The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has received a great deal of media attention since its graduate school applied to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) for the right to grant degrees in Texas. ICR welcomes intelligent discourse from informed individuals; however, a few vocal critics have made inflammatory remarks without offering proof to support their claims.
Such is the case of high school biology teacher Steve Bratteng, whose commentary "How much do you know about evolution?" appears in the February 8, 2008, issue of The Austin American-Statesman. Mr. Bratteng mentions Chris Comer's resignation from the Texas Education Agency and ICR's THECB application in the same sentence, a juxtaposition that conveys both bias and misinformation. Comer's resignation was a separate event that has no connection with ICR's application. Although Ms. Comer was understandably disappointed at losing her job, she has allowed anti-creation and anti-intelligent design interest groups such as the National Center for Science Education and the Texas Citizens for Science to use her as a martyr in furthering their agendas to promote a secular progressive ideology in education and stifle authentic scientific inquiry and academic freedom.
American students' lack of interest and aptitude in science can be attributed to "the weakness of our teaching of evolution and the general lack of understanding of scientific theories," Bratteng claims. However, like many other commentators, he failed to mention that Darwinian evolutionary theory has dominated America's public school curriculum for most of the last century. It is more likely that the situation is caused by educators not doing their jobs properly (probably a minority of the cases), flawed curriculum, or a combination of the two. The influence of creation science is not to blame on either front because it is almost universally excluded from the public school classroom.
Bratteng's statements reflect another popular mantra of Darwinian evolution theorists, namely that creation scientists don't perform "real" scientific inquiry in their respective fields. Yet many non-Darwinian scientists are educated, degreed (most from top universities in the country), and are conducting research whose results contradict the claims made by evolutionary scientists.
Bratteng posted in his article a list of 13 questions that he claimed could not be answered without Darwinian evolution. Below, zoologist and ICR Science Editor Frank Sherwin responds to Mr. Bratteng's questions and the answers he posted.
"Darwinian (or 'evolutionary') medicine is a term coined by a group of evolutionary researchers in 1991. It attempts to answer various medical conditions caused by modern society that affect both animals and humans. It's just another attempt to shoe-horn the square peg of Darwinism into the round hole of medicine," Sherwin said. The series of medical conditions Bratteng mentioned, including obesity, morning sickness, and depression, "are wholly uncoupled to the origins issue."
"Evolutionists have divided Darwinian medicine into four areas: virulence, host defenses, genetic conflict, and incomplete adjustment to a shifting environment. But although they revel in using Darwinian principles to explain everything from morning sickness to retinal detachment, Darwinian medicine falls far short on actually defining and conducting adequate tests, which are what medical and other fields of empirical science are all about."
The genetics of HIV infection resistance has nothing to do with "macroevolution" or vertical changes from one kind to another, but rather involves horizontal changes within the same genus and species (microevolution), Sherwin said. "Such a study involves basic Mendelian genetics and molecular biology. People of European descent are more resistant to the AIDS virus because they don't have the receptor protein on the plasma membrane of their cells required for the AIDS virus to enter. An entire medical career may be spent addressing and researching this fact without once ever having to address Darwinism."
"The same application of Mendelian genetics and molecular biology may be used to address the tragic loss of the Native American population to European diseases," said Sherwin, who specializes in parasitology and formerly taught Medical Microbiology at Pensacola Christian College. Creation scientists have addressed infectious diseases before, and ICR has discussed malaria in the past and how it does not support Darwinian evolution.
"Evolutionists also don't make clear distinctions between the causes of medical diseases that are supposedly 'explained' by Darwinism and those that Darwinism cannot explain," Sherwin said. "These difficult theoretical issues are ignored."
In response to Bratteng's mention of dinosaur-to-bird evolution, Sherwin said, "Indeed, paleontology has yet to successfully document such a bizarre dinosaur-to-bird transition. There are plenty of secular scientists who remain unconvinced," as evidenced in the article "Which came first, the feather or the bird?" that appeared in the March 2003 issue of Scientific American.
"Bad design" arguments, such as the human trachea's small size and human retinal detachment mentioned by Bratteng, are "hardly evidence for macroevolution," Sherwin said. "If one is involved in violent sports or vehicular accidents, then there is certainly a significant tendency for such an injury, but what does this have to do with Darwinism?" He predicted that a series of G-force experiments performed on squids would show that cephalopods would experience the same percentage of retinal detachment as humans.
"Convergent evolution," he said, is unscientific. "Convergence is to be expected on the basis of creation according to a common design--similar structures are designed by the Creator to meet similar needs. The eyes of squids and humans are totally distinct from one another right from their first appearance in the fossil record."
In response to the issue of incontinence, Sherwin said, it "has nothing to do with the origin of the species but is simply the price one must pay for advancing age. Through the ravages of time, our bodies, which are composed of 11 irreducibly complex systems, break down and wear out. This of course is predicted by the creation science model that states all life is subject to informational thermodynamics." He cited Dr. John Sanford's 2005 book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome as a way for inquisitive minds to gain understanding of the "degenerating genome," as well as the creation science model, the nature of mutations, and the diseases they cause.
ICR recognizes Bratteng's effort to inform his students of the creation/evolution debate in the last slide of his instructional Power Point presentation entitled "Evidence for Evolution." However, to provide a true picture of the issues involved, he should avoid subjecting his students to the bias of TalkOrigins.org and should add more resources that address the wide spectrum of the debate, including ICR's website at www.icr.org.
Perhaps the appeal for commentators like Bratteng is easy access to a public forum while avoiding the rigors of a formal public debate against a qualified creation scientist. According to the media and blogs, evolutionists highly favor citing politics (i.e., Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) rather than research to defend their views. If science is truly the double-blind body of inquiry by which we understand the world around us, then Darwinism should support itself without the aid of political crutches.