Young Earth Creationists' Hypocrisy on Discrimination
Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.
Updated on February 15, 2005
The following material may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author is acknowledged and the material is not altered, edited or sold. For websites quoting this essay, links within this essay must not be removed and the URL of this essay must be clickable and prominently displayed.
On September, 15, 2004, young-Earth creationist Dr. Jerry Bergman wrote a response (scroll down) to the original version of this essay. Rather than faithfully reproducing my entire essay as he claims, Bergman deliberately edited out all of my links, which contain supporting evidence that refutes many of his claims and accusations. Clearly, Dr. Bergman does not have the courtesy to refrain from editing out relevant information as requested in my original disclaimer or the courage to simply include a clickable URL for this essay in the text of his response. In response to his accusations, I have expanded the text of this essay to include more details and supporting evidence. Furthermore, the disclaimer has been modified to prohibit the type of manipulations utilized by Bergman and others.
Over the years I've met a lot of outstanding scientists and science students. Some of them have been conservative Christians and even young-Earth creationists (YECs). Although I may disagree with their religious and political views, I've gladly written job recommendations for several chemistry graduate students that were creationists. Considering their backgrounds, I viewed these creationist students as greater assets to research on environmental issues and applied chemistry than threats to biological evolution education.
My creationist colleagues were honest and good chemistry students. In their graduate research, it was clear that they were willing to say "I don't know" if they couldn't find a natural explanation for an observation. They also never invoked the supernatural or the "god of the gaps" fallacy in their research. In our laboratory research and my geochemistry class, I taught them to use natural multiple working hypotheses (scroll down) rather than embracing untestable supernatural explanations (see here, here and here), which are only limited by human imagination and speculation.
In contrast to the integrity of my creationist colleagues, too many of the YECs at the "Institute" for Creation "Research" (ICR), the Creation "Research" Society (CRS), and "Answers" in Genesis (AiG) would rather quote their Bibles and proclaim "God did it!" than appropriately evaluate natural hypotheses to explain mysteries in nature. These YECs commonly invoke the "god of the gaps" fallacy (e.g., Vardiman, 2000, p. 5 and Humphreys, 2000, p. 334, 367 in It'll Take a Miracle to Save Their Science), desperately want to see "evidence" of miracles even when the track record of science shows that there is none, and rely on miracles to explain away data that they don't like (e.g., the miraculous "burst of accelerated nuclear decay" invented by Humphreys et al., 2003 (Adobe Acrobat) to "get rid" of U-Pb radiometric dates). Instead of using multiple natural working hypotheses, Dr. Bergman and others are still stuck with the old dogmatic and erroneous YEC approach of trying to fit every piece of scientific evidence into either an "evil evolution" or a "good magical creation" box. As he states in his response at the Revolution Against Evolution website:
Many of us have carefully evaluated the evidence and have concluded that it clearly favors one hypothesis (creationism) over the other (evolutionism).
We are fortunate that our forensic scientists, criminal investigators, and physicians don't use the YEC "approach" of looking for "evidence" of "miraculous events" in their investigations. Otherwise, what would keep them from invoking witchcraft and demonic activity to "solve" crimes and "explain" epidemics?
Of course, different people have different standards for providing job or school recommendations for those that request them. I decide whether or not to write a recommendation on a case by case basis, but I must admit that I would probably never write a graduate school recommendation for a known astrologer or an individual that claims that they can "contact" the dead for a price. Other individuals have even stricter standards. For example, Dr. Michael Dini of Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas, USA) refuses to write graduate or medical school recommendations for individuals that can't explain and supposedly endorse human evolution. His policy has raised the ire of Dr. Jerry Bergman, Michael Matthews, and other YECs.
Bergman and other YECs have attempted to elicit public sympathy from the Dini case by claiming that opposition to their archaic beliefs is equivalent to racial discrimination. However, Bergman's analogy doesn't work and is an insult to people who are simply discriminated against because of their physical characteristics rather than any of their actions or beliefs. Unlike astrology, crystal healing, dowsing, creationism and other pseudosciences, gender and race are not beliefs. While there are very good reasons to at least question the scientific competence of astrologers, medical quacks, fortune tellers, psychics and creationists, there are no rational reasons whatsoever to make similar judgments on the basis of race or gender. YECs often claim that there are eternal consequences (hell-fire damnation) for not accepting Christ. However, they fail to realize that there are tangible employment and recommendation consequences for individuals that are willing to give up their scientific integrity by signing "Statements of Faith" or making other commitments to not accept ANY scientific evidence that conflicts with their religious beliefs. For example, all AiG employees are required to adhere to the following statement in their Statement of Faith:
By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.
Why should we be surprised then if anyone that has signed a loyalty oath or a "Statement of Faith" has their scientific integrity and judgment seriously questioned if they look for employment outside of YEC organizations? Who wants to work with a scientist or student that is willing to place a religious dogma or political agenda above honest scientific investigations? What petroleum company would hire a geologist that doesn't accept the validity of the geologic time scale? What company would hire a geologist that would automatically throw away any radiometric dates that exceed 10,000 years? What hospital wants to hire someone that believes that exorcism and faith healing are equal or superior to western medicine?
As a public institution, Texas Tech is prohibited from discriminating as summarized in the following statement:
Texas Tech University is committed to the principle that in no aspect of its programs shall there be differences in the treatment of persons because of race, creed, national origin, age, sex, or disability and that equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all.
Notice that this statement from Texas Tech says nothing about religion. Perhaps, religion is considered a "creed". Nevertheless, no sane individual wants a janitor or an accountant to be denied a job at a university because they are Jehovah's Witnesses or believe in crystal healing. On the other hand, academic departments care deeply about their reputations and set high standards for any individuals that apply for their faculty positions. They want reputations that attract students, high-quality faculty members, funding and respect.
Although Dr. Dini is an employee of a public university, he is free under the United States constitution to deny personal recommendations to creationists or any other individuals that he feels are scientifically incompetent. That is, taxpayer-supported institutions may not unfairly discriminate, but any American citizen has the right to free association and dissociation whether it's justified or not. Contrary to Bergman's claims, no one has the right to force an individual to write a recommendation for another person anymore than someone can be forced to attend a church service, vote for a politician or endorse a political party. YECs at Texas Tech desiring recommendations for graduate or medical schools will simply have to find other individuals besides Dr. Dini.
While protesting against Dini's policies, too many YECs seem to have forgotten that it wasn't so long ago that Bob Jones "University" (BJU) and other YEC "schools" discriminated on the basis of race (see here and here ). Even after BJU succumbed to pressure to desegregate in 1971, they prohibited interracial dating among their students until 2000 (also see here). Rather than just admit that the administration of BJU was hypocritical, uninspired and medieval, Bergman excuses BJU racism by making the following sickening "segregation wasn’t so bad" statements:
I was informed that even during their segregation years, Afro Americans were not maligned or mistreated by staff, faculty, or students, but in fact were treated very well. Bob Jones simply was a 'white' school just as other schools back then were 'colored' schools.
So, segregation by itself is NOT mistreatment according to Bergman? Segregation is part of being "treated very well"? BJU was simply a harmless "white" school? Bergman simply doesn't comprehend the damage to race relations that resulted from segregation. He also doesn't understand that segregation is without excuse and that invoking the politically correct term "Afro Americans" doesn't make his defense of BJU any more palatable.
Bergman also wants us to believe that officials at BJU changed their racist policies because of "creationist Biblical teaching" and not because of "some secular notion of equality". However, the historical record completely refutes Bergman's claims. It was good old secular political pressure from U.S. Senator McCain and TV talk show host Larry King that brought change to BJU in 2000 and not any "revelation" from the Bible.
The founder of BJU, Bob Jones Sr., was an open racist YEC (see here). In a radio speech on April 17 1960, Bob Jones Sr. attacked desegregation as being "anti-God" (see Preaching the Anti-Evolution Propaganda; Babinski, 1995, p. 38-39). According to Jones, Acts 17:26 states that God has "set" boundaries between the different "races" (nations) and that desegregation is a "violation" of these boundaries. (Interestingly, to show how plastic the Bible can be, AiG uses the same verse to argue AGAINST racial discrimination.) In 1970, the federal government removed BJU's tax exempt status because of their racial discrimination policies (see here). Not surprisingly, BJU quickly "reinterpreted" their scriptures and minorities were conditionally admitted in 1971. Interracial dating was then instituted. In 2000, after a series of scathing speeches by Senator McCain during the U.S. Presidential primary and pressure from Larry King, Bob Jones III of BJU forgot about his grandfather's "uncompromising pronouncement" on Acts 17:26, denied that segregation was "scriptural" and dropped the "university's" decades-old prohibition on interracial dating. Without using a Bible and over the course of just a few days, Senator McCain, Larry King and other secular critics did what sensible Christians couldn't do. They persuaded the "university" leadership to forget about their long-held biblical doctrines and abandon one of their racist policies.
Without providing any evidence, Bergman wants us to believe that racial discrimination was more common in secular than Christian schools. No one can deny that racism has been widespread in the US and still widely occurs. In many cases, simply passing legislation did not stop racist acts. Nevertheless, a review of the history of the Jim Crow laws (see here) clearly indicates that the Bible Belt was decades behind more liberal northern states in repealing racist laws. Laws requiring racial discrimination in schools, businesses and recreational facilities persisted in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and other Bible Belt states well into the 1950s. For example, South Carolina passed laws in 1956 to racially segregate state parks. In contrast, many northern states enacted laws against segregation of schools and other public facilities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, Minnesota barred racial discrimination in public schools in 1877. My home state of Nebraska barred discrimination in public accommodations in 1885 and 1893. Wisconsin banned all forms of racial discrimination in 1931.
While Dr. Dini's objections to writing recommendations are limited to individuals that prefer outdated biblical interpretations and "god of the gaps" to 21st century biology, students that he doesn't know very well, and/or individuals that have not excelled in at least one of his courses, the AiG leadership discriminates against a much broader group of individuals (that is, anyone that is not a YEC) which makes them utterly hypocritical. For example, at their employment webpage, AiG states:
All applicants are required to submit a written testimony and written statement explaining their position on Creation (no more than one page each), and be IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT (WITH NO QUALIFICATIONS) WITH THE AiG Statement of Faith. [my emphasis]
Their "Statement of Faith" clearly excludes atheists, theistic evolutionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Moslems, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, agnostics and old-Earth creationists from employment at AiG. Because YECs view homosexuality as being incompatible with Christianity (see here and here), YEC organizations would no doubt also discriminate against open gays. Furthermore, because conservative Roman Catholics accept seven apocryphal books in their Old Testament "scriptures" (a total of 73 books in their Bible), the AiG statement "The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God" would also preclude them from employment. In their warped and hypocritical "worldview", the AiG leadership wants to have the freedom to deny employment and association with individuals they don't like, but they object to Dr. Dini having the personal right to simply eliminate himself as a reference for people he views as incompetent. In a vain attempt to defend this hypocrisy, Bergman comes up with the following excuse:
The fact is, AiG and many other creation groups are openly RELIGIOUS organizations and to survive they MUST hire persons who can carry out their mission and purpose, which is religious. [Bergman's emphasis]
Bergman is certainly correct to describe creation groups as religious rather than scientific! Nevertheless, he utterly fails to realize that science departments in secular universities also have missions and purpose, and that they also MUST only hire persons who can carry out their missions and purpose. Specifically, science departments want to attract high quality researchers, obtain a lot of funding and enhance their public reputations. High-quality researchers would include Christians, atheists, women, Jews, gays, Blacks, Republicans, or anyone else that can assist them in their mission. However, university administrators also realize that astrologers, creationists, tarot readers, psychics, and other individuals that allow irrational beliefs to rule their lives might not be trusted to keep their irrational beliefs out of their research and carry out their obligations to the university mission. In other words, despite any legitimate advanced degrees, pseudoscientists don't have the character or qualifications of scientists. That is, what astronomy department would want to hire individuals that advocate astrology or geocentricism? What astronomy department wants a professor to give equal time to advocates of astrology and other superstitions? Certainly, medical schools are not going to hire voodoo priests or individuals that believe that crystals and chanting will cure diseases. Psychology departments probably won't offer a position to someone that believes that most mental illness is due to demonic possession. For the same reasons, young-Earth creationists and any Lysenkoists would have difficulty finding positions in many biology departments. That's not the fault of the biology departments, it's the fault of an applicant that embraces ideas that contradict scientific integrity.
While Dr. Dini appears willing to at least give a student an interview, it is absolutely certain that if any old-Earth creationist ever applied to the ICR "Graduate School" his/her application would never get any farther than the garbage can. Contrary to Bergman's "understanding" that the ICR will accept ANY qualified student including YECs, old-Earth creationists, theistic evolutionists or atheists, the ICR website (see here) makes it very clear that only YECs are welcome to even apply to their "graduate school":
To be eligible for admission, applicants must have:
A bachelor's degree
A satisfactory grade-point average, especially in upper division and any graduate work (see Grade-Point Average, below)
Adequate subject preparation for the proposed graduate major
Evidence of personal integrity, good character. and AGREEMENT WITH THE ICR PURPOSE, GOALS, AND TENETS [my emphasis]
Old-Earth creationists desiring to attend a graduate school will simply have to find another institution besides the ICR. Considering the ICR's horrible record on "research" (for example: see this link, which Bergman edited out in his reply) and historical accuracy (for some examples deliberately ignored by Bergman in his reply, see here), a student should easily be able to find a superior graduate school.
I'm glad to read in his reply that Dr. Bergman has written recommendations for non-creationists. If only YEC organizations would encourage their employees to be so fair. YECs want us to believe that individuals, like Dr. Dini, are nothing more than religious bigots. Perhaps they are or, perhaps, because YECs believe in magical fruit and talking snakes and embrace the "god of the gaps" fallacy rather than sound biology, certain people don't want to risk their reputations by endorsing them for jobs and school applications. Contrary to Bergman's claims, refusing to hire or write recommendations for people that voluntarily hold irrational beliefs is not the same as racial discrimination. Race and gender are not choices and actions, but creationism is. Furthermore, Bergman and his reviewer need to recognize that YECs invoking "god of the gaps" and biblical mythology to "explain" nature are not equivalent to scientists that simply admit that they don't know a lot about nature, but that they're not willing to give up on searching for explanations that are consistent with the laws of chemistry and physics.
If AiG personnel don't like Dr. Dini's policies, perhaps they should pull the plank out of their own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5), set a better example and eliminate their much more extensive and prejudicial employment policies. Liberal religious organizations and secular scientific organizations are doing well without resorting to oaths and making sure that all employees and members have the same view of the Trinity. Nevertheless, I can understand why YEC organizations fear diversity. Their dogmatic foundations would certainly collapse if they got rid of their oaths and religious discrimination and actually hired independent thinkers. Until YECs are willing to end their widespread discrimination and hypocrisy, they have no moral foundation for complaining if some of their critics act the same way they do.
Babinski, E.T., 1995, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY.
Humphreys, D.R., 2000, "Accelerated Nuclear Decay: A Viable Hypothesis?" in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F. Chaffin (eds.), Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, Mo.
Vardiman, L., 2000, "Introduction," in Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling and E.F. Chaffin (eds.), Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon and Creation Research Society, St. Joseph, Mo.