Monday, March 11, 2019

#2155: Dan Reynolds et al.

Dan Reynolds is chairman of the Triangle Association for the Science of Creation, a North Carolina-based group whose “mission is to rebuild and strengthen the foundation of the Christian faith by increasing awareness of the scientific evidence supporting the literal Biblical account of creation and refuting evolution.” The group is ostensibly focusing on creation science, but as the mission statement also makes explicit, it really has nothing to do with science but with dogma – the conclusion is given; now we have to make the evidence fit. To achieve their aims – to “show Christians and others in the Triangle area that the facts of science are consistent with the Biblical account of origins and inconsistent with the evolutionary worldview” –  they offer “speakers, books, videos, movies, and slides for churches, civic groups, campus organizations, and schools; hosting creationist seminars and debates; sponsoring creationist films on local-access cable TV; holding periodic meetings; and engaging in other activities.” Yes, it is, of course, all about outreach and winning souls for Jesus, not research. Their website is, as you would expect, full of articles displaying a striking lack of understanding of the theory of evolution, while pushing all the standard creationist PRATTs, including skepticism about radiometric dating, flood geology, evidence for the historical existence of the Nephilim (media is part of an evolutionist conspiracy to cover up the evidence), Walter Brown’s pseudoscientific hydroplate theory, pointing out gaps in scientific knowledge (such as claiming that they don’t know how dinosaurs died out; therefore the Biblical story of creation is correct), claiming that dinosaurs and humans coexisted and that dinosaurs are really the behemoths of the Bible, and that religious knowledge is better than science because religious knowledge never changes whereas science does, which is sort of missing a rather obvious point. There is also a number of forays into pseudoarchaelogy, including out-of-place artifacts, and the group seems pretty excited about Graham Hancock’s pseudoscientific rantings. 

It's the usual stuff. Chairman Dan Reynolds does have a PhD in organic chemistry, which does, of course, not amount to any kind of authority on evolution, but which makes him eligible for signing the Discovery Institute’s laughable petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Other members of their Board of Directors include (for future reference):

-      Everette Coats
-      Jeffrey Gift 
-      David Greear
-      Fred Johnson, another signatory to the Discovery Institute petition.
-      Phil Johnson, Vice Chairman (no, not that Phil Johnson, we think).
-      Elizabeth McVeigh, who at least has an article on their page arguing, by incredulity and disregarding all actual research on the topic, that the human ear is too well-designed to have evolved.
-      Henry Middleton 
-      Joe Spears, their resident pseudoarchaelogy fan, responsible for their articles e.g. on out-of-place artifacts.
-      Mark Stephens, a Duane Gish fan, who finds scientific explanations (“scientists basicly conjecture or guess using the naturalistic evolutionary theory”) for the extinction of dinosaurs (Biblical “dragons”) ridiculous since how could changes in climate have killed off tough dinosaurs and let, say, thin-skinned mammals survive? Therefore, concludes Stephens, the Biblical story is better: dinosaurs survived the flood (since Noah brought two of eachkind and thus must have brought dinosaurs on the Ark), but post-flood climate change killed them off. Yes, you may have some questions about that story, especially in light of Stephens’s argument against evolution. Stephens also toys with the idea that dinosaurs may still exist. Also, schools are part of an evolutionist conspiracy to deceive children. 
-      Gerald Van Dyke, who may have done some science at some point (he used to be the resident creationist at North Carolina State University) but seems to have left the principles of science far behind when it comes to biology. Probably the member of the group with the highest profile in the creationist pseudoscience community, Van Dyke was supposed to witness for the defense in the 1981 McLean v. Arkansas case. According to Van Dyke, “[m]acro-evolution is strictly philosophy, not science,” because he says so. (A member of a group that thinks that science adjusts its theories and confidence levels to the the evidence is a shortcoming of science should probably not be viewed as an authority on the distinction between science and philosophy.)

Diagnosis: There are lots of these groups of fundamentalist conspiracy theorists around, and there doesn’t seem to be much to distinguish this one as either more or less lunatic than the others. It is not clear how influential they are, but at least they’re zealous.

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