How Untruths About Creationism are Perpetuated

Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.

(Investigator 199, 2021 May)

    I have read most of the four dozen or so books labeled anti-creationist that were written to lambaste and "refute" the conclusions of those who argue in favor of a design-encompassing worldview. Most were written by persons who have a very limited firsthand understanding of the intelligent-design worldview. Many simply repeat incorrect information and boilerplate stories resulting in the acceptance of ill-founded conclusions accepted only because they are often repeated. As Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels said, "If you tell a lie often enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." In discussing propaganda, it is important to note that propaganda is usually not a demand to believe a certain idea, nor is it a reasoned discussion filled with tortuous logic. It is also not obvious blatant lies nor untarnished truth, but lies somewhere in the gray area of these two extremes. Thus it is more believable and as a result inherently more dangerous.
Those who have completed extensive research in the creationist movement, such as Ron Numbers and University of South Carolina anthropology professor Christopher Toumey, are more objective. Toumey's God's Own Scientists, the focus of this essay, has effectively refuted, or at least critiqued, some of the many false conclusions that are the mainstay among evolutionary naturalists. In Toumey's words, "Two of the most common and simplistic reactions to creationism, especially from its enemies, are that creationism is nothing more than a rote exercise in biblical liberalism and that the source of creationism is ignorance of science" (Toumey, 1994, p. 5). Rather creationism, he adds, is a "body of knowledge and belief [that] is much richer and much deeper than a narrow-minded devotion to a few dozen verses of sacred scripture" (Toumey, 1994, p. 5). He also generally accurately reviews the open antagonism to the creationist worldview in mainline science. Toumey's account illustrates the variety in creationist research, and he effectively refutes the common misconception that creationists are uncritical, uninformed followers of a narrow dogmatic ideology.
Discrimination is a major problem. For example, Toumey cites the case of Dr. Arleton C. Murray who attended a religious revival to scoff at Christianity. But after hearing the message of salvation, soon rejected evolution, with all it stands for. When he declared his new found faith to his evolutionist bosses where he worked at the Smithsonian, they demanded that he choose between evolution and Christianity (Toumey, 1994, p. 1). He promptly and dramatically turned his back on his work with secular paleontologists and turned toward Christianity.

Books covering controversial subjects like creation are rarely without flaws. Many highlight problematic creation-supporter examples, such as Harry Rimmer and George McCready Price, and largely ignore the more scholarly, responsible creationists such as Sir Ambrose Fleming. An example of misinformation is creationists emphasize the important role of chance, random processes and deep time in evolution. Conversely, evolutionists claim that "no modern evolutionist believes that evolution is the result of a long series of random accidents" (Newell, 1974). The fact is, many evolutionists, including the late Harvard Professor Stephen Jay Gould, stress the importance of chance. Stephen Hawking also attempted to explain how life was created without God as follows: "somehow, some … atoms came to be arranged in the form of molecules of DNA… As DNA reproduced itself, there would have been random errors, many of which would have been harmful, and … a few errors would have been favorable to the survival of the species — these would have been chosen by Darwinian natural selection (Hawking, 2018, pp. 73, 77).

He concluded that humans and all life are the result of chance and billions of mistakes. Conversely, we know from the science of genetics that an estimated 99.9 percent of such mistakes are harmful or near neutral, and, in fact, the near neutral mutations add up to produce genetic entropy that leads to genetic meltdown, not progressive evolution as evolutionists claim (Sanford, 2014). Furthermore, extinction is more a result of bad luck rather than bad genes as evolution teaches (Raup, 1991).
Many anti-creationists also attempt to unite geocentricism and creationism and underestimate creationists opposition to geocentricism and the decay of light theory (Toumey, 1994, p. 129). Compared to many other works on creationism, though, these shortcomings of Toumey are relatively minor. Toumey's work must be measured in terms of the progress that it has achieved rather than falling short of a fully accurate account of the creation movement.
My criticisms of Toumey are not made to deny or suppress the negative aspects of the creation movement. These should be told, but honestly and fairly, to help outsiders understand the movement, and help insiders to deal with internal concerns. Problems must be faced and dealt with, not swept under the rug. The key, as Toumey accurately brings out, is "in order to appreciate why creationism moves people as deeply as it does, one must see it as a body of existential questions and answers'cultural systems of meaning,' ... about realities, anxieties, uncertainties, and changes in U.S. life in our time. Most particularly, creationism asks and offers answers to" the major questions of life (Toumey, 1994, p. 8).
Toumey also presents an excellent review of the history of the development of science, ultimately arguing that "when the study of nature was guided by Protestant principles, it affirmed the same lessons of cosmic order and design as did scripture" (Toumey, 1994, p. 17). He correctly concluded that modern science came out of Biblical Protestantism. Toumey also documents that "the presumption that science is entirely compatible with evolution, and not at all with creationism, has been subjected to an aggressive and articulate campaign by creationists ..." (Toumey, 1994, p. 6). He eloquently argues that "too many people take science too seriously, endowing it with a moral authority equivalent to that of our conventional Judeo-Christian religions" (Toumey, 1994, p. 7).
A major focus of Toumey's book is the importance of the so-called resurgence of creationism that occurred with the publishing of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris. Toumey ignores the creation movements that existed before this book and the numerous scientists and scores of creationists' publications from about the time of Darwin down to today. Many American denominations regularly discussed creationism in their religious literature and, although a resurgence occurred in the sixties, this probably has more to do with groups like the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society which have provided persons who had scientific or philosophical objections to evolutionary naturalism a publication outlet. A major concern in founding these movements is the fact that "most scientific journals had explicitly anti-creationist editorial standards ..." (Toumey, 1994, p. 34).
My major criticism of most anti-creationist works is that they tend to infer that secularism is the only valid worldview, and that the theistic worldview is to be viewed only in reference to the "truth" of secularism. It would be far more accurate to compare the two conflicting worldviews in an effort to understand both. Most authors also totally ignore the Catholic creationist movements and the many scientists involved with this religious orientation, both past and present. This is ironic considering Toumey's background as a Roman Catholic. 
For balance, this work should be read in conjunction with other writers, such as Henry M. Morris' A History of Scientific Creationism. In summary, the book God's Own Scientists is an important book that should be in every academic library. It is a must read for anyone interested in a relatively objective look at the modern creation movement. As Toumey concludes,

scientific creationism has changed the nation's assumptions about the credibility of evolutionary thought and has given conservative Christians reason to believe that science is the Bible's best friend.... Modern creationism cannot be reduced to either scientific illiteracy or a slavish devotion to ... scripture. In fact it is a rich, complicated, and varied system of knowledge, values and beliefs, ... that enable ... Christians to come to terms with certain realities, anxieties, uncertainties, and changes in U.S. life... ICR's followers take science more seriously than most scientists do (Toumey, 1994, pp. 143-144).

When I first read Toumey's work I was hopeful that it would herald the beginning of new objectivity in this area. Although it is difficult to be optimistic--a recent excerpt from his work was much less than complete and objective (Toumey, 1994a). In the 25 years since Toumey published his now classic book, very few writers have followed his lead. Most have ignored it. Unfortunately, the myths and distortions are ever present, and have actually increased, especially with the advent of the intelligent design movement.


Gould, Stephen J. 1989. Wonderful life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY.

Hawking, Stephen. 2018. Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Bantam Books, New York, NY.

Morris, Henry M. 1984. A History of Scientific Creationism. Master Books, Colorado Springs, CO.

Muench, David, and Norman D. Newell. 1974. Evolution Under Attack. Natural History 83(4): 32-39, April.

Raup, David M. 1991. Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY.

Sanford, John C. 2014. Genetic Entropy, 4th Edition. FMS Publications, Lansing, NY.

Toumey, Christopher P. 1994. God's Own Scientists: Creationists in a Secular World. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.

Toumey, Christopher P. 1994a. God's Own Scientists. Natural History 103(7):4-9.

Toumey, Christopher P. 1996. Conjuring Science: Scientific Symbols and Cultural Meanings in American Life. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.