Institute for Creation Research: Rocks for Brains

The granddaddy of all creationist outfits is the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. They have an amazing new post at their website: From Rocks…to Brains. Yes, you’re right — our title is a juvenile inversion of ICR’s title. But as you’ll see, it’s appropriate.

The ICR article discusses — but doesn’t link to — this book, Astronomy Today, by Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan. Its listing at Amazon describes it as “the number-one, best-selling astronomy text.” It has a respected publisher. We doubt that ICR has read it; they’re probably working off some review they found somewhere.

ICR’s article begins in the customary way. They say, with bold font added by us:

The secular mantra is ongoing: “Creationism is religion and evolution is science.” When evidence is offered for The Non-Darwinian Alternative [capitalization in the ICR original], evolutionists seem to respond by becoming even more dogmatic in their commitment to metaphysical naturalism.

You’ve seen that kind of thing before, of course, but this one will be a bit of a novelty because instead of biology, the creation scientists at ICR are babbling about astronomy. Here it comes:

For example, Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan display an “Arrow of Time” in their text Astronomy Today. Their description of time’s arrow of “progress” is as amusing as it is unscientific:

We haven’t verified their quote from Chaisson & McMillan, but here’s what ICR claims is “unscientific” (the brackets are in ICR’s excerpt):

The major phases of cosmic evolution [are]: evolution of primal energy into elementary particles; of atoms into galaxies and stars; of stars into heavy elements; of elements into solid, rocky planets; of those same elements into the molecular building blocks of life; of those molecules into life itself; and of advanced life forms into intelligence, culture, and technological civilization.

ICR has a footnote to the book by Chaisson & McMillan, but (after considerable searching) we found a more likely source. It’s an article Eric Chaisson wrote that appears in Tufts Magazine: The Rhythm of the Cosmos. It has a nice illustration of the “arrow of time” which is sold as a poster. Let’s read on from the ICR article as they criticize the astronomers’ description of cosmic evolution:

This is an overtly religious description. For instance, just what is “primal energy”?

Overtly religious? We didn’t notice that. And if the creation scientists at ICR want to know what those authors meant by “primal energy,” perhaps they should have read their book. Ah, now ICR tells us what really got them upset:

Ironically, the two authors said in their opening chapter:

[ICR purports to quote the astronomers:] We describe the slow progress of scientific knowledge, from chariots and gods to today’s well-tested theories and physical laws, and explain why we now rely on science rather than on myth to help us explain the universe.

How horrible! Here’s ICR’s response to that:

Apart from the fact that this is a not-so-subtle dig at those who hold to biblical authority, the reader should understand that intelligence and culture evolving from “solid, rocky planets” is not science — rather, it is a strange philosophical conviction. Indeed, a 1964 Nobel Prize winner in physics stated, “Somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe.”

Did a Nobel Prize winner really say that? ICR’s authority for their quote is given in a footnote, but without a link. We’ve learned not to trust creationists, so we searched for it to verify their quote. Their source is this article in Newsweek which mentions Charles Townes, “who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the principles of the laser.”

Aha — ICR misquoted him! In the Newsweek article, Townes is quoted as saying something a bit different than what ICR’s article claims. We’ll put the omitted part of Townes’ statement in red:

Many have a feeling that somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We love creation science — it’s so honorable!

Now that we’ve caught them cheating, knee-deep in slime, we won’t go on with the ICR article. If you click over there, you’ll see that they attempt to cite additional sources to refute other discoveries in astronomy and cosmology. Go ahead, read it if you like that sort of thing. We’ll skip it all and give you their predictable conclusion:

If people really want to know their origin, as well as the origin of the universe, they would do well to consult the written record of the One who was there “in the beginning.”

Yeah, okay. Great job, ICR! Thanks for the reminder about what a fine enterprise you guys are running.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Institute for Creation Research: Rocks for Brains

  1. Now that we’ve caught them cheating …

    Nice work Curmie!

  2. One of the mischaracterizations is of a general-interest story by Geoff Marcy in which he points out that the strange solar systems that we are now discovering pose significant challenges to the accepted models of solar system development. What the ICR does not mention is that he goes on to speculate on other possible models and that not all astronomers agree that the basic theory is wrong. One states in the article that it might be the mathematical models that need revision, not the basic concept.

    One caveat on solar system formation is that our technology is still heavily biased toward detection of either very large planets, and planets close to their parent stars. (preferably both large AND close) A system like ours with distant gas giants and close rocky planets is still not possible to detect. The few multiple planet systems that have been detected consist of planets very close to their stars. For all we know, systems like ours may be very common, but we just aren’t seeing them yet.

    It’s quite interesting to search the ICR site for “planets”. They wrote an article in April 1996, just after the first discoveries, and one only months later when several planets were known. It is obvious they were having some trouble accepting the new planets, although they acknowledged the data was there. I tried to find an earlier article with a prediction that no planets would be discovered, but didn’t find one on their website. If it was there, it has been removed. Maybe it exists in one of their printed publications.

  3. ICR is really stretching at martyrdom here. Not only is nothing in those quetose “unscientific” or “overtly religious,” but the comment about chariots and gods is clearly a reference to Hellenic and Egyptian mythologies, not biblical literalism at all.

    To misquote Carly Simon – you’re so vain, you probably think this book is about you.

  4. Tomato Addict says: “Nice work Curmie!”

    You can’t trust a creationist to quote even one short sentence accurately.