AIG/WIELAND have done it again and shame on them for it! They have managed to publicly savage yet another long-standing creationist author and in the process, throw another creationist publishing house into confusion and uncertainty by their actions. AiG/Wieland offers to do pre-publication reviews of any creationist writings for a price, with the claim that “dozens of valuable hours of their high powered staff” are expensive. But AiG has revealed a sad double standard in dealing with a competing creationist author (who had turned down their offer of “review for a price” and rejected AiG's offer of “taking over the publication with AiG having final editorial say”). They waited until the author's new book was published. Then, with no charge at all, they allocated their “high powered staff” the time to attack this publication then released their brutal review for free to the public – non-Christians included. Shame on them. For further details, ask for the attachment “Leashing the Storm”.
LEASHING THE STORM
Creation Research responds to "Unleashing the Storm" – a critique by Answers in Genesis of Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation by Dennis Petersen
Following the publication of Dennis Petersen's book “Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation”, Ken Ham, Carl Weiland and Answers in Genesis (AiG) produced a 14 page detailed criticism condemning the book, which they placed as a feature article on their publicly accessible website. Rather than tediously go through every criticism we have prepared specific responses to three typical examples plus some general comments about our approach to publications by creationists authors, AiG included.
On page 129 of Dennis Petersen's book there is an item about "Lucy", a fossil often used in museum displays on human evolution. The item is part of a two-page spread on "missing links".
Petersen's item on Lucy is as follows:
“The December 1976 issue of National Geographic magazine featured what was thought to be a major discovery in Ethiopia. It was a collection of bone fragments from a three-and-a-half foot-tall chimpanzee skeleton, found in 1974 by a young American graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Donald Johanson. The bones were claimed to be over three million years old. They named it Lucy because the team was hearing their radio playing a rock and roll song by the Beatles called “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds.” From about 1979 it gained the favour of many evolutionists as the key ape-like ancestor of modern man though it is acknowledged to be a chimpanzee, but one that is claimed to have walked upright.
Now there are upright walking chimps living today, but how did they know that this old chimp Lucy walked with an erect posture? The evidence was dependent on an interpretation of the knee joint. After a university lecture in Kansas, a well-informed creationist, Mr Tom Willis, asked Mr Johanson publicly where he found that important knee fragment? The answer: a mile and a half from the rest of the skeletal fragments in a rock strata 200 feet deeper! Next question: Why include a fossil fragment so widely separated from the main find? Johanson insisted “anatomical similarity” was all the justification needed.
THINK! Is that kind of evidence adequate to make Lucy your ancestor? Such evidence sounds embarrassing. No wonder the popular evolution-sympathizing press has not made it public. It's likely just a matter of time before Lucy is also knocked from the branches of man's family tree.”
Petersen's item is illustrated with a typical museum depiction of Lucy – the bone fragments mounted in front of a human silhouette. Petersen's caption reads: “This evolutionist display shows Lucy's chimp bones in a misleading human outline? (sic) More Baloney!”
AiG's criticism of Petersen reads as follows:
"Page 129. – It says that Lucy is acknowledged to be a chimpanzee, but one that is claimed to have walked upright. This is absolutely false. Lucy may have had many chimp-like features, but this makes it sound as if everyone acknowledges that it was just a chimp, which would have scarcely excited evolutionists. If it were just a chimp, then they wouldn't have been able to claim that it walked upright, so the statement, as it is printed in the book is self-refuting. The book reinforces that by referring to this old chimp, Lucy, and by talking about Lucy's chimp bones. There are indeed great similarities between Lucy and the pygmy chimp, but also great differences, which are not transitional, as the work by Oxnard and others have shown. And Lucy did not walk upright, but was likely a knuckle-walker." (emphasis in original)
Creation Research responds:
AiG's criticism totally misses the point Petersen is making. Petersen stresses that any claims that Lucy walked upright were based on bones not part of the main skeleton. Therefore, conclusions made about hominoids based on collections of bones found in separate locations (which therefore cannot possibly be from the same specimen), are not good science! This is an important point and should be made.
Petersen's reference to claims that Lucy walked upright is labelled by AiG as "absolutely false". Since Donald Johanson published his claims about Lucy in the late 1970s numerous articles have been written and comments spoken about Lucy. People on both sides of the creation/evolution debate have stated that Lucy may have walked upright, although not in the same manner as humans. The same can be (and often is) said about living chimps of both species, and therefore does not prove Lucy had human characteristics. (We, at Creation Research, have observed chimps doing this and so has anyone else who has visited a zoo or wildlife park that has chimps.) The debate is well documented by Duane Gish in pages 241-258 of Evolution the Fossils Still Say No! - a book vigorously promoted by AiG.
Relating Lucy to a chimp is also historically valid. Duane Gish's discussion (above reference) makes several references to Lucy's chimp-like characteristics. John Mackay and Diane Eager have both heard many leading creationists including Duane Gish and Gary Parker say that Lucy is probably something like the ancestor of a rainforest (pygmy) chimpanzee. See p.162 of Creation: the Facts of Life, by Gary Parker, another book promoted by AiG. Some evolutionists have also made this claim. (Behind the scenes the evolutionist camp is deeply divided over many fossils claimed to be "hominids" but they manage to maintain a united front in the face of creationist criticism.)
The reference to knuckle walking in AiG's criticism comes from an article in Nature, vol 404, p382, 23 Mar 2000, where two anthropologists from George Washington University (USA) analysed the hand and wrist bones of several Australopithecine's and found they had the same characteristics as extant knuckle walking apes, including chimpanzees. But, this only reinforces Petersen's point that Lucy is really an ape, and his point that museum displays showing Lucy's bones laid out against a human outline are "baloney".
As Petersen correctly explains on the same page, Australopithecus (the scientific name given to Lucy) means "southern ape." Some purists would claim the word chimpanzee or chimp should only be used for the animals Pan paniscus (rainforest or pygmy chimpanzee) and Pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee) and that Petersen should have used the terms "ape" instead of "chimp" in his item about Lucy. This is a minor technical criticism and makes no difference to the point Petersen is making about checking the original fossil finds. Creation Research's only suggestion to Dennis Petersen would be to use the term "chimp-like" instead of "chimp" in further printings of the book.
AiG's criticises what Petersen says on p.149 about the large sizes of many dinosaurs.
“Page 149 – Says that reptiles keep growing and growing as long as they live. It implies that the reason for large dinosaurs is not because they are genetically programmed to be large, but because they were simply reptiles that lived for many hundreds of years because of the pre-Flood conditions. However, if this were true, why would there be some distinct types of dinosaurs, many of them in fact, which, fully-grown, were very small? Furthermore, the reality is that it is simply not true that reptiles always keep growing as long as they live. Many types, if not most, reach a terminal size. There is no way a gecko or skink, for example, will grow as big as a Brachiosaurus. Rather, the large dinosaurs were genetically programmed to grow to that size from recent evidence, most likely in a rapid spurt.”
But, what Dennis Petersen actually said on p.149 is as follows:
“Animals reach adult maturity when they are able to produce offspring. The fossil evidence we know indicates that dinosaurs laid eggs like many of today's reptiles. The biggest eggs were less than a foot long. It's possible that even the biggest known dinosaurs were mature when they reached the size of a modern day elephant. But what else do we know of reptiles and some other creatures like fish? They keep growing and growing as long as they live.
THINK! If the early earth's environment enabled creatures to live a much longer time than they do today, then how large could they grow? Could the enormous size of some the types of monster dinosaur skeletons be a result of having lived for hundreds of years? “
Creation Research responds:
You may have noticed that what AiG is criticising is not what Petersen actually said.
Nowhere does Petersen say that dinosaurs were “simply reptiles that lived for many hundreds of years because of the pre-Flood conditions.” He challenges the reader to think about the possibility that “some types of monster dinosaurs” achieved large sizes because they have the ability to grow all their lives and the pre-Flood conditions allowed for long lifespans. Neither does Petersen claim that extant reptiles such geckos or skinks would grow as big as a brachiosaurus, given long enough. Different reptiles do have different growth rates and patterns of growth.
After visiting reptile farms and talking with those who work with reptiles we agree with Petersen that many reptiles keep growing all their lives, provided they are in a suitable environment, are well fed and free of disease and stress. The growth rate is not the same all their lives – many have a period of rapid growth early in their lives and only grow slowly later in life. Nevertheless, given right conditions they will keep growing all their lives.
As can be seen in the above two examples, AiG's treatment of Petersen's book is similar to the tactics used by the well known anti-creationist organisation the Australian Skeptics who deliberately misconstrue and exaggerate what an author has written, and then write blustering rebuttals about things the accused author has not written.
AiG's desperation to criticise merely for the sake of it is well illustrated by their attack on a small paragraph in small print at the bottom of a two-page spread on the origin of space, time and matter.
On page 19 Dennis Petersen writes:
“Scientists once used the “Cloud Model” to depict the atom. Now they realise the atom is far more complex than they first imagined. The simplified planetary model was popular for most of the 20th century. The recently developed “Lucas Model” has no orbiting electrons, permitting the atom to remain stable with electric and electromagnetic forces in equilibrium.”
“Page 19 – The Lucas model of the atom is highly controversial and has had little peer review either by creationist scientists or secular scientists. Further, those creationist scientists qualified in nuclear and quantum physics, both within AiG and well-respected ones outside AiG, reject the model. Moreover, even if it were true, it wouldn't have the slightest effect on refuting evolution or supporting creation, so it is completely irrelevant to the book's theme.”
Creation Research response
A wise old professor at my university used to tell his students each year that at least 50% of everything they would learn in their science course would be proven wrong in the next 10 years. If only he knew which 50%, it would save him and them a lot of time. But since he didn't they would learn all he taught them anyway.
This editor is old enough to have been involved in science studies, lecturing in geology, field work and creation studies for over 30 years, long enough to know that basically everything he learned at university as a “scientific fact,” including the latest models of atoms, geological geosynclines, biological theories on how evolution worked, and many things that creationists opposed or promoted in science 30 years ago, have gone by the wayside. Meanwhile, God's Word, including Genesis and all it says on creation have remained the same so that what is proven to have mattered is a creationist author's ability to encourage people to realize that God's Word can be trusted to endure. What matters far less is an author's ability to convey the latest scientific models concerning atoms or angels in order to prove creation, even though such scientific models may have been peer reviewed by high-powered creationists currently in vogue. Such creationist models may be just as quickly out of date as the latest evolutionists' arguments and within 10 years may well prove to be wrong. But God's Word will still say the same things about creation and that's the point.
CREATION RESEARCH CONCLUSION
In most of their criticisms AiG has missed the main purpose of Petersen's book – encouraging people to think about the world around them from a Biblical perspective! Dennis Petersen has been prepared to consider some of the strange and wonderful things in the world that evolutionists prefer to ignore. Petersen's constant theme is: we may not have complete answers for them all, but the mysteries of creation can be explained better by a Biblical worldview rather than an evolutionary worldview. This is a view Creation Research will continue to support.
There are many subjects on which scientific opinion varies, even amongst creationists. Provided an opinion does not deny Biblical revelation in Scripture and is stated as an opinion and not fact, this is not a problem. There is much to learn about the world around us and differing opinions merely reflect the incompleteness of human knowledge.
It is for this reason we have promoted and will continue to promote Dennis Petersen's works. The core attitude of his work is God's Word has been revealed to us and its detail is accurate, and Man's word, both creationist and evolutionist, must be judged against what the Bible has to say. This is the test of any valid book on creation and we will promote any books (including some from AiG) which do this, regardless of AiG's approval. If Petersen's book had errors of Scripture in it, or proclaimed that his views on scientific models were the only view you could hold, then we would have nothing to do with it. But Petersen's book, “Unlocking the Mysteries”, neverdoes this. He treats scientific views, including creationist ones, with the reservation they deserve. His whole approach is to encourage people to test out new or old ideas against Scripture.
AiG made many thousands of dollars from selling Dennis Petersen's original “Unlocking the Mysteries”. However, it seems a change in their whole approach has led them to unleash such a storm of criticism at Petersen's new book, that what shows is not concern for peer review scientific accuracy, but anger from a self-appointed creationist papacy. Masterbooks/New Leaf Publishers (who publish many AiG books) must be really confused as they have just released their own cover edition of Dennis Petersen's new full color "Unlocking the Mysteries" and promoted it in their catalogue to book stores world wide.
Our conclusion is AiG's public criticism of Dennis Petersen's new “Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation” consists of a long list of petty technicalities, deliberate misconstructions and some falsehoods which overshadow any minor accuracy they achieve. May the Lord return to them that which they have sought to do to others until they learn that it is the power of God's Holy Spirit who does the re-creating of fallen sinners through the power of the Word of God, and not through the works of men, whether they be creationist models of science, or evolutionist models. We beg AiG to humbly change their attitude before they are humbled by the longest standing Creationist and Author. We also note Ham is planning on running June seminars in Australia labeled "Unlocking the Mysteries". Plagiarism is not usually regarded as a compliment?
For more information on Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation, contact your local Christian or secular bookstore with ISBN number 0-89051-371, or log-on to www.creationresource.org, or phone toll free (866) 225-5229.
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