A difference of opinion among creationist’ organizations about the origin of species and natural selection has been festering for a number of years and yesterday that dispute broke out into full view. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) published a short article on their website extolling the virtues of Dr. Guliuzza’s Continuous Environmental Tracking (CET) hypothesis as an alternative to natural selection as a mechanism for shaping organisms in their environment.
Dr. Guliuzza, a medical doctor and engineer, has spent the last 10 years at ICR developing his alternative to natural selection and this short article marks a watershed moment in the history of ICR and young-earth creationism (YEC). This article is something like an official policy statement with the organization taking a position that Dr. Guliuzza’s model is the best model for explaining biological diversity from a YEC perspective. In it the president of ICR and most of their full-time staff scientist provide endorsements of this model. It is clear that moving forward they will be promoting this new biological diversity origins model.
In doing so ICR has laid down the gauntlet and is directly refuting—though without mentioning AiG by name—the position that AiG and to a lesser extent that Creation Ministries International (CMI) have taken in recent years. AiG has embraced natural selection as a primary agent in their hyperspeciation model of species origins and adaptation of organisms to their environment.
By so publicly taking this stand ICR has taken another big step in distancing themselves from AiG and these organizations are likely to continue to drift further apart in their approach to creationist’ apologetics.
Yesterday I wrote about a presentation on the origin of species given at the Creation Museum (A Primer on Young-Earth Views of Natural Selection, Mutation and Speciation). In that presentation Answers in Genesis laid out their model for the origin of diversity. Their description of natural selection and adaptation could hardly have be more different than what ICR has just published. Just look below at this screenshot from one slide in than presentation.
To illustrate just how differently Randy Guliuzza, and now ICR as an organization, feel about natural selection I quote a portion of an article by AiG biologist Nathaniel Jeanson where he lists just a few statements that Guliuzza makes about Natural Selection:
“Selection” only happens in someone’s mind. (Guliuzza 2011b, p. 14)
Nobody has ever seen a “selection” happen. (Guliuzza 2011b, p. 15)
It’s only in the mind that “selection” actually occurs. (Guliuzza 2011b, p. 15, emphasis his)
“Selection” is not really real. (Guliuzza 2011b, p. 15)
“Selection” only happens in the mind of beholders who attribute results to external powers that are not rooted in reality. (Guliuzza 2011c, p. 15)
“Selection” only exists as a mental construct. (Guliuzza 2011c, p. 13)
The illusion that natural selection operates on organisms. (Guliuzza 2011c, p. 12)
Natural selection—is a phantasm. (Guliuzza 2012, p. 12)
Can there be any doubt that Guliuzza feels that natural selection is not a real biological phenomena? On the other hand we have AiG just last week talking about how natural selection is a real phenomena (see screenshot below) and has the ability to sculpt organisms over time.
Let me highlight a few statements from the ICR article to illustrate just how radical ICR’s position on natural selection is:
Dr. Henry Morris III (President of ICR) states in his endorsement of Guliuzza’s CET model: I was surprised, however, at the resistance from some within the creationist community, since the scientific and theological evidence seem so supportive of the model. Those who have resisted or opposed the model have unfortunately tended to express their opposition in personal rather than scientific terms….
…Dr. Guliuzza’s publications and excellent presentations on this subject have established strong support for the CET model”
Here we have the president of ICR admitting there is strong resistance to these ideas in the creationist’ community. He claims those who oppose CET are doing so for personal, rather than scientific or theological reasons. I have read the back and forth articles that have appeared in creationist’ journals for the past 10 years. This is absolutely not true. Yes, other creationists have used very strong language to indicate just how wrong they feel that CET is but they have backed it up with—and I don’t get to say this too often—cogent, logical and data-driven arguments. That in itself is impressive given that some of those same authors I have criticized for not providing strong arguments on other topics.
I don’t do this very often but I am going to recommend two articles published by Answers in Genesis:
Refuting Dubious Claims Regarding Natural Selection by Jason Lisle
Does Natural Selection Exist by Nathanial Jeanson
Both of these are devastating refutations of Guliuzza’s CET model and illustrate just how deep the divide has been between ICR and AiG. What we didn’t know before this article was whether Guliuzza’s beliefs were held more widely at ICR. Now we know this isn’t just debate between Guliuzza and the rest of the YEC community.
We should also observe that Jason Lisle was an employee of ICR at the time he published this critique of his ICR colleague. Now that we can see ICR has circled the wagons around Guliuzza’s CET model and had every scientist there write an endorsement of it we can see a likely reason that Lisle is no longer with ICR.
Dr. Morris’ statement that there is strong support for the CET model also bears some skepticism. Yes, it appears CET has garnered strong support within the walls of the ICR office space in Dallas TX and some creation conference audiences may have believed what he has presented but I have seen no evidence that the CET model has gained any support beyond that very small community of ICR scientists. I can’t think of five trained biologist that have taken this model seriously. That is hardly strong support. In fact, other YEC organizations aren’t supportive or ambivalent, rather they are strongly opposed to his ideas.
Dr. Brian Thomas states: “Neo-Darwinism relies on natural selection of mutants. Classic creation teaching, including that of ICR’s founders, decried the total inadequacy of Neo-Darwinism in generating the diversity of life. It rightly argued that mutations destroy and that natural selection can only select what’s left alive.”
I believe Thomas is intimating in his “classic creation” remark that YEC of the 60 to 80s would never have agreed to what the offshoot ministry AiG has done by accepting so many evolutionary mechanisms as valid and placing natural selection at the center of their model for what caused the diversity of life. I just wrote yesterday about how AiG is ever more willing to accept that some mutations within kinds can create variants which might aid in adaption and the origin of new species. This is anathema to the ICR scientists who argue that nothing good can come of mutations.
Lastly, Dr. Vernon Cupps remarks: “I have found that he understands that natural selection (as portrayed by many creationists and evolutionists) puts nature in the place of God, thus robbing God of His glory. He understands that the changes that are observed in living organisms come from features built into those organisms and not from some esoteric outside influence.”
This is an interesting observation and one that has some merit in my mind. I made the same observation at the end of my remarks about AiGs model of species origins. I asked, how does AiG think that God directs or is involved in the process of natural selection? I don’t think that Guliuzza’s CET model provides any advantage here but it highlights how YECs have struggled to explain vast hyperspeciation after creation as God-directed yet within the context of observable scientifically testable hypotheses.