This is a bit embarrassing but I think instructive so I am going to share how I discovered that I have been utterly fooled by a parody web site for many years. Last week I wrote about the importance of understanding that even fringe groups have fringes (see: Human Fossil Footprints: Exploring the Fringes of Creationism). I had fully intended to write a follow-up post by showed that it isn’t just secular scientists that have difficulty understanding the great diversity of creationism thought, but it is creationists as well that don’t understand that there are fringe theories to evolutionary thought. I had my example picked out. I was going to talk about aquatic ape theory which has been in the news recently. Briefly, the aquatic ape theory introduced some 50 years ago proposed that man had an aquatic-adapted ape as an ancestor. This theory never received much support from the evolutionary biologists community but has persisted for a long time and still has its adherents however they are clearly a fringe element in the scientific community.
So where did I go wrong? I began my research by searching for articles by creationists about aquatic ape theory. It didn’t take me more than a couple of minutes to stumble on a fascinating article by a Dr. Richard Paley who reviewed the basics of aquatic ape theory. His explanation was clearly wrong but that didn’t surprise me since I’ve seen worse errors on other sites. Paley goes on to explain how man didn’t have an aquatic ape ancestor but was created through Adam with semi-aquatic traits. In the article found HERE,Paley ends with this truly astounding statement:
Why then would the Lord see fit to give Man semi-aquatic traits? The Lord — being omniscient — knew that He would bring a Flood upon the Earth and that the few humans chosen to survive would need ship building technology. But more than that, these humans would also need semi-aquatic traits so that if one fell off the ship he or she would be able to tread water until the others could help. To this end, He created Adam and Eve with semi-aquatic features such as relative hairlessness and the ability to gulp air with their mouths as a pre-adaptation to the diluvian environment. He did not, however, make Man totally aquatic because He knew that if He did, the wicked men of Noah’s time would survive the Flood, thus defeating its purpose.
You might think, wow that is so ridiculous it can’t be true but what makes this entire website such an incredible parody having read a lot of creation science literature this just doesn’t sound very much unlike many other things that I’ve read. I think it’s a bit sad that when I read this article I was stunned but I never suspected this wasn’t an honest opinion of a real creationists. But consider that I had just read portions of that book on dinosaur and human footprints. Every page of that book included similar misconceptions of science and ridiculous claims but I am quite certain the author is real and honestly believes what he is saying (see my post: Human Fossil Footprints: Exploring the Fringes of Creationism)
I should also confess that the website, called Objective Ministries, where I found this article has been around more than 10 years and I know I’ve run across it many times. In fact, about 3 months ago I found a great graphic from the site using Google image search that I was going to use as a centerpiece of an article on baraminology. Although I believed this website to be authentic, I have always thought that it represented the extreme fringes of creationism much like Carl Baugh and Kent Hovind and so I didn’t pay much attention to what was published there.
So how did I discover that the entire site was a parody on creationism? Well, it wasn’t’ though great insight on my part at all but rather a second search of opinions by creationists about aquatic ape theory. I figured that this particular view was coming from the fringe of creationism so I wanted to get a better sense for the mainstream creationists’ views of aquatic ape theory. That search led me to a bulletin board discussion about the very article by Paley I had already read and the very first post I noticed was by someone asking if this site was for real or a parody site. That sent my mind reeling and I starting to search for confirmation. Sure enough multiple sources told me that this site was a parody and likely related to a more famous fundamentalist church parody site; Landover Baptist. Once it was apparent that this was a parody it became obvious, just look at the author’s name of the article that I read: Dr. Richard Paley! Of course I knew the name from paleontology but the writing is so creationist-like that I must have just cognitively accepted that the name was either the same by happenstance or possible a pseudonym (not an uncommon occurrence in the creationists community). I have to say the parody is really well done. The author, who remains unknown, obviously knows the creation science literature extremely well and includes large amounts of accurate information and mainstream creationist opinions only sprinkling in very outrageous claims here and there. For example, the page that describes baraminology is exceptionally well done providing a very accurate summary of creationists’ beliefs except for the application to human origins.
Thankfully I have not used any information from this site on my blog in the past and discovered its true nature just before using it as a source of information. This parody site has existed for many years. I wonder how many people, both Christian and non-Christian, have fallen victim to its foolery? In my previous post about Aaron Judkins and creationism I observed that Answers in Genesis and the Institute of Creation Science both appear to be employing a strategy of ignoring the fringe elements of creationism rather than warning their followers. Now I have a second test of that observation. I searched AIG and ICR for mention of Objective Ministries, Paley and other authors there and came up with exactly 0 references to this site.
So, just in case you didn’t already know, this the lesson here is that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.