The ICR’s Acts and ‘Facts’ – October

The Institute for Creation Research has a number of magazines, the most famous of which is Acts and Facts, which is often featured on the ICR’s front page. Here’s a brief summary of this month’s edition.
At present, the October edition is on their Acts and Facts homepage. For future reference this edition can be found in pdf form here.

Better late than never…

Contents/Permanent Links:

Genesis Under the Microscope – Brad Forlow

According to Dr Forlow, the ICR’s “Associate Science Editor” – Brian Thomas is “Science Writer,” and Christine Dao “Assistant Editor” if you’re getting confused – “Genesis has been under attack by the atheistic, naturalistic, and anti-Christian community.” Evolutionary science, apparently, has “anti-Christian roots.” Also, “Genesis has recently been placed under a scientific and theological lens by those within the Christian community.” This is, according to Forlow, unfortunate.

Various compromise theories have been developed that attempt to integrate evolutionary scientific beliefs into the Genesis account in order to accommodate the long ages (billions of years) required by naturalistic science. In doing so, “man’s science” has been elevated over Scripture and the literal interpretation of Genesis, thus changing or rejecting its historical message.

And on and on… The word “apostasy” is never used, but the spectre of “theological consequences”, “compromis[ing] God’s Word”, and “corrupt[ing] the biblical narrative” are raised nonetheless.

The piece is basically a bit of Christian infighting, and attempts to persuade the faithful readers of the ICR’s magazine that they are on the right side. It’s also incomplete and inaccurate in that it fails to acknowledge the existence of the Intelligent Design bunch (who the ICR doesn’t like much) and who, at least officially, accept “Naturalistic Long Ages” but don’t (where it’s possible) accept evolution. Forlow is taking it that the belief in billions of years comes from the belief in evolution – which is patently not true anyway – and implying that all the Christians that compromise on biblical literalism accept evolution.

Forlow dodges the issue of how an omnipotent god intent on theistic evolution would have been able to engineer solutions to every – and I mean every – conceivable objection that young-earth-creationists might have against the process. He’s God – he can do what he likes, surely? He instead attacks theistic evolution on this ground:

Most compromise positions attribute the origins of biological life and humanity to evolutionary processes, whether through naturalistic processes alone or as directed by God. But, could God have used the processes of evolution in His creation? Evolutionary development by definition requires billions of years of chance, chaos, confusion, and death. Evolutionary processes are incompatible and inconsistent with the nature of God (holy, perfect, ordered, and good). God could not have used processes contrary to His nature as He is not the author of death.

Even evolutionists will not compromise to say that God created through evolution. A noted evolutionist astutely stated:

The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain, and horror….[Theistic evolution’s God] is not a loving God who cares about His productions. [He] is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.

Which is probably a mistake on his part: surely the Fall and related alleged decay is also incomparable with “the nature of God (holy, perfect, ordered, and good)”? Or am I missing something? The world is not ordered, can not be ordered. And the God of Genesis (and most of the rest of the books, save the ones that He doesn’t feature in) is a prick anyway, one who certainly has no qualms about killing anyone and anything.

Life Below the Surface – Lawrence Ford

As always:

Introduction to all the articles from the editor. Never compromise on scriptural accuracy! *yawn*

Also featuring: a weak metaphor about looking underneath surfaces. Or something.

Evaluating the Human-Chimp DNA Myth–New Research Data – Jeffrey Tomkins

This is the latest in a long-running series from the ICR, one of the few ongoing pieces of research they seem to have. The point is that there are similarities between the genome of humans and chimpanzees, and the creationists would rather this was as small as it can possibly be. They’re not having much luck, evidently.

A recent presentation at the 2011 Creation Biology Society (CBS) meetings has stirred the pot once again on the human-chimp DNA similarity issue among creationists, intelligent design proponents, and some evolutionists. It was reported that a query of 40,000 chimp genomic DNA sequences against the most recent assembly of the human genome provided an average similarity estimate of 97 to 98 percent. Evolutionists frequently cite such percentages as an indication of common ancestry, but the ICR life sciences team has been examining the question of human-chimp genetic similarity—and what we’ve discovered raises significant challenges to the standard claims.

The ICR life sciences team has been using the algorithm BLAST – more specifically, BLASTN, which “returns the most similar DNA sequences [to a provided sequence] from the DNA database that the user specifies” – to compare sections of the chimpanzee genome with that of humans. They have (I think) the same sequences that the CBS presentation had, but don’t have the BLAST parameters that the presentation used. BLAST has different levels of stringency for matching segments before comparison, which would give different results.

I’m a little confused with their results. They’ve run the program and got “a genome-wide sequence identity” of 89%. However, they then did “experiments using BLASTN parameters that increase the overall length of alignments by twofold” (“to increase the capacity for sequence matching”). Seemingly only part-way through the full collection of Chimp genetic sequences at their disposal they report matching rates of only eighty five percent. Also, “using extremely liberal matching parameters” “greater than 30 percent of the chimp DNA will not align with the human genome.” You understand that this kind of thing is time-consuming – as Wikipedia says, BLAST “emphasizes speed over sensitivity” (although that does have a {{Citation needed}} beside it) – and it is understandable that this would not be a one-day job. The “speed over sensitivity” thing, while possibly limiting this research’s usefulness with regards to finding the real degree of similarity between chimpanzees and humans, still means that they can check the “97 to 98 percent” group’s results. It’s possible that some real science is being done by the ICR – though I don’t mean that in that they are doing anything useful, merely that they’re doing it properly for once. I’ll reserve my judgement for when the research is “completed and submitted to a journal within the next few months.”

Spreading the Creation Message through ICR Events

The ICR will be at a number of events this month at “churches, seminars, and Sunday schools,” along with “various national and regional pastor and education conferences.” To find out when Moses’ Plague of Frogs is coming to your town, this is the page to check.

Slow Death for a Tarantula: A Lesson in Arachnid Apologetics – James J. S. Johnson

I think I’ll add Mr Johnson to my (currently mental) list of People Who Don’t Get Natural Selection. Johnson talks about the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, which does the ol’ inject-your-eggs-into-unsuspecting-invertibrates trick with the Tarantula Dugesiella echina. He begins as if he was going to talk about how this could not have evolved or something, mentioning such phrases as “engineering and precision implementation” etc. However, he then turns off onto the “you need a selector to select” route. He says:

Some might interpret this event as “natural selection” in action, but if that were the case, who actually did the “selecting”? The physical environment “selected” nothing. The concrete pavement near my garage merely served as a color-contrasting background so that an airborne tarantula hawk wasp could easily spy the crawling, dark-colored tarantula. But the decision to dive-bomb and strike the tarantula—i.e., the choice to “select” the spider for destruction—was a decision made by the wasp, not the pavement.

You’re missing the point completely, Mr Johnson – it would be Natural selection if we had a situation where many such dive-bombing runs happened, and, say, the Tarantulas that were a little more camouflaged to their present environment, a little more aware of their surroundings, had a slightly greater chance of surviving and reproducing. A single event is not ‘selection’ – not natural selection, anyway, as in artificial selection it would count – in the same way that a single anecdote is not “data.”

This article will be useful for future reference due to the insights it gives into the ICR mindset. Wasps – and everything else – are apparently “manned” (as in spacecraft) by God. Now, on the one hand that could be in reference to the whole Holy Spirit/Ghost Trinity thing, but I, at least, thought that you needed to “accept Jesus” for this to happen. “You never had a camera in my head!”, and you never had a guiding spirit in my cat, (much less me).

Also, God knew about, and planned for, the whole apple-Fall thing. As Johnson says:

Why does all of this work out the way it does in each life cycle of this particular kind of wasp? Because, before Adam’s fall in Eden, God cleverly and carefully planned out (consistent with His infinite foreknowledge) the innumerable details that would be needed, after Eden, to make this air-to-ground system operate successfully enough to propagate tarantula hawk wasp populations from one generation to the next.

But didn’t Dr Forlow just say that “God…is not the author of death”? This, dear reader, is how the contradictions in the Bible got there…

Benjamin Lee Whorf: An Early Supporter of Creationism – Jerry Bergman

So… a famous, long dead linguist thought that language is not “the result of evolutionary survival, nor is it shaped by any alleged advantage that it gave in aiding a species’ survival,” but is instead “an incredibly complex designed system.” So?

Whorf is most famous for the idea that, effectively, you can’t think something until you have a word for it. This is sort of true, but not completely.

The manuscript for his book, Why I have Discarded Evolution, has been lost, and thus we will never know if he had any decent arguments, in the same way that we will never know if Fermat really did prove his Last Theorem. However, some of his writings on the subject survive, and things therefore aren’t looking good for Discarded Evolution. As Bergman says:

Much of the “design argument” Whorf used to argue for creationism is similar to that still used today.

My point precisely.

The Channeled Scablands – John D. Morris

According to Dr Morris, geologist, some landforms do need catastrophic floods – “not the biblical Flood” – to come about. He is talking about the trials of J Harlen Bretz, the geologist who fought the pure uniformitarian viewpoint of the 1920s to prove that Dry Falls, Washington was formed not from a long period of erosion but from a number of periodic, catastrophic floods at the end of the last ice age.

That was, however, around eighty years ago. At least partially because of this, pure uniformitarianism is no-longer ‘dogma’ in geology – the features of the world were caused by both long, slow events and quick ones. Morris says:

If this much damage resulted from a large but local failed lake flowing over a corner of the continent, what damage could be expected from the great Flood of Noah’s day?

The important difference here is that, for one, we have here a lake that has built up over time, which then flowed down to the sea at a great speed. The Flood, which was a case of rain falling and streaming down to a rising sea, would have been more “Uniformitarian” than this cataclysm. And it happened multiple times. In short, this flood was probably capable of far more devastation than any Great Flood.

So, What Is a Gene? – Frank Sherwin

A reasonable, but short, discussion on the definition of a ‘gene’…until the last two paragraphs:

So far, scientists have found that 95 percent of our genome has this amazing alternative splicing. The complexity arises when required combinations (who knows how many) must be assembled and then expressed. Is it any wonder that in addition to computer scientists and molecular biologists, cracking this Splicing Code required other researchers proficient in vector calculus, code optimization, geometry, advanced algebra, probability theory, and information theory? This is the antithesis of the time and chance required by evolutionism (which was never mentioned in a related paper in Nature).

Regardless of how the gene is defined, logic shows it to be a product of planning, purpose, and special creation. With each new discovery, the complicated reality of the genome more clearly reflects the genius of its Maker.

It may well take all or some of “vector calculus, code optimization, geometry, advanced algebra, probability theory, and information theory” to unravel the mysteries of a randomly – and messily – coiled ball of wire. That doesn’t mean you need them to mess it up in the first place though…

Thank God for Wood – Brian Thomas

This has, I believe, been covered by me before in Wood You Like Some Cellulose With That? I wont, then, repeat myself.

Acceptable Gifts of Power – Henry Morris IV

Render unto Caesar and all that… Basically, this is the traditional ‘donate to us, please’ article that graces the pages of Acts and Facts all the times that I’ve seen it, at least.

Ed Creek: ICR Volunteer – Eric Latas & Christine Dao

To finish we have the profile of a recent ICR volunteer, written by Dao and another volunteer.

Rather than allow his age or health challenges to deter him, Ed Creek has chosen to continue to play an active role in advancing the cause of creation science for God’s Kingdom. ICR is very grateful for his work and the efforts of all our volunteers. Their contributions are clearly felt throughout the Events Department and, by extension, the organization as a whole.

Donate your money, and your time!

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5 thoughts on “The ICR’s Acts and ‘Facts’ – October

    • It’s written by a male member of a fundamentalist, family friendly site. I’m sure the title alone is titillating enough for many readers.

      Wood is a remarkable biological product that has long supplied mankind with strong construction material…

      Read it again 😉

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