It’s Back.

After being invited to Parkview Christian Church to have a discussion about atheism and Christianity with the pastor, on stage, for all three weekend services, I wrote about a pamphlet used by the Church. It was called “Creationism for my Child’s Teacher” and it was riddled with mistakes.

Pastor Tim Harlow even responded to the comments you all made.

Pastor Tim (a man I respect and like for several reasons… not including his views against Evolution) stressed that he wrote this pamphlet not to convince teachers to teach Creationism (not even calling it the more euphemistic “Intelligent Design”), but so they could understand where his kids were coming from.

The pamphlet was taken down from the church’s website following the comments made by Friendly Atheist readers.

Now, it’s back up and “revised.”

You can read the revised pamphlet here. It is available through their website along with other Creationism resources here.

As before, I can’t make my way through all the errors by myself. So let me reach out to my expert readers.

Which scientists are quoted out of context? How many of the “facts” are just plain wrong? Can we respond to the other sites that the church website links us to? Where can the church members go to get accurate information?

At the very least, if they Google “Creationism for my Child’s Teacher,” let’s make sure they come to this site which has reasonable criticism and answers instead of the church’s site with the error-laden brochure.

[tags]Parkview Christian Church, Creationism for my Child’s Teacher, Pastor Tim, Tim Harlow, Creationism, Intelligent Design, atheist, atheism, Google, Evolution, Friendly Atheist, Christianity[/tags]

  • txatheist

    On page 10 he uses the “either or” fallacy. Not the slightest bit scientific. He states that if evolution did occur it’s extremely rare statistically, therefore that leaves creationism thus becoming the entire other possiibility, or 99%+.

  • JR

    See this page for info about the creature that the japanese fishing boat found.

    Researchers and experts quietly studied the evidence…..
    (see the link for the evidence)
    In the end it was determined that the fishy find was nothing more than a large shark, probably a basking shark. These tend to decay in a manner that makes them resemble a plesiosaur.
    Well-known cryptozoologists:

  • JR
  • JR

    I like this bit.
    “I know that religious kids use drugs and commit crimes and kill themselves too. Believe me I know. But if kids think there is a God who does love them, it makes all the difference in the world.” – Why are religious kids doing all those things then?

  • cautiousmaniac

    le sigh.

    Pastor Tim wants Parkview Christian Church’s attendees to think…well I’m not totally sure what he wants them to think. By embracing both ID and young-Earth creationist links and arguments in his .pdf, he apparently disagrees with evolution somehow. But saying as how, for example, ID says nothing about the age of the Earth, but YEC says that the Earth is merely thousands of years old, it’s difficult to say which viewpoint the Pastor is in agreement with. However, his disagreement is not scientific, it is moral. He thinks that a naturalistic/bright/atheist worldview, when taught to people, causes a lack of morality, and thus he denies evolution because he is highly concerned with teaching morality.

    I just recently purchased and re-watched An Inconvenient Truth, and one of the take-away messages from the movie is that all you can do to convince people of something that they might not think otherwise (such as, say, anthropogenic carbon burning is causing the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels unseen in a million years, or that humans are just a species of ape which, through fortuitous but random and natural events, learned to talk and think) is to talk with them. It’s up to them to decide whether they accept the science behind the correct worldview.

    Hemant, I think you’ve done a great job of talking (and even more important, listening!) to Pastor Tim about evolution and his denial thereof. But I think that you’ve reached a point wherein you can’t really do much else to try to get him to “see the light”. It’s sad but true.

    So what can brights do to make creationism less and less appealing to religious groups? Be moral. Keep teaching and positively showing that morality and religion have nothing to do with one another.

    Agree with creationists that…yes, humans are a unique animal as far as cognitive powers go, but that increased brain size in primates is something which has convergently evolved in at least two other mammalian groups: dolphins and elephants. Social interactions lead to larger brains, which in turn lead to higher social interaction. Humans, as the animals with the largest social networks on the planet, also have the largest brains. This is not a coincidence or a sign of divine intervention, it’s a product of our hominoid evolutionary lineage, the same as our opposable thumbs, stereoscopic vision, highly articulated pectoral girdle, our vestigial but still functional tailbones…

    As evolution is shown to be less and less of an “evil” thing, more churches and faith groups will embrace it. …and/or those that deny it will go away. Which path of artificial selection will Parkview Christian Church go for, evolution or extinction?

  • David

    I don’t have the time to thoroughly debunk this paper – it is certainly still rife with problems. The first and foremost point that I think should be made is that there *is* evidence for evolution that is quite convincing. The best examples I can think of are in this video, a recording of Ken Miller re-hashing his experiences as a witness in an ID vs. evolution trial:

    Title: Ken Miller on Intelligent Design

    Hemant, if you could get Pastor Harlow to watch this video all the way through, a lot of progress can be made. This video is very diplomatic and is as respectful of religion as is possible considering the topic of discussion.

    I also can’t help but object to his use of the “creation is simpler” argument on page 4. I think it stems from the popularized version of Occam’s Razor, which goes something like “the simpler explanation is usually the right one.” This is a popularization in every sense of the word – and is easy to misuse. Let’s look at the original phrase:

    “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” (latin)

    usually translated as: “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”

    Fundamentally, this means that we should avoid creating too many agents/actors to explain something. Creation depends on creating a God first, who then creates the animals/life; Evolution depends on no agent whatsoever other than the physical laws of the universe, which we already have good reasons to think that such laws exist – or at least, in our corner of the universe.

    Granted, this does not answer the ultimate question of where matter/energy/the universe came from, but at the moment no scientist would say that we have the answer to this question. It may be unanswerable. On the other hand, we’ve only had empirical science working for us for a few hundred years. Religion has dominated the world for the majority of humans’ existence. Other than some interesting historical politics, the majority of human progress has come from the use of empirical observations.

    Anyway, my two cents..

  • Nes

    Ack, there’s a gross error right on the cover:

    Is it possible that Darwin’s theory of evolution is simply that…a theory?”

    When scientists refer to a theory, they aren’t talking about the colloquial meaning of a hunch or guess. I think has a good definition:

    a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena

    I would also add that a theory in that sense is (generally) well supported by evidence.

    I’m hardly a scientist by any means, but I do a lot of reading on this subject, so I’ll have to take a look at it and see what else I can spot.

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  • Nes

    Ok, I’m not sure I can go through with it; I’ve only made it through about 10 pages, and my head already hurts. Here are my notes so far, though I should mention that I’m not quite as friendly as our Friendly Atheist! Keep in mind, these are errors that a layman caught; I’d hate to think what an actual biologist could do with it.

  • Nes

    I guess my post was unnecessary, as it seems my blog entry made one of those nifty track back things. Oh well.

  • Silmarillion

    Pages 17-18 are just the anthropic principle trotted out again.

  • Nance Confer

    On Page 2, Pastor Tim starts off with a misinterpretation of the Scopes Trial. As I understand the trial and its appeal, there was no point where “the courts decided that evolution could be taught with creationism.”


  • Monado

    I can supply one part of the response. I’ve read and reviewed a book by Edmund Blair Bolles about the discovery of the Ice Ages in Earth’s past: The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age. Bolles describes the researches of Louis Agassiz (a creationist and Flood apologist) and Charles Lyell (a geologist and a believer) and the Arctic explorations of Elisha Kent Kane. They contributed to the scientific knowledge that disproved the Flood hypothesis and proved the Ice Age theory (“theory” meaning “explanation”).

    You might also want to find a copy of Fallacies of Creationism for further discussion of disproven “Flood” notions.

  • Christensen

    Nice to see their is a friendly atheist, I have never met one before.

    You see, not all atheists have always been so friendly.

    Although theists have had their crusades and inquistions and in fighting, the record seems to lie with the atheists. 100 MILLION died in the 20th century alone at the hands of practitioners of atheistic philosophies, and its still going on. Gulags, brainwashing camps, and “re-education” were their speciality.

    But there is hope. Although many attempts to destroy religion have taken place, by men far more brilliant and talented than the current crop of bloggers and with the power of ENTIRE STATES behind them…from the French Revolution to the Soviet experiments to the Chinese attempts to enforce atheism on the Tibetans to our own time…they attempsts have always self destructed.

    Not least because of the atheists arrogance and irrational belief that their mindlessly evolved (in their view) brains can provide us with all the answers and their utter inabililty to understand the other side.

    There is no reason to believe it will be any different this time.

  • dorkafork

    You could just start at Talk Origin’s Index to Creationist Claims, I’d bet they’re all there.

    The Scopes Trial was misrepresented on the front page. It was most certainly not about “the fundamental right in a free country to study any theories of origin.” In fact it was exactly the opposite. Scopes was on trial for teaching one of those theories of origin: evolution. Current jurisprudence bars teaching creationism in any form in public schools, that’s why Dover discussed ID as creationism.

    Here’s another error, and I only found it because I was looking for the out of context Richard Dawkins quote. (Which is incredibly dishonest. Dawkins is one of biggest opponents of ID and his quote is used to portray him as supportive of ID.)

    On page 15, the pamphlet states: “Which is one of the reasons why C-14 dating has been so unreliable – and that’s an understatement! A freshly killed seal was dated at 1300 years, living snails were dated to have died 27,000 years ago, new wood from growing trees has been dated at 10,000 years, and Hawaiian lava flows that were known to be less than 200 years old were dated at 3 billion years.” First of all carbon dating is reliable, but setting that aside for a moment: C-14 dating does not date anything to 3 billion years. It only has a half life of 5700 years. It is physically impossible for C-14 dating to do this, so it cannot possibly be used as an argument against it.

    (Somewhat tedious explanation with “back-of-the-envelope” math to show that. Let us take 6,000 years for the half life of C-14 to make the math easier. Every 6,000 years the amount of C-14 in the sample would decrease by half. So for a 3 billion year old sample, the amount would have been halved 500,000 times. Let us also assume they found the minimum amount of C-14 in the sample possible: one atom. How much C-14 would have had to have been in the original sample? 1 atom of C-14 = (# atoms C-14 in the original) times (1/2) to the 500,000th power. Solving for the number of atoms of C-14 in the original, you get 2 times 10 to the 500,000th power, or 2 * 10^500000. The total number of atoms in the universe is estimated at most about 1 * 10^81 atoms. That is why C-14 dating can not be used to date something that old.)

  • dorkafork

    You’ll probably also find Talk Origin’s Quote Mine Project to be helpful as well.

  • dorkafork

    I should mention that my description of C-14 dating above is extremely simplified, I was trying to make a point about the math.

  • John Timmer

    There’s way too much creationist literature to provide a resource for this pastor to ever hope that you can debunk everything. Point out how badly any of his material distorts reality, and he can just go back out and find some other, equally bad, material.

    For his own good, what needs to be focused on is how his position involves little more than an embrace of ignorance, and how such and embrace is harmful for his children, as well as anyone else he may encourage.

    Evolution, as a theory, unites vast amounts of data. It makes sense out of information ranging from the human and chimp genome projects to the fact that there have been multiple species of flightless birds in New Zealand. Understanding evolution helps us understand the prevalence of genetic disorders in some populations, the spread of drug resistant bacteria, and the changes that occur in tumor cells in response to our immune systems and medical intervention.

    What does his position offer instead? What is he teaching his children?

    His piece shows his kids that distortions of opinions based on selective quotations is a valid way to create an intellectual framework. His embrace of the supposed scientific controversy as promoted by the Discovery Institute paves the way for his children to embrace other fringe crackpots, ranging from those who deny the moon landing took place to those who deny a link between HIV and AIDS. His portrayal of scientific theories as little more than guesses teaches them to denigrate the significance of reason and science for understanding our world. And his disdain for the vast array of knowledge that evolution unites within a single theory teaches them that the world (which is supposed to reflect the glory of his God) is nothing more than a deception that cannot be trusted.

    Regardless of how much creationist literature he can dig up, the fact is that his pamphlet shows that he is willing to not only embrace ignorance, error, and distortion, but that he’s willing to drag his children into this darkness along with him.

    The focus doesn’t need to be on how badly wrong the material he relies on is; we should focus on trying to help him understand the price that his children are paying for his attempts to uphold this sort of intellectual bankruptcy.

  • txatheist

    Welcome and I hope you’ll get to know some of us friendly atheists.

  • Torbjörn Larsson

    There is simply too much that is wrong.

    But to pay my dues here, I note that the list of theistic scientists (p4) is from the times when religion played a role as explanation for what we could not explain. Today these gaps are so small that it is a principle to not look for gods-in-the-gaps. There is also the attempt to claim that there is no facts in the science of biology, so faith should decide. Of course there are facts, otherwise it would not be accepted as science.

    ““entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”
    Fundamentally, this means that we should avoid creating too many agents/actors to explain something.”

    It is context dependent. More specifically, in science it is often expressed as “minimize the number of free parameters”.

    That is, try to make the number of unexplained (but observable) parameter values as small as possible. For example in Newton’s gravitation expressed as a classic field theory, the gravitation field has *values in every point*, but there is *only one parameter* in the expression for gravitational strength. But of course here it amounts to the same thing: any additional agents, like gods pulling on a body, would introduce unparsimonious correction parameters into the description.

    “atheistic philosophies”
    Atheism as philosophy is absence of belief in deities.

    This is confusing political movements with a skeptic movement. 20th century aggressive politics wanted to reduce the influence of the church to empower themselves. This was a break from earlier times when religion was used to support aggression. Many leaders, such as Hitler, were themselves religious.

  • GalapagosPete

    Perhaps Pastor Tim will take it off his website again, this time until all the errors are corrected and only accurate science and truth (i.e., no quote mining) remain.

    Of course, it will then be useless for his purpose, but if he’s really an honest man, one worth being liked and respected, as you say you do, well…

  • Nance Confer

    I do think that would be the honest thing to do.

    Surely, a man of God would want all of us to be able to check his resources and confirm his take on things is, at least, accurate.

    And it does seem to me that there would be more recent statements from NASA on Mars and the evolution of planets than the 1975 one he includes on page 5.


  • Stephen

    Christensen said,

    Although theists have had their crusades and inquistions and in fighting, the record seems to lie with the atheists. 100 MILLION died in the 20th century alone at the hands of practitioners of atheistic philosophies …

    In one respect you are sort of correct: the real issue is not religion versus atheism, but dogma versus enlightenment. Communist, racist or nationalist dogma is no improvement whatever on religious dogma.

    I suspect however that you are repeating the oft-made error of classifying Nazism as an “atheistic philosophy” – it was not. Hitler was a Catholic and did not renounce his belief in God. It is entirely possible, even probable, that his Catholic upbringing was the source of his anti-semitism.

    And although there has been no destruction of religion, most of modern civilisation can thank its existence to religion being put in its place and losing the stifling influence it had until the seventeenth century.

  • Monado

    John T. is absolutely right.

    “Creation science” is all about quoting, especially from obsolete sourrces. It’s about argument and appeal to authority. It’s not about questioning, testing, or the scientific method. Questions are not welcome in religion: it’s all about bowing down to authority.

    Naturally, religious parents don’t want their children to get into the habit of questioning authority: independent thought will lead to Big Trouble as children ask about the symbolic cannibalism in the Eucharist, the dubious practice punishing an innocent scapegoat, and (eventually, if they can get past the sacred cow in our broadcast industry) the total lack of evidence that Jesus ever existed as a historical person and the persuasive textual evidence that he’s another example of a Hero Myth, along with Odin, Gilgamesh, and Buddha.

  • afarensis

    I have responded to his paleoanthropological arguments here

  • cautiousmaniac

    Re-reading the earlier conversation about this document, I remembered that, for a short amount of time, the earlier “pre-revision” version of this document was posted online. That must mean that at least one person downloaded and saved the original PDF.

    I’m interested in seeing how much got revised. For example, in the earlier version, Pastor Tim referenced Nebraska Man being used as evidence at the Scopes trial (it wasn’t) and being the tooth of a pig (it’s a tooth of a peccary, not the same thing). He referenced Archaeopteryx as being “really only a few bits and pieces of bone”. These exact same things are mentioned in this revised document.

    The only “revision” that seems to have happened is that the section on thermodynamics was thrown out…

    If anyone saved a copy of the original document, let us know?

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  • Siamang

    Cautious, I have the second version, the one where he updated it the first time, primarily to address the National Geographic Cover.

  • Siamang

    Hey, Hemant, It’s Gone now! Did Parkview and Pastor Tim take down his document?

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    You damn atheists will burn in hell.  I am personal friends with Pastor Tim, and I think the only people making mistakes here are all of you.  I fully understand and follow the concept of religion, and I’m in Advanced education classes.  Whenever this comes up, must I ask:  How did the world start?  You respond with many theories, and I respond with: how did those start?  SOMETHING that was already there had to catapult things into motion, and a supernatural being is what did that.  Evolution is a bunch of BS.  As it seems, the only thing you could of inherited from your “ape” friends is a brain as dumb as a monkeys.  Obviously, I didn’t come from no chimp because I am able to put 2 and 2 together and see that I didn’t evolve from nothing.  Try teaching you precious moneys that.

    • RF

      So much hate from a christian person.. i am an atheist .. I will NOT burn in hell because i am a good person.. also you have some spelling and gammer issues.. perhaps this is due to your rage! get help