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Reason and Revelation Volume 40 #6

"Creationists Aren't Scientists. They Don't Get Published."

A useful aspect of modern scientific research is the peer review process. Scientists write articles on the status of their research and submit them to peer-reviewed scientific journals to be published for others to read and use. If their research is accepted, the research is given attention by the public, which helps the scientist gain credibility and financial support for further research. Before an article can be accepted, however, a handful of independent scientists who are knowledgeable about the subject read and critique the article. If their recommendations are not implemented by the scientist(s), the paper will likely be rejected for publication by the journal. In order for scientists to get their research funded, they have to prove to their supporters that they are making progress and accomplishing the goals that prompted their supporters to give them grant money. There is a natural pressure, therefore, for scientists to interpret and report their results in a way that will gain attention and please their supporters. The peer review process helps keep them honest, since it ensures that other independent scientists who are knowledgeable about the research have “signed off” on the legitimacy of the work. Hence, if the scientific research of Creation scientists is not peer-reviewed, how can it be considered legitimate?

It is true that peer review can be very helpful in filtering out bad science and research, and making sure the public is aware of it. Some Creation science research is not legitimate, in the same way that some naturalistic science research is not legitimate—as has been highlighted in various science magazines in recent years.1 A person should always be careful not to be too quick to believe what he is told by others, regardless of who they are. One should only draw those conclusions that are warranted by the evidence, as the Law of Rationality says.2

That said, while peer review can be helpful, peer review does not make a scientific statement or scientific research right or wrong—nor does it make something “scientific” or “unscientific.” Many scientists through the ages would not have had the luxury of peer review (e.g., Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Archimedes, Aristotle, Hipparchus, and Hippocrates), considering the fact that the modern peer review process did not begin until 1731 and did not become mainstream until the 1900s.3 In some cases in the past, there would have been few, if any, other scientists a researcher was in contact with who could review his/her work—much less scientists who would be knowledgeable enough about a specific scientific discipline to be of much help in a review process. Should the research of such scientists be rejected outright? Of course not. One should weigh the evidence presented by those scientists and assess whether their conclusions are trustworthy.

Also keep in mind that, just because research is peer reviewed and accepted by a journal, it does not make the research accurate or its conclusions legitimate. The reviewers could be wrong or biased. Just because research is peer reviewed and rejected by a journal, it also does not make the research inaccurate or its conclusions illegitimate. Again, the reviewers could be wrong. Peer review does not establish truth. The reproducibility crisis in recent years is evidence of that fact. If research is legitimate, a separate scientist or lab should be able to follow the same steps carried out by the researchers and achieve the same results. It has been discovered in recent years, however, that a large amount of published research has not been able to be reproduced by others.4 And yet, the research survived the peer review process and was published.

All of that said, it simply is not the case that Creation scientists do not publish in peer reviewed journals. Some choose not to do so, in the same way that some evolutionary scientists do not do so, while others do. Granted, most of the papers Creation scientists submit to secular peer reviewed journals do not directly mention biblical Creation. Why? Because belief in biblical Creation presupposes the existence of the supernatural realm and secular journals today are, by-and-large, overtly naturalistic. Obviously, research concerning a model whose explanations of the natural world presuppose the occurrence of supernatural phenomena in the past would not be accepted by journals that, by edict, demand that only natural explanations be used for the natural world. It would be non-sensical, therefore, for biblical Creation scientists even to try to submit papers on Creation to journals that, as a rule, will not accept such papers. Biblical Creation research, therefore, cannot be published in such journals, not because biblical Creation is false, but because such journals possess biased presuppositions that cause them to reject the supernatural proposition outright.

A fairer question would be: do Creation scientists get their research on Creation science published in actual peer-reviewed journals. In other words, are there legitimate peer-reviewed journals for biblical Creation scientists and their biblical Creation scientist peers? The answer to that question is unequivocally “yes.” This very journal is peer-reviewed by biblical Creation apologists, since it is an apologetics journal. Other peer-reviewed journals published by biblical creationists include Answers Research Journal, the Journal of Creation, and Creation Research Society Quarterly, among others. Regardless of whether an idea or paper has been peer-reviewed, however, one is under obligation to God to consider the evidence: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV).

Endnotes

1 E.g., Marcia McNutt (2014), “Reproducibility,” Science, 343[6168]:229, January; Monya Baker (2016), “Is There a Reproducibility Crisis?” Nature, 533[7604]:452-454, May; Todd Pittinsky (2015), “America’s Crisis of Faith in Science,” Science, 348[6234]:511-512, May; Donald S. Kornfield and Sandra Titus (2016), “Stop Ignoring Misconduct,” Nature, 537[7618]:29-30, September.

2 Lionel Ruby (1960), Logic: An Introduction (Chicago, IL: J.B. Lippincott), pp. 130-131.

3 Hadas Shema (2014), “The Birth of Modern Peer Review,” Scientific American On-line, April 19, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/the-birth-of-modern-peer-review/.

4 See Endnote 1.

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