Institute for Creation Research Goes all-in on Denying the Reality of Natural Selection

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.

The mechanisms of evolution according to Answers in Genesis. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. Here we see that AiG is saying that natural selection is a primary cause of speciation (more species diversity since the Flood).

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.

Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

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.

Comments

  1. NH, please stop crying and move on:

    https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/david-klinghoffer/scientists-confirm-darwinism-broken

    Also read my book:

    https://www.amazon.de/Darwin-Revisited-understand-biology-century/dp/6202315113

    Or my article demonstrating why natural selection cannot explain the genome:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29231847

    Or how evolution really works:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30736359

    Like

    • I haven’t needed a tissue box for quite awhile unless we are talking watching Toy Story 4:-) I’m still looking for all the other YECs who are reading your books and articles and are actively writing about how you are on to something important. Why should I take something seriously that even your peers seem to have trouble grasping. I have read quite a bit of your stuff but I would need a reason to use my valuable time to spend any more. If your work were being taken up by hundreds (or even dozens) of others then I would have some reason to consider it but until then you should work on your YEC brothers before trying to convince the rest of the world.

      Liked by 3 people

    • thehonestskepticatgmaildotcom says:

      Stop crying and move on. Very strong argument! Well articulated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Theodore Lawry says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited, these things come and go. Remember RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth)? It concluded that billion of years worth of radioactive decay really have occurred, geologists were right all along about that. Furthermore, creationists who denied that fact were: Just Plain Wrong! Instead of admitting the earth is old, they went with AND (Accelerated Nuclear Decay) with all its problems including truly wild theories about what happened to all the heat.

    That sounded like a big deal, but they have since abandoned it. Their new go-to guy on radiometric dating, Vernon Cupps, ignores RATE almost completely. Maybe the rank and file creationists couldn’t stand AND. Anyway ICR has dropped AFAIK.

    So ICR’s new ploy is interesting, but I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Theodore Lawry says:

    I should have said that RATE was ICR’s big project, costing 1.25 million dollars and spanning 8 years. And yet it sank without a splash. Maybe no one wanted to read two volumes of hundreds of pages each, all touting an obvious, but very poor “solution” to creationism’s problems with radiometric dates.

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    • Yes, that was an enormous waste of donors dollars. As you say it barely moved the dial at all and YECs tend to ignore it other than to generally hold up the huge volume to supporters and say, we did this huge study which shows we are doing science.

      Like

      • I did run into a very strong AiG advocate who made a lot of hay out of the RATE study. He found the standard explanations for the level of carbon in the diamonds unsatisfactory and staked a lot on those results as a bulletproof example that has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

        Like

  4. (Creation) Scientists can’t agree! How can we trust anything they say?
    Dubious presuppositions must have led them to erroneous and contradictory conclusions!
    smh

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  5. ICR’s new CET model is a complete stretch. (Also what is up with the acronyms, this organization loves acronyms!). However, as clunky as their new theory sounds, I have to give them some credit. The biggest strength on behalf of a Young-Earth view (at least in the past) was teleology. Animals and plants just appear perfectly designed. For example, an Aye-Aye’s middle finger is perfect for them to find food. Or perhaps the tendrils on a starry nose mole. To a layperson these are fascinating creatures who appear to be perfectly designed. AiG’s new hyper evolutionary model seems to jettison these arguments, but ICR’s CET model holds on to the design argument. Either way, both are wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent observations. I also think that AiG has been forced to abandon a lot of the traditional YEC design arguments that have always played well to their audience because they were so intuitive. Giraffes necks were so perfectly designed but now they believe giraffes were shorter necked and smaller on ark and the species we have today hyperevolved into the long necked one. Now that perfect design is someone the product of genetic recombination though maybe with some preprogramming that has come into play through some unknown mechanism. Yeah, that is a much more difficult story to tell. ICR may be able to capture some of that skeptical audience that wants that design argument back.

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  6. Robert Byers says:

    i think AIG and ICR differences are like whether the Beatles wanted red electric guitars or white ones.
    Its trivial. Everybody in organized creationism welcomes ideas about biological diversity mechanisms.
    Everybody is trying. Hopefully others notice too as publicity is always welcomed.
    I think we should start small. How did people change, in our people groups/species, after the flood SO quickly and done within decades or at most a couple of centuries. It must be innate and effective and quick relative to small populations .
    Anyways maybe this is too complicated and we just just keep beating up evolutionists.

    Like

  7. Not sure i get your over all drift, unless it is to point out that different people believe different things. This you will find in every scientific, philosophical, or theological endeavor. So what’s the news. I think you are the one who has assumed there has always been complete agreement within the creationist community. As for natural selection and mutations, i hope you have read Behe’s Darwin Devolves as to the apparently strict constraints “nature” imposes on the potential for mutations and natural selection playing their supposed roles in Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis. The Darwinian clique has had two plus decades to poke holes in his studies, and i have yet to read one that has, or even thoroughly tries to address the specific issues beyond shallow surface arguments, inaccurate comparisons, or caricatures.
    So, not all people agree on everything. Is this big news to you?

    Like

    • thehonestskepticatgmaildotcom says:

      Chuck: I used to feel exactly as you do, reading all of the same books and following DI’s web articles. But, I found that there is a big disconnect between how things are presented in the ID community vs. how they are actually viewed and practiced in the scientific community in general. PeacefulScience.org and Biologos.org are two sites where there are many resources and lots of discussions happening. You owe it to yourself to gain a broader perspective and ensure that you are making informed decisions. There are reasons why certain people respond to articles like Joel’s post here with: “Please stop crying and move on.” One would think that a bit of well-articulated evidence might be more convincing than an emotional appeal such as this one at the top of the comments.

      Like

  8. Jimmie Montgomery says:

    Most rank and file Christians pay next to no interest in this controversy. How many pastors do you know, who do not believe YEC? I go to a PCA church that follow the Presbyterian teachers like B.B. Warfield who formulated the doctrine of the inerrant Word Of God doctrine that is almost universally held by the most fundamental fundamentalists! Yet Warfield thought Darwinist Evolution was probably true. What do you do with that? Maybe God made a way for EVERYONE to believe. Yes, only one way is true, but God , through Christ loved us so much that He made a way for us all.
    Just saying, we are not perfect, by a long shot, but God tolerates us and makes a way for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it should be noted that many critstian scholars did not react negative at first to Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis because “they respected science”, and did not really know how God, by fiat, began creationary and the formation of man and thus were willing to entertain other explanatons. Keep in mind however, that this “friendliness” was always based on Darwins evolutionary hypothesis keeping clear of theological considerations and that even if true it would be required to involve God in the beginning and continuation of any such process. As it became clear that Darwin’s philosophy was indeed atheistic to it’s core, these scholars such as warfield and hodge, even c s lewis turned virulently against it. Keep in mind that the “science” of evolutionary was severly limited as to how deep it could actually go into the processes involved (for example, our very limited at the time of how genes and mutation worked and what they could and not do) so arguments and proofs tended to be simplistic and guided more by philosophical and metaphysical argumentation than actual science.

      Like

      • Can you provide a cite for ” c s lewis turned virulently against it”? I’m aware of his objections to evolutionism, but haven’t come across virulent objections to evolution itself. Thanks!

        Like

      • “Darwin’s hypothesis” is not atheistic OR theistic – it does not address the existence of God at all..
        You don’t need God to explain how airplanes fly or how evolution works; science and theology are 100% different enterprizes.

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    • I’m glad your experience has been fairly neutral about YEC vs evolution questions. My own experience has been less sanguine.

      On a regular basis, I get students who view it as a salvation issue: you can’t believe in God & accept the evidence for evolution at the same time, or “REAL Christians believe the Bible” (!!!). The idea that the Bible as an ancient text might have meanings other than “what it sounds like to me in 2019” is very upsetting to them, as is the idea that Christians can also accept evidence for an old earth or common descent. Sometimes, if their parents are more forceful about it, they even repeat YEC talking points, and there’s no rebuttal (however diplomatic) that doesn’t make them defensive.

      I never require students to accept evidence for evolution, but I do require that they be able to accurately articulate what the evidence is. For some of them, even listening to the evidence is too much. The tightrope walk between presenting good science and being gentle with their faiths is something I pray about a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for this post. Denying natural selection? Claiming that natural selection ran faster than is possible? Both seem pretty wrong.

    Like

  10. The quote from the creationist article, “Nobody has ever seen a “selection” happen” seems obviously wrong. When a lion kills a gazelle, is that not selection happening?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonestskepticatgmaildotcom says:

      Hahahaha…. I think the same thing with road kill. We live in the Pacific and there are mongoose and birds that sit in the road or race across dangerously. You can’t swerve, lest you kill yourself instead. Some are clever and escape, others subtract from the gene pool.

      Like

  11. Giving this CET theory a moment of consideration: it in no way invalidates the role of natural selection in evolution (and passing over the role of other parts to the standard evolutionary model, such as subspecies isolation.) Rather, to the extent CET may explain some data ( and I’m not qualified to say whether it does or does not) it simply adds another complication to evolution.
    CET sounds like a variation on epigenetics but at the level of the creature rather than the gene. So ok – maybe some creatures have adaptive features. So what?

    P.S. the concept at the end of the article that natural selection somehow robs God of glory is both silly and heretical. Mere humans can rob God of nothing, and the mechanism of evolution is inherently glorious. Any Bronze-Age Corn God could stir the mud and fashion animals out of clay in violation of the natural law He Created; only a truly glorious and forethoughtful deity could establish a rather small set of natural laws and after some billions of years (which are as nothing in His Sight) voila – hominids arguing on the internet!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. God is sovereign over time and place, timing and placing. We call it God’s providence. He is sovereign over the timing and placing of atoms and molecules, too, including biomolecules. I call myself an evolutionary providentialist for that reason.

    Liked by 1 person

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