Letter in the Skeptical Inquirer, vol. 18, no. 2, Winter 1994, p. 220

I would like to correct some inaccuracies in Robert Baker's review of Zabilka's Scientific Malpractice. First, Baker states that "None of the 'research' [creationists] do is peer-reviewed or subjected to criticism of any sort." A cursory examination of the Creation Research Society Quarterly or the Ex Nihilo Technical Journal shows this to be false. At times, the creationists criticize other creationists more strongly and more accurately than their opponents do. (Some examples may be found in Ronald L. Numbers' excellent book, The Creationists.) Second, Baker states that "Creationists are predominantly technicians," but neither Baker nor Zabilka give any evidence for this. While this may be true, it is not true of the approximately 600 members of the Creation Research Society, of whom the largest group is composed of biologists. (Of the ten who founded the CRS in 1963, five had biology Ph.D.s, one had a biochemistry Ph.D., and one had a master's degree in biology.) If any discipline is underrepresented among creationists, it is not biology but geology, as Numbers points out.

Baker concludes by assessing Zabilka's book as clear, concise, and thorough. While I agree that it is clear and concise, it is not thorough. It is fairly good in its treatment of the political and legal history of creationism (although weak in its intellectual history, where Numbers' book excels), and in its discussion of theological issues. But its coverage of the scientific claims of creationism is incredibly weak--only a single chapter of 22 pages is devoted to a superficial coverage of the scientific evidence that refutes the creationists' claims. I recommend the other books Baker mentions, but would add that the most thorough examination of creationism to date is still Arthur N. Strahler's Science and Earth History (Prometheus Books, 1987), a massive 558-page book that addresses the vast majority of creationist arguments.

Jim Lippard
Tucson, Ariz.