the early church. But despite the claims of Ol’ Hambo and other un-knowing YECs, it had nothing to do with modern science nor even with the ancient kind! (One of the drawbacks of having a lowbrow opponent to roast is that most of the good word-play goes completely over their heads. They don’t even know that you’ve insulted them, although they look both ways, realize that others are snickering, and then start getting angry over it.)

*** FOOTNOTE: When I write that Dr. Gish and Dr. Morris were the “Founding Fathers of Looneytown”, I don’t want to give the impression that they were the very first leaders there or the first inhabitants of that distinctive municipality. It actually began as just a post office at an important crossroads with a few scattered homes and shops forming an easy not-to-notice community while driving cross-country, at least at least in the old days. Pseudo-Science Way headed due south through there and crossed a dirt-road that was little more than a footpath known as Proof-text Road. Gish & Morris had each been taking their very similar travelling medicine shows through the area and decided that what was then called Looneyville Corners would be a good place to stay and exploit permanently, for all they could get out of it. (After all, there weren’t even any schools or libraries in that county, and the citizens were good, ethical people but very trusting and poorly educated.) So even though others had helped settle and organize the area, it was these two Founding Fathers who actually incorporated it as a city and “put it on the map” so to speak. For years thereafter, Gish and Morris each took turns as Acting Mayor even though nobody ever stopped to ask them, “Who put you guys in charge?” Initially, Gish and Morris didn’t even charge anything for their services. They would simply ask the good people of that place to collect their “love gifts”, also known as “a freewill offering.” [For those who don’t speak Fundamentalist-Christianese, a “love gift” is a tactful way to say “donation.” After all, to speak of money is crass, ya know. (You do know that, right?)]
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(c) 2014. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum
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11 Comments

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11 responses to “A TRIP DOWN YEC MEMORY LANE: Few YECs Speak of It To This Day

  1. I enjoyed this very much, and I can’t wait to read more.

  2. marleyfamily01
    Good Day, prof. Enjoyed your amusing description of the YEC conferences of the 60’s and 70’s. A few observations:

    1. Certainly Genesis was not an eye witness account of Moses, but more importantly in was the testimony of the Almighty. If one holds to the inspiration of Scripture, this should suffice. Be that as it may, agreed, it was not an eye witness account of anyone. God said the same to Job when He asked, Where were you…? (Job 40, 41)

    2. The Genesis account a parable. In seminary, when identifying the various genres contained in scripture, there were certain distinctives. With regard to parables, they were usually identified as such. A parable, if I remember correctly, can be understood as an extended simile. The comparison is expressed (such as Jesus did) and the subject and the thing compared, explained more fully, are kept separate. I don’t see this is the Genesis account. I have heard it identified as an allegory, which although I would disagree as well, makes more sense, since an allegory is unexpressed and the subject and the thing compared are intermingled. That said, I don’t see the text as resembling poetry or parable. Furthermore, I don’t think one can demonstrate that the NT figures or writers saw Genesis 1-11 as anything but history. I am reminded of comments by John Dominic Crossan on the Bible. He also saw large segment of biblical history as parable where identification as such was not warranted. Additionally, when in Genesis do you see the parable ending? Does it end with Adam, Noah, Abram, etc?

    3. The difference between the creationist and the naturalist when relating the beginning ex nihilo is that the creationist admits the supernatural occurrence. The evolutionist cannot explain a starting point (an origin) from natural processes. I do not ridicule him for this lack of knowledge, but it is odd to me that he is willing to take this leap of faith without any real explanation. It is not an unfair indictment to say to the creationist that their starting point is God, creating something out of nothing. Nor is it unfair to say to the naturalist that they have no good evidence to support such an assertion. In recent years my naturalist friends have retreated altogether from that particular conversation since they don’t believe that origins really impact the evolutionary question at all.

    4. You related that science does not have a tool for detecting deities. Does this mean a rejection of all things intelligent design? I have yet to see a system that did not possess a blueprint or code of some sort. All information seems to come from an intelligent source. Matter cannot produce data, code, or information by itself as far as I know. I am interested in your thoughts concerning ID.

    5. Are there ANY OEC’s that you believe produce good science? Are there any YEC’s that you believe make at least ONE compelling point that you have grappled with?

    That’s all for now,

    Mark

    • Mark,
      I do hope to respond to your questions when time allows. But for now I will make just a few comments about your #5 questions.

      I have no doubt that there are scientists who happen to hold Old Earth Creationist and even Young Earth Creationist positions (in terms of their interpretations of Genesis 1) who are making contributions to their respective fields of science. However, I know of NO scientific discoveries which have EVER been made in the field of “creation science” per se which are anything but theological or philosophical “discoveries”. Indeed, for years now I have asked on various Christian forums that they nominate even ONE “scientific discovery” for that year that was produced by a “creation scientist” that depended on some fundamental principle of “creation science.” Nobody has ever posted even one. If they respond it all, it is always some unrelated scientific discovered which just happened to come from a scientist who “believes in” creation science.

      For example, the most common “nomination” is “the guy who invented the MRI”. Putting aside the idea that he was just one of several scientists who produced the modern MRI machine, there is nothing from “creation science” that the man applied/used to produce the MRI. He used an already discovered principle from physics and used Fourier mathematics to process the signals coming back from the living tissue.

      If your question means: Has Young Earth Creationism or Old Earth Creationism produced a compelling point that you have grappled with?, I would say this: I was a YEC and “creation science” advocate for years. So, yes, I grappled with virtually EVERYTHING OEC and YEC talks about. That is why I renounced both. Anything “good” within YECism or OECism is not intrinsic but comes from the Bible itself.

      I have no doubt that many people are sincere and have even said and done noble, virtuous things because of their YEC or OEC motivations. But no. I am not aware of ANYTHING that is intrinsically YEC or OEC (i.e., unique to those viewpoints) which I have found valuable or profound.

      I greatly appreciate Dr. Hugh Ross as a believer. He’s published some excellent science in his own field of astronomy. Unfortunately, his efforts to use the Hebrew language to make some of his points is amateurish and often mistaken. But I can certainly say that I find him far more sincere and humble than most YEC ministry leaders. I appreciate that Dr. Ross tries to use his science knowledge to motivate and encourage Christians. But his cherry-picking and myopic treatment of various science topics to promote his own brand of OECism is lamentable.

      The big problem for all of them is that once people notice the many errors in their claims, they are prone to throw out the Biblical truths along with the flawed, YEC-inspired or OEC-inspired nonsense. Dr. Ross is quite astute on astronomy topics and, for the most part, physics topics. But in biology analysis, I’m amazed that a Ph.D. caliber scientist can be so reckless and poorly informed on biology topics. (His colleague, Dr. Rana, has a biology background if I recall but he gushes misunderstandings of evolutionary biology quite frequently.) If Dr. Ross’ ministry would focus on what he does best, speak of the Creator’s hand in what we observe in nature, he would probably be a great encouragement to many believers. But he encourages so much pseudoscience and poor logic in relation to evolution topics, I find it painful to listen to him on those days.

      To his credit, he skewered Dr. Gish whenever he had him on the program. Ross did a great job of exposing Dr. Gish’s greatest flubs and nonsense statements on the air. I can think of many times he challenged Dr. Gish, when appearing as his guest on the radio programs, by saying, “OK. If you truly believe that that is what the science academy has determined and said about topic X, I can schedule a meeting of the professional society in the coming months and you can ask them from the podium and get a show of hands.” Gish was famous for spewing nonsense and Dr. Ross was great about calling him on the carpet. Dr. Ross also did a great job of exposing Kent Hovind’s nonsense about a young earth.

      If there is some particular claim of YECists or OECists that you’d like to pose to me here, I would give my opinion. I don’t really know what particular claim you consider compelling. I can only say that I have never been impressed with anything they’ve said in terms of science.

      I can certainly say that I’ve heard NO COMPELLING EVIDENCE from them for a young earth. What amazes me most is that they promote various evidence against “billions of years” which ALSO would just as thoroughly debunk a 6,000 year old earth! And that amazes me that their followers don’t question that. After all, if they say, “Process X yields 300,000 years old and therefore the billions of years old earth is wrong!”, that argument would mean they are debunking an earth of a few thousand years old!

      If you wish to send me examples in an email, I can even treat it as its own blog topic and article.

  3. Welcome to BSF, Mark. I’m juggling many priorities at the moment but hope to address your observations and questions soon—perhaps even treating some of them as their own blog topics and inviting others to join with the engagement. In the meantime, I think you and other readers will appreciate the excellent work of Gordon Glover, whose Youtube videos are some of the most instructive I’ve ever seen on the topic of how Christ-followers should engage the Science of origins. The 13-lessons, video series begins at:

    I don’t necessarily agree with all of his personal conclusions (though I also deny that they are heretical) but he does an outstanding job of explaining how “natural philosophy”: (which became modern Science) required its own methodologies and the charge of “leaving out God” is misleading and misses one of the greatest advantages of the scientific method!

    By the way, Glover also a series of cartoon semi-animations explaining in comical ways why “Intelligent Design” hypotheses promoted by the Discovery Institute and others (1) fails to meet the definition of science, and (2) does considerable damage to the credibility of Christians and (3) creates unnecessary obstacles to the Great Commission. Far too many Christians think that being “loyal” to their poorly constructed sciency-sounding PHILOSOPHICAL discourses (masquerading as science) requires displays of solidarity among Christians and even all theists. But anyone who watches Gordon’s 13-video series first should see the dangers of poorly constructed “arguments for God”. (Bad “arguments for God” soon become arguments against God’s existence.)

    Most of the Christians I know in the science academy denounce “Intelligent Design” because they realize it substitutes a puny, bumbling/fumbling deity for the God of the Bible and is bad theology as well as bad pseudo-science. In fact, even Ken Ham denounces it, though not necessarily for the best reasons. (Of course, his main concern is that the Discovery Institute competes for many of the same donors and donors’ dollars.) However, I recommend engaging the “Intelligent Design” topic separately after we have dealt with Young Earth Creationism, which has a much longer history of damage to the Great Commission and has produced far more ex-Christians and atheists than Richard Dawkins ever will. Plus, for now I’ll just say that I consider the term “Intelligent Design” so hopelessly discredited as a useful term that I wouldn’t recommend its use for anything but the discredited philosophical stance it continues to represent. (Seeing how even Discovery Institute board members have admitted their failure to publish any sort of formal “Comprehensive Theory of Intelligent Design”, much less the kind of point-by-point, scientific method comparison of their “ID theory” with competing theories and hypotheses that scientists routinely expect of ANY new theory, that tells me that even ID leaders recognize that all they have is a series of miscellaneous anecdotal, philosophical obligations about various science topics. Indeed, I recommend that everyone read Michael Behe’s testimony and cross-examination in the Dover Trial, where his Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacy was so thoroughly exposed and shredded. He also admitted that ID is “real science” ONLY if he is allowed to redefine the word “science” so broadly that ASTROLOGY is considered a science and requires a place in the classroom as anther “side” to be taught.

    Of course, the fact that ALL of the other Discovery Institute staff “scientists” who were scheduled to testify on behalf of the DI’s amicus brief made a mad dash to the airport once they saw Dr. Behe’s and his “evidence for ID” being roasted alive during cross-ex, exposes to everyone the fact that they realized “the jig was up.” They were about to witness the final death blow of “ID theory” and suffer a public humiliation so devastating that the donor money gravy train was in danger of permanent derailing.

    Most “intelligent design theory” proponents realize that its not real science when they find themselves unable to give me heuristic rules which determine for any entity X whether it is “intelligently designed” or not. Also, to claim that some Xs are NOT “intelligently designed” risks the admission that the Intelligent Designer, God, did NOT create everything! That right there is one of the key reasons Ken Ham et al denounce “ID theory”.

    Furthermore, when I recently asked IDers on various Christian forums to name the most important scientific discovery of “ID science” in the year 2014, they all went science. (Of course, a few tried to claim that various PHILOSOPHICAL or THEOLOGICAL CONCLUSIONS of IDers were somehow scientific discoveries. Yet, I seriously doubt that they believed their own silly claim. Some of them even try to say that any scientific discovery that was published by a scientist who happens to BE a creationist or IDer thereby makes the discovery a product of “creation science” or IDism. Such claims risk the charge of chronic dishonesty, not just ignorance. But I’m never all that surprised when someone who doesn’t even know what science is also can’t define what constitutes a scientific discovery.)

    Personally speaking, I prefer to speak in terms of ULTIMATE DESIGN, taking advantage of the well established terminology familiar to any History & Philosophy of Science Department at any large university. God, as the Ultimate Cause, is therefore, the Ultimate Designer. Science is the study of Proximate Causes, including the apparent “designs” produced by the natural processes the Ultimate Designer created. Accordingly, I believe that that God, as Ultimate Designer, designer the universe in such a way that the Laws of Physics explain the processes which made life from non-living ingredients not only possible, but inevitable. Likewise, those Laws of Physics also provide Proximate Causes for the evolutionary processes which carried out the Ultimate Designer’s while adapting living things to new environments and diversifying life on earth in such magnificent ways. Anybody who thinks science, which focuses on Proximate Causes (while theology emphasizes Ultimate Cause: God), somehow “leaves out God” is confusing the methodological naturalism of science with the philosophical naturalism of atheism. Complaining that science “leaves out God” is just as childish as faulting architecture for “leaving out God as the ultimate architect” or deriding a Fine Arts textbook for “leaving out how human reproductive processes produce babies who grow up to be artists.” Until people understand the difference between Ultimate Cause and Proximate Causes, they won’t understand the differences between Theology and Science.

    Why do so many Christians want Science to be redefined to include matters which are outside of the domain of the scientific method? I believe it is because they realize, and envy, the fact that the general public trusts science for reliable answers far more than they trust religions. That’s why Ken Ham during the Nye-Ham debate claimed that the “real” definition of science (based on his use of the Argument from Etymology=Definition fallacy) is “knowledge”, the ancient meaning of the Latin word SCIENTIA. Ham foolishly claimed that scientists have “hijacked” the word Science to “leave out God”. He forgets that the Christian heroes of the Science who he at other times boasts were the founders of the scientific method were the ones who decided that “natural philosophy” (which became modern science) must be methodologically naturalistic so that science wouldn’t stop with the traditional theological explanation: “God did it that way.” Ken Ham et al would prefer to mix theology and science in a single discipline, so that the methodology which has made science so useful and objective will be abandoned in favor of returning to “God did it this way” explanations.

    Imagine the irony of the many fallacies his misbegotten propaganda campaign produces: Many of the same Christians who foolishly claim, “Christianity is not a religion!” will nevertheless declare “The Theory of Evolution is a religion!” As the Book of Proverbs warns us, a fool in his folly scorns instruction and mocks those who would try to teach him. The embarrassment to all Christ-followers that the Nye-Ham debate produced was apparently not overlooked by the readers of Christianity Today magazine. An unscientific poll of readers showed that around 89% considered Bill Nye the winner of the debate.

    Of course, the fact that “creation science” is not science at all was obvious when Ken Ham admitted that NO “creation scientist” at Answers in Genesis is allowed to follow the scientific evidence wherever it leads. Instead, any and all interpretations of the scriptural evidence and scientific evidence which Ken Ham happened to hold on the day when he wrote the AiG founding charter and Statement of Faith are BINDING UPON ALL “SCIENCE” ever to be published by the “creation scientists” at AiG.

    Think about it. All scientific conclusions, no matter how much evidence is gathered, must be ignored when there is conflict with the opinions Ken Ham held on a particular day in the past. Yet, Ken Ham is neither a trained scientists nor a Biblical scholar. (In fact, his academic qualifications for such a lofty, sage-like position of authority are quite puny. It is his success as a millionaire ministry entrepreneur that gives him such authority over the few PhD scientists who work for him and rubber stamp PAST CONCLUSIONS.)

    With those facts in mind, is it any surprise that “creation science” is not science at all? Should we be surprised that in the REAL science academy, we find outstanding, well-published scholars whose work in earning their PhDs alone FAR EXCEEDS anything found among the most famous “creation science authorities”. Is anyone impressed by the CVs of Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, and Eric Hovind? I doubt that we should need to explain the obvious to anyone who compares the expertise and “logic” of these notorious, wealthy entrepreneur buffoons with accomplished born-again, evangelical Christians like Dr. Francis Collins, who is likely to win the Nobel Prize in the next few years?

    I didn’t set out to respond at length to your post, Mark, but I did want to establish a foundation to what will follow. Please let me know when you have finished the Gordon Glover videos on Youtube. Each of the thirteen videos is probably around 8 to 12 minutes in length. You may want to view some of them a second time. I wish every Young Earth Creationist, and especially those who accept Ken Ham’s hardcore false dichotomies of “you must choose between God and Science [or Evolution]” would think carefully about those videos.

  4. ADDENDUM: Just in case someone misunderstands my use of the word “buffoon”. I use that term NOT to imply that every Young Earth Creationist is a buffoon. No. In fact, I’ve often cited Dr. Todd Wood as a laudable example of a “creation science” Young Earth Creationist who avoids the traditional lies of the movement (e.g., “there is zero evidence for evolution”, “there are zero transitional fossil forms”) –and even urges his YEC brethren to permanently retire such dishonest claims–nor does he engage in deceptive quote-mines. Most of all, I’ve never seen him draw attention to himself through the silly tactics and empty mantras of the aforementioned peanut gallery of buffoons.

    Indeed, any Christ-follower who watched Ray Comfort’s “Evolution vs. God” without feeling both embarrassed and depressed has need of intensive remedial science courses and a logic course or two–and a big dose of emergency common sense. Ray “Banana Man” Comfort generates the bloopers of a fool more often than a duck quacks and with far greater annoyance. Is taking Jay Leno’s “Jay watching” segment to the street to ask undergraduate students for help in understanding The Theory of Evolution likely to produce anything substantive? (Of course, Ray has refused all requests for the UNEDITED original footage because he has a long history of dishonest editing to make scientists look foolish.) Suppose an atheist showman decided to answer the question “What does it mean to follow Christ?” or “What does the Bible say about how I can get into heaven?” or even “Why do you Christians denounce gay marriage but eat shellfish, trim beards, and mix fabrics?” by interviewing students coming out of a Easter Sunday church service—and showing only the funniest and most clueless answers? Do you think Ray Comfort would complain?

    No, the label of “buffoon” accurately applies to each of the aforementioned embarrassments.

  5. Pingback: Even when mocking Miley Cyrus, Ken Ham embarrasses himself by exposing his ignorance of evolution. | Bible.and.Science.Forum

  6. Pingback: Donald Trump Failed to Prepare for Alien Attack. (Miley Cyrus Makes Species Argument) | Bible.and.Science.Forum

  7. The whole truth

    Even though I’m an atheist I enjoyed this article. I do, however, want to point out a few typos, or what appear to be typos.

    “Furthermore, when I recently asked IDers on various Christian forums to name the most important scientific discovery of “ID science” in the year 2014, they all went science.”

    At the end of that sentence, shouldn’t the word “science” instead be the word ‘silent’?

    “Accordingly, I believe that that God, as Ultimate Designer, designer the universe in such a way that the Laws of Physics explain the processes which made life from non-living ingredients not only possible, but inevitable.”

    Shouldn’t the word “designer” instead be the word ‘designed’?

    “Likewise, those Laws of Physics also provide Proximate Causes for the evolutionary processes which carried out the Ultimate Designer’s while adapting living things to new environments and diversifying life on earth in such magnificent ways.”

    Is there a word missing between the words “Designer’s” and “while”? Could the missing word be ‘purpose’, or ‘plan’?

  8. Thanks for the errata, The Whole Truth. It appears that when we reorganized the server files, this article somehow reverted back to a prior draft. (I recognize the errors and recall Professor Tertius addressing them long ago when he added some new paragraphs.) I’m going to try and find the final version of it and replace the currently-displayed draft. Thanks much!

    Saito Singh
    BSF RA & Server Admin
    Bible.and.Science.Forum+Saito@gmail.com

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