Answers in Genesis is bad Christianity

Never trust this liar

Several years ago, Terry Mortenson spoke at a church here in Morris, and I attended along with several students. It was somewhat entertaining for me, because he lied and misrepresented evolution non-stop, and it was hilarious to look over at the UMM contingent and see all the jaws dropping open, unbelieving that anyone would be this blatantly dishonest. But then, if it’s Answers in Genesis, it’s always bullshit.

Now I’m amused again. Ken Ham is shocked and horrified that one of Mortenson’s speeches prompted a rebuke — he had been told afterwards that his homophobia is unwelcome, as was his unscientific stance on the age of the earth. Yikes. How dare anyone point out that the grand poobahs of Ken Ham’s bizarre cult are hateful and ignorant!

But the worst part, to Ham’s silly brain, is that the person who chastised the official position of his narrow understanding of literalist creationism was … the church’s pastor!!!

In various ways, AiG has been deplatformed by organizations too. This makes many people quite frustrated, angry, and upset. But do you know what is much more upsetting? When AiG is “deplatformed” by a church! And what issues do you think might cause this “deplatforming”? Well, LGBTQ and the age of the earth/universe issues! And actually, I assert that as a result the church itself has been “deplatformed” by the pastor as he is denying people the teaching they need on Genesis. OK, that’s a lot to take in. So let me share with you what happened to our speaker Dr. Terry Mortenson, who was “deplatformed.” Here is Terry’s report in his own words:

So what exactly did Mortenson say? It wasn’t subtle.

Sunday morning [Grace Point Church, Bentonville, AR, on Jan. 17, 2021], I gave a message on the “relevance” of Genesis, similar to what Ken Ham and all our speakers present for a first presentation in a church. I explained that Genesis 1–11 is foundational to the rest of Scripture and showed that the acceptance of millions of years and evolution undermines the Bible’s teaching on sin, marriage, death, the gospel, and morality. With respect to marriage, after quoting Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6, I said that adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism are all wrong because they are contrary to God’s created order and commands.

Well, good for Grace Point Church of Bentonville, AR! It’s about time more churches pointed out that Ham and his ilk aren’t at all representative of the majority of Christians, although they like to shriek that they should be (it’s like how the organization One Million Moms is actually just a handful of prigs). Ham even admits it that he’s part of a tiny minority.

Sadly, the majority of Christian leaders compromise Genesis in some way.

Sadly, Grace Point Church is not without flaw: they invited Mortenson in the first place and, although they admit that the Earth is old, the dislike evolution and want it to not be true. I guess it is a major step forward when they are speaking out against homophobia, at least.

I’m also happy to see a smug obnoxious twit like Mortenson getting slapped down. Maybe progress in greater tolerance will have the added benefit of breaking AiG someday.

I remembered Paul Nelson Day this year!

It helped to have all these people emailing me reminders in advance.

Paul Nelson Day, for you blessed souls who are unaware, is the day we commemorate the failure of a fellow of the Discovery Institute to follow through on his claims. Nelson actually presented a poster at a genuine scientific meeting, the Society for Developmental Biology, in which he proposed a novel metric he called “Ontogenetic Depth”, which supposedly measured the complexity of a lineage or something, producing numbers which he was certain spelled the doom of evolutionary theory. He even had a student, he said, measuring the ontogenetic depth of various species. Data? What? A creationist with data? I had to know how this worked. If I had his protocol, I’d even be willing to try to apply it to my organisms. You know, independent replication.

He was a bit dodgy about his methods, though, and they weren’t on the poster, and he promised to get back to me with a paper in a few days. A few weeks. A few months. A few years. It’s been 16 years now. No paper. Lots of handwaving.

I think we can safely say that ontogenetic depth is dead, and abandoned by its creator. It ought to be an embarrassing failure for Paul Nelson, but creationists never fail, they just bounce on to another delusion.

Paul Nelson has now invented another pseudo-sciencey phrase: Design Triangulation. Oh boy. Behe struck gullibility gold with the two-word mantra, “irreducible complexity”, that every creationist fool loved, because it was two long words that they thought made them sound clever…but it’s an empty claim, and IC has crumbled under even the most casual gaze. They also jumped on the “Design Theory” bandwagon, which fails because there is no Design Theory — it’s a mask over the words “God did it”. Nelson tried to get lightning to strike twice with “Ontogenetic Depth”, which also flopped. His mistake was promising something measurable and testable, which he wasn’t able to do.

Now it’s “Design Triangulation”. What is it? I don’t know. This time he apparently decided to start by writing out a thorough explanation — we weren’t going to be able to ask him to provide a paper he didn’t write this time!


He seems to have written it in PowerPoint — big loud fonts, lots of colors, assertion after assertion, lots of bold claims, clearly he’s thinking he needs to make a splashy, flashy argument. There’s one thing missing, though: data. There is no data in the document. There is lots of sniping at evolutionary theory, which they don’t understand, and bogus arguments about probabilities.

It’s also 243 pages long.

I read the whole thing. It claims to be “Sketches for a Method of Design-Enabled Biological Research”, which sounds familiar — he claimed Ontogenetic Depth was a “method”, too. I read it with an eye towards picking out what bits had utility in research. Give me one thing I could use in a lab or in the field, one thing that could give me a discrete result. It’s not there. Instead, there’s a lot of noise of the sort that gives philosophy (bad philosophy) a bad name among working biologists. It’s tortured philosophy. It’s philosophy abuse. It’s the sort of thing that makes scientists and respectable philosophers scream in pain. It goes on and on, never coming to a point, never providing anything concrete. Like a lot of creationists, Nelson is constantly getting distracted into tedious railing against evolution, asserting that evolution is impossible, and never ever saying anything specific about his magical chant of “Design Triangulation”, which he mentions multiple times but never defines.

I thought I’d illustrate this article with a catchy slide from his overlong presentation, but there aren’t any. Yeah, he steals some lovely biological examples so he can say they couldn’t possibly have evolved, and he’s got a bit about Michael Lynch pointing out that there’s more to the evolutionary process than natural selection (which is not the problem for evolutionary theory that Nelson imagines it to be), and lots of wordy babbling about philosophy, but nothing that captures the guts of Design Triangulation. So the best I can do is give you the culmination of his presentation, the one image he’d leave with those viewing it:

That’s it. Design Triangulation is just…Design. There is no method given, as promised in the subtitle of the file. If you like the fantasy of Design and Designer(s), you’ll lap this crap up — Nelson knows his audience. If you expect some intelligent criticism and useful methodology, you won’t see it at all, because Nelson isn’t writing for you. You aren’t the kind of rubes who’d fall for pompous verbiage and empty promises.

It’s perfectly fitting for Paul Nelson Day!

A defense of Adnan Oktar

It’s not a very good defense, but Oktar’s allies have put together a long, long series of webpages trying to argue that Oktar was railroaded — I link to it here in the interests of fairness, although I don’t believe any of it. The core of their claim is that evidence against him was illegally obtained (probably true, in part — I don’t think Erdogan’s government respects the idea of justice — and that he was not part of a criminal organization, but rather, they were just an open-minded circle of friends, which I do not believe for an instant. It was, maybe is, a cult, with Oktar at the top. There was a tremendous flow of money through his organization that allowed him to create international conferences and publish books of propaganda that he sent around the world.

Also, most strangely, throughout the defense they assert that the accused are all well-off, from wealthy families, therefore they couldn’t possibly be guilty of criminal activities! Yeah, right. For instance, one set of charges is that Oktar was a sexual abuser, and several of the women (the ones he called “kittens”) stepped forward to testify against him. This can’t be!

The women who claim to have been sexually abused are well-educated and capable of expressing themselves very well; among them are a doctor of medicine, even a lawyer. None of them are people who would remain silent in the face of harassment that continues for years. They are not people who can be made to comply with such a thing with various suggestions either, because they are of high socio-cultural levels, have university degrees, they are not ignorant. There is no question of corrupting their will through various explanations.

Women of high socio-cultural levels can’t be victimized, I guess, and can’t possibly be persuaded to submit to an oppressive influence. Except, of course, when the police pressure them to turn on Adnan Oktar, then their will can be quickly corrupted.

They are also the victims of a conspiracy by orthodox Muslims to destroy Oktar’s liberal, enlightened organization. Let’s not forget that this was an organization dedicated to an anti-science position, promoting creationism, with a creepy collection of women made up to look like dolls and recite the writings of Adnan Oktar. Liberal, it wasn’t. OK, maybe it was liberal compared to fundamentalist Islamic clerics, but that isn’t saying much.

But I do think the defense has a point when they bring up the magnitude of the arrests. The Turkish police rounded up everyone in a massive sweep.

Through this scheme, Adnan Oktar and 200 of his friends, men and women who have no past convictions, and are university graduates from respectable families, were collected from their homes in totality, kept in police custody for eight days under very harsh circumstances and then sent to prison.This court case has been underway for 2 years in Turkey, with a number of violations of international human rights and the Turkish Constitution.

This is a very unique case with 226 defendants, 167 of whom were detained for a term of 17 months until December 2019, when 91 of the defendants (including 3 lawyers), and 4 more in February 2020, were released by the court, which ruled to execute judicial control measures of an “international travel ban” and “ban to leave the house” (house arrest) for all. 78 defendants, including Adnan Oktar, are still in Silivri High-Security Prison, Istanbul.

I’d add that a sentence of 1,075 years is excessive and vindictive for someone who was a non-violent offender (although he did have a cache of guns, so maybe there’s more to that). If you want to make a case that Turkish justice is brutal and unfair, I’d be receptive. Trying to argue that Adnan Oktar was just one of a casual circle of friends who promoted enlightenment ideals…well, that’s just bullshit and you’ve gone too far.

Also, although as an American I shouldn’t complain about corrupt prison systems, Silivri High-Security Prison isn’t exactly the kind of white-collar country club prison where you can do easy time.

According to creationists, every science is false

Remember what right-wing Christians mean when they talk about “academic freedom”. They really mean freedom from standards.

Here’s a letter from a Christian who is still indignant that the Institute for Creation Research was denied the right to hand out science degrees over ten years ago.

It is fitting to reflect and contemplate the future ramifications following events of significance. One such event transpired shortly after this author applied for admission to the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS). The school was established in 1981 with a unique purpose in providing graduate-level education in fields of science that are particularly relevant to the study of biblical apologetics. Its former graduates earned Master of Science degrees in Science Education, Astrophysics/ Geophysics, Biology, Geology, and General Science,1 and many are now teaching or participating in Christian ministries in various communities.

As a Christian educator, I felt that formal education from one of the world’s leading creation science ministries would serve me well as an important augmentation to the graduate degrees already earned from secular universities. However, only four days after my application was submitted, the board of directors of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) voted to close the doors of the ICRGS indefinitely, effective 30 June 2010. The board reached this painful decision after a long legal battle with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that ultimately resulted in a ruling against ICR and the end of this important educational institution.

He makes a long defense of the ICR, but somehow cannot say outright that the organization teaches as a conclusion that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. This is a telling omission: their fundamental assumptions are so ridiculous that they dare not say them aloud, choosing instead to claim failings by real sciences that are not there. He cannot defend the process by which the ICR reaches their conclusions, and therefore tries to take them off the table. We’re going to play word games, instead.

For the ICRGS, the quality of education was never the issue, but rather the creation content within the curriculum. The THECB declared that the ICR Grad School program could not be called “science” because it was based on the creation model rather than evolution. To keep creation science and intelligent design out of the classroom, it is often argued that they do not qualify as science. Often the definitions used for such purposes are arbitrarily established to exclude other worldviews and frequently too stringent, also inadvertently ruling current or historic inquiry as unscientific.

The “creation model” is false. It doesn’t work. It was invented in the last century to paper over a primitive literalist interpretation of the Bible, and it’s so indefensible that the only thing he can do is claim real science is also false, therefore creationism has equal standing.

In the 1981 case of McLean vs Arkansas, the judgment defined the essential characteristics of science as being guided by natural law; explanatory by natural law; testable; tentative; and falsifiable. Anti-creationists have added additional requirements, such as Michael Ruse and Eugenie Scott who stated that science deals only with what is repeatable and can be subjected to testing. By such definitions archaeology does not qualify as science, since it is instead a search for intelligent agents rather than material causes. In a historical context, the hard sciences like physics or chemistry also cannot be reduced to these definitions. Much of the early developments of science were not guided by or explained by existing laws or known natural processes.

Archaeology is repeatable, testable, and makes hypotheses that can be criticized and evaluated. Ask an archaeologist! They have strong principles for evaluating evidence, and have arguments that are resolved by going back into the field and collecting empirical observations. That they recognized that intelligent agents, that is, human beings, are part of the process of historical change is not a criterion for rejecting the discipline as a science. Humans are real. They can be observed. We can see the consequences of their actions. So, studying them can be done scientifically.

My physics and chemistry friends are going to be surprised to learn that what they do doesn’t count as science, but going to church does.

That early science was built on guesswork and assumptions does not mean they were somehow unscientific. Our understanding was hammered out of chaos — people made hypotheses about nature, tested them, and re-evaluated their ideas until they conformed better and allowed better predictions about the natural world. Yes? That’s not a strike against science. It’s also the case that we don’t know exactly how life arose, so we make hypotheses about chemical possibilities, and go into the lab, or collect organisms from obscure places like deep sea vents, and test those ideas. That’s what science is!

These exclusionary definitions are especially problematic when we consider the many areas of science that attempt to explain one-time historical events, such as the big bang, the origin of life or biological processes. None of these hypothetical scenarios were observed, nor are they repeatable, allowing testing in any adequate manner. All attempts to reproduce the conditions that gave birth to the first cell have failed. In reality, such events fall well outside the statistical realm of possibilities and contrary to the known laws of science (2nd law of thermodynamics). Experiments in these areas of historical science are based on philosophically derived faith in unseen and unobservable processes.

He doesn’t understand the concept of repeatability, does he? No, we can’t fire off another Big Bang in the basement of the physics building. But we can study the properties of matter and energy and try to understand how they could have arisen. We can build colliders and see how tiny bits of matter interact. We can also observe consequences — the Big Bang theory didn’t arise out of some guy reading one sentence of a holy book and inflating it into a textbook worth of glurge. Instead, it was derived from seen and observed astronomical processes.

It’s telling that when their beliefs, based entirely on flawed interpretations of an extremely limited and internally contradictory text, are questioned, they choose to lash out and whine petulantly that physics, chemistry, biology, and archaeology aren’t real sciences, anyway. It’s kind of pathetic.

I’ll tell you what the ICR doesn’t qualify as science, and it’s simple. Are you free to question the accuracy of your source material? Do you get to revise your interpretation of the evidence to conform to the observable facts? Or are you required to hold certain tenets of faith?

All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1–2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus, all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false. All things that now exist are sustained and ordered by God’s providential care. However, a part of the spiritual creation, Satan and his angels, rebelled against God after the creation and are attempting to thwart His divine purposes in creation.

Case closed. Asserting your conclusion in the absence of evidence, and in defiance of any possible evidence, is anti-science.

Adventures in Creationism and Ethics

As if Mark Meadows wasn’t already sleazed enough by his association with the Trump White House, last year it was revealed that he was also entangled with creationists, like Ken Ham and Joe Taylor, starred in a documentary about a creationist “expedition” to find an allosaurus, with a lot of backstabbing among the various unpleasant protagonists. Now there are new revelations.

Maybe this isn’t the worst criminal offense, but the part that offended me most was that in the original documentary, they played up the fact that Mark Meadows’ 9 year old daughter was the one who discovered the fossil dinosaur. Except, as it turned out, she hadn’t. The whole “discovery” was contrived media hype. Oh, look, a little girl found the evidence that disproved evolution!

“Raising the Allosaur” was successful enough that it spurred Phillips to create the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival in 2004. Just before the festival opened, however, Phillips had to yank the film: It turned out that the skeleton had not in fact been discovered by Haley Meadows, but had been uncovered two years earlier by Dana Forbes, the landowner who eventually sold the site to Meadows. A paleontologist named Joe Taylor had identified the skeleton as an allosaur in May 2001, a year before Meadows’ trip. When these facts were exhumed they mired Phillips’ documentary in controversy.

Oh, yuck. Meadows knowingly had his own daughter join him in an outright lie, put her into a movie lying about her role, and set her up for public exposure. That’s disgraceful. I hope she someday escapes this poisonous creationist trap.

Of course, there is some comeuppance.

This led to a bitter dispute over who owned the dinosaur. Before the conference, Phillips sent out a letter to attendees that said “a series of ethics-based issues have been brought to our attention,” leading him to suspend sales of his film “pending a season for Creation Expeditions to appropriately address the aforementioned issues.”

Creation Expeditions posted a note to its website claiming that its ministry had “endured an outrageous attack.”

[Who is Phillips? What is “Creation Expeditions”? Doesn’t matter. This is a tangled web of lies and shifting alliances. This is creationism!]

In other news, Meadows bought the plot of land the fossil was on, and sold it to Answers in Genesis and didn’t bother to report the rather substantial income from the sale. The second saddest fate is that of the Allosaur fossil, which was also sold to AiG (they have so much money!) in a deal funneled through a “charity group” and which also ripped off a fellow creationist.

The allosaur eventually found its way to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, which is owned by Answers in Genesis. That group received the skeleton as a donation in May 2014 from a charity group that had bought the fossil from Taylor, the paleontologist.

“It was a bad deal that we had to accept,” Taylor told the New Yorker, who said the dispute mediation with Creation Expeditions would have left him nearly $100,000 in debt and destroyed his business. He sold the fossils for about $125,000 to a Christian foundation, which eventually donated them to the museum. At that time the estimated market value of the allosaur was about $450,000.

But remember, Christians are the moral people.

Pssst: the loons have all moved to YouTube

If you’ve been missing the heady old days of creationists popping onto the blog to make outrageous claims, I smoked a few out in my last video. Here’s one who jumped in to tell me that all of science agrees with the Bible and that there’s tons of science in the Bible.

The Meek
The Meek
6 hours ago (edited)
There is more science in the Bible then in your head! You follow prooven liars who lost court cases for fruad all throughout history and we are the ones who are wrong? Nah, all the observable science agrees more with the Bible than with your science textbooks! How many debates do you guys have to loose, before you figure it out? We are all presenting the same evidence, but just interpreting it differently through our favored worldview! You have to look past your bias and go deeper into the false assumptions being taught in science in order to see through all the lies! The real issue is you just hate the idea of a God telling you how to live! Good luck with that when you die!

PZ Myers
6 hours ago
Cool. What chapter of the bible contains Maxwell’s equations, or Newton’s laws of motion, or a discussion of signal transduction in neurons? Or maybe something basic, like the importance of hygiene in preventing disease.

Hey! is the germ theory of disease in there?

1 hour ago
@PZ Myers The answer is not in said “which chapter,” it is in the actual event of following the instructions given as a whole and seeing the obvious results. We have literally been doing that for thousands of years. You will find that in the Bible, there are explanations for some of those very questions you just mentioned such as hygiene to prevent disease. Do you not understand homeopathic medicine, or how long it’s been successfully curing diseases and ailments? Of course logically you’re not going to see “theory” like newton’s own, or maxwells equations. I mean what kind of a silly question is that? The Bible has been here for thousands of years before those people were born, and it’s still the way of life provably, while everyone else is arguing over theories that were literally disproven many years ago, and on top of that it has been proven these men perpetuating these ideas and “scientific theories” were occult practitioners, and were steering their own beliefs and views onto the public domain, which were met with great resistance. I mean that is all public record sir. What reality are you living in my friend, you seem interested in intelligence so let’s utilize it shall we?

His answer is … HOMEOPATHY! Homeopathy is in the Bible. Therefore, it’s science.

I haven’t seen this degree of lunacy for a while.

He is truly a worthy successor to Kent Hovind

I made another Bad Science Sunday video, this one about Matt Powell. He claims to have debunked evolution in 50 seconds, and in that short claim he makes one of the dumbest creationist arguments ever…and he presents it in total seriousness in the style of a high school debate team point. The smug ignorance has to be something he got by aping Hovind.

At the end he claims to have refuted evolution using science and logic, neither of which are on display in his argument.

An AiG apostate!

Well, this is fascinating: a former employee of Answers in Genesis comes out with her story.

What I found unsurprising is that AiG is an authoritarian tyranny that abuses its workers, with people monitoring social media of employees outside of work hours and threatening them with firing if they step out of line, on top of all the oppressive requirements to get a job there in the first place.

She came from a faith tradition that thought AiG was too liberal (I shudder to imagine it — some of her fellow employees even wore pants, which surely put them on a slippery slope to atheism). But she did not hurtle into godless evilutionism herself. What led to her breakaway from AiG was the exploitive work conditions and her growing awareness of the hypocrisy of her religion, and she now calls herself an agnostic who is on the fence about evolution vs. creation.

That’s all we can ask for, that people think honestly about their beliefs and avoid dogma.

Oh, man, Ken Ham is going to be so pissed off about this video.

Kent Hovind thinks he’s going to win a half billion dollars in a lawsuit

As you know, I’m not impressed with the American legal system — it has built-in deep injustices and biases, and also, while I benefit from many of them as a white man, it also has loopholes that allow every crank and bad actor to manipulate the system, shaking it as if it’s a piggy-bank to harass people and dream of getting rich. Wouldn’t you know it, Kent Hovind is one of those delusional manipulators who wants his money. He was in jail for 9 years for his money schemes — Dinosaur Adventure Land wasn’t just a tool to evangelize, but an illegal money-making operation for the Hovinds to get rich off of — and was legally convicted of his crimes, and also lost an appeal. Now he and his crackpot lawyers have convinced themselves that there was an error, a technicality, that will allow them to invalidate his conviction and sue the federal government for $500 million. It’s a fantasy. He was caught playing games with his money to avoid taxation, and he can’t deny that. What he is now claiming is that the federal government needed a “verified complaint” to even begin action against him, and therefore the entire trial should be thrown out.

As Peter Reilly explains, it’s a nonsensical complaint. What triggered his arrest, trial, and conviction was a grand jury indictment that evaluated the evidence at the time, and concluded that there was cause to pursue the matter further. Hovind is making yet another Sovereign Citizen style argument based on Imaginary Law. He’s not going to clean up and get rich with this lawsuit, but is only going to pour more money down a legal rabbit hole. I guess I can’t complain about that.

I am a little concerned about Reilly’s analysis, though.

Robert Baty alerted me to the filing. I think there are others involved but he seems to be the prime mover behind Nightmare. Kent has a tendency to refer to his critics, other than those who have deserted him, as atheists. Baty is not an atheist, but rather a Christian who has a problem with Young Earth Creationism.

Baty is a retired IRS agent and Kent maintains that Baty has been called out of retirement to “get Hovind”. I find that accusation highly implausible. My evaluation of Robert Baty is that you should never underestimate a cranky old man with a couple of obsessions, an internet connection and time on his hands when he is not watching the grandchildren.

<gasp> I feel seen!

By the way, Kent Hovind posted another comment in my latest video.

How can you BELIEVE the amazingly complex genetic code in ANY form of life happened by random chance over billions of years? How can you teach the silly evolution religion to students and still sleep at night? Call 855-big dino ext 3 to schedule a debate on the very best three evidences you have for evolution. I’ll post the debate unedited (unless profanity needs bleeped) on my kenthovindofficial YouTube channel where my rebuttal of your position was posted a few weeks ago. Come visit our Dinosaur Adventure Land REAL Science Center in Lenox, Alabama and I’ll give you a tour. :) Kent Hovind

I don’t believe organisms evolved entirely by random chance, so as usual, his criticisms are not based on reality. I’ve informed him, though, that my fee for wasting my time in debate with idiots has risen to $7000/day, a special rate just for him. Maybe when he wins his absurd lawsuit, he’ll be able to afford my rates. Unlike him, though, I’m not counting on the windfall, ever.