A common quibble laid at the feet of the creationist is that he/she is not qualified to speak about scientific matters relating to the creation/evolution controversy. For instance, Mark Isaak, the editor of The Index to Creationist Claims, stated that “for every creationist who claims one thing, there are dozens of scientists (probably more), all with far greater professional qualifications, who say the opposite” (2005, emp. added). Others assert that creationists make “the elementary mistake of trying to discuss a highly specialized field…in which they have little or no training” (Holloway, 2010). Do these assertions have any merit?
First, such assertions are ironic in light of other statements by some in the evolutionary community. For example, in the “General Tips” section of the article, “How to Debate a Creationist,” the Creationism versus Science Web site tells its followers,
you don’t need to become a qualified expert [in relevant evolutionary subject matters—JM]…but you should endeavour [sic] to know as much or more about these subjects than your opponent does (which is often a surprisingly easy task, since most creationists learn only the barest superficialities of any given scientific principle before feeling confident enough to pontificate on it) (2007, parenthetical item in orig., emp. added).
It seems that some do not wish to hold all participants to the same standards.
There is certainly something to be said about the value of having credentials in the area in which one is speaking. However, relevant credentials are not always necessary. Consider: Are certain qualifications needed before an individual can quote or paraphrase others who are experts on a certain matter, as do many creationists and evolutionists, since there is a possibility that they may quote or paraphrase incorrectly or unfairly? Does one need a B.A. degree in English before citing references? And would that degree be enough to prove qualification? Perhaps a graduate level degree in English would be necessary? Such a proposition would be preposterous. Even if a person had such qualifications, it would not guarantee that the person is credible, and it certainly would not prove that the person is infallible. The key, of course, is to determine whether or not the quotations and/or paraphrases are done correctly, regardless of who the commentator is.
Follow this line of reasoning even further. How far are the qualification police willing to go in their demand for credentials? Should scientists have direct experience in every field in which they make an assertion? If a biology professor’s doctoral research dealt primarily with the characteristics of St. Augustine grass, is he/she qualified to speak about the evolution of apes and humans? If an atheist only received a B.A. degree in religion, would such a person be qualified to speak on the most notable, alleged, atheistic mechanism for the origin of man—namely the General Theory of Evolution? If not, then atheist Dan Barker has no business speaking out about it and should be silenced (see Butt and Barker, 2009). Even Charles Darwin, the “father” of the General Theory of Evolution, only had a degree in theology, having dropped out of the only other fields of formal education he at one time pursued—the medical and law professions (Thompson, 1981, p. 104). And yet his free-lance work as a naturalist was considered substantial enough to gain him credibility upon writing The Origin of Species.
And how much experience is required before a person can be considered qualified? Who defines where the imaginary line is that distinguishes between the qualified and the unqualified? If scientists were held to such standards, progress into new realms could never be made, since by definition, there are no experts in such areas! Thomas Edison received no higher education (“The Life of…,” 1999), and yet he invented the light bulb, founded General Electric Company, and filed 1,093 successful U.S. patent applications for his inventions (“Edison’s Patents,” 2010). In 1997, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers saw fit to establish the “Thomas A. Edison Patent Award” in his honor, again, in spite of his lack of higher learning (McKivor, 2010). Sir Isaac Newton received a bachelor’s degree, but without honors or distinction (Hatch, 2002). Should his work be disregarded? Consider also that his area of study was mathematics. How was he qualified to discuss physics, mechanics, dynamics, and other mechanical engineering concepts that are taught in engineering schools today? The Wright brothers did not even receive high school diplomas, much less receive a college education (Kelly, 1989, p. 37). The Encyclopedia of World Biography notes that Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, “was a poor student. He never learned to spell or to read well. Ford would write using only the simplest of sentences” (“Henry Ford,” 2010). However, that did not stop people from buying his Model T. Nearly 15,500,000 were sold in the United States alone (“Henry Ford (1863-1947)”, 2010).
The truth is that anyone is eligible to take part in a discussion as long as they are not speaking error. That is the critical issue. Consider: does one have to be qualified to speak the truth? Of course not. Truth is truth! It does not matter who speaks it. Unfortunately, many critics of creationists fail to address the creationist’s argument, but instead attack the speaker (e.g., the speaker’s credentials). This sidesteps the argument and attempts to distract hearers from analyzing the argument’s validity, which is a classic example of the ad hominem logical fallacy (“Fallacies,” 2007). Anyone who is able to speak correctly concerning a scientific matter due to personal work or experience, direct study, or through research into the work of others is eligible to take part in scientific discourse on the subject, given that the person is handling the matter accurately. As long as the laws of science are used correctly, anyone can teach their truths.
As was mentioned above, some evolutionists assert that “there are dozens of scientists (probably more), all with far greater professional qualifications” than creationists (Isaak, 2005). (Quite a bold statement, to say the least.) It may be true that most scientists have bought into the hoax of evolution, as was the case when scientists believed the world was flat, or that blood-letting was an appropriate prescription for curing ailments, but appealing to numbers proves nothing, and using such an argument causes one to fall victim to yet another fallacy—the ad populum logical fallacy (“Fallacies,” 2007).
Although numbers ultimately mean nothing in regard to truth, creationists can certainly come up with an impressive list of qualified scientists who have examined the scientific evidence and concluded that the evolutionary model falls short in explaining our existence. Creation Ministries International posted a list of some 186 scientists alive today (or recently deceased) who believe in the biblical account of creation (“Creation Scientists…,” 2010). The scientists who are listed all possess a doctorate in a science-related field. Over 90 different scientific fields are represented in the list, including several types of engineers, chemists, geneticists, physicists, and biologists. Astronomers and astrophysicists; geologists and geophysicists; physicians and surgeons; micro-, molecular, and neurobiologists; paleontologists and zoologists are represented, and the list goes on. Dozens of scientists from history are on the list as well.
For over 30 years, we at Apologetics Press have conducted numerous seminars and published hundreds of articles by qualified, credentialed scientists who sought to speak out in support of the biblical account of creation as well—scientists with graduate degrees in astrophysics and geology, as well as Ph.D.’s in microbiology, neurobiology, cell biology, biochemistry, aerospace engineering, nuclear engineering, and mechanical engineering. Creationists can certainly speak with credibility in scientific matters. However, again, the ultimate question is not how many scientists are standing on either side of the battle line. The question is who is speaking the truth? Who is taking the scientific evidence and drawing reasonable, accurate conclusions from the facts? The answer is clear to the unbiased observer. Science supports creation—not evolution.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Creation Scientists and Other Specialists of Interest” (2010), Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/creation-scientists.
“Edison’s Patents” (2010), The Thomas Edison Papers, Rutgers University, http://edison.rutgers.edu/patents.htm.
“Fallacies” (2007), Handouts and Links, http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html.
Hatch, Robert (2002), “Sir Isaac Newton,” Professor Robert A. Hatch: The Scientific Revolution Homepage, http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/ufhatch/pages/01-courses/current-courses/08sr-newton.htm.
“Henry Ford” (2010), Encyclopedia of World Biography, http://www.notablebiographies.com/Fi-Gi/Ford-Henry.html.
“Henry Ford (1863-1947)” (2010), About.com, Inventors, http://inventors.about.com/od/fstartinventors/a/HenryFord.htm.
Holloway, Robert (2010), “Experts on Thermodynamics Refute Creationist Claims,” http://www.ntanet.net/Thermo-Internet.htm.
“How to Debate a Creationist” (2007), Creationism versus Science, Arguments, http://www.creationtheory.org/Arguments/DebatingTips.xhtml.
Isaak, Mark (2005), “Claim CA118,” The TalkOrigins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy, http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA118.html.
Kelly, Fred C. (1989), The Wright Brothers: A Biography (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company).
“The Life of Thomas A. Edison” (1999), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edbio.html.
McKivor, Fran (2010), “Thomas A. Edison Patent Award,” ASME: Setting the Standard, http://www.webcitation.org/5umTifXDW.
“The Life of Thomas A. Edison” (1999), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edbio.html.
Thompson, Bert (1981), The History of Evolutionary Thought (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
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