It must be a universal property of creationists

Maybe I was too hard on Harun Yahya. As Wesley writes, plagiarism and theft are common practices among creationists—it’s even encouraged.

Authors such as George Macready Price and Henry M. Morris assembled many of the arguments together in various books. And, as I said, nobody cares if you steal it. In fact, others will be confused if you provide complete references and trace back claims to sources. That just isn’t done as a matter of course in this field, and, of course, it pays to pick up the social gestalt of your new career.

When among knaves and fools, do as they do.


  1. says

    The brush is broad because the practice of “borrowing” arguments made by others and producing what can be viewed, at best, as derivative works is pervasive and nigh onto ubiquitous in antievolution writing. This is not even close to being arguable.

  2. PaulC says

    When it comes to creationists, the only question is whether to go with a roller or a paint sprayer.

  3. T_U_T says

    Maybe I was too hard on Harun Yahya

    Being too hard on Harun Yahya ? Hey, that is physically impossible – like temperature below 0K !

  4. BlueIndependent says

    Ya know, I really hope there is a God…because there’s a lot of people I’d like to see thumped into Hell for their hypocrisy and misappropriation of values.

    Groups of people who enjoy being dishonest so they can pump their egos up and attain positions of power are the same kind that produced Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, North Korea, China, et al. Ego takes no sides, left or right; It’s an equal opportunity disease.

  5. Molly, NYC says

    Well, of course repeating what other creationists say is a universal property of creationists Given the way they come to their conclusions, how predictable is that?

  6. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Creationists can’t do original work – their peers wouldn’t recognise the design.

  7. says

    Pausing a moment to think: Have Cretinists presented any new arguments? All the ones I can think of are just updated versions of old fallacies (Well, how do you explain lightning? You can’t, you non-Zeusian!) or the same invalid arguments, not updated.

  8. MisterDNA says

    I’m with Jason on this one. There are plenty of creationists who don’t steal and/or plagiarize – a lot of them simply make stuff up out of thin air!

  9. Owlmirror says

    Or, to put it another way:

    It is a universal of science in general that research is a structure built of evidence and carefully cited findings, establishing a chain of derived truths (more or less).

    It is a universal of religion-based criticism of science that there are no actual findings to cite. Therefore, all creationist arguments must all be based on ignorance, misunderstandings, deliberate misinterpretations, occasional outright lies, and personal incredulity. This pool of arguments is incredibly shallow, and citing who said what first would only emphasize how shallow that pool really is — and make it easier for science to refute.

    It’s better for their purposes to make it sound like the arguments are “common sense”.

  10. Chance says

    This guy is pretty nuts and is you jump over to Jason the trolls blog you will see some pretty weak thinking there as well.

  11. Caledonian says

    When one seeks to paint the side of a barn, one uses the broadest brush available. It will still be far narrower than the target.

    Quite simply, there isn’t a single example of intelligent, informed, and thoughtful Creationism-espousing in the modern age. And there’s a very good reason for that: all Creationists, all Creationists, have isolated parts of their belief systems from rational inquiry, and when one compromises one’s ability to think in order to preserve a belief, it makes intelligent communication about that belief impossible.

    In short, you’re a bunch of idiots.

  12. MNDarwinist says

    PZ, there could be a side to this that you are missing. Will Muslim and Christian fundamentalists “discover” that they can work together? For now apart from creationism there is not much that they agree on, but their views on things like homosexuality and abortion are very close indeed. Anyway, men of God(however he spells his last name)are too busy fighting one another for the time being-and that is a hell of a danger for our species.

  13. says

    They already have, to some extent. Interfaith meetings of Jews, Muslims, and Christians have turned into gay-bashing events in which all participants agree to fight the common enemies that are science, homosexuality, liberalism, and free thought.

  14. BlueIndependent says

    …Will Muslim and Christian fundamentalists “discover” that they can work together?…

    I think that’s the whole point though. If you look at what the conervative element of either religion – indeed the conservative element of just about ANY religion you or I can think of – rails against the essentially the EXACT same BS “moral” issues. They all hate gays, they all hate sex for pleasure, they all hate abortion, they all hate rights for social subgroups, they all demand literal interpretations of sacred texts, etc. etc.

    As one of my uncles once put it: “One day we [meaning followers of all kinds of religions] will all figure out we’ve been worshipping the same god the whole time…”

    Now obviously some here will take umbrage with this quote, but I think it applies to most, if not all, religions pretty darn good.

  15. lt.kizhe says

    As one of my uncles once put it: “One day we [meaning followers of all kinds of religions] will all figure out we’ve been worshipping the same god the whole time…”

    My observation is that the fundamentalist elements across denominations (and even across major faith divisions) have more in common with one another, and the liberals across the groups have more in common, than either do with the opposite pole of their own nominal affiliation.

    Jason writes:

    That’s a nice broad brush you have there, PZ.

    I’ll go against the flow, and agree that the brush is overly broad — albeit only because, in context, it applies to the leadership of the Creationist movement. The majority of rank-and-file Creationists are not themselves out publishing the crap they’ve read from the leaders — they just lap it up and them try to get their local schoolboard to teach it.

    For the past 13 years I have been receiving a local Creationist newsletter. It is amazing to me how often it just repeats the same tired crap, gleaned from ICR or AiG or Hovind. Creationism hasn’t had an original thought in 50 years.

  16. Graculus says

    Will Muslim and Christian fundamentalists “discover” that they can work together?

    They have already been working together for some time. ICR is involved with BAV, a fundamentalist Muslim terrorist organization in Turkey. BAV is also involved with Harun Yahya.

    You want links, use Google, this isn’t a secret.

  17. says


    Creationism hasn’t had an original thought in 50 years.

    Come on, give them a little credit. It’s been at least a full millenium since they’ve had an original thought, if not two or three.

  18. says

    Bad news in South Carolina:

    (AgapePress) – A lawmaker in South Carolina is hailing the approval of new evolutionary biology standards for public high schools. The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee has approved these standards, which require students to “summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”

    State Senator Mike Fair, a member of the Education Oversight Committee, believes the update of the public schools’ biology curriculum guidelines is a step in the right direction. “That, we think, is going to give a new freedom to teachers and a new freedom to the students in the science classrooms around South Carolina,” he says.

    With these standards in place, students will be less afraid to ask questions, Fair asserts. And likewise, these educational objectives will give teachers the freedom “to answer questions and to do what we think good science is all about, and that is to always be asking questions,” he says.

    Opponents of the new standards want to protect “philosophical materialism,” the South Carolina senator contends. He describes this mindset as a “religion” that runs rampant on college campuses.

    “Biology departments in the universities around our state are absolutely controlled by people who are afraid, for some reason or another, to look into and encourage students to look at all aspects of the question of evolution,” Fair says. He believes the newly established biology standards will help change this situation.

    According to the Seattle, Washington-based Discovery Institute, South Carolina is the fifth U.S. state to require students to learn about scientific criticisms of evolution. The state’s new guidelines do not, however, require the teaching of alternative theories to Darwinian evolution.

    Senator Fair believes the new biology standards for South Carolina high schools will help create an atmosphere where science education can flourish without materialist ideology. Also, he says it is his hope that these guidelines will be a precursor to allowing alternatives to the theory of evolution, such as intelligent design, to be taught in the state’s schools.
    Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

  19. Rey Fox says

    I think that they, being mostly outside of real academia, just aren’t as rigorous with their research and writing practices.

    And, of course, if they were more rigorous, they’d scrub a hole right through their worldview.

  20. says

    Um, I’m thinking there’s also a genuine cultural difference here, maybe. Religious-evangelistic writing, in my experience, is considered to be a donation to the world. Using the writing is a good deed. Wanting attribution is a sign of selfishness.

    Well, God doesn’t cite his sources, so in one of those “if English is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me” kind of arguments, Dembski probably assumes that he doesn’t have to, either.

    But seriously, if Asad’s experience is indeed the logic behind the creationists’ lack of intellectual rigor, it’s just another thing that they’ve got exactly backwards (just like how they’ve swapped the definitions of “science” and “religion”).

  21. says


    Well, God doesn’t cite his sources, so in one of those “if English is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me” kind of arguments, Dembski probably assumes that he doesn’t have to, either.

    I should add: “or he can’t cite his sources, because then he’d have to admit that he’s pulling every word of his gibbering screeds directly out of his pasty white ass.”

  22. says

    My recent experience suggests that plagiarism seems to be OK with much of the conservative Christian crowd, as long as it’s done to advance God’s agenda.

    Example: Focus on the Family, like a lot of political groups, uses “letter generators” to create “Astroturf” (i.e., “fake grass roots”). In this instance, FOTF asks you to copy and paste FOTF’s prefab text (arguing for the late marriage amendment) into your own document, sign it, and send it to your local paper. Last week I wrote a letter to the Rocky Mountain News pointing out that to use these letter generators is to commit plagiarism–after all, the final step is to sign one’s name to a letter one did not write and then send it off for publication. I pointed out that any student of mine doing this in class would get an “F,” maybe even kicked out of school.

    To twist the knife a little bit, I ended my letter by suggesting that James Dobson has no more intellectual integrity than Ward Churchill.

    Two days later the RMN published the following response from plagiarism defender Michael Trimble.

    Dear Editor:

    “Plagiarize – to take something that somebody else has written or thought and try to pass it off as original” (Encarta Dictionary). “Steal, use illegally, bootleg” (alternatives provided in the thesaurus developed for Microsoft Office by Bloomsbury Publishing).

    Letter writer and teacher David Mazel of Adams State University doesn’t seem to understand the principle. He says that if someone uses a form letter written by someone else – sometimes referred to as “astroturf” – that person is “plagiarizing” in the same way that CU’s Ward Churchill has been found to have done (“How Dobson is no better than Churchill,” June 7). He says that “if (his) students get caught doing that, they get a big fat ‘F’.”

    What Dobson’s organization really did, though, was to provide people who are not prepared or able to write their own letter effectively a bit more “voice.” Not students who are supposed to be learning to write well themselves, but ordinary working Americans who don’t present themselves as scholars or writers, but who nevertheless are entitled to their own opinions and a chance to express those opinions.

    It’s hard to understand how that is supposed to be a bad thing, much less illegal or some kind of fraud. The Web page Mazel is decrying allows people to choose among several options to compose a letter, and it even says “be sure to select the (parts) that reflect your own views,” and then tells them how to send it to the local newspaper.

    But Mazel doesn’t see the difference between that and what Churchill did. It makes me wonder where he got his teaching degree. Could it have been at the University of Colorado? They, too, seem to be a bit confused on the subject of plagiarism, since they haven’t yet fired Churchill.

    Michael Trimble


    Amazing logic.