Creationists and Credentialing

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

There seems to be a fine line between rejecting material because someone dislikes the source (the genetic fallacy), and using caution because the source is questionable. Some owlhoots fallaciously balk at learning science from creationists because creationists do not support materialistic presuppositions. Other times, material from individuals is questioned because they lack the proper credentials.

Some creation scientists have dubious credentials
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Readers of this Weblog and The Question Evolution Project may notice that several creationary mavericks are absent from the corral that I choose for reliable resources. I'll allow that sometimes I'm a mite skittish when atheopaths are looking for excuses to discredit individuals or organizations since I also want to make good material available for readers and viewers, but do not want to give detractors fuel for their fires.

Don't disunderstand me. There are very intelligent people who have no advanced degrees that have studied their material and present it accurately, and are not claiming to be more credentialed than they really are. My problem is that there are some individuals, such as Kent Hovind, Don Patton, Carl Baugh, and others who seem to be sincere about presenting creationary material, but are using doubtful credentials to bolster their credibility.

One anti-creationist claim is that a few of the numerous people in creation science circles have doctorates from unaccredited universities. If an American college or university did not go through the accreditation process, that does not necessarily mean that the program is substandard. (Similarly, a scientific paper may pass a peer review process, but that does guarantee it to be factual or even useful.) One simple reason that a small Christian school is not accredited is that the cost to obtain and maintain the accreditation can be prohibitive.

I'm ambivalent about relying on this credentialing business as to whether or not to use material from a dubious doctor. People may hear "not credentialed" and think, "Oh, it must be a bad place, and the creationist is a fraud." Not hardly! For example, James White has a doctorate from Columbia Evangelical Seminary, a non-traditional school. He has responded to critics on this, but nobody can legitimately challenge his knowledge of his material. Some of the creationists in question have their doctorates from "degree mills", such as Kent Hovind's "degree" from Patriot University in Colorado.

Aside from the questionable credentials of a few people (several of them are no longer active), I shy away from them if more reputable creationists and creationary organizations find their material to be lacking. Sometimes, the doubted creationists presents material that anti-creationists gleefully ridicule, but then, they ridicule just about anything that shows evolution to be the fraud that it is. Yes, there are some "evidences" and "arguments" that creationists should avoid (Answers in Genesis disagrees with Carl Baugh about the Paluxy River tracks), but there are a few arguments on the "get that out of Dodge" list that some creationists want to see included on the "use this material" list again.

Wikipedia, the biased, unreliable go-to source for atheists and anti-creationists, had an interesting "tell" in a post about Baugh: "Both scientists and creationists have criticized Baugh's claims." See that? They are using loaded terminology to basically say that scientists are not creationists, and vice versa. That lie is easily refuted.

Unfortunately, uninformed people condition others who are also uninformed that uncredentialed is immediately a bad thing. Because of public perceptions as well as the dubious teachings of some individuals, my recommendation is to be very careful who you endorse. If the material presented is in your area of understanding or expertise and you believe it is worthwhile, then obviously, feel free to use it. Otherwise, I recommend caution, and feel it's a better witness to use sources for which we can feel confident.