Re: Authority Criterion

Steven Schimmrich (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 10:26:40 -0500 (CDT)

Allen Roy <> wrote:

> I received the following discussion from Prof. Robert Herrmann about a
> method used to discredit theories. This method has been used conviently
> by Shimmrich, by quoting from Chadwick and Austin, and lately by Morton
> calling on Chadwick rather than Howe.
> [SNIP]

I don't mind you saying bad things about me, but at least spell my name
correctly :).

A couple of quick comments about Herrmann's remarks...

First, I agree that the mainstream press often does a very bad job when
reporting about both science and religion -- usually because the person doing
the writing or the editing has no knowledge of either field. That has nothing
to do with me, however.

Second, let me explain why I quoted both Austin and Chadwick, even though
why I did so should be self-evident to anyone reading my rebuttal of the
work done by Williams, Chaffin, and Howe (
~s-schim/scichr/essays/hakatai.html). I quoted Austin to show that even a
well-respected young-earth creationist with a Ph.D. degree was skeptical of
these results (vascular plant pollen in Proterozoic shales) and I quoted
Chadwick to show that a geologist who is sympathetic to many young-earth
creationist claims was unable to reproduce Williams, et al.'s findings when
stricter controls were in place to prevent contamination. I don't believe
that either of these constitute an appeal to authority (I certainly don't
consider Austin to be an authority in geology anyway!). They're just
legitimate examples of geologists who've looked at the problem and think
Williams, et al., did a poor job against preventing contamination of their
samples. By the way, I still think it's the height of arrogance to expect all
of modern science to be rewritten on the basis of only two samples that lots
of people have legitimate questions about!

By the way, I would contend that it's you who are arguing from a position of
authority when you claim that your reading of the Bible demands a young earth
and that we should rewrite all of geology and biology on the basis of two
poorly- collected samples from Williams, et, al. with results that other
people were not able to reproduce.

- Steve.

      Steven H. Schimmrich               KB9LCG
      Department of Physical Sciences               Kutztown University
      217 Grim Science Building, Kutztown, PA 19530      (610) 683-4437     Fides quaerens intellectum