Russell Humphreys answers
normally try to pay as little attention as possible to the more rabid anticreationist corners of the Internet. They are generally not very accurate, rational, or honest, and I find that spending much time on them does not help me do the kind of creative scientific thinking I want to do. The acid in that kind of environment tends to corrode the mental machinery of saner folk.
Recently, however, an incident occurred which was hard to ignore. The details of this incident are in the e-mail below, but I’ll summarize it here. An anticreationist named Tim Thompson read one of my ICR Impact papers on the earth’s magnetic field and looked up one of my references, a six-page section in a well-known geomagnetism textbook. Thompson saw a figure near the beginning of that section which roughly resembled a mirror image of my Impact article figures.
Thompson immediately jumped to a wrong conclusion; he thought I had either stupidly or dishonestly reversed the time axis of the text’s figure to get my figure, and he hastily rushed to judgement upon me in his website. If he had bothered to look up some of my other, more technical references, he would have seen that I used data from a different part of the section in the textbook. The technical references are harder to get, but they spell out exactly how I made my figure. A critic is morally obligated to look up all references before rushing to accuse. At the very least, Thompson might have asked me about it first. He did not follow any of those normal procedures of good scholarship. As far as I know, he still hasn’t, despite my informing him of the above. He justly deserves any embarrassment he may get from this incident.
The response of other anticreationists to Thompson’s piece of poor scholarship is instructive. Glen Morton, a former young-earth creationist, immediately believed Thompson. Without checking with me --- or the copies of my technical papers he has in his possession --- he immediately began spreading his “good news” around the darker corners of the Internet. I corresponded privately with him after my response to Thompson was posted. Although Morton says he is still a Christian, he apparently feels no obligation to retract his inaccurate information.
Then an assistant professor of geology named Steve Schimmrich at Calvin College grabbed the ball and began to run with it. He posted a caustic note in various places, including the Calvin college net, accusing me and creationists in general of being dishonest. Calvin college (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) has been a center of anticreationism for several decades, being the home territory of such worthies as Howard Van Til, Davis A. Young, and Clarence Menninga. Though still nominally a Christian college, many of its faculty seem to have slid very far down and away from its original principles. However, I decided to give Dr. Schimmrich the benefit of the doubt. I sent him the following e-mail privately, asking him to retract his piece of misinformation. As an experiment, I appealed to Christian ethics.
His response? He ignored my request and challenged me to debate him on other technical issues. He showed not a shred of shame about relaying bad scholarship and wrongly accusing creationists of dishonesty. I wrote back that I was not at all interested in debating him, because I was so disgusted with his hypocrisy that I didn’t want anything more to do with him.
This descent into the anticreationist underworld shows several things about their level of scholarship:
Once they establish that type of reputation, why should more reasonable people listen to them? My counterchallenge to such critics is:
(1) They swallow criticisms of creationism whole without checking them.
(2) They do not admit to errors on their part.
(3) They are quick to argue and slow to think.
“Publish your criticisms in the same sort of place my technical papers appeared --- peer-reviewed scientific publications.”
That is my way of separating the men from the boys. If any of them manage it, I will be happy to answer them in the same sort of publication. Until then, I intend to let them corrode in their own acid without any response from me.
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