Are All Creationists Liars?
A Response to “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier”
Jerry Bergman Ph.D.
Creationism is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the belief that God, gods or a higher power had a role in the creation of life and the physical universe. It is commonly claimed by Darwinists, atheists, and others who oppose the creationism and Intelligent Design world views that “all creationists are liars” (see, for example, Plimer, 1995). A Google.com® internet search located 666 articles using the words “creationists are liars,” and a whopping 6,860 articles were located using the phrase “creationist lies.” One Website (www.skeptictank.org), after calling the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) the “Institute of Cult Retards” (in fact, all of the professional staff have either a doctorate in their field of expertise or, at the minimum, a master’s degree), concluded that “creationists seem to be pathological liars.” The Australian skeptics have a whole Web site titled “No Answers in Genesis” that includes a section listing many alleged examples of “creationist dishonesty.”
Another Website (http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Pier/1766/hovindlies/) titled “Buddika’s 300 Creationist Lies” listed what the author claimed were “300 creationist lies.” Max Webb, in an article on talk.origins, concluded that it was hard for him to respond to the creationist liars because there are “so many [creationist] liars, [and] so little time [to respond to all of them]!” Another example is the statement by the late Harvard professor Stephen J. Gould that “scarcely a day goes by when I do not read a misrepresentation of my views (usually by creationists, racists, or football fans, in order of frequency)” (1990, p. 28). Note that Gould ranks creationists even above racists, which is about the worst type of person one can be today in the West (I cannot comment about football fans). These statements are put in perspective when it is noted that surveys have found over 90 percent of all Americans hold to some form of creationism, and about half are conservative creationists (Bergman, 1999). Are only the 10 percent of us honest, and all the rest of Americans “pathological liars”? This is the worst form of name-calling (and this name-calling is often translated into behavior, including job termination and denial of degrees or worse—see Witham, 2002, pp. 177-178, and other pages).
It is actually difficult to find a book or article written by authors critical of the conclusion that an intelligent Creator exists (and Who had an active role in creating and sustaining the universe and the life in it) that does not include the charge of lying or something close to it. The discussions in major books and magazines are typically demeaning, blatantly slanderous, or worse (see, for example, Chapman, 2001). Typical is a recent editorial in the Toledo Blade (a major Ohio newspaper) that called those persons who feel God had an active role in creation “science illiterate” people who “froth at the mouth” and are “old-time, know-nothing fanatics intent on swamping science and reality, plus the state’s reputation, with faith masking (sic the word should be masquerading) as fact,” while those who listen to them are “immature, know-nothing” persons who “would pollute the rest of us” (Foley, 2002, section A p. 11). Ian Plimer (1995) even wrote a whole book titled Telling Lies for God; Reason vs Creationism, published by the respected publisher Random House, in which Plimer, in almost every chapter, accused creationists of being liars (for example, see pp. 63-72).
Henry Morris recently reviewed the standard charges against creationists, concluding that the charges include such claim that “we are not only ignorant, but also … liars” (2003, p. b). The claim that specific creationists, especially Dr. Duane Gish, Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. Gary Parker, and Dr. Philip Johnson, are “liars” is commonly made by anti-creationists of various stripes, but probably most often by those who think of themselves as “free thinkers,” “atheists,” or “humanists.” I have not researched all of the many allegations of lying made against these persons and others, but I have looked into several charges against them, and have concluded that, of the charges which I examined, all are totally without foundation.
Actually, almost everyone who publishes articles and books in support of creationism or Intelligent Design will sooner or later be unscrupulously attacked by those who believe that neither God nor intelligence had anything to do with the creation of life on Earth (or anything else not made by humans). Since I have now published over 500 books, monographs, book reviews, and articles in 14 languages on this and related topics, I also not unexpectedly find myself at the receiving end of this pervasive tendency to accuse creationists of being liars. In view of the large number of allegations made against the most prominent creationists, though, my complaints may seem minor. Fortunately, I have thus far been attacked in print only a relatively few times. Also, fortunately, I have the documentation to prove that all of the published charges against me are not only false, but blatantly slanderous and libelous. I feel that it is important to respond to these charges, because an effective response says something critically important about those who oppose the idea that intelligence was involved in the creation of life.
Why Bother Responding?
For a long time, I ignored the false charges against me, reasoning, “Why should I dignify slander and libel by a response?” I now believe that it is important to respond to these charges, because they illustrate the bankruptcy of the tactics commonly used by certain Darwinists, atheists, and secular humanists in trying to suppress those persons who have found scientific and logical problems with the “goo to you by the way of the zoo” dogma. Many Darwinists evidently feel that the most effective way to respond to the many challenges to Darwinism, or at least an important approach, is to try to marginalize the opposition by attacking their credibility. Under the subtitle “Baloney Detector Kits,” Jan Covey lists several methods Darwinists use in an attempt to win arguments, including the ad hominem attacks. For example, he says
evolutionists claim Dr. Duane Gish is a liar, and because he’s a liar, nothing he says can be trusted. Evolutionists tend to believe all creationists are either liars or deluded by the lies of other creationists. This kind of personal attack distracts attention from good arguments (2002, p. 1).
In this paper, I will examine only one of the claims leveled against me, namely that found in a footnote on page 458 of the book Die Neuen Inquisitoren – Religionsfreiheit und Glaubens Neid Band II (The New Inquisitors – Freedom of Religion and Envy of Faith Vol. II) Verlag A. Fromm, Zürich, 1999 by Gerhard Besier and Erwin K. Scheuch (I will discuss Besier later; Scheuch is a professor of sociology at Harvard University and Cologne, Germany). In this footnote, Besier makes the following statement:
In the 1980s Bergman was in conflict with the law more than once for using academic titles that he had no right to use (U.S. District Court, Toledo, Ohio No. C 80-390, Dec. 5, 1985, p. 2, Findings of Facts 1; Dec. 6,1985, p.12, Finding of Facts 35). Bergman also falsely claimed to have more than 400 published articles (Source: Memos Background Information and Discrepancies regarding Published Works, pp. 1f., in the archives of Prof. Besier) and he also falsely claimed to be the author of books that were never written (solemn declaration by Harriet P. Stockanes, University of Illinois Press, December 12, 1988, in the archives of Prof. Besier)
I have heard most of these claims many times before, and the most charitable interpretation is that the authors of Die Neuen Inquisitoren did not do their homework. Therefore, I am obligated to respond in order to help stop these demonstrably false charges from continually being irresponsibly circulated. Dr. Besier, a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, trains Lutheran pastors . On his Web site he refers to himself as “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier.”
Besier’s Allegations Refuted
The first claim, “In the 1980s Bergman was in conflict with the law more than once for using academic titles he had no right to use,” is not only erroneous, but also slanderous. I have never been “in conflict with the law” for using academic titles that I had no right to use (and Besier provided no evidence whatsoever for this false claim). Nor have I ever been in trouble with the law for anything, except a few minor traffic tickets many, many years ago. The only support of his claim that Besier provides is a quote from the ruling in my district court case against Bowling Green State University. Specifically, the judge stated:
Bergman was hired by Bowling Green State University for the 1973-1974 school year in the Department of Educational Foundations & Inquiry (“EDFI”) of the College of Education. (P. Ex. 4). He was initially hired as an Assistant Professor but was reduced to the rank of Instructor later during that school year because he had not yet received a Ph.D. degree. (D. Ex. B). Bergman taught in the areas of Educational Psychology, and Measurement and Research.
These Findings of Fact 1 say nothing about using “academic titles which he had no right to” but is mostly a simple statement of fact. Furthermore the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (820 F. 2d 1224; filed June 16, 1987) stated that
Plaintiff was first hired by Bowling Green State University (BGSU) for the 1973-1974 school year Department of Educational Foundations and Inquiry (EDFI) of the College of Education. He was initially hired as an assistant professor but was reduced to the rank of instructor later during the school year when he did not receive his doctorate as soon as he had expected.
The University alleged that because I did not complete my first doctorate as soon as I expected, my rank was reduced to that of instructor. The fact is I was hired as an Assistant Professor. The claim that my contract was incorrect was dealt with in my appeal, and was not mentioned by the appellate court, presumably because it was convinced that this charge was false. The indisputable fact is, I was offered a written contract and signed it. University officials, soon after discovering my religious sympathies, claimed that they offered me the “wrong” contract, and then blamed me for accepting it! If it was “incorrect,” this was the University’s fault, not mine.
Furthermore, I do not see how signing a contract that I was offered was wrong in any way. I was offered a rank in the contract that was signed by both parties; thus, I had every right to use this title (it was my rank when I was hired, and to use any other title would be wrong), and the judge does not claim here that I used a title that I had no right to use. My claim is proved by the very documents that Besier cites (and is a good example of the misstatements that typify Besier’s slanderous charges).
The claim that I “falsely claimed to have more than 400 articles published” is also not only false, but irresponsible. Which publications that I claim to have, but don’t, Besier never says. Does he claim I have 399 or 0? He gives no date, but as of when the book was published in 1999, I had over 500 publications in print or in press. This could easily be checked by contacting me (which any responsible researcher would have done) for documentation. I would have gladly provided copies of all my publications. To support my claim, I retained rare book museum director, Mr. William Chamberlin of Clarkston, Michigan, to review all of the publications listed on my vita. He then completed an affidavit, verifying my claims.
The claim that I describe myself as the author of books that were never written is also a false charge. This charge stems from a court case that I testified in as an expert witness. To counter my testimony, the opposing attorney wrote to a publisher, the University of Illinois Press, inquiring if I had published a certain book. They paid an employee of the publisher, Harriet Stockanes, to complete an affidavit (dated Dec. 20, 1988). The affidavit of Harriet Stockanes was written in response to the letter by attorney Carolyn Wah for a brief that she produced in support of Froilan Reyes and filed in the Abilene, Texas, court in the Marcus Rayes case (case No. 6936-C), in opposition to my involvement in this case. It is my understanding that the brief was also written by attorney Carolyn Wah.
It was this document that Besier cited (which mentioned only one book, not books in contrast to Besier’s claim). The book listed in the letter as “In Lieu of Prison, the Community Treatment Project,” was not published by University of Illinois Press, but by University Microfilms in Ann Arbor, Michigan (publication number AAT-7709368) and is not 467 pages in length, but is considerably longer (actually, 822 pages). I have never published any book with the University of Illinois Press, and Besier should know this from past court cases in which I have testified.
Why does Besier make claims that he surely must know are wrong? One reason is he knows it is unlikely that someone else can (or will take the time to) check the record. How many persons will take the time required to obtain all of my publications in order to determine how many I actually had at a certain point in the past? In short, he uses this tactic because he feels he can get away with it. Besier evidently feels that, because I live in another country, he can employ allegations that he should know are false.
It is a basic rule of research that a researcher must contact the person about whom they are writing, especially if the article contains material that could potentially be slanderous or libelous. Besier never contacted me before he wrote the quote under review here. I have contacted Besier three times about these concerns, and he has yet to extend to me the courtesy of a single reply. He is clearly not interested in the facts, but only in slandering those with whom he disagrees.
My Response to the Court Brief
This section briefly responds to the claims of Gerhard Besier in a brief filed with a German court. Besier here repeats the claim refuted above, namely that
In the 80s he was more than once in conflict with the law because he bore academic titles which he had no right to (US District Court, Toledo, Ohio No. C. 80-390, Dec. 5, 1985, p. 2, Findings of Fact 1; Dec -. 6, 1985. p. 12, Findings of Fact 35). He also claimed to have published over 400 articles (Memos Background Information and Discrepancies regarding Published works, pp. 1 f. Besier archive) and described himself as the author of books he had never written (declaration under oath by Harriet P. Stockanes, University of Illinois Press, of 20 Dec.1988, Besierarchive).
This brief excerpt is an excellent example of dishonest behavior. It no more proves my conclusions false, than does evidence that Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized large sections of his doctoral thesis prove that his contentions about the treatment of African-Americans in America is false (or that Einstein lied on a job application proves the theory of relativity wrong). None of the authors that cited the Besier reference has ever consulted me before using this reference. A file cabinet full of documents exists on the Bowling Green Case, and scores of articles and several books have been published that discuss the case. It is grossly irresponsible to write on this matter without consulting this vast body of literature. The need to resort to slander indicates that arguments for a specific worldview lack substance, and therefore necessitate unscrupulous ad hominem attacks. One reason for this approach is explained by professor Stephen Schneider:
On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but—which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well (as quoted in Schell, 1989, p. 47)
Schneider argues that a scientist or professor who is convinced that he is right, frequently desires to influence public policy, and to achieve this goal he needs to influence the public. Schneider adds that to do this, the scientist needs to achieve
broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both (Schell, 1989, p. 47).
Unfortunately, this approach can be very effective (and therefore is commonly used). I will let the reader decide if the charges by Darwinists in the case discussed in this paper are honest. Arthur Biele provides some background on why charges of creationists “lying” are so common.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, evolutionists were losing every debate to Creationists. It got to the point where Carl Sagan openly declared that evolutionists should stop debating Creationists. Instead, starting in 1981, there came a flurry of books and articles from evolutionists attacking Creationists and propagandizing for evolution. These were marketed to the general public and for Junior and Senior High school students. Even worse, evolutionists threw all morality out the window by deciding on a new approach to winning the evolution/Creation debate, and this was to launch vicious and numerous character assassination attacks on Creationists in order to publicly discredit creationists and to soil and muddy their image. Those that participated ought to be ashamed, for the anti-creationists books contained trash science, and the personal attacks where simply mean-spirited and anti-science. Top pro-evolutionary scientists agreed not to debate the science with Creationists and opted for mob and wolf pack obfuscations of the science, as found on internet groups such as talk origins, and by propagandizing through the liberal media and in schools while denying Creationists the opportunity use the same venue for presenting Creation (also known as censorship) [2003, p. 1].
Bergman, Jerry. 2000. “The Attitude of Various Populations Towards Teaching Creation and Evolution in Public Schools.” Cen Technical Journal 13(2):118-123.
______. 2002. “Lying in Court and Religion: An Analysis of the Theocratic Warfare Doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Cultic Studies Review: An Internet Journal of Research, News and Opinion, 1(2):1-31, 2002. http://www.culticstudiesreview.org. German translation “Lügen vorGericht und Religion: Eine Analyse der Lehre der Zeugen Jehovas von der theokratischen Kriegsführung.”
Biele, Arthur. 2003. Personal correspondence (quoted with his permission).
Chapman, Matthew. 2001. Trials of the Monkey; An Accidental Memoir. New York: Picador USA.
Covey, Jon. 2000. “Defeating Darwinism.” A Review of Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Unpublished manuscript
Foley, Eileen. 2002. “The Fanatics don’t Get what Science is About” The Blade, Toledo. Ohio. Section A P. 11.
Gould, Stephen J. 1990. “The Golden Rule—a Proper Scale for Our Environmental Crisis.” Natural History. September. pp. 24-30.
Iannoccone, Laurence R. 1994. “Why Strict Churches are Strong.” American Journal of Sociology, 99(5):1180-1211.
Johnson, Phillip. 1997. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Downers Grove, Il. InterVarsity.
Morris, Henry. 2003. “Evolutionary Arrogance.” Back to Genesis. No. 170
Plimer, Ian. 1995. Telling Lies for God; Reason vs Creationism. Australia: Random House.
Schell, Jonathan. 1989. “Our Fragile Earth.” Discover, 10(10):44-50.
Scott, Eugenie. 2002. “A Conversation with Eugenie Scott.” Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology, 2(8):3,16.
Witham, Larry. 2002. Where Darwin Meets the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press.
Zahn, Gordon. 1962. German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars. New York: Sheed and Ward.
Four reviewers of this paper concluded that “Dr. Dr.” in the title is a misprint. It is not a misprint. This is actually what he calls himself!! As I have two earned Ph.Ds., I suppose I, too, could use the term “Dr. Dr. Jerry Bergman”—but would be the brunt of ridicule if I did so! I am no longer as impressed with such titles as I once was, due in part to the appallingly irresponsible behavior of so many of those with such titles, such as “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier.”
Ironically, some of the staunchest opposers of the biblical creation world view (and often any theistic view of origins) are theologians, especially those who teach at a college or university (Witham, 2002). Many theists feel that the reason Darwinists try to claim “there is no conflict between Darwinism and Theism (specifically Christianity)” is to allow them to exploit the clergy to help them eventually achieve the goal of “demolishing theism” and replacing it with non-theistic humanism (Witham, 2002).
The head of the largest anti-creation organization in the world, the National Center for Science Education in Berkeley, California, self-proclaimed atheist Eugenie C. Scott, noted: “the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!” (2002, p. 16). Besier is evidently one of these “allies for evolution” (if I am wrong I will gladly publish an apology). Dr. Scott, soon after she “lost a tenure tussle at the University of Kentucky,” moved to Berkeley to fight creationism in all its forms wherever it “rears its ugly head” by whatever means possible (Witham, 2002, p. 62 and a NCSE fund-raising letter, December 2002, p. 3).
It also appears to me that the German Lutheran church, or at least many of its leaders, long ago abandoned most of the fundamentals of Christianity, including the validity of the Scriptures. Could this be part of the reason this denomination is rapidly losing its influence in Germany? Research has shown that those churches that hold to the fundamentals of Christianity are growing, while those that have abandoned historic Christianity (and the Bible) are losing large numbers of members (Iannoccone, 1994).
In Ohio alone, the official statistics show that the Methodist Church has lost over 8,000 members during the latest year for which records are available (see Christian Methodist Newsletter, 12(13):1-3, Winter 2001-2002). Since the 1950s, the most “liberal” churches have declined the greatest, while the “most conservative” (those that hold to the fundamentals of Christianity) are growing, in some cases enormously. The German protestant church (Evangelische Kirche) has reported an average loss of around 200,000 members each year since 1991, and a mere 4% of the German population now attend the Evangelische Kirche (www.kirchensteuer.de/konfession.html). As further evidence of the state of the German Lutheran Church, we need only cite the fact that this is the same church (along with the other mainline “Christian” churches) that gave “almost complete support to Hitler’s wars of raw aggression and ruthless conquest” (Zahn, 1962, introduction on book jacket).
I will be glad to publish a response by Professor Dr. Dr. Besier or any other interested party with relevant information to add to this review. Likewise, if I have misunderstood the situation, I will be glad to note the misunderstanding here and retract as necessary.