Tuesday, 1 September 2015

When YEC 'peer review' breaks down - a tale of ICR incompetence

We've seen many times that YECs are grossly incompetent when it comes to trying to explain why the scientific evidence does not show an ancient, evolving Earth. They misrepresent the science, quote mine genuine experts, and when cornered, resort to special pleading. 

This incompetence spills over to interpreting the Bible, where they claim that the only way to read the creation narratives is literally, then abandon that exegetical approach when such a literal reading demonstrates that Genesis 1 teaches a solid firmament separating waters above from waters below, or shows a contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 in the order and length of creation.

Now, as the always reliable Joel Duff reminds us, YECs show us that they fail at even reading the Bible, as can be seen by the the claim made by the Institute for Creation Research that "roughly half of Christ's references to Scripture were quotations from Genesis", with the implication being that "He understood the importance of origins to Christian doctrines." The claim that around half of the references by Jesus to the Old Testament came from Genesis is wrong. Flat out wrong. In descending order of frequency, the books that Jesus cites the most are Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Exodus. [1] If the YECs can't even read the Bible properly, let alone interpret it, then they have lost the right to be taken seriously as informed, competent commentators on the theology and science of creation.

Here's the offending meme from the ICR page, which makes the factually inaccurate claim about approximately 50% of Jesus' citations from the OT being from Genesis:

Was this just a simple error? Joel Duff went searching for its source, and found that it was anything but a minor slip-up:
Here is the original quote and its surrounding text from Chapter 9: How should we then interpret Genesis?, by Jason Lisle, Ph.D. and James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. (Kindle location 1443)
If you have ever read any one of the gospels, you are undoubtedly familiar with the fact that Jesus often quoted the Old Testament Scriptures. He would often respond to His critics with “it is written” and “have you not read,” followed by a relevant scriptural quotation (e.g., Matthew 4:4; 12:3). But it sometimes surprises people to learn how much Jesus quoted from the book of Genesis. 
In fact, Jesus quoted from Genesis about as much as all the other books of the Old Testament combined. Roughly half of Christ’s references to Scripture were quotation from Genesis. He obviously understood the importance of origins to Christian doctrines.
Using the literal hermeneutic that YEC’s have taught me is required for reading texts I can come to no other conclusion than that Lisle and Johnson believe and intend to communicate to their audience that Jesus quoted Genesis more than any other Old Testament book. But this is untrue. Jason Lisle is a Ph.D. in physics, though in this book he portends to critique non-YEC theological positions. The second author of this chapter has a theology degree. How could these authors have written this in light of the obvious fact that Jesus only quoted Genesis one time? Surely “quote” means “quote” or does ICR have some special definitions of terms that only they are privy too? 
Interestingly, the very next paragraph in Chapter 9 speaks of Genesis as being real history because Jesus referred to Moses and Moses was the author of Genesis. OK, but a reference to Moses by Jesus is not a “quotation from Genesis” as implied in this statement. 
Maybe the authors meant to say that New testament authors quoted Genesis more than any other book but even that would not be true. 
Whatever the source, the error is right there in the book and that error has been lifted out of the book to produce this graphic (meme) which is being used to promote the views of ICR. It’s one thing to have dubious interpretations of scripture it’s another to just be factually incorrect.  [2] (Emphasis in the original)
For an organisation that constantly appeals to its staff of "PhD scientists" in order to assure its followers that its material is factually accurate, such a blunder is unforgivable.

It should be pointed out however that having a PhD does not automatically make one an expert. Furthermore, if that person speaks outside his or her area of competence, then what they say carries no more authority than that of your average educated layperson. As Duff notes, despite the fact the YEC community claims that their works are written and reviewed by experts:
A serious problem, on full display here, with the insular YEC movement is that many of their experts are not experts and even if some are experts in the field they are writing about they are being reviewed by non-experts. Yet, they make the claims that their work is peer-reviewed and wish to portray their works as being vetted and more accurate than Christians who do not agree with their interpretation of Scripture. However, peer review often may consist of a biochemist writing about geology being reviewed by an astronomer.
This is unfortunately also a problem in our community, with anti-evolution articles in our magazines such as The Testimony suffering from similar problems, as can be seen by the multiple factual inaccuracies that riddle their anti-evolution articles, errors that would never have made it into print if they had been reviewed by people who were actually informed on the subject about which they write. The problem with credibility is that once it is lost, it is almost impossible to regain it.

Duff concludes his article with a simple plea:
I don’t expect a public acknowledgement of this error but I would hope that ICR discontinues its use of this graphic on Facebook and in their presentations and examines themselves to find out why it continues to make these mistakes.
Duff is sadly correct with his first point, as the YEC community is notorious for almost never conceding error. It is here that our community can show that we are better than the ICR, by acknowledging its errors, retracting false claims about evolution, admitting that we have much to learn on this subject, and humbly sitting before the best of modern scholarship in order to understand the witness of both books of Divine Revelation.


1. Kranz, J "Which Old Testament Book Did Jesus Quote Most?" Bibia blog April 30 2014
2. Duff, J "When Peer Review Lets You Down: A YEC Quote Problem" Naturalis Historia August 31 2015