One problem for creationists has been the lack of publications in peer-reviewed journals. In a typical attempt to bypass reality with labels, Answers in Genesis has duly produced a “peer-reviewed journal,” the Answers Research Journal.
A major problem, of course, is that “peer-reviewed” tends to imply more than simply that there is a panel that reviews submissions. One can quite easily gather a panel of one’s family and friends and get them to “review” what one has written. Those who have tangled with the process of publication knows the difference between friendly and agreeable reviewers, and those not selected such as to favor your cause.
In addition, peer-reviewed journals are generally associated with some center of the academic activity in question or some professional society that supports it. Thus publication in peer-reviewed journals also implies a level of acceptance in the community involved in that particular type of research. Other members of that community read the articles in such journals and might even cite them in their work.
Of course, peer review could also result in censorship and elimination of good ideas that are out of the mainstream, but might become mainstream later. In that one point reside the hopes and dreams of intelligent design (ID) advocates everywhere. “Our day will come,” they say, “And you will all realize how right we were.” That view might have had some validity a few decades ago, but today if you have a truly good paper it will be very hard to suppress. Get it on the internet and someone or other will see it. If it’s of such good quality that it “shifts the paradigm,” then you’ll be able to show up all those stuffy peer reviewers.
The creation of a “special” journal for a “special” group of researchers who aren’t acceptable to the broader scientific community doesn’t respond to the underlying problem. What it does is provide creationist debaters who are facing the general public with some ammunition, “smart PR bullets” if you please, targeted at those who don’t really understand the issues. “No peer-reviewed papers? I have five citations here, all from Answers Research Journal. See! It’s peer reviewed. It says so right here.”
Once the PR point is scored, who cares what science is accomplished? I note the interesting line in the requirements for papers, mixed in with a bunch of format requirements:
Papers should be no more than 10,000 words long. Color diagrams, figures, and photographs are encouraged. Papers can be in any relevant field of science, theology, history, or social science, but they must be from a young-earth and young-universe perspective. Rather than merely pointing out flaws in evolutionary theory, papers should aim to assist the development of the Creation and Flood model of origins. Papers should be submitted in a plain text, single-spaced Word or RTF file. Formatting should be kept to an absolute minimum. Do not embed graphics, tables, figures, or photographs in the text, but supply them in separate files, along with captions. [emphasis mine]
Translation: Take that you scientists! You don’t want creationist papers? We don’t take any evolutionist papers, nor papers from folks who believe that the earth is old. We have our conclusions pre-ordained!
One obvious thing that young earth creationists seem to miss is that not assuming that the earth is 6,000 years old is not the same type of bias as assuming it is. The age of the earth is not an assumption, rather it is the result of considerable research which one can review, challenge, and correct if one wants to.
In the meantime, Answers in Genesis is also producing some “semi-technical” research. ERV reviews some of this over at the Panda’s Thumb and it doesn’t come out so well. She does a much better job and goes into greater detail than I possibly could. It is, after all, in her field.
But I could help mentioning a couple of little problems with logic. Consider this paragraph:
Antibiotic resistance is certainly an example of change, but it is hardly a fact of macroevolution (bacteria remain bacteria). Creation microbiologist, Dr. Kevin Anderson, states that such variation in bacteria is beneficial for their survival outcome in a clinical environment, but not a beneficial mutation. Anderson (2005) goes on to demonstrate how some fitness cost is often associated with mutations, although reversion mutations may eventually recover most, if not all, of this cost for some bacteria. A biological cost does occur in the loss of pre-existing cellular systems or functions. Such loss of cellular activity cannot legitimately be offered as a genetic means of demonstrating macroevolution. [all emphasis mine]
Look at the first bolded portion: “Bacteria remain bacteria”? When are these people going to bring some sort of focus to the idea of a “kind”? The only definition I can see is that if one thing changed into another while somebody was watching they must be the same kind, otherwise not.
Consider the second bolded portion. Here we are told that a mutation might be beneficial in a clinical environment, but it’s not a “beneficial mutation.” What would make it a beneficial mutation? I would suggest that the fact that more of the bacteria survive in a “clinical environment” than would otherwise is beneficial from the point of view of the bacteria involved. You see, they don’t live in this other theoretical environment, the non-clinical environment with which they are apparently supposed to be concerned.
Is there some sort of ideal environment where bacteria should want to live and where they should desire to be most fit to live. “Unfortunately we have to survive here in this clinical environment,” say the bacterial philosophers, “but the mutation that allows us to do so isn’t really beneficial, because it doesn’t prepare us for our real home in a non-clinical environment.”
So then we come to the conclusion of the paragraph where we’re told that because this other loss of functionality occurs, this can’t possibly be used as a case of macroevolution. I’d like to know what that has to do with the case at hand. In the clinical environment, you know, the one where the bacteria with antibiotic resistance have to live, it is a beneficial mutation.