The Quality of the BCSE "Research" : An Investigation
(This article was first published on my blog in December 2006. See a follow-up here).
On various occasions I have had cause to remark on the "research" on the BCSE's website. The consistent hall-marks of this research are:
My difficulty in documenting some of these facts, though, is that I don't want to draw peoples' good names through the mud. I'm quite happy to mention the BCSE's allegations that my real motivations for countering them are child-abuse, or whatever, but I don't want to have to bring anyone else into it.
But, happily, the BCSE do manage to find some space to discuss other things than their opponents' religions, or secret masterplans. So, let's go for a test case. And let's not pick something obscure, either - let's pick something that they say is a "key issue". Let's see how the BCSE's research measures up.
Aliens and UFOs
The BCSE's website has a number of claims about aliens and UFOs. In a nutshell, apparently, creationists believe in them and are spreading wacky nonsense about them. In the BCSE's own words:
Summing Up The Claim
So, notice what the BCSE are claiming:
Evaluating The BCSE's Claims
The first thing to note, as you read those claims on the the pages referenced, is that there is no documentation for them. You merely have to take the BCSE's word for it. Now that in itself is a problem - the BCSE's track record for reliable pronouncements is, as we have seen, hardly solid. Or, in the words of one of their leaders, Ian Lowe:
It should be relatively easy to rally against the fundies.
Pick an obnoxious trait, focus on what that would mean for the public at large, exaggerate it, and demonise that trait to the point that no rational person would consider supporting them. Caricature ...
Answers in Genesis
Creationists believe that man is a special creation - made uniquely in the image of God. Creationists reject the idea that life or intelligence are natural phenomena, that can arise by chance - rather, they assert they only exist by divine intervention. Just because human life exists, it is no reason to deduce that aliens exist - unless, of course, you believe that life does occur naturally and without divine intervention. Creationists regularly and consistently refute speculation about alien life.
There is good science supporting the creationist position. Whereas the conditions on earth when life arose by itself are supposed (by Darwinists) to be extremely simple, and whereas no intelligent input is supposed to have been necessary, all the combined intelligence of Darwinists with all their access to conditions as complex as they please has not managed to produce anything even remotely resembling life - let alone self-replicating, highly complex life.
Here are a just a small selection of easy-to-locate resources from the Answers in Genesis website and bookstore which spell out this position in detail:
Not only do Answers in Genesis regularly refute superstitious beliefs about the existence of alien life, but they also regularly draw attention to the fact that such beliefs are a natural consequence of the Darwinist world-view. If life arose on earth by chance (as Darwinists say) - then why not elsewhere? It is easy to show that belief in aliens, far from being a staple of creationist thought, is actually strongly endorsed by leading Darwinists:
There's the evidence. Compare it with the BCSE's claim that belief in UFOs is a "standard boiler-plate belief" of Answers in Genesis. Compare it with their dogmatic assertion that Answers in Genesis have been touring the country, spreading this belief to anyone who'll listen. Hmmm. Do you spot any discrepancies?
Creation Ministries International
Maybe we're just looking in the wrong place? After all, 4 of the 6 Answers in Genesis branches from previous years are now grouped under the name "Creation Ministries International" (CMI). Maybe the BCSE obtained this material from their website?
No, again. The CMI website, on the very front page , contains a link advertising the website http://www.alienintrusion.com . CMI see the arguments against aliens and UFOs as so important to get across to our society that they actually sponsored an entirely separate website just to do this. This website presents precisely the same point of view as Answers in Genesis: Christians, who believe in an all-powerful, over-ruling, creating God, have no need for such superstitions - those superstitions should be left to those credulous enough to believe that life can create itself out of inanimate matter.
Plenty more resources from CMI along these lines can be found at http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/creationontheweb?q=aliens
The Reality: Aliens and Darwinism
Many of my readers will have heard of "SETI" - the Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence, and particularly "[email protected]", which allows anyone with a computer to join in. This project scans the radio waves, looking for coded patterns. Their hope is that they might find coded patterns which could only be explained as the result of intelligence. Such coded patterns would prove, once and for all, the existence of alien intelligence.
It is interesting to compare the premise of [email protected] with the Intelligent Design movement. Intelligent Design seeks to examine structures in nature (such as DNA), and identify the marks of intelligence. They seek to develop the scientific tools to help them ascertain what the marks of intelligence are - and to identify them in nature. In other words, the premise is basically the same - complex codes reveal intelligence, whether those codes are found in DNA or in radio signals.
But, the difference between militant Darwinists' response to these two programs could not be more marked - and revealing. SETI is welcomed, or not thought objectionable; but Intelligent Design, apparently, is pseudo-science. Why? Many champions of Darwinism are also militant atheists (anyone for Dawkins?). If their is a designer, then most people would conclude that it would be God (though strictly, this conclusion cannot be made from the basis of intelligent design, which is only an investigation of natural phenomena). But the atheist's religious bias requires them to resist any such possibility. On the other hand, SETI poses no threat to their atheism. If aliens are found to exist, then it would rather support it - another example of life arising by itself from nothing!
Curious, isn't it, that there's no criticism of SETI on the BCSE website. You'd have thought that people so adverse to the existence of aliens and so concerned about pseudo-science would have spotted this rather high-profile project! Most peculiar...
Let's now draw our conclusions.
Firstly, we have seen that the accuracy of the claim investigated on the BCSE website is an absolute zero. Not only do the creationists who the BCSE alleges believe in aliens and teach the whole country about them not do so, but they actually go out of their way to do the exact opposite.
What does this say about the quality of the BCSE's research? It certainly tells us why the BCSE's claims contain no references. Had the BCSE troubled themselves to read an article - any article - from those who they wished to smear, then they would have discovered the truth. It seems to me that what happened is that the BCSE's researchers spotted mention of the word "aliens" or "UFOs" on the Answers in Genesis website, jumped to their own conclusions, and went off to write up the results. The only alternative I can think of is that the BCSE are knowingly lying. Are there any other options? Incompetent or lying - take your pick.
Think about that again. Just how did the BCSE come to this conclusion? We can't know just what went on - but whichever way, what does it tell you about the quality of their research? How much confidence will it give you that any of the other allegations - matters you can't check - that they make on their website are true?
What does all this say about the quality of the BCSE's checking of its own research, and its general competence to speak in debates about Darwinism or science? These claims about aliens and UFOs have been on the BCSE's website since its launch - many months ago. And not just in obscure places - they're even embedded in its list of "Key Issues". Is there not one single person in the BCSE who has read enough creationist literature to spot the obvious error? Is every last one of them speaking about things they don't know about? Where does the evidence point?
And now, consider the "pièce de résistance". Not only do creationists emphatically not believe in aliens, but, as we have seen, it is actually the belief of eminent Darwinists in the highest places (such as NASA, for example). Let us grant the BCSE's premise that this belief is "wacky", evidence of "deep anti-intellectualism", and a good sign that those espousing it shouldn't have their views about life's origins taught in schools. Where does that leave the BCSE's campaign? Let the BCSE's logic be their own judge!
What do you think will happen now? Do you think that the BCSE will now launch a new campaign, against Darwinism, because of its links with belief in aliens? Will they admit they were wrong, and apologise to those whom they have smeared? Or will they just silently drop the subject, and come up with something else?
My main point, though, is not to do with aliens. It is to do with the BCSE's research. Once again we've shown - it's hopeless. There might not, as in this case, be even the slightest grain of truth in it - the total opposite might be the truth. The BCSE's concern again does not seem to be for truth or accuracy - it is rather to forward their own goals at any cost. We're seeing once again what's really going on - that's why we're here.
The BCSE are pretty avid readers of my research, as shown by the fact that whenever I post something, within hours they start tinkering with their website. A new page has been added, apparently to substantiate the BCSE's claims. However, it doesn't take much to spot the holes in the argument: