Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Open letter to USQ, RE: Implicit endorsement of Young Earth Creationism.

In Creationism/ Intelligent Design, Helping our community., Science on September 19, 2010 at 8:45 AM

Dear Staff, Associates and Representatives of USQ,

I am writing to you to inform you of concerns raised by a proposed seminar to take place at USQ’s Fraser Coast Campus , titled

“Creation and Evolution: scientific evidence, myths and challenges”.

The USQ produced flyer (Creation Seminar flyer_v2) advises that two expert scientists, Dr Don Batten and Dr Tas Walker of Creation Ministries International will challenge society’s largely uncritical commitment to the theory of evolution.

“This seminar forms part of our continuing commitment to engage intellectually with our community. We see it as part of our role to engage in debate about the most significant and sometimes controversial issues of the day. In 2011, we shall provide even more opportunity for such debate.”

The advertisements produced by CMI however advise that

“The only presenters at this event are CMI scientists”

and states that this is the first time in the history of Creation Ministries International that they have been invited to speak at a “secular” university. It may concern you to know that neither of the speakers advertised have any professional credentials in Biology, Evolutionary Biology or Theology. I point this out as a professional courtesy, and by the same token, feel obliged to point out that Creation Ministries International’s ‘Statement of Faith’ as seen on their website clearly states:

“The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer and Judge.”

CMI are a religious organisation, not a scientific one, and while their membership does include some scientists, the organisation they represent has no standing in the scientific community and their stated goals are far from the advancement of the scientific enterprise. More precisely, the primary aim of this group is to promote its particular version of Young Earth Creationism and to undermine the theory of evolution wherever and whenever possible. They are also outspokenly opposed to abortion, gay rights, ‘pornography’ etc. and adopt the standard Religious Right position on a range of other social issues.

Former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane and Governor General of Australia, Peter Hollingworth has stated that growing numbers of theologians and many other thoughtful Christians have found that there is no inevitable conflict between evolutionary theory and the belief that God created and continues with the creation of His universe. He goes on to warn in the foreword to Professor Ian Plimer’s “Telling Lies for God

“If creationists argue that the Genesis account of creation is to be taken literally and that accordingly, science is wrong, then empirically minded students, when persuaded by the general theory of evolution, are very likely to conclude that the Bible itself must be correspondingly wrong. Thus instead of offering dialogue between Biblical faith and evolutionary science and then seeking a contemporary understanding of creation as a dynamic and evolving process, there is likely to be further estrangement between groups of people within our culture.”

My own concerns are that a University such as USQ appears to be giving implicit endorsement to CMI allowing and encouraging them to distort, misuse and misapply science, to pursue a religious agenda that is both divisive and not representative of mainstream Theology.
Please find below relevant position statements on the scientific validity of ‘Creation Science’ from peak scientific research organisations within Australia and internationally.

Australian Academy of Science
http://www.science.org.au/policy/creation.html

Geological Society of Australia Inc
http://www.gsa.org.au/pdfdocuments/management/POL_intel%20design_2008.pdf

The Australian Museum
http://australianmuseum.net.au/BlogPost/Editorials-and-opinions/Evolution-Statement

The Interacademy Panel on International Issues (IAP)
http://www.icsu.org/Gestion/img/ICSU_DOC_DOWNLOAD/1017_DD_FILE_IAP_Evolution.pdf

National Academy of Science (United States)
http://www.nationalacademies.org/evolution/IntelligentDesign.html

The American Association for the Advancement of Science
http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml

American Anthropological Association
http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/evolution.htm

American Association of Physics Teachers
http://www.aapt.org/Resources/policy/evolutandcosmo.cfm

The Biophysical Society (United States)
http://www.biophysics.org/Policy/PolicyIssues/PositionStatements/tabid/450/Default.aspx#Evolution

The Union of Concerned Scientists (United States)
http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/what_you_can_do/statement-on-science.html

The Paleontological Society (United States)
http://www.paleosoc.org/evolutioncomplete.htm

The National Science Teachers Association (United States)
http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/evolution.aspx

The Geological Society of America
http://www.geosociety.org/positions/position1.htm

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (United States)
http://www.vertpaleo.org/education/index.cfm

The American Geophysical Union
http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/evolution.shtml

National Association of Biology Teachers (United States)
http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=92

The American Institute of Biological Sciences
http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20050805_aibs_criticizes.html

Association for Women Geoscientists (United States)
http://www.awg.org/about/evolution.html

The Botanical Society of America
http://www.botany.org/outreach/evolution.php

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration,

Jayson D Cooke

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  1. […] you all know who you are and I really wanted to let you all know I really appreciate the support. The letter has now been sent to almost every member of staff at every campus of USQ. Already I’ve had […]

  2. Wow !
    Are the facts being debated or the findings ?
    To think someone could come up with a alternative using the same set of scintific rules from the same facts shows that truth is up to what you want to beleive not what can be proven.
    If open minded people stick their head in the sand and tell everyone else to do the same I dont think their so smart.
    Have the debate let the scientist present their aguments and if they want to try to invent things that are not facts it will show they are frauds.

  3. […] reason I was invited to participate was the letter I sent to academics and staff of the University of Southern Queensland informing them that a CMI […]

  4. […] reason I was invited to participate was the letter I sent to academics and staff of the University of Southern Queensland informing them that a CMI […]

  5. […] Skeptic activists like Jayson Cooke of the Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers in Queensland have already faced down the efforts of Creation Ministry International to speak at the University of Southern Queensland (Token Skeptic Podcast episode 36) – and he has a series of emails that he has collected that document the kind of effort he’s made from September 2010 – Open letter to USQ, RE: Implicit endorsement of Young Earth Creationism. […]

  6. […] had more than my fair share of encounters with evolution deniers in the past (here, here, here, here, here, here and here are just some examples). Creationists, biblical literalists, […]

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