Re: [asa] Former YEC's on ASA and Henry Morris - WAS Denver RATE Conference

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Mon Oct 01 2007 - 17:39:43 EDT


I am convinced that this report is genuine and was probably not publicised due to threat of litigation.

Some YEC claims are from secondhand sources as you cite over dino blood. However I have come across very many which cite the proper literature and this is found in writers like Morris, Gish etc. I have at times checked out the references and usually find a misquote. Morris is appalling on this and I cannot see any alternative to deliberate distortion.

One classic example is a paper on radiometric agedating by Woodmorappe in the late 70s in CRSQ. He gave over 700 ages which were wrong. I found that many of them were from a Geolo soc of London publication The Phanerzoic Timescale 1964 of which I had a copy. I checked out about 100 of Woodie's anomalous dates and everyone was distortion. I don't think self delusion is an adequate explanation. I have also seen Woodie's exchanges with the evangelical geologists Steve Schimmerich which make my barbs seem most restrained.

As for people who hold YEC views they range from those like Ken Ham, Mackay, Morris (who must have changed his mind by now!!)Woodie, McIntosh etc , who must be seen as culpable to sharp Christians in churches, possibly with science degrees etc who have been sucked into YEC and loyal uneducated members of a YEC church. We cannot see them all as equally culpable. The challenge is how to deal with them as individuals and corporately.

Several years ago a fellow vicar in my diocese asked me to review a book he was writing on evolution. I agreed, but as the chapters came in I became increasingly appalled. In the end I wrote him a letter stating that he had got all his science wrong and that his work was riddled with misrepresentation. Further I would need to write another book to correct it all!! He published it all the same and when I pointed out all the misrepresentation he asked if I thought he was lying. I said he knew the answer to that, which he did not like. My archdeacon asked me of my opinion of his book and he was a trifle shocked! As he has no science I consider him self-deluded more than anything, but can have little respect for him. I also see him as part of the ultra-evangelicals who are causing so much damage in the Anglican church today, probably more than the liberal extreme.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Iain Strachan
  To: Michael Roberts
  Cc: John Walley ; PvM ; George Murphy ; ; Steven M Smith
  Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 10:51 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Former YEC's on ASA and Henry Morris - WAS Denver RATE Conference


  It seems significant to me that your ASA person said you should not include what Morris said in the entry. I agree. If we had it down in a documented quote, and it was absolutlely unambiguous that he said that, and meant it literally, then there would be a case for challenging YEC's with this information.

  If it's just an overheard conversation at an approximately given time, then I'm afraid that isn't good enough as far as I'm concerned. When I was looking into the "Dinosaur blood" claims of the YEC's (a YEC friend had shoved that one under my nose), I found on Talk Origins that the way the YEC's had misrepresented the data was by assembling a mish-mash of newspaper and popular science articles (you rarely get the truth from newspapers), rather than going back to the original research papers that appeared in peer-reviewed journals. If one is going to use information for making a rhetorical point, then one's source has to be impeccable or else what you are doing is just as bad as the other side.

  I don't see it as deliberate lying. Yes, being wilfullly ignorant. Yes, self-deception. Yes, wishful thinking. These are all aspects of dishonesty. But the way I see it is that the habit becomes so ingrained that people don't see it as deliberate dishonesty. Being in the grip of a delusion could be seen as a form of psychosis.

  I think it makes sense to try and understand where these folk are coming from. On a different TE discussion list I'm on (on facebook) a YEC started posting and came up with the point that he saw the authority of the bible being undermined. You have to take it in the context that he genuinely wants to defend the authority of scripture, not that he's some heinous liar.

  People of a YEC persuasion have swallowed the myth that if evolution is true then the Bible is a pack of lies. If your faith position is that the Bible is true AND you believe evolution is incompatible with a true Bible, it's seriously going to affect the way you treat science. Your only logical position - having ideologically committed to literal truth of the bible, is to say that science is a pack of lies.

  Sure, it's not honest - one always runs into trouble by committing to a pre-ordained set of conclusions. In fact H. Allen Orr makes precisely this criticism of Dawkins in The God Delusion. I would level the same criticism at atheists who hold to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics to provide a universal explanatory mechanism that excludes the need for a Creator. None of these are really honest - but neither is it necessarily evidence of deliberate lying. It's more a case of "seeing what you want to see", something that scientists are often as guilty of as Christians.

  The task we have is to show YEC's that it's not an either/or situation. But I think it's wise to remember that these people feel their faith threatened by science. That's why I don't think it's a good idea to say "how long are you going to listen to these liars and fools?". Does that make me a holy joe? Well, no I don't think so - you just have to live with the fact that the sort of person I am is one who tries to empathise with the other person, and understand where they are coming from. Michael, if you don't like that and think it makes me a sanctimonious prig, then all I can say is that is your problem, not mine.

  Maybe this approach won't de-program any YECs - but perhaps it can lead to a better mutual understanding - better fellowship with other Christians, and perhaps less distrust and fear.


  On 9/30/07, Michael Roberts <> wrote:
    I was given this info on ol' Henry when I was writing the entry on him for the IVP dictionary of evangelicals. I wrote back to the person - well-respected in the ASA- and he said I should not include it in my entry! He named the person and the place where it was said with an approx date. However I can say no more.

    If we just consider Morris from 1961 after the publication of TGF he received much criticism for over 40 years both fro his gross misrepresentations in that book and elsewhere. In my copies of Morris's books I often mark his geological inexactitudes (my other sciences are too weak to go public on my criticisms). These have been repeated in book after book despite constant correction by Christian and non-Christian alike. This refusal to be corrected is clearly wilful and supports the view he expressed to the fellow from the ASA that he lied for the Kingdom.

    John's story is confirmatory.

    Sadly when you read most YEC books you find the same thing, eg Parker, Snelling, Gish, and many Brit and OZ YECs. Any correction is ignored or put down to not having the Spirit or some other holy-sounding objection. And if the critic is not a Christian or only a liberal Christian then they are also wrong.

    Of course, everyone of us makes mistakes, big or little in what we say or write. When a supposed error is brought to light how we deal with it is very important. That is where friendly critics are so valuable and these do not have to be of the same faith perspective as ourselves. If I need to check something on the history of radiometric age dating I will ask an atheist and more recent stuff an agnostic FRS(and Wiens!) On the history of geology I get much help from the History of Geology Group of the Geol Soc of London, which may be pungent. Many will do the same in their own field but the contrast of this and how YEC and ID operate is that it is public debate, which includes rough and tumble, but is a public concern for truth - something which we can share with atheists and agnostics. Much of YEC and ID avoid the public sharing of ideas preferring only to declaim in public.

    Lastly on the comparative success of a combatative or softly-softly approach on YEC and ID, it has to be said that neither have worked as we are dealing with ideology rather than intellectual exploration from faith.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: John Walley
      To: 'Iain Strachan'
      Cc: 'PvM' ; 'Michael Roberts' ; 'George Murphy' ; ; 'Steven M Smith'
      Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 2:50 PM
      Subject: RE: [asa] Former YEC's on ASA and Henry Morris - WAS Denver RATE Conference

      I actually have the email as my friend has saved it all these years and forwarded me a copy. I will see if I can dig it out and get his permission to forward it to the list.

      My point was though I agree that many people in this debate on both sides are dishonest and even deceitful, but I choose instead to focus on finding the truth rather than reading into people's motives about what they say and do. I think we need to be aware of it but it doesn't seem productive to me to take it any further than that.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Iain Strachan []
      Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 9:37 AM
      To: John Walley
      Cc: PvM; Michael Roberts; George Murphy;; Steven M Smith
      Subject: Re: [asa] Former YEC's on ASA and Henry Morris - WAS Denver RATE Conference

      Hi, John,

      You wrote:

        On Henry Morris, I have a friend with a PhD in Nuclear Physics that got into an email exchange with Morris a long time ago on some topic where Morris was way over his head and which my friend cornered him and got him to admit in an email something to the effect alleged below, that the details don't matter if you are defending God.

      That is certainly pretty dishonest, but I think that "brush details under the carpet" is a different spin from "it's OK to lie for the Kingdom". It's a response, certainly of willful ignorance - rather like Lisa Simpson going "La la la I can't hear you!". The question is, what is the best way to approach a la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you type response? Is it right to accuse them of listening to liars straight off, or would a more softly-softly approach be more likely to be fruitful? Along the lines of - "let's reason about this. The detail you want to brush aside is rather important - it overturns the whole argument. The onus is on you to show why this detail is unimportant". Is that not likely to be more fruitful than "How much longer are you going to listen to liars and fools?".

      It's a pity that the Morris quote you mention is only available as a recollection of a private email - if I were to report that third hand to a Creationist, as coming from a list of Christians who were mostly TE, then I'm sure I'd get the response "well he would say that, wouldn't he?". If it were on the web somewhere, as a reputable, referenced source, it would be a good thing to challenge YECs concerning honesty. In a recent post to Peter Loose on this list, I spent some time, as you know pointing out areas where I felt Creation Scientists were less than honest.

      As regards to atheists indulging in wishful thinking, I couldn't agree more! It seems to me that there is a philosophical commitment to "many-worlds interpretations" in many atheist scientists that goes beyond science. How convenient to be able to appeal to a stupid creator (the multiverse giving rise to "anthropic coincidences"), rather than acknowledging the possibility of an omnipotent God. The true scientist will appeal to neither as an explanatory mechanism, and continue to search for better theories to explain things.


  After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.

  - Italian Proverb

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Received on Mon Oct 1 17:41:46 2007

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