Authors: Various Title: ICR Whoppers This is a small sampler of creationist whoppers, glea
Title: ICR Whoppers
This is a small sampler of creationist whoppers, gleaned from talk.origins
in recent months. When I wrote that I had sent an unnamed creationist a
small sampler of ICR whoppers, many people wrote and asked for a copy.
I have much more distributed throughout my file system, and in books and on
paper at home, but have not yet had a chance to gather them together.
[plus my @#$!ing mailer seems to be broken. Sorry to those who wrote me
and got no reply...]
So many liars, so little time! Until then, here is what I had sent to
the creationist in question..
If you would like to enter your favorite creationist lie, mendacious
misquotation or attack of amnesia, please mail them to me here, and
much honor and glory will accrue to your name. Well, maybe a little.
>From Rob Zuber:
QUESTION: According to creationists, there are plenty of places where
the fossils are in the wrong order for evolution. This must mean geologists
have to assume evolution so as to arrange the geological time scale so as
to date the fossils so as to erect an evolutionary sequence so as to prove
evolution, thereby reasoning in a vicious circle. When the fossils are in
the wrong order, geologists apparently assume the "older" rocks were shoved
on top of the younger ones (thrust faulting), or else that the strata were
overturned (recumbent folds), even though there is no physical evidence for
these processes. In particular, Whitcomb and Morris  maintain the physical
evidence proves the Lewis Overthrust and Heart Mountain Overthrust never
slid an inch. How do you reply?
ANSWER: Whitcomb and Morris, again, quote their sources badly out of
context. There is plenty of physical evidence having nothing to do with
fossils or evolution that show thrust faulting to be very real. Let us
consider the Lewis Overthrust and Heart Mountain Overthrust [I've deleted
the Heart Mountain bit] in some detail.
The Lewis Overthrust of Glacier National Park, Montana, consists of
the deformed Precambrian limestones of the Belt Formation that were shoved
along a horizontal thrust fault on top of much younger (but viciously
crumpled) Cretaceous shales. ...[deletion]... Ross and Rezak  wrote in their
article about the Lewis Overthrust that the rocks along the thrust fault are
badly crumpled, but Whitcomb and Morris (p. 187) lift the following words
from this article:
"Most visitors, especially those who stay on the roads, get the
impression that the Belt strata are undisturbed and lie almost as flat today
as they did when deposited in the sea which vanished so many million
But if we read the rest of Ross's and Rezak's paragraph, we find that Whitcomb
and Morris quoted it out of context:
".... so many million years ago. Actually, they are folded, and in
certain places, they are intensely so. From the points on and near the
trails in the park, it is possible to observe places where the Belt series,
as revealed in outcrops on ridges, cliffs, and canyon walls, are folded
and crumpled almost as intricately as the soft younger strata in the
mountains south of the park and in the Great Plains adjoining the park to
Ross and Rezak repeatedly show how "crushed and crumpled" the rocks in the
thrust fault are:
"The intricate crumpling and crushing in the immediate vicinity of
the main overthrust, visible in localities like that near Marias Pass, shown
in figure 139, must have taken place when the heavy overthrust slab was
forced over the soft rocks beneath......"
Now it certainly *appears* that Whitcomb and Morris have *completely*
misrepresented the Ross and Rezak paper. It seems they quoted to the effect
that there was *no* evidence of overthrusting, even though that paper
appears to forcefully say the *exact* opposite! Now it's fine if creationists
want to disagree with certain conclusions if they can back it up with
evidence, but why in hell quote from a paper that completely contradicts your
 Whitcomb, John C., and Henry M. Morris. _Genesis Flood_. Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co.: Philadelphia, PA, 1961.
 Ross, C. P., and Richard Rezak. "The Rocks and Fossils of Glacier
National Monument". _U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper_ 294-K (1959).
[I have checked these -- Max]
From: email@example.com (James J. Lippard)
By the way, it is of interest to compare the debate summaries published
in _Acts and Facts_ to the debate summaries published elsewhere. What
follows are the summaries of the May 10, 1988 debate between Gish and
Ken Saladin which took place at Auburn University which were published,
respectively, in the August 1988 issue of _Acts and Facts_ and in the
November/December 1988 issue of the _Creation/Evolution Newsletter_.
(A transcript of the entire debate is available for $10 from the
National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA
94709-0477. The transcript clearly shows that Gish was trounced.)
_Acts and Facts_, August 1988, pp. 2, 4:
AUBURN UNIVERSITY DEBATE
Dr. Duane Gish's opponent for the debate on the campus of Auburn University,
Auburn, Alabama, on the evening of May 10, was Dr. Kenneth Saladin,
Professor of Biology at Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia. The
moderator was Dr. Cathy Hennen, Director of Debate and Assistant
Professor of Speech and Communication at Auburn University. The debate
was jointly sponsored by the Horizons Committee and the Religious
Affairs Committee of the Auburn University Program Council. Each
debater had 45 minutes for his initial arguments, followed by 15-minute
and 5-minute rebuttals. Almost all of the 800 seats in the auditorium
Saladin, who was the first speaker, listed seven criteria of science,
and declared that creation theory failed to meet these criteria. He
stated that belief in a deity is unscientific because it is non-falsifiable.
He then listed about ten items he claimed were taught in the Bible. He
outlined a series of transitions involved in the origin of life, and claimed
that much of this has already been demonstrated by evolutionists. He made
a caricature of the creationist explanation for the distribution of fossils
in sedimentary strata, projecting a slide showing trees walking uphill.
He showed a slide which portrayed a series of mammal-like reptiles with
no gaps in the series, claiming this proved that reptiles had evolved
In his initial argument, Gish began by asserting that the subject of the
debate was *how* the universe and the living things on earth had come
into existence (not *when*). He defined the general theory of evolution,
quoting Julian Huxley, and the general theory of creation. Based on
these definitions, he then presented the scientific evidence from
thermodynamics, probability, and the fossil record. Using a series of
slides, he illustrated the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly, and
challenged Saladin to explain how this process could have evolved by
any process of evolution.
In his rebuttal, Saladin claimed that the formation of snowflakes and
crystals proves that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is no barrier to
evolution. He argued that Dr. Charles Oxnard did not deny that
australopithecines were intermediate between apes and humans.
In his rebuttal, Gish, displaying a photocopy of the article from
which Saladin had obtained his illustration of the series of mammal-like
reptiles, pointed out that two of the creatures were totally hypothetical,
others had hypothetical structures drawn on them, they were not arranged
in a true time sequence, and they were not drawn to scale.
In refuting Saladin's claim that success had been accomplished in
origin-of-life experiments, Gish quoted from an article by John Keosian,
an evolutionist who has been working in this field for 30 years, in
which he asserted that claims of origin-of-life evolutionists are simply
unreal, and that experiments in this field are either irrelevant or lead
to a dead end. He pointed out that the formation of snowflakes has no
relevance to evolution, since the processes involved go in exactly the
opposite direction to that required for the origin of life.
_Creation/Evolution Newsletter_, November/December 1988, pp. 11, 14:
THE DEBATE CIRCUIT
July 10, 1988 at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
Reported by Kenneth S. Saladin
Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA 31060
My second debate with Duane Gish took place before an audience of about 800
last spring at Auburn University. It differed only in detail from out 1984
debate (see C/E N 4(4):11-12), and Gish was utterly predictable.
In my 45-minute opening, I discussed the philosophy of science and
contrasting attributes of creationism, age of the cosmos, origin of life,
fossil stratigraphy, transitional fossils, and evidentiary examples from
embryology and atavisms. I finished with a stern critique of creationist
credibility, with slides and quoted passages on Gish's fire-breathing
dinosaurs, Morris' non-living plants, a _Creation Research Society
Quarterly_ article on the theology of radioactivity, Gish's misquotation
of authority, and creationist "arkeology."
My fundamental format and technique were similar to 1984. I change
slides about every 40 seconds, but keep my graphics simple. Many were
no more than a color photograph of a grizzly bear or a solar flare, for
example--something attractive to keep the audience alert and form a visual
association with an organism or concept under discussion. I used one of
my students as a projectionist so he could change slides at the
appropriate moments without my calling for them. In 1984 some audience
members commented that this created a notably smooth and effective
presentation (one was "almost mystified" at how appropriate pictures kept
coming up without my saying anything). My principal improvement in 1988
was probably in speaking style. I was more experienced and comfortable
before a large audience and, I felt, gave a smoother presentation.
One new tactic I introduced to this debate was to gig Gish with tape
recordings of his statements in previous debates. When the NCSE met in
Los Angeles in 1985, Fred Edwords debated Gish on a KABC radio talk show.
A caller asked Gish about the quest for Noah's ark, and while Gish denied
that any evidence of the ark had been found, he also denied that the ICR
sponsors expeditions to look for it. The next evening Karl Fezer and I
visited the ICR and were entrusted by a secretary to roam their creationist
museum after hours alone. (She asked us to lock up the ICR when we left!
See our report of this foray in C/E N 5(3):16-17.) We listened to a
sound-slide program on Noah's ark which proudly affirmed that the ICR *does*
sponsor these expeditions. In 1986, Gish debated David Schwimmer at the
University of Georgia, and in the Q/A period I confronted Gish with this
contradiction. He sarcastically accused me of fabricating it and again
denied ICR involvement.
So I entered our debate this year prepared to repay him for his sarcasm,
armed with a microcassette onto which I had dubbed the seminal portions of
the Gish-Edwords and Gish-Schwimmer debates. I played Gish's twofold
denial over the PA system, then showed slides of several _Acts & Facts_
accounts of these expeditions, culminating with an unequivocal affirmation
of sponsorship in the November 1986 issue. In his rebuttal, Gish seemed
a bit flustered and claimed he couldn't hear the tape I played, but
notwithstanding the slides I had just shown, he stood up and denied
sponsorship once again. Auburn is a university with a conspicuous
contingent of faculty creationists, but perhaps because of statements like
this, Gish seemed to enjoy little credibility or support that evening. I
was told several of his supporters got up and walked out during his
presentation, and with statements like this it was little wonder why.
Another element in my presentation was to reveal, more assiduously than
before, Gish's misquotations of the scientific literature. Knowing that
Gish rests much of his case on "plausible deniability," I came armed with
a veritable library of books and periodicals he commonly cites. Gish
cites Romer (_Vertebrate Paleontology_, p. 338) to the effect that bats
appear fully developed in the middle Eocene with no trace of ancestry.
I held up Romer's book and read from an earlier chapter (p. 212), where
he says that, while bats appear fully developed *by* the middle Eocene,
in the *early* Eocene and the Paleocene they are virtually impossible to
differentiate from their insectivore ancestors. I also attacked Gish's
misrepresentation of Gavin de Beer (_Homology: An Unsolved Problem_). I
had this paper with me in the original as well, and read passages
diametrically opposed from what Gish avows that de Beer wrote. My concluding
slide was the cover cartoon from _Creation/Evolution_ No. XI.
Gish gave his usual fossilized opening statement, but he and his
audience partisans struck me as surprisingly subdued compared to other
debates of his that I've attended. He discussed the Big Bang and Cosmic
Chicken, the hydrogen-to-humans scenario, thermodynamics, the Hoyle-
Wickramasinghe statistical argument, fossil transitions, human origins,
and the Oxnard-Zuckerman argument. There were only two new features of
his presentation: he dwelt at length on the supposed inexplicability of
metamorphosis in the monarch butterfly, and he gave a juvenile gloss on
Michael Denton's _Evolution: A Theory in Crisis_. Apaprently he never
read any further than the flap of the dust jacket, and he reminded me of
a fifth-grade student trying to fake a report on a book he'd never read.
In 1984, I worked frantically during the intermission to prepare my
first rebuttal. This year, I had prepared a rebuttal in advance from
Gish's 1984 statement, and a card file to cover anything new. Gish was
so true to form I had no need to prepare during the intermission, so
while he prepared his notes I went down and mingled with the audience,
distributed NCSE literature, and basked in audience adulation.
Rebuttals were quite straightforward, and I especially enjoyed taking
apart the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe argument. For this I used a substantive
critique of the fallacies in their statistical assumptions, as well as
a damaging overview of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's *other* biological
beliefs: insects smarter than humans and not letting on, flu epidemics
from outer space, and Wickramasinghe's trial testimony that Gish's
views on evolution are "claptrap" and could not be supported by any
In the question/answer period the audience was surprisingly hostile
toward Gish. Questions put to me were no more challenging than "Do you
think evolution can be harmonized with belief in God?" and "What if they
*did* find Noah's ark?" The only one for which I had no ready answer is
why organisms now use only the L-isomer of amino acids. Gish was piqued
when the first questioner, Georgia State University biologist Fred Parrish,
addressed him as *Reverend* Gish and questioned his integrity as a Christian.
Others attacked his statistic "proof" of the impossibility of things which
in fact do happen, his abuse of thermodynamics, and his reliance on
popularized rather than refereed scientific literature. In contrast to
the 1984 audience, who came in yellow buses and thumped bibles on their
knees, this audience impressed me as relatively savvy.
To anticipate and defuse the secular humanist attack, my closing
statement focused on anticreationist opinion of clerics ranging from
John Paul II to Baptist and Episcopal leaders in Georgia. I described
and displayed the compilation in which the Franciscan physician Ed
Friedlander has photocopied statements from Gish's literature alongside
photocopies of the sources cited by Gish to demonstrate Gish's habit
Gish had the last word and retorted, "Sure there's a lot of liberal
theologians on the side of evolution. Why wouldn't they be? All these
liberal theologians are for ordaining homosexual ministers, for legalized
abortion.... Of *course* they're for evolution!" The debate format did
not allow me an opportunity to come back and ask if he had meant to include
John Paul II among these "liberal theologians."
Following the debate I was surrounded by well-wishers and chagrined
creationist students. They were especially interested in comparing Gish's
writing with the Romer and de Beer literature, and seeing Ed Friedlander's
paper, which some people subsequently requested from me by mail. The
creationists at my table seemed as disappointed in Gish's performance as
Democrats reviewing the last Bush-Dukakis debate. The student organizer
seemed almost grudgingly to present me with the check for my expenses
and honorarium. He had written to me in advance, "We will do our best
to publicize to supporters of both sides. However, it must be realized
that Auburn is a small town in the Deep South [and will probably have] a
bias toward Dr. Gish's theory." As it turned out, I had no complaints
about this audience, but I think Gish and the organizers were a bit
chagrined by it.
The debate is recorded on a videotape of so-so quality, a pair of good
90-minute cassettes, and a verbatim transcript of 90+ pages. The
transcript includes post-debate annotations and research into Gish's
literature citations. I will send a four-page, detailed outline of the
debate (the table of contents of the transcript) free to anyone who
requests it, but I regrettably do not have the time to honor individual
requests for copies of the tapes or entire transcript. I expect to have
these available for distribution through the NCSE by January, and
presumably their availability and price will be announced in this
I wish to express my appreciation to Auburn University philosophy
professor Delos McKown, who was originally invited to confront Gish
and recommended me in his stead; and to my students who helped with
literature distribution and recording the debate. If I can extend
any wishes to Dr. Gish, they are for good health and a long life, so
my colleagues and I will have many more opportunities to publicly
reveal the mendacity of America's most capable exponent of "scientific"
Here's an example of creationist misquoting, from Henry Morris' book,
_Science, Scripture, and the Young Earth_, p. 12:
The catfish range in length from 11 to 24 cm., with a mean of 18 cm.
Preservation is excellent. In some specimens, even the skin and other
soft parts, including the adipose fin, are well preserved ...
... strongly suggests that the catfish could have been transported
to their site of fossilization.(19)
Note 19 refers to an article in the journal _Geology_ by Buccheim and
Surdam, which says:
The abundant and widespread occurrence of skeletons of bottom
feeders, some with soft fleshy skin intact, strongly suggests that
the catfish were a resident population. It is highly improbable
that the catfish could have been transported to their site of
fossilization. Experiments and observations made on various
species of fish have shown that fish decompose and disarticulate
after only very short distances of transport (Shafer, 1972).
Karl Fezer discovered this, and wrote a critique, which he sent to Morris
for comment. This resulted in the following "correction" in _Acts &
Facts_ (vol. 12, no. 11, p. 6):
Readers who may have purchased the booklet, _Science, Scripture,
and the Young Earth_, announced in the August issue of _Acts &
Facts_, should make the following correction: on page 12, delete lines 18
and 19. A section which was inadvertently omitted in this quotation (from
an article in _Geology_ by Buccheim and Surdam) inverts the authors'
intended meaning. However, the argument being advanced in this section
by the booklet's author, Dr. Henry Morris, is not affected by this
correction. ICR writers always try diligently to quote accurately
and in context, knowing that evolutionists are carefully watching
their writings to ferret out any examples of misquoting which may
occur, but this one got by. If the authors of the quoted paper
were embarrassed in any way by our lapse in this case, we apologize.
... Gish has been caught on numerous occasions
spouting lies, yet he never offers retractions and his own religion
tells him that he should be honest.
One example is Gish's "bullfrog proteins." In 1983, in a PBS show
on creationism, Gish claimed that while humans and chimpanzees have
many proteins which are identical or differ by only a few amino acids,
there are also human proteins which are more similar to a bullfrog or
a chicken than to chimpanzees. Gish was repeatedly pressed to produce
his evidence. Two years later, Philip Kitcher challenged Gish to
produce his evidence or retract his claim in a debate at the University
of Minnesota. Gish refused to respond. Kevin Wirth of Students for
Origins Research (a pro-creationist organization) begged Gish to
respond in the pages of _Origins Research_ regarding the claim. He
refused. (See Robert Schadewald, "Scientific Creationism and Error,"
Creation/Evolution XVII (vol. 6, no. 1, 1986).)
Another example involving numerous creationists is the claim that
Donald Johanson discovered "Lucy's" knee joint 2 km away from the rest
of the skeleton. This claim was first made in the _Bible-Science Newsletter_
by Tom Willis in 1987, and has since been repeated by Walter Brown, John
Morris, Paul Taylor, Russell Arndts, and Michael Girouard. But it's
false, apparently based on a misunderstanding at a Q&A session at the
University of Missouri attended by Willis. Johanson *did* find a knee
joint 2 km away from "Lucy," but he never claimed that this knee joint
was "Lucy"'s. I gave a copy of a letter from Johanson describing the
facts of the matter to Girouard in person at an ICR seminar, and he
claimed he would read it carefully and respond to any letters I wrote him.
I wrote him in December of 1989 and never received a reply. Brown was
also informed of the facts of the matter, in both the pages of
_Creation/Evolution_ and of _Origins Research_. In both cases he
responded with new claims about "Lucy" which had nothing to do with
the knee joint--he just ignored the issue at hand. (_Origins Research_
didn't print my followup.) My letter to Tom Willis received no
reply. My letter to the _Bible-Science Newsletter_ (in response to
Arndts' more recent repetition of the false claim) went unpublished
and I received no reply...
Recently there has been a claim (by Jim Loucks) that evolution writers
misquote creationists much more often than the reverse. Jim of course has so
far failed to substantiate that claim with any evidence, while in the mean time
there have been several articles posted documenting creationist misquoting of
evolutionary authors (for example the Eldredge and Gould case).
Below is yet another example of creationist misquoting due to not
checking sources. It seems that a common tactic is to scan "friendly" papers
for quotes from "hostile" authors which contain quotes that appear to support
your position ([sarcasm on] certainly another creationist would never
misrepresent another author right? [sarcasm off]).
The article in this case is titled _Some_Philosophical_Implications_of_the_
_Theory_of_Evolution_ from the Seventh-Day Adventist publication _Origins_
Vol. 3, 1976, page 39. The author is John D. Clark. Mr. Roy should take
notice of this one (I believe that John Clark is the son of an Adventist
biologist who has written several books on creationism that are used in
Adventist schools). This paper gives an excellent example of how creationists
love to quote each other in a round-robin fashion without ever checking their
sources. Let me quote from John Clark a section that includes a quote from
Charles Darwin's autobiography.
Charles Darwin in his autobiography understood evolution's serious
implications for man. This understanding took the form of the
"horrid doubt". He states:
"But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as
I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that
possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such
grand conclusions? [The grand conclusion in this context is the
evolutionary hypothesis itself]."
At the basis of this evolutionary idea was the theory of natural
I would like to point out that the editorial comment in the square brackets
about the grand conclusion was put there by John Clark but in the same type and
density and inside the quote attributed to Darwin. Now I have read Darwin's
autobiography, and I didn't remember any references to "horrid doubts"
(which Clark refers to in quotes at least 4 times in his paper) or even
significant doubts about the "evolutionary hypothesis" as Clark calls it.
Since I have his autobiography, I decided to look up the quote, so I turned
to the reference provided by Clark to help me find it faster. Much to my
surprise, the footnote did not refer to Darwin's autobiography, rather the
quote was taken from the Frontispiece to David Lack, 1961
_Evolutionary_Theory_and_Christian_Belief:_the_unresolved_Conflict_. Since I
did not have this book it appeared that I would have to search my copy of
Darwin's autobiography to find the quote, which I did. Within about 1/2 hour
I was able to find it (there were no references for "doubts" or "horrid doubts"
in the index). The quote is contained in a chapter entitled "Religious Belief"
and had no mention of "horrid doubts" of any kind. Furthermore, this quote is
found at the end of a long discussion where he states his inability to believe
in the Bible or even the God of the Bible; however he did find reason to
in some sort of a diety. Let me quote with some real context:
When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having
an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of a man; and I
deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind
about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of
Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with
many fluctuations become weaker. But then arises the doubt--can the
mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind
as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws
such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection
between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but
probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook
the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the
minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect
on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult
for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off
its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.
Nowhere is there a reference to a "horrid doubt", but more importantly, the
doubt he is referring to is not about the evolutionary hypothesis, rather he
is affirming his belief in evolution while expressing doubt regarding the
reliability of humanity's tendency to believe in a god. His doubt is that our
tendency to believe in God is suspect, and even a vague belief in a deity may
be too much. On the next page he says "...and I for one must be content to
remain an Agnostic." (I don't want to start a thread on Agnosticism and
Atheism, that's not the point. The point is the use of Darwin's words in a
creationist paper.) If you want to look it up, be sure to get a recent edition
(i.e. > 1960).
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank