Date: 27 Mar 94 03:10:35
From: James J. Lippard
Subject: A Creationist speaks
From: email@example.com (James J. Lippard)
Organization: University of Arizona
In article , firstname.lastname@example.org writes...
>In article <24MAR199401115629@skyblu.ccit.arizona.edu>, James J. Lippard
>> :And two for the show. Good job, Lippard! Now I see why Dr. Brown says
>> :you're dishonest.
>> Oh, he says this, does he? Does he give any examples of intentional
>> falsehoods on my part? Can you? If not, you would do well to retract
>> your defamatory remark.
>Yes, he does, does he.
>Something about a doctored document, if I recall. But that will be dealt
>in one of the 3 posts to follow, and I don't want to get into it now.
Oh, I do. I know exactly what he is talking about, and it is Brown who
is being dishonest. This has to do with Barry Setterfield's _The Velocity
of Light and the Age of the Universe_ (second printing, December 1983), p. 172
and the Australian creationist publication _Ex Nihilo_ (now _Creation_
magazine), vol. 6, no. 4, p. 46. Both of these publications contain the
following endorsement of Setterfield:
DR. WALTER BROWN, MATHEMATICAL PHYSICIST, DIRECTOR,
MIDWEST SCIENCE CENTRE, CHICAGO, U.S.A.
"The theoretical derivation of the same cosec 2 decay function as the
computer curve, but this time from electromagnetic theory alone, makes
the whole proposition of c decay virtually unassailable."
The fact that this quotation appears in those publications may be verified
by consulting the cited publications or by writing to the Australian Creation
Science Foundation (P.O. Box 302, Sunnybank, Qld 4109, Australia). It is
a publicly verifiable fact that the quotation exists in those publications
just as I have said. Yet this is the quotation which Brown apparently is
accusing me of "doctoring."
I brought up this quotation for the first time on p. 25 of "An Examination
of the Research of Creationist Walter Brown," _Creation/Evolution_ issue
XXV, Fall 1989. I wrote:
Brown was not so careful, however, about the claims he made in the
Australian creationist journal _Ex Nihilo_ regarding Barry Setterfield's
work. In that journal, he called Setterfield's work on speed-of-light
decay "virtually unassailable" (_Ex Nihilo_, 1984)--after that work had
already been the subject of heavy criticism in the "Letters" section
of the same journal. Since then, Setterfield's data analysis has been
recognized as being so contrived and selective that even the Institute
for Creation Research has debunked it (Aardsma, 1988; Strahler, 1987,
Brown replied in the same issue of _Creation/Evolution_, p. 39:
I have never said that Setterfield's research--or anyone else's research--
was "virtually unassailable." Everyone's research is assailable, mine
included. That is one reason why science is so successful and dynamic.
To my knowledge, I have never been quoted in _Ex Nihilo_. Who is the
source of Lippard's "_Ex Nihilo_, 1984" reference? In discussing
Setterfield's work, I have always tried to carefully point out that it
may turn out to be wrong. Scientific conclusions are always tentative.
To claim otherwise--as Carl Sagan and many other evolutionists do when
they say that evolution is a "fact"--is dogma, not science.
I replied in "A Further Examination of the Research of Walter Brown,"
_Creation/Evolution_ issue XXVI, Winter 1989-90, pp. 21-22:
In my previous article, I noted that Brown was quoted in the Australian
creationist journal _Ex Nihilo_ as having called Barry Setterfield's
work on speed-of-light decay "virtually unassailable." Brown claims
that he never made the comment and that, to his knowledge, he has never
been quoted in _Ex Nihilo_. He further asks, "Who is the source of
Lippard's '_Ex Nihilo_, 1984,' reference?"
A complete citation was given in the bibliography to my article.
The quotation was from a page of quotations entitled "Update: On what's
being said about Barry Setterfield's work on the speed of light" on
page forty-six of _Ex Nihilo_, volume six, number four. The portion
relevant to Brown reads:
[same quote as above -jjl]
At about the same time that this issue of _Ex Nihilo_ was published,
Brown was director of the Midwest Center of the Institute for Creation
Research in Wheaton, Illinois--a suburb of Chicago (Schadewald, 1983,
p. 29). Thus, there is little question that we are talking about the
same Walter Brown. After reading Brown's rebuttal in _Creation/Evolution_,
I sent him a letter dated June 19, 1989, in which I enclosed a photocopy
of the relevant page from _Ex Nihilo_ and suggested that if the quote
was misattributed or otherwise in error Brown should notify the journal
of that fact. Brown's remarkable response was:
You suggested that I write _Ex Nihilo_ about the incorrect quote.
I learned some years ago that I did not have the time to contact
and attempt to get retractions every time I am misquoted. Distortions
of my statements, which are usually made by evolutionists, are made
too frequently. [Brown, 1989b]
I responded to this letter on July 27, asking Brown for elaboration on
precisely what was "incorrect" about the quote and offering to write
to _Ex Nihilo_ on his behalf if he was really too busy to set his
fellow creationists straight. I further asked if perhaps he might have
made such a statement in one of the "detailed face-to-face discussions"
he said he had with Setterfield in 1984 (Brown, 1989d, p. 39). Brown
has failed to respond to this and followup letters sent on August 19,
September 14, and November 13 repeating these and other questions.
Recently, however, Ken Smith (1989) informed me that the above
quotation from Brown appears in its entirety in _The Velocity of Light
and the Age of the Universe_, a technical monograph by Barry Setterfield
(1983, p. 172). I have verified this by obtaining a copy of the
relevant page. So, the quote predates Brown's 1984 discussions but not
his "letter to Setterfield in 1981" (Brown, 1989d, p. 39). Since
Brown was in contact with Setterfield, it stands to reason that Brown was
aware of this publication, yet apparently he did not complain to
Setterfield about being misquoted when he met with him in 1984.
Brown claims that he has "always tried to carefully point out that
[Setterfield's work] may turn out to be wrong" (Brown, 1989d, p. 39).
Why, if this is so, is there not a word of skepticism to be found in
the coverage of Setterfield in his book (Brown, 1989c, pp. 89-92)?
Not a single critique of Setterfield is mentioned. It is clear both
from his book and his rebuttal that Brown still uncritically supports
Setterfield, based upon the results of Brown's own "very time-consuming
computer simulation technique" and the fact that "statisticians in
various countries have reached similar conclusions" (Brown, 1989d,
p. 39). Unfortunately, Brown gives us no citations for his work nor
that of these unnamed statisticians. [...]
Brown replied, same issue, pp. 39-40:
In his first article, Lippard accused me of making a statement which I
never made and never would have made. Lippard acknowledged that he
was using an anonymous source from the creationist publication _Ex
Nihilo_. Over my objection, the editor of _Creation/Evolution_ twice
replaced the word _anonymous_ with the words _Ex Nihilo_, presumably
to fit the format of _Creation/Evolution_. Not only did Lippard know
he was using an anonymous source, he also used an indirect quotation
(hearsay). Either would have suggested to a careful researcher that the
quote might be spurious, which it certainly was.
Minor errors in the _Ex Nihilo_ statement should also have raised
the suspicions of a careful researcher: my organization's name was
given incorrectly; I am not a "mathematical physicist"; and the
mathematical function whose derivation I supposedly accepted was
printed in a way that made no sense. Ironically, the statement that
Lippard attributes to me says that I agreed with a certain theoretical
derivation. I never did. In fact, in 1986 I told Setterfield that it
was wrong. Shortly afterward, he retracted it.
[quote from me deleted--about the same quotation appearing in
Setterfield's monograph -jjl]
Wrong. No statement of mine is in Setterfield's monograph, as originally
published in 1983. Page 172 of that printing contains only an _Ex
Nihilo_ advertisement. Someone must have "doctored" Lippard's copy
after 1983. Lippard should quit trying to shift the blame and admit
that he reached premature and false conclusions by quoting an anonymous,
hearsay statement that contained many other errors as well.
[quote from me deleted--about no skepticism of Setterfield in Brown's
Only three pages deal with the possible decay in the speed of light:
its history, relevance, new and surprising data, past arguments, and
the work of many people, including Setterfield. Anyone's scientific
work may turn out to be wrong. Certainty doesn't exist in science.
For example, I stated, "If either Setterfield or Troitskii's reasoning
is correct . . ." (1989c, p. 90) and "If Setterfield is right . . ."
(1989c, p. 91). Tentativeness is there.
[quote from me deleted--about lack of citation to unnamed statisticians
What good would citations do? None of this is published. It would be a
pound of very dull reading, and few would understand the statistics.
David Merkel of Aston, Pennsylvania, a statistician for an insurance
company, has written separate computer programs and verified my results.
If Lippard can find a competent statistician who will do the same, I
will provide that person with enough information to check my results
Then, in "A Final Response to Walter Brown," _Creation/Evolution_ issue
XXVII, Summer 1990, pp. 30-31, I wrote:
Brown denies a quotation which is attributed to him in the creationist
journal, _Ex Nihilo_ (1984), yet refuses to ask for a retraction. The
same quotation has been traced to Barry Setterfield's 1983 monograph,
_The Velocity of Light and the Age of the Universe_, but Brown claims
that no such quotation appears there and that my copy must have been
"doctored" (1990:40). This alleged doctoring would not change the
fact that the quotation appeared in _Ex Nihilo_. Brown is correct that
the quotation did not appear in the first printing (August 1983) of
Setterfield's monograph, in which the page in question contained an
advertisement for _Ex Nihilo_. My copy of the relevant page, however,
came from the second printing, dated December 1983. (I have as yet
been unsuccessful in finding anyone in the United States with this
edition of the monograph.) [I have subsequently fully verified that
the quotation exists in the published version--any "doctoring" was
done by the publisher or Setterfield. -jjl] I am happy to grant Brown's
denial of the quote, but this simply casts more doubt on the veracity
of Setterfield, who has already been accused of misusing quotations
from his fellow creationists (see Humphreys, 1988:40-41).
I criticized Brown for presenting the work of Barry Setterfield
unskeptically. In response, Brown cites two sentences from his book
which begin with the word _if_, claiming that "tentativeness is there."
It is interesting that Brown does not quote either sentence in full:
If either Setterfield of Troitskii's reasoning is correct [in
explaining red shifts], the standard Big Bang theory will fall
(with a big bang). [Brown 1989c:90]
If Setterfield is right, these mature, distant galaxies no longer
need explaining. [Brown 1989c:91]
Neither sentence casts any doubt on the speed-of-light decay thesis.
In fact, what Brown says about Setterfield is that "his results show
that _the speed of light has decreased so rapidly that experimental
error cannot explain it!_" (1989c:89; emphasis in original). Where is
the tentativeness here? From Brown's discussion, one would never
realize that debate over this subject continues to rage even in the
pages of the _Creation Research Society Quarterly_. Brown cites none
of the numerous criticisms of Setterfield. [...]
I wrote a letter to _Creation_ magazine which was a retraction of Brown's
quotation, since he refused to do it himself. The first version of my
letter was rejected, but after some minor changes it was printed in
_Creation Ex Nihilo_ vol. 13, no. 2, March-May 1991, p. 8, along with
a reply from the editor, Robert Doolan:
SPEED OF LIGHT
In both the second printing of Barry Setterfield's _The Velocity of
Light and the Age of the Universe_ (August 1983, p. 172) and the
May 1984 issue of _Ex Nihilo_ (Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 46) appears the
[same Brown quote, as above]
I am writing to make it known that Walter Brown disclaims responsibility
for the quoted statement. In Brown's article, "A Second Response to
Jim Lippard" (_Creation/Evolution_, Winter 1989-90, p. 39), he states
that this quotation is "spurious" and "[it] says that I agreed with a
certain theoretical derivation. I never did."
I suggested (in letters of June 19, 1989 and August 27, 1990) to
Walter Brown that he write to disclaim his association with this
quotation, but for unknown reasons he doesn't seem to think it worth
his time. I disagree, and think that this is something which deserves
to be known by the creationist community.
Graduate student in philosophy
The University of Arizona
[We contacted Walter Brown who said that while he was disturbed at
having been misquoted as appearing to show unconditional agreement
with Setterfield's conclusions, he was "even more disturbed at the
several false statistical studies that have criticized his [Setterfield's]
work". Dr Brown said that when he and "other statisticians" have
checked and corrected these errors, it actually supports the Setterfield
hypothesis (of a historical decline in light-speed). The changing _c_
controversy continues in an upcoming _Creation Ex Nihilo Technical
Journal_, which should feature a major critique summarizing and
encapsulating many previous critiques, followed by a vigorous
counter-critique. -- Ed.]
The result of the debate has been that, at least in the _Creation Research
Society Quarterly_ and the _Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal_,
Setterfield's theory is quite dead. Some dishonest Christians such
as Chuck Missler and Lambert Dolphin have continued to support the theory
in publications and talks to lay audiences, while neglecting to mention
any critiques. (I sent Missler references to all the critiques I knew of,
plus a photocopy of one of the better ones, after he published an article
which asserted Setterfield's theory as fact in the March 1993 issue of his
_Personal Update_ publication. He never replied and never made any public
retraction or comment.)
I would not be surprised if Walter Brown still uses Setterfield as
evidence against evolution in his lectures and in the upcoming revision
of his book.
>If I accept your refutation when the time comes, I'd be happy to retract.
>> I don't see how I "expertly lifted" anything out of context, since I
>> didn't offer any quotations--I just gave references to verses. Anyone
>> who looked them up would see the surrounding context.
>> What I pointed out were *three* instances of teachings of Jesus at
>> odds with the Old Testament. 1. On divorce. [ deletions... ]
>Something to keep in mind here is that during Jesus' time, there were two
>schools of thought on the issue, that of Hillel (any and every reason) and
>that of Shammai (only for adultery). Jesus obviously validated Rabbi
Don't you have anything to say about the rest of what I said?
>> I admit I can make mistakes--I don't claim my writing to be inerrant.
>Well, that sounds humble enough to me, and somewhat unexpected. Certainly
>our writings are fallible.
I don't know why you find it unexpected. I have admitted my screwups
here when I've made them.
Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721