It depends on what you mean by suspicious. My honest opinion is that the creationists publishing this stuff know that it won't pass scientific review, but for different reasons. There's a three-way continuum that I think creationists must fall within in order to be creationists:
- Ignorance in the sense of the lack of scientific knowledge.
- Lack of ability to bring the data into a coherent synthesis. I'm trying to be sensitive to site rules and such, but I'll just say that while all people may have been created equal in a political or moral sense, not all were born with the same gifts for discernment.
- Dishonesty. Whether it's conscious or unconscious, I've seen enough creationist arguments by people with the objective credentials to know better that I think at least some of them are rooted in a denial of reality. Many are lying to themselves just as much as they're lying to others, but I'm convinced that at least a few are sociopaths.
Helpful to whom? That certainly wouldn't lead to more creationists.bluegreenearth wrote: ↑Tue Nov 09, 2021 12:00 pmIf they were submitted for peer review but subsequently rejected, do you think it would be helpful for these creationists to publish the justifications those professional and widely respected scientific journals gave them for dismissing their papers for publication?
The intellectual framework behind creationism is already utterly bankrupt, so there's not much room for something lower. I consider it a game to identify things like flaws in their application of the scientific method and fallacious reasoning and try to figure out which of the three points on the continuum are responsible for their failures.bluegreenearth wrote: ↑Tue Nov 09, 2021 12:00 pmFurthermore, even if they were provided with a justification for having their papers rejected, would that lower your confidence in the creationist belief or would you presume there was a massive conspiracy by the consensus of experts in the field to suppress all supporting evidence for creationist ideas?
Walt Brown is mostly between 1 and 2, but there's a little of 3 in the form of self-delusion. His biggest failing, a common one, is that he lacks training in the scientific method. He's an engineer, so he understands the topics that he's talking about, but he approaches the problem like a lawyer rather than a scientist. He sees his job as coming up with a plausible excuse for any objection that someone might levy against his proposal rather than trying to disprove it himself and see where the cracks are. For that reason alone, his work wouldn't even pass a scientific review of his methodology. One of his bad habits is that once he reaches the limits of his knowledge, he's willing to make things up beyond that limit rather than trying to learn more about the subject. That's easiest for me to see with his (and other creationists') treatment of biology. His broad mistake with evolution is by assuming that if he can't relate genotypic details to phenotype, then scientists can't, either. He claims, for example, that de novo traits that arise through mutation must have been present in the genome in the first place, as though such traits could be "hidden" and then suddenly phenotypically appear in a way that could be mistaken for evolution.
Moving on, an interesting case study in the whole thing is Answers in Genesis. It looks to me like what happened is that Ken Ham suffered from a huge dose of 1, but associated himself with a group of smooth-talking number 3s. Ken was a public school science teacher and I think he learned just enough to be dangerous. He was utterly convinced of the truth of Christianity as he saw it, which meant that honest science could only vindicate his views. He had the kind of motivation and faith that moved him to quit his real job and start a creationist bookstore with the goal of amassing in one place all of the evidence one needed to be convinced of God's creation. Somewhere in there, he hooked up with Jonathan Sarfati and Carl Wieland, both of whom, I'm convinced, saw Ken as both a rube and easy paycheck. I'm pretty sure that Sarfati is a genius and a sociopath that enjoys getting people to believe incorrect things. The game seems to be to be convincing with as few lies (in the technical sense) as possible by stringing together true statements in a deceitful way. The problem I have in thinking that he's honest, but mistaken is that in order to put together many of the arguments he does, one would have to understand things like evolution and geology in a way that honest creationists don't. The example that convinced me is in Sarfati's book Refuting Evolution 2. He makes an argument that, in my opinion, could only be made by someone that understands molecular evolution well enough to cherry-pick specific examples and present them in a way that would intentionally lead to misunderstanding. No honest creationist would ever make this argument. Here's the claim that debunks evolution:
I drew a phylogenetic tree of the organisms that Sarfati mentioned:Actually, the molecular clock has many problems for the evolutionist. Not only are there the anomalies and common Designer arguments I mentioned above, but they actually support a creation of distinct types within ordered groups, not continuous evolution, as non-creationist microbiologist Dr Michael Denton pointed out in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. For example, when comparing the amino acid sequence of cytochrome C of a bacterium (a prokaryote) with such widely diverse eukaryotes as yeast, wheat, silkmoth, pigeon, and horse, all of these have practically the same percentage difference with the bacterium (64–69%). There is no intermediate cytochrome between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and no hint that the ‘higher’ organism such as a horse has diverged more than the ‘lower’ organism such as the yeast.
The same sort of pattern is observed when comparing cytochrome C of the invertebrate silkmoth with the vertebrates lamprey, carp, turtle, pigeon, and horse. All the vertebrates are equally divergent from the silkmoth (27–30%). Yet again, comparing globins of a lamprey (a ‘primitive’ cyclostome or jawless fish) with a carp, frog, chicken, kangaroo, and human, they are all about equidistant (73–81%). Cytochrome C’s compared between a carp and a bullfrog, turtle, chicken, rabbit, and horse yield a constant difference of 13–14%. There is no trace of any transitional series of cyclostome → fish → amphibian → reptile → mammal or bird.
First, let's understand how to read this diagram. This tree diagrams proposed evolutionary relationships. Starting from the top of the tree, we see the horse and kangaroo branches coming together at point A. Point A represents a common ancestor of horses and kangaroos. The amount of time that has passed since the lines leading to horses and kangaroos split (or diverged) from each other can be estimated by the difference (also referred to as divergence by Dr. Sarfati) between gene sequences of the two organisms. We see the same relationship between pigeons and chickens. Point B is the common ancestor from which both pigeons and chickens descended. Point C is the last common ancestor to A and B, which means that it is also the last common ancestor between any bird and any mammal. Evolutionary theory says that any two organisms that share the same most recent common ancestor should show the same divergence as any other two organisms that share the same most recent ancestor. This means that a horse and a chicken should show the same divergence as a kangaroo and a pigeon, a horse and a pigeon, or a kangaroo and a chicken. Let's go over Dr. Sarfati's statements again:
If we look at the tree, we see that this is exactly what we should expect from evolution. The most recent common ancestor between a bacterium and each other organism in the list is at point D. Far from being a "problem for evolutionists", this relationship is evidence for evolution. We wouldn't expect a horse to be more diverged from a bacterium than the yeast is because the most recent common ancestor between horses and bacteria is the same as the one between yeast and bacteria. Reading the next paragraph makes it clear that he's being deceptive. All of the relationships he mentions are true, but what is telling is that he specifically omits important relationships. He mentions the relationshiph between the lamprey and the carp, frog, chicken, kangaroo and human. The reason that the statement is true is because the last common ancestor of all land vertebrates is more closely related to the carp than the lamprey. That means that the carp, frog, chicken, kangaroo and human all share a common ancestor! If a carp (a fish) is more closely related to a lamprey (another fish) than to a human as common sense might indicate then evolution is wrong. Dr. Sarfati knows that. He also knows that the molecular relationships match the presumed evolutionary relationships. His solution is to craft statements designed to be deceptive. Notice that for each one of his statements, the first organism he mentions is farther down the tree than the others. He wants it to sound like the organisms are all interchangeable, but they're not. If we replace "lamprey" in his statement with "frog", it's no longer true. A frog is more divergent from a carp than from a chicken. A frog is more divergent from a lamprey than from a human. The theory of evolution not only predicts these relationships, but requires them. If a frog was more divergent from a human than from a carp, evolution didn't happen. If Dr. Sarfati could find such a relationship, he'd have solid proof that evolution is wrong and could confidently tell Christians that science supports the creation. He can't, though, so instead he's intentionally deceptive.For example, when comparing the amino acid sequence of cytochrome C of a bacterium (a prokaryote) with such widely diverse eukaryotes as yeast, wheat, silkmoth, pigeon, and horse, all of these have practically the same percentage difference with the bacterium (64-69%).
The clincher for me was the lamprey thing. I'd bet not one in a million creationists would know that a jawed fish is more closely related to mammals than to a jawless fish. If you know that, you understand evolutionary theory. If you understand that, you're not a creationist.
What ultimately happened is that in 2005 Ken Ham staged a coup and through legal maneuverings, seized all of AiG's assets, freezing out the Australians. I'm pretty sure it's because Ken figured out that Sarfati and Wieland were laughing at him behind his back and if you watch any of his videos, it's obvious that he doesn't have much sense of humor in the first place. I'm pretty sure that he now knows in his heart of hearts that the scientific stuff is wrong, but he was in too deep to back out. If you watch videos of him through the years like I have, he smiles less and less. I think he's realized that the whole "scientific creationism" enterprise is a lie. He's still a Christian and still thinks the whole thing is somehow true, but he's disheartened that he was never able to prove it. He's nothing if not hopeful, though. He had another slick-talker on his staff for a while that seemed to be his protegé, Jason Lisle. His shtick was cosmology, but it was the same sort of deal. I'm pretty sure that Ken figured out he was doing the same thing as Sarfati and booted him. He went from being one of AiG's premiere speakers to basically freelancing overnight.