Monday, January 28, 2008

Answers Research Journal Annoys Naturalists

As though they strive to make my case for me, you can read the comments of the news of a new peer-reviewed science journal here. This new journal is the Answers Research Journal. What is the difference between a science journal reviewed by peers who hold to naturalistic presuppositions and a science journal reviewed by peers who hold to theistic presuppositions? The fact that theistic scientists actually have material to review is an indication that the philosophical divide among scientists has nothing to do with the level of accuracy to which these scientists abide by the scientific method. It also provides demonstrable evidence that theistic scientists are actually doing science despite the claims of the naturalists.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous NaturallySelectable said...

Let's review some of the differences between a scientific journal and this piece of proselytization disguising as science, shall we?

A legitimate scientific journal does not filter based on ideology, but only based on evidence. From the Answers Research Journal "Instructions to Authors Manual," the criteria for acceptance include the following:

Is this paper formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework?

By this guideline, any paper in support of old-earth creationism would be rejected. They are not just looking for creationism, but a specific form of creationism.

By extension of this guideline, this journal lacks one of the touchstones of all legitimate science journals: the expert rebuttal. Take a look at a recent issue of Science or Nature (available at most public libraries) and you will see that debate is encouraged through rebuttals and counter-rebuttals. It is only through this kind of discourse that any progress is achieved.

Back to the criteria:

If the paper discusses claimed evidence for an old earth and/or universe, does this paper offer a very constructively positive criticism and provide a possible young-earth, young-universe alternative?

Tellingly, however, the "journal" demands a rebuttal to any old-universe cosmology, while disallowing the reciprocal view.

And what is the filtering ideology?

Does this paper provide evidence of faithfulness to the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of Scripture? [...] The editor-in-chief will not be afraid to reject a paper if it does not properly satisfy the above criteria or it conflicts with the best interests of AiG as judged by its biblical stand.

So articles are beholden not just to the constraints of "Scripture," but to a specific interpretation of scripture as determined by Answers in Genesis. I cannot imagine a more glaring conflict of interests.

That in itself is a huge reason to reject any article appearing in the journal from the realm of science, but there's more. From the aforementioned manual:

Along with your first draft send to the editor-in-chief a completed Suggested Reviewers Form. List at least three (3) names of experts in the field of your paper’s topic.

Yes, you read that right: authors actually get to suggest exactly who will be "reviewing" their submissions.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Answers Research Journal does not care about academic standards or the scientific method at all; merely about dissemination of religion in the guise of science, targeted at non-scientists, to further a religious and political agenda. It is a farce and deserves to be treated as such.

Tue Feb 19, 02:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

“A legitimate scientific journal does not filter based on ideology, but only based on evidence.”

This is patently untrue. Naturalism is as much of an ideology as any other. As you iterate here, they have spelled out their ideological presuppositions and you have countered with naturalistic presuppositions. The issue is which “ideology”, or set of presuppositions, comports best with truth.

“By this guideline, any paper in support of old-earth creationism would be rejected.”

Naturalistic publications do this to non-naturalistic material all the time.

“Take a look at a recent issue of Science or Nature (available at most public libraries) and you will see that debate is encouraged through rebuttals and counter-rebuttals.”

…except if the ideology is not naturalistic.

“Tellingly, however, the "journal" demands a rebuttal to any old-universe cosmology, while disallowing the reciprocal view.”

You can’t have a rebuttal without first allowing the reciprocal view. AiG runs their web site this way. They publish all kinds of arguments from non-creationists and creationists with a different viewpoint all the time. What they don’t allow is unmonitored Internet debate like the one we’re engaging in here; neither do reputable naturalistic journals.

“So articles are beholden not just to the constraints of "Scripture," but to a specific interpretation of scripture as determined by Answers in Genesis.”

Actually, the view AiG holds on scripture is historical Christian orthodoxy with a wealth of apologetical foundation. They hardly invented it. It’s like saying that the reviewers of naturalistic journals hold articles to the constraints of “naturalism” simply because they have determined that this should be their criteria. Therefore, we should likewise reject naturalistic journals because of their ideological bias. It’s actually a non sequitur. I’ve read naturalistic journals as a creationist because there is often some good science being reported there despite the ideological bias. The place I see bias is in the observational sciences more so than experimental where unfounded speculations are propagated in conclusions. For example, where morphological variations are observed between similar fossilized remains, it is often speculated by naturalists to be evidence of such as genetic drift although the different morphologies are easily within the parameters of speciological variation.

“authors actually get to suggest exactly who will be "reviewing" their submissions.”

Suggesting and determining are two different things. If I’m a YEC scientist submitting an article to YEC scientists, why would this be a problem? It would seem to be beneficial to a naturalist if he wanted to submit an article to be able to choose naturalistic scientists to review his work for the journal. This is clearly not what the issue is here. I won’t presume to know all the reasons why this is here, but I would think that this is more referential than deterministic. It’s like applying for a job and giving references. You don’t check only the references provided by the applicant, but it does give a potential employer an idea of where this applicant came from. It’s the same thing with this submission requirement. I wouldn’t be surprised if some naturalistic journals have similar requirements and I wouldn’t see any need to complain about it either. I don’t expect naturalistic journals to employ creationist reviewers anytime soon, and you shouldn’t expect a creationist journal to employ naturalistic reviewers.

Tue Feb 19, 02:28:00 PM GMT-5  

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