In this web article series so far, you will have already read a thorough scientific defense of the young-earth creation (YEC) position on Adam and Eve. In doing so, you might have been amazed at the compelling scientific case for the literal, historical existence of Adam and Eve.
However, if you’ve also read Dennis Venema’s chapters in Adam and the Genome,1 you might have found them to be similarly persuasive—for the opposite view. In the first four chapters of his book, Venema makes the scientific case for the theistic evolutionary position on Adam and Eve—that humanity does not descend from one sole original couple, but rather from a population of individuals.
These two books might leave you in a bit of a dilemma. If you’re like most people, you’re not a geneticist. Consequently, since the level of scientific detail in this debate is so deep, you might wonder if making an informed decision is impossible. How can a layperson navigate this maze?
One of the previous posts in this series contains a clue to the answer. In that post, we dealt with the question of why so many scientists disagree with YEC science. We claimed that evolutionists don’t agree with us because they don’t bother to read our literature.
Evolutionists don’t agree with us because they don’t bother to read our literature.
Venema’s book chapters provide an opportunity to test this hypothesis. If you examine not only his chapter text but also his endnotes, you’ll discover that Venema makes virtually no attempt to engage what YEC scientists have published. Aside from a few references to one self-proclaimed YE creationist’s personal blog, and a reference to an outdated YEC paper,2 all the published claims from our book chapter are given no treatment in Venema’s book.
I don’t mean that Venema failed to interact with the chapter itself. Given the few months that separated the publication times of our book and his, this endeavor would have been nearly impossible. Rather, Venema failed to interact with any of the previously published papers and published articles3 on which our book chapter was based. Some of these papers have been available for over three years.4 Since Venema’s book was published just a few months ago, Venema simply decided not to engage our literature.
This observation is consistent with our claim that evolutionists refuse to read our literature.
But why do evolutionists ignore the technical writings of YEC scientists? Consider the few YEC statements and references that Venema did include in his chapters: those that agreed with Venema’s claims. In other words, the only YEC literature that found its way into Venema’s writing were claims that underscored the points that Venema was making. Any YEC data and statements that contradicted Venema’s claims were absent.
In other words, it appears that Venema fits facts to his preconceived conclusions. Data and facts from YEC scientists that contradicted his claims were left out. (Contrast this to our book chapter—see here, here, here, and here—where we repeatedly interacted with opposing views; see also the technical YEC papers referenced therein, which underscore this pattern even more strongly.)
Why might Venema—and other evolutionists for that matter—do this? Consider Venema’s opinion of his YEC opponents. Naturally, since Venema doesn’t discuss his YEC opponents openly, we can infer it only from his statements about the one YEC scientist whom he favorably cites. Regarding this scientist’s 2006 paper, Venema says that “it is unique among the young-earth literature in that it is thoroughly accurate and does not misrepresent the data”5 (emphasis mine).
What does this statement imply about the rest of the YEC literature? It implies that scientists like Jeff Tomkins and myself are misrepresenting the data and being scientifically inaccurate.
Consider another statement by Venema regarding the one YEC scientist whom he favorably cites. This particular YEC individual agreed with Venema on the supposedly overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution. Venema said that this person was “just being honest about the state of the evidence for evolution”6 (emphasis mine).
This time, what does Venema’s admission imply about the rest of the YEC literature, especially the literature that contradicts Venema’s position on evolution? Based on his own words, Venema thinks that other YEC scientists are being dishonest about the scientific evidence.
For some readers, these discoveries might come as a shock. After all, Venema writes for an organization (BioLogos) that claims to be committed to “humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views”7 (emphasis theirs). Regular readers of BioLogos and of the BioLogos Forum will be well-acquainted with how much BioLogos boasts of their stated commitment. Conversely, Venema’s accusations against people like myself might seem to contradict this stated commitment.
Venema isn’t unique in his opinions of YEC scientists. The BioLogos managing editor, Brad Kramer, wrote an article8 summarizing an invited, public exchange that I had with Darrel Falk at a meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. On the BioLogos Forum, Kramer’s post generated over one hundred comments,9 and Kramer moderated the comments and interacted with them. One of the commenters described me as “dishonest” and claimed that my scientific work “borders on fraud” and “can be harmful to society.”10 Yet Kramer never interacted with him or corrected him. Why not?
At the top of the BioLogos Forum page, the heading reads, “This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith.” The FAQ page instructs participants to “focus on discussing other people’s ideas, not on evaluating their character, faith, communication style, or perceived ‘tone.’”11 Why was this rule not enforced for this commenter? Could it be because the BioLogos staff agrees with him? My own personal correspondence with Jim Stump, senior editor at BioLogos, suggests that the answer is yes.
Consider another example. The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is “an international network of Christians in the sciences.”12 One of their former presidents, Randy Isaac, has been a member of the BioLogos Advisory Council. He recently made a statement similar to the ones that Venema has made:
The oft-stated [ASA] policy not to take a position in areas of honest disagreement among Christians is an extremely important aspect that characterizes ASA. It is also a most difficult one to maintain. For one thing, it is not easy to differentiate an honest disagreement from a dishonest one. My personal preference, though not an official ASA position, was that the reference for honest disagreements was the accepted consensus view of the scientific community.13 (emphasis mine)
In other words, according to Isaac, disagreement itself can be a form of dishonesty.
Now apply Isaac’s statement to evolution. The “accepted consensus view of the scientific community” is that evolution is a fact. To argue that evolution is not a scientific fact is, according to Isaac, a form of dishonest disagreement. In other words, simply disagreeing with evolution is a form of lying.
Venema’s views are prevalent in the theistic evolutionary community.
Thus, it should be no surprise that Venema fits facts to conclusions. He believes that his YEC opponents are liars. Therefore, he sees no need to engage their scientific claims—regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be.
To clarify, I’m not saying that evolutionists like Venema know YEC science to be the correct scientific explanation, but then ignore it in order to buttress their preferred (i.e., evolutionary) view of origins. Rather, I’m saying that people like Venema genuinely believe that YEC scientists are liars. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they make no effort to explore the data that YEC scientists publish.
These observations set the stage for the web articles that will follow. In subsequent posts, we will be exploring Venema’s contribution to Adam and the Genome in a chapter-by-chapter manner. Yet, even before we dive into the complex genetic details, we already know where this discussion will be headed: we’re going to find that Venema fits scientific facts to his evolutionary conclusions.
This is pseudoscience, not science.
YE creationists have presented a compelling scientific case for their position and have engaged the rejoinders and arguments of their opponents. . . . Evolutionists ignore their YEC opponents.
Let’s return to the dilemma with which we began this article: in the debate over the existence of Adam and Eve, how can a layperson adjudicate the competing scientific claims? We now have a clear answer. On one side of the debate, YE creationists have presented a compelling scientific case for their position and have engaged the rejoinders and arguments of their opponents. (Again, for justification, see the previous posts in this series.) On the other side of the debate, evolutionists ignore their YEC opponents. They view disagreement with evolutionary science as tantamount to lying. Thus, they fit scientific data to their predetermined conclusions. In other words, YEC scientists practice the scientific method; evolutionists don’t.
This is a strong claim. Strong claims demand strong support. Consequently, I don’t expect you to take my word for it. Instead, I challenge readers to examine the evidence that will be documented in subsequent posts in this series. I think you’ll soon see that my claims are backed by abundant evidence from Venema’s book.