Another busy week in the news! We weren’t able to include quite as many headlines this week, though, because of the in-depth responses required by two of the articles (1 and 3).
Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum received quite a bit of attention this week due to an article Louisville-based Dylan Lovan authored for the Associated Press. The article appeared in many media outlets, so there’s a good chance you might have seen it somewhere.
We’re always thankful for opportunities to get our message out, and many wrote to us in support of our mission and the Creation Museum. Sadly, there are a few inaccuracies in the AP story that contributed to some misunderstandings about AiG’s view of science. On top of this, some of the media that ran the AP story contributed headlines and captions that furthered the confusion. (I’ll get into that in a moment.)
The first sentence of Mr. Lovan’s article that really caught my eye was the first line of the second paragraph: “[The belief that dinosaurs and humans lived together], of course, is contradicted by science, but that’s the point of the $25 million Creation Museum rising fast in rural Kentucky.” There are three parts of this sentence we must object to.
First, as should be clear from many of the articles on our website (see our Science section and Can Creationists Be Scientists? to start with), we don’t believe that our view is contradicted by science—rather, we believe that true science, based on the right presuppositions and a proper understanding of operational science versus origins science, confirms the Bible’s account of history. Mr. Lovan apparently lost his objectivity right at the beginning of his article, as he writes as though science is indisputably against us. It’s a poor example of newswriting to so blatantly take sides—and in the third sentence, no less! Mr. Lovan, had he wanted to maintain more objectivity, might have written, “Critics contend that [our views are] contradicted by science,” or “Many scientists disagree with AiG’s views.”
Second, the sentence in question contends, “but that’s the point of the … Creation Museum.” we suspect this gave many readers the false impression that we wholeheartedly agree that our views contradict science—and are spending $25 million of supporter donations to show it! In fact, Mr. Lovan’s article makes it sound as though we may have signs around the museum that say, “Everything you see here, of course, is contradicted by science!” Again, this is entirely untrue. In fact, the Creation Museum will feature numerous scientific displays and exhibits showing how science confirms the Bible.
Third, Mr. Lovan places us in “rural Kentucky,” which makes it sound as though we’re hundreds of miles from civilization (and have yet to join the “modern” world). Mr. Lovan later concedes that the museum is located “a few miles from Cincinnati.” However, the national newspaper USA TODAY published a photograph of one of the museum exhibits, and the short caption included only this comment about rural Kentucky, and lacked the information about our proximity to Cincinnati—and our location near the center of a Combined Statistical Area of over two million people. One wonders if a museum a few miles from Jacksonville, Florida, would become “rural Georgia” in Mr. Lovan’s mind.
So after reading the first two paragraphs, readers get the idea that (1) we’re crazy, (2) we admit we’re crazy, (3) we’re building a huge museum to show how crazy we are, and (4) all this craziness is happening far from the rest of society (in fact, the Creation Museum will be within a day’s drive for almost two-thirds of Americans and millions of Canadians).
Thankfully, the rest of the article is mostly accurate. The one puzzling mention is that AiG is a “Christian publishing company.” A cursory review of our history would have been sufficient to disabuse Mr. Lovan of that idea, and we wonder how the reporter got that wrong view after speaking with ministry leaders for a few hours. Although we do publish a small portion of our materials, our focus has always been on many elements—speakers, books and DVDs, our daily radio program, the Creation Museum, the new Answers magazine and so forth. Most of our books are published by Master Books, which is a Christian publishing company.
That all said, Mr. Lovan did get quotes from each side and give a creationist the last word. And as we mentioned, we’re always thankful when our message is spread. At the very least, our website traffic jumped!
I also mentioned above that some news agencies used misreporting in the AP article as a springboard for their own misreporting or attacks on creation. For example, LiveScience.com added links to their posting of the AP article, so that phrases such as “contradicted by science” link to other parts of their site. FOX NEWS published Mr. Lovan’s article under the headline 'Creation Museum' Seeks to Disprove Evolution, Paleontology, Geology! Furthermore, FOX captioned one of the accompanying photos with: “The Creation Museum shows that all creatures- even the ones that were evolving- were the products of a higher being.”
What!? The caption is wrong almost to the point of humor—though many readers certainly got the wrong idea of our message because of it. Perhaps the author of that caption should review articles in our Natural Selection Q&A to get a better idea of the difference between natural selection (an observable fact that didn’t originate with Darwin), and molecules-to-man evolution (a view on human origins based more on naturalism than science).
Of course, we really don’t expect to be portrayed positively by the popular press, so it’s no surprise to find inaccuracies about us in print.
2. AgapePress: $1M Donation Moves Creation Museum Closer to Debt-Free Goal
[Originally accessed from http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/8/12006b.asp.]
After all that misreporting, it’s wonderful to see some accuracy and objectivity! And if you didn’t hear about the donation (for which we’re very thankful!), be sure to read $1 Million Gift Received for Creation Museum!
3. New York Times: Evolution’s Backers in Kansas Mount a Counterattack; CNN: Evolution opponents suffer setback; Science: Evolution Scores in Kansas Primary
[NYT and CNN articles originally accessed from http://www.nytimes.com/us/01evolution.html?hp&ex=1154491200&en=d9137b45877e866f&ei=5094&partner=homepage and http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/08/02/kansasevolution.ap/index.html.]
If you’ve been paying attention to secular media outlets this week, you’ve no doubt read that evolutionists have “triumphed” against creationist forces in the recent school board primaries in Kansas. Misleading headlines such as “Evolution Wins In Kansas” have contributed to the false impression that the ballot presented voters with an alternative between creation and evolution.
But what really happened in Kansas? Has the creation-evolution battle in Kansas “tipped back a bit in the direction of sanity,” as The New York Times editorialized? Did “moderates” triumph against far-right conservatives in this week’s elections?
Let’s take a look at what the standards (approved in late 2005 and again in early 2006 by the Kansas State Department of Education [KSDE] State Board of Education, but not yet implemented in schools) really said—in this case, about life science education for grades 8–12 (specifically, Benchmark 3: The student will understand the major concepts of the theory of biological evolution):
The student … (1) understands biological evolution, descent with modification, is a scientific explanation for the history of the diversification of organisms from common ancestors; (2) understands populations of organisms may adapt to environmental challenges and changes as a result of natural selection, genetic drift, and various mechanisms of genetic change; (3) understands biological evolution is used to explain the earth's present day biodiversity: the number, variety and variability of organisms; (4) understands organisms vary widely within populations. Variation allows for natural selection to occur; (5) understands that the primary mechanism of evolutionary change (acting on variation) is natural selection; (6) understands biological evolution is used as a broad, unifying theoretical framework for biology; (7) explains proposed scientific explanations of the origin of life as well as scientific criticisms of these explanations.
The life science standards provide a framework for a variety of courses in the life sciences. Evolution is a key theoretical framework for the life sciences; these indicators should be part of any life science course curriculum, including biology, botany, zoology, and microbiology.
If that is rampant creationist doctrine that would “brainwash” students into accepting design, we wonder what party-line Darwinism would look like in a curriculum! This is not to deny that there was something in the curriculum to upset evolutionists. For example, in the excerpt above, the bit about “scientific criticisms of these explanations,” or paragraphs like this one:
Patterns of diversification and extinction of organisms are documented in the fossil record. Evidence also indicates that simple, bacteria-like life may have existed billions of years ago. However, in many cases the fossil record is not consistent with gradual, unbroken sequences postulated by biological evolution.
None of these requirements involve teaching design, nor even come close to creation as the Bible teaches. Though many of the criticisms have been made by creationists, they have also been made by secular scientists, like Dr. Michael Denton in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.
But how was this curriculum presented by the media? Ralph Blumenthal, writing for The New York Times, reports in Evolution’s Backers in Kansas Start Counterattack, that:
The curriculum standards adopted by the education board do not specifically mention intelligent design, but advocates of the belief lobbied for the changes, and students are urged to seek “more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”
The first aspect of Mr. Blumenthal’s comment is a non sequitur. Let’s say someone has a child who attends a public school, and part of the public school curriculum requires teachers to explain that Hitler wasn’t necessarily wrong, but that winners write the history. So a group of people—all of whom happen to be theists and advocates of intelligent design—attempt to alter this requirement in the curriculum—not to remove it, nor even to present an alternative view, but simply to require teachers to explain that there is a controversy. By Mr. Blumenthal’s criterion, this would be tantamount to force-feeding theism down students’ throats!
The second aspect of Mr. Blumenthal’s comment is just plain outrageous. He writes as though his quotation of the science standards is straight from the section on the teaching of evolution—as though a paragraph like this exists:
Evolution is probably not true. Therefore, students should seek more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.
But that snippet about “more adequate explanations” is actually from this paragraph, in an introductory section titled “Nature of Science,” on a page without any reference to the topic of evolution:
Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.
With misconstructions like Mr. Blumenthal’s finding prominence on the web, it’s no wonder much of the public is under the false notion that evolution was replaced by creation in the not-yet-used Kansas curriculum. In modern public schools, even the slightest departure from Darwinist dogma becomes “creationism in disguise.”
Of course, despite the fact that the curriculum in question doesn’t include references to creation, AiG still supports more open inquiry in science classes. But the events in Kansas are a reminder that Christian parents must ensure that their children are taught properly about the Bible’s record of history.
4. Science Daily: Genetic Research Reinforces Theory of Evolution
According to this article, geneticists have discovered a new category of pseudogenes—genes that seem to serve no purpose. The concept of pseudogenes isn’t new; evolutionists have alleged for years that some genes are simply useless legacies of evolution and, therefore, proof for common descent. The first major problem with this concept is that there is no scientific way to prove a negative—for all these scientists know, next month, a study may reveal the exact function of each of these genes. Functions for some pseudogenes have been discovered already (see Pseudogene Function: Regulation of Gene Expression, Pseudogene Function: More Evidence, and Potentially Decisive Evidence Against Pseudogene ‘Shared Mistakes’). This is virtually identical to the old argument that so-called vestigial organs prove evolution. As we’ve pointed out in articles in our ‘Vestigial’ Organs Q&A, in many circumstances, the particular function of a certain organ was simply unknown, so evolutionists theorized that the organ was a legacy of descent from a species that used the organ.
The same is true for so-called pseudogenes: it is likely we simply haven’t yet discovered the purpose of the genes. That should not come as a surprise; after all, scientists only recently discovered a second code in DNA. If scientists have been studying DNA for half a century and didn’t discover this second code in DNA until last month, how much confidence do you have that pseudogenes definitely have no function?
But even if scientists could prove a negative and show that pseudogenes are truly functionless, this would only confirm in the biblical worldview. Detrimental mutations have accumulated since the Fall, and surely most of Adam and Eve’s original genetic material has mutated to be less functional than it was in Eden. True pseudogenes could be explained equally well by either evolution or creation, and wouldn’t provide evidence for one view or the other.
The senior author of this recent study, Dr. Robert D. Nicholls of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, comments, “Discussion over evolution and Intelligent Design really has centered on whether pseudogenes … have a function or not. The suggestion is that an Intelligent Designer would not make junk DNA, so if a pseudogene does have a function, this is claimed to support the idea of an Intelligent Designer.” Dr. Nicholls is overstating the significance of pseudogenes, since they are understandable from either perspective. However, the lack of pseudogenes—that is, if a definite function were found for every gene—would only fit with a creation perspective.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! See you next week!
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