Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Deception of True.Origin

The following is an email correspondence between a fellow blog reader and the owner of the creationist site True Origin, Tim Wallace. If you are interested in verifying what Darwin originally said, it can be found here.


Here is the email exchange I had with Timothy Wallace who runs the trueorigins website:

I can’t help but notice that on the home page of your true.origin website, you invoke the advice of, ironically enough, Charles Darwin of all people, to claim that evolutionists unfairly dismiss any creationist explanations of origins and that creationism supposedly has a lot of supporting evidence. Unfortunately, your quote of Charles Darwin is actually a misquote. Below is the quote in its entirety taken from Darwin ’s “On The Origin of Species” and the part you conveniently omitted is in bold.

"For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done."

What Darwin was trying to say was that he was under time constraints to publish this book and that he didn’t have the time to include in it the evidence for his conclusions which would refute any attempts to challenge them. That he said would require an additional volume. I offer the following quote as evidence:

"My work is now nearly finished; but as it will take me two or three more years to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged to publish this abstract."

Below is another quote from the same paragraph which you cited:

"I can here give only the general conclusions at which I have arrived, with a few facts in illustration, but which, I hope, in most cases will suffice. No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this."

Your selective quote makes it sound like Darwin believed that his theory of evolution is no better than any alternative explanation, such as creationism, but that is not at all what he was saying. You either did an innocently sloppy job of quoting him or were being deliberately deceptive. And if the former is true, then I would expect an immediate revision of this quote on your home page to more accurately reflect what he was trying to say. According to the very first sentence of your home page, “The TrueOrigin archive comprises an intellectually honest response to what in fairness can only be described as evolutionism…”. Intellectually honest??? Yeah right.

Not only you, but a number of contributors to your website’s creationist perspective also have the habit of misquoting or quoting out of context. I’ll provide a couple of examples.

John Woodmorappe has contributed a handful of articles in your Geology & Radiometric Dating category. Steven H. Schimmrich has published an online essay at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/woodmorappe-geochronology.html where he critiques a paper by Woodmorappe titled “Radiometric Dating Reappraised” submitted to Creation Research Society Quarterly (Vol. 16, Sept 1979). Among other things, Schimmrich points out that Woodmorappe misquoted an article by McKee & Noble in Geological Society of America Bulletin and another by Wasserburg & Lanphere in a different issue of the same journal. While attempting to break down Schimmrich’s paper point by point and responding to each sentence or few sentences individually, Woodmorappe wondered if he will “ever see the day that anti-Creationists stop repeating this mendacious crap” in response to being accused of quoting people out of context, but otherwise fails to address the out-of-context quotes.

Jonathan Sarfati, another frequent contributor to your creationist perspective website, is no better. In his article “Exploding Stars Point to a Young Universe: Where Are All The Supernova Remnants?” first published in Creation Ex Nihilo 19:46-48 and later online at http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i3/stars.asp, Sarfati tries to claim that the absence of Type III supernovas suggests that the universe is young, perhaps a few thousand years old, not billions of years as evolutionary scientists claim. He offers the following quote from Clark and Caswell in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1976, 174:267:

"As the evolutionist astronomers Clark and Caswell say, ‘Why have the large number of expected remnants not been detected?’ and these authors refer to ‘The mystery of the missing remnants’."

Sarfati conveniently forgot to finish the last sentence, which actually appears on page 301. In its entirety, it reads

"…and the mystery of the missing remnants is also solved."

The above are just a few of many, many out-of-context or incomplete quotes found in creationist literature. Whole books have been written about them. To find more, visit http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/#s4. Quoting authorities in this manner to prove one’s point is dishonest and deceptive. Yet creationist websites are teeming with them. If this is what creationists have to resort to in order to validate their claims, it doesn’t bode well for creationism or for creationists. This is yet more evidence that creation science is bad science and a bad form of Christianity. If Christianity is true, then its followers should also use truth to proclaim their message, and since creationists generally do not, as evidenced by the many examples of quote mining found in their literature, then they are not good practicing Christians. They are frauds and hypocrites. I realize these are harsh accusations, but they are not baseless, as I have documented above. If you don’t believe me check out everything I have said for yourself.

Tim Wallace’s Response:

I suggest that if you would try taking things (including quotations) more at face value, you would waste far less time crafting stuff like what is found below. Darwin's statement, as quoted, doesn't mean (or NEED to mean) any less or more than what it plainly says, which is plainly what he meant by it, when taken at face value, and in context, notwithstanding your pedantic pedagoguery, which is conspicuously devoid of an unequivocally corroborated explanation as to why when he wrote:

"I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question."

that he could not have meant:

"I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question."

Tim Wallace

The TrueOrigin Archive

My response:

Using your line of reasoning, I could do the same with you. I could selectively quote you as saying:

"The Neo-Darwinian macro-evolution belief system finds overwhelming support in the data of empirical science"


"The alternative—biblical creation—fails to find any compelling, corroborative support in the same data."

Therefore, taking these quotes at face value, as you suggest, and notwithstanding your sarcasm, I could reasonably conclude that they don’t mean any more or less than what they plainly say. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind, after all that would be “pedantically pedagogic” of you if you did.

Incidentally, I don’t consider this wasting my time. Frankly, I am enjoying this exchange. I find your “intellectually honest response” quite fascinating.

Tim Wallace’s Response:

Please stop wasting my time with your infantile charade. My "line of reasoning" has never had anything to do with deliberately omitting significant portions of a quoted statement and calling it "face value." Kindly go embarrass yourself elsewhere.

Tim Wallace

Oh but I have incriminating evidence which suggests that it does. I won’t write you again, but I’ll pass our little exchange onto other anticreationists I know and who knows, they may have a few questions for you too. Have a good day.

Jere Yost

If any blog reader has uncovered deception such as this, please send it to me at this address:

Ryansarcade @ yahoo.com (remove spaces)

Thanks Jere!


Anonymous said...

Why do creationists insist that they know everything? I get more or less the same response almost anytime I try to correct factual errors on a creationist blog. I'm accused of.. GASP.. trying to teach them, as if they didn't know what they were talking about! Outrageous! The horror! Everyone should just assume that everyone else knows everything about everything! It's common decency!


In all sincerity, I believe not that to be the case. Creationsists in my opinion do not think they have all the knowledge...

Why is it not common knowledge that Charles Darwin was only the co-finder of the process called natural selection?

Is it possible the other person did not receive any credit because his beliefs strained his relationship with the scientific community?

I was horrified and found it outrageous and indecent that all the credit was attributed to Darwin alone... intellectual theft!

AIGBusted said...

Charles Darwin was the first to "discover" natural selection, but before he published Origin of the Species, Alfred Wallace wrote to him and he had been developing some of the same ideas. Charles Darwin was the one who contributed the most, as he wrote Origins and addressed various problems with his theory (like the Evolution of the Eye).

"in my opinion do not think they have all the knowledge..."

That's true about many of them, but this man Tim Wallace that Jere spoke with was arrogant and thought he knew it all.

Anonymous said...

The fact that many creationists believe that they "know it all" is symptomatic of the general "Know if all-itis" suffered by almost all religious ideology. Religion is the Great Know It All. Everything you ever need to know is in this Bible/Torah/Spaghetti Instruction/etc. There is no need to look anywhere else, and if you happen to discover some snippet of information contrary to this book, then the snippet is surely mistaken, as we all ready know everything there is to know... and it's in this book. The scarry part is how many people really BELIEVE that this is true. Religion has us turn off these great big fat brains we have... what a waste! How many brilliant scientists have been corrupted by the myths of religion? How many great advances for mankind have gone undiscovered because the would-be discovers were taught to "Not Think" instead of to "Think"... all in the name of God? The possibilities of lost potential are staggering in scope.


Eric said...

I had a brief e-mail exchange with Tim Wallace recently, before I fully realized who I was talking to. He insisted that I seek out ALL of the existing creationist "evidence" before claiming there is no scientific evidence for creationism. He inferred that "evolutionism" was as much a belief as religious fundamentalism. Has any creation "scientist" ever had his evidence published in a scientific journal? Is there even evidence of a Creator, let alone his work. Wallace appears to be quite an emotionally disturbed individual, and extremely deceptive. For that there is MUCH evidence. He's a spokesman for madness.

AIGBusted said...

Hi Eric,

The one thing that I am concluding more and more is that many of the creationists are mentally ill. I'm a reasonable person, and I can tolerate a difference of opinion. But these people will decieve and censor anyone who stands in their way!

I was a member of a forum called "Free Republic". I joined to debate a guy about evolution. Well, after the debate, I posted a thread about "The God Delusion" and included a link to RD's website. Guess what they did? Revoked my "posting privelages". The funny thing is, at "Why Won't God Heal Amputees" and "Rational Response Squad Forum" I have never seen ANYONE banned for expressing an opinion. I have never blocked, banned, or deleted anyone's comments on this blog because they disagreed.

We're going to have to fight these fundies tirelessly to defeat them from turning America into a theocracy.

Well, I'll get off my soapbox, thanks for reading!


TheFallibleFiend said...

Does Tim Wallace have any background at all in science? I came across an exchange between TW and Tom Schneider (who is an actual scientist at NIH). It was hilarious! And the weird thing is that TW thinks he actually won the "debate!" It was hardly a debate. It was a tutoring session. TW is hopelessly lost in the subject.

This is not a debate. It's a tutoring session between a master and a stubborn student who is being thoroughly schooled.

Check TS's site:

Citizenfitz said...

Wallace is right; your reasoning is oddly child-like.