Earlier this month, the Sixth International Conference on Creationism took place in Pittsburgh. Sponsored by the Creation Science Fellowship and the Institute for Creation Research, the week-long event billed itself as a "highly technical, peer reviewed symposium, with planned rebuttals and discussions." Papers submitted for the conference were put through a "technical review process" that included the following criteria:
Is the Summary’s topic important to the development of the creation model? Does the Summary’s topic provide an original contribution to the creation model? Is this Summary formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework? Does this Summary provide evidence of faithfulness to the grammaticohistorical/normative interpretation of Scripture?
Of course, precisely which peers did the reviewing hasn't been revealed, though it doesn't take much effort to guess that every one of them is a staunch creationist of the "young-Earth" variety. Jason Rosenhouse, who writes EvolutionBlog and has been covering the conference in detail, had the following to report:
Sadly, while I have generally been impressed with the personality and temperament of many of the people I have met at these conferences, the fact remains that they are hopelessly ignorant of science. This ignorance is exacerbated by the annoying fact that so many of them fancy themselves highly knowledgeable indeed.
His point is apparent in some of the papers accepted for discussion:
* Big Bang: Fact or Fiction? * The Beginning of Human Life: Re-Evaluating the Biblical Evidence * Relativistic String Dynamics Support Biblical Creationism * Electrodynamic Origin of the Force of Gravity * Oceanic Circulation Trends … during Noah’s Flood
Relativistic string dynamics? Electrodynamic origins? These titles may be the equivalent of political rhetoric (sound and fury signifying just about nothing) but they certainly sound impressive and "scientific." At the very least, the CSF and ICR are going to some pretty grand lengths to paint the rubric of "legitimate academic research" on a set of beliefs that are, as Rosenhouse describes it, "a patina of science and calm argumentation, with the revival tent never lurking far beneath the surface." Not to be outdone, the Atheist Alliance International Convention will be held on September 25th - 28th, and will feature a Mexican buffet, an awards dinner with a performance by Jill Sobule, and a guest speaker list including Secular Coalition lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown, Skeptic Magazine publisher Michael Shermer, and P.Z. Myers. At least the atheists know how to have a little fun. Image: iStockPhoto