I noted in your May 21 article about the fossil primate “Ida” that you quoted many scientists that expressed doubts about whether this animal was on the evolutionary line that led to humans. I assume you quoted them because they are authorities on the subject of Paleontology.

I could not help but notice that none of the scientists expressed the belief that it was an extinct animal created on the 6th day of creation week six thousand years ago. They all seem to agree that it lived 47 million years ago.

I think that you engage in dishonesty to a certain extent when you try to leave the impression that because scientists do not all agree on the significance of a particular discovery they may be supportive of the young earth creationist position.

I am certain that all of the experts you quoted, as well as all other reputable paleontologists, would find your assertion that Ida was divinely created six thousand years ago and drowned in Noah’s flood laughable.

—Dr. K., U.S.

[Editor’s note: This web version of the feedback has been slightly modified for clarity from the original response.]

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—A.G., U.S.

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Thank you for writing to us. We will respond to your comments in-line.

I noted in your May 21 article about the fossil primate “Ida” that you quoted many scientists that expressed doubts about whether this animal was on the evolutionary line that led to humans. I assume you quoted them because they are authorities on the subject of Paleontology.

Your assumption is correct. Shortly after “Ida” was announced, skeptical scientists from both sides of the creation/evolution debate raised questions about Ida’s significance, the quality of the research, and the integrity of the team’s media strategy and financial commitments. We made a few such comments in our May 19 article, but as the critical response grew, we wanted to gather some of the pertinent comments to show that we were not alone in criticizing Ida’s portrayal. And, of course, quotations from those with paleontology and paleoanthropology credentials were relevant to the doubts about the claims being made. Keep in mind that we did not invent the hype surrounding this fossil; however, the fallout from such ridiculous claims is well deserved.

I could not help but notice that none of the scientists expressed the belief that it was an extinct animal created on the 6th day of creation week six thousand years ago. They all seem to agree that it lived 47 million years ago.

None of the scientists we quoted made any statement regarding the accuracy of the dating of Ida (as far as we have been able to discover). Nor did we try to ascertain any of the scientists’ beliefs concerning creation/evolution or the age of the earth before quoting them. Nonetheless, we certainly assumed that they were all (old-earth) evolutionists. We pointed out their statements, not to imply they agree with us in all matters, but to show that this particular criticism was not simply limited to young-earth creationists. The age of the fossil was not the consideration; the “missing link” claim was. You are ascribing a motivation to us that was never intended.

I think that you engage in dishonesty to a certain extent when you try to leave the impression that because scientists do not all agree on the significance of a particular discovery they may be supportive of the young earth creationist position.

Although we occasionally have been accused (by our opponents) of being unscrupulous, we have no desire to distort what evolutionists believe. If it seems like our site lacks declarations as to, e.g., the proportion of scientists who believe in evolution, it is only because we assume most everyone is already well familiar with the fact that creation is not the majority view these days.

That said, we did not in any way give the impression that the quoted scientists agreed with us on any points other than the shortcomings in the way Ida was handled by the media and by its researchers. Instead, our primary claim—“It seems as though the scientific process had been rushed and the claims exaggerated in a bid to promote a new documentary and book on the fossil”—was essentially identical to what secular news sources had reported.

Quoting someone in support of a particular position is a widely used technique in academia and in the media. Such quotes do not imply that the person being quoted agrees with the author(s) on every point, and it is doubtful that any audience would assume such an agreement.

Often, and for a variety of reasons, we quote those who may not agree with us—for informational purposes, to show the extremism of some of our opponents, or to show where there are some points of accord. In each case, we strive to quote in context and to make it clear why we’re quoting the person and what we believe the quote means. A necessity of good academic practice is to quote those one disagrees with when it is appropriate, and doing so is fair—unless the quote is taken out of context or not credited properly (neither of which applies in this case). Having an advanced education, you have doubtless written papers that quoted those who do not agree with you in every respect.

The quotations in the article were preceded with the lines, “[M]any in the scientific community are questioning the research and beginning to become more vocal about their concerns regarding how good science and media aren’t the best mix. But don’t just take our word for it—read these amazing excerpts that reveal the Ida hype for what it truly is.” So, we were supporting the claim in our first sentence with primary sources, but nowhere did we say (or imply) that those people agreed with us on any other topic.

Similarly, we are sometimes quoted by evolutionists regarding our disagreement with some creationists on the interpretation or validity of certain evidences. For instance, we are not convinced that the Paluxy tracks are genuine. Some evolutionists cite our criticism of the Paluxy tracks to buttress their own refutations. Having our quotes on their websites certainly does not imply that we agree with them on all matters, and we doubt anyone would assume that.

I am certain that all of the experts you quoted, as well as all other reputable paleontologists, would find your assertion that Ida was divinely created six thousand years ago and drowned in Noah’s flood laughable.

We did not claim that Ida was created six thousand years ago or that she was buried in the Flood. While she certainly descended from the original kind created on Day Six, we cannot be sure—without further examination and analysis—when or how she was buried.

Beyond this, your implication here is quite loaded. After accusing us of a nefarious scheme to trade on the authority of “real” palentologists, you essentially say that someone cannot be reputable in this field unless they believe as you. Thus, even if we were to quote a credentialed young-earth paleontologist (they do exist), their estimation is a priori discounted.

Kurt Wise, for example, is a young-earth creationist paleontologist who received his PhD from Harvard under the tutelage of Stephen Jay Gould. Obviously, there are those who hold him in disrepute solely because of his beliefs, which is a fallacy in itself. However, no open-minded person could fairly disparage his knowledge or skill, given his academic background.

We apologize if we have come across harshly at any point. Perhaps we’re missing the sentence which you believe contains the impression you alleged, and if so, please let us know. We would be happy to continue this conversation.

Regards,
The Answers in Genesis Editorial Team

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