Response to “Young Earth Creationists’ Hypocrisy on Discrimination” written by Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.

Response to “Young Earth Creationists’ Hypocrisy
on Discrimination” written by Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.

Author: Dr. Jerry Bergman
Subject: Credibility of Creationists
Date: 9/15/2004

This paper was written to respond to Kevin Henke’s paper titled “Young Earth Creationists’ Hypocrisy on Discrimination.” Henke wrote his paper to defend Dr. Dini, who has openly stated he will not write recommendations for any creationist or even all Darwinism doubters. Henke’s entire paper is reproduced here and indented to indicate his words. Henke begins his paper with the following positive statement:

Over the years I’ve met a lot of outstanding scientists and science students.  Some of them have been conservative Christians and even young-Earth creationists (YECs).  Although I may disagree with their religious and political views, I’ve gladly written job recommendations for several chemistry graduate students that were creationists. Considering their backgrounds, I viewed these creationist students as greater assets to research on environmental issues and applied chemistry than threats to biological evolution education.  

This is one of the most positive comments I have read about creationists from a Darwinist in a long time (and I hope it will be quoted often). Henke, unfortunately, continues in a far different tone:

Unlike the YECs at the “Institute” for Creation “Research” (ICR), the Creation “Research” Society (CRS), and “Answers” in Genesis (AiG), my creationist colleagues never invoked miracles to explain away scientific data and I didn’t expect them to in their careers.  They were honest and good chemistry students.

First of all, if they were a believing Christian, Jew, or Muslim I do not see how they could not believe in miracles. The entire basics of Christianity involves miracles: the birth, life and death of Christ is a miracle from start to finish. The Jewish and Muslim faith also is based on miracles. Furthermore, I know of no scientist at ICR or CRS that invokes “miracles to explain away scientific data” but rather they use scientific data to rule out a hypothesis (as it should be used to do) such as naturalism and to support another hypothesis (such as supernaturalism). Many of us have carefully evaluated the evidence and have concluded that it clearly favors one hypothesis (creationism) over the other (evolutionism). If the evidence clearly demonstrates a “miracle” would Henke reject the evidence? At the least he should hold that a miracle is one possible explanation rather than dogmatically reject this possibility. Henke then notes that

Universities, colleges and employers often require recommendations of their applicants. Of course, different people have different reasons for and against providing recommendations of those that request them. For example, Dr. Michael Dini of Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas, USA) has refused to write any graduate or medical school recommendations for anti-evolutionists. His policy has raised the ire of YEC Michael Matthews and other “Answers” in Genesis personnel.

Why shouldn’t the policy raise the ire of not only AiG employees but all persons interested in fair treatment and civil rights?  The complaint was Micah Spradling, an honors pre med student.  Note also that Dini refused to write any recommendation for all anti-evolutionists—by which term, I assume, he means a creationist of any type including intelligent design advocates. Is Henke arguing that it is perfectly all right to discriminate against creationists? Henke then adds:

As a public institution, Texas Tech is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, creed, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

Note religion is conspicuously absent.  Is it perfectly acceptable to discriminate on religious grounds at Texas Tech?  Henke then claims that

although Dr. Dini is an employee of a public university, he is free under the United States constitution to deny personal recommendations to creationists or any other individuals that he feels are scientifically incompetent.

In fact, is it illegal discrimination to deny all creationist recommendations, just as it would be if he denied personal recommendations to all Afro Americans because he felt they were all incompetent (as was once commonly believed by many Americans). Is the problem here that one student, Spradling (an honor student), is incompetent or that all creationists are incompetent? Dini has openly stated that he believed that all creationists are incompetent. Is this not the same as denying personal recommendations to all Afro Americans because one felt that they are all incompetent? Henke correctly states that he does not feel that all creationists are incompetent:

Over the years I’ve met a lot of outstanding scientists and science students.  Some of them have been conservative Christians and even young-Earth creationists (YECs).  Although I may disagree with their religious and political views, I’ve gladly written job recommendations for several chemistry graduate students that were creationists. Considering their backgrounds, I viewed these creationist students as greater assets to research on environmental issues and applied chemistry than threats to biological evolution education.

Should not these students have positive recommendations written for them? Dini states that all creationists are incompetent. If one feels a certain creationist is incompetent, he or she has every right to not complete a recommendation, but no evidence exists that Spradling is incompetent, but only a creationist (and this is the only reason why Dini will not write the recommendation!).  Henke then incorrectly claims that

taxpayer-supported institutions may not unfairly discriminate, but any American citizen has the right to free association and dissociation whether it’s justified or not.  YECs at Texas Tech desiring recommendations for graduate or medical schools will simply have to find other individuals besides Dr. Dini.

The problem is in this case Dini’s behavior is illegal discrimination. Neither institutions nor those persons who work for those institutions can discriminate as an employee of those institutions based on religion. Anther problem is a recommendation by someone else is not what is needed in this case. Only Dini can write the needed recommendation because he is the lead biology instructor.  Next Henke tries to justify discrimination:

YECs and other individuals may protest against Dr. Dini’s policies.  However, YECs seem to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that Bob Jones “University” and other YEC “colleges” and “universities” discriminated on the basis of race, and prohibited interracial dating among their students.

Although some Christian colleges did discriminate on the basis of race several decades ago (as did virtually all secular universities), this does justify discrimination today by secular colleges. The question is, was this discrimination more common at secular or Christian colleges? From the research I have completed, the answer is, clearly, discrimination based on race was far less common at Christian colleges. Bob Jones University may be an exception, but a rare exception. (I was informed that even during their segregation years, Afro Americans were not maligned or mistreated by staff, faculty or students, but in fact were treated very well. Bob Jones simply was a “white” school just as other schools back then were “colored” schools). Furthermore, it was specifically creationist Biblical teaching that caused Bob Jones to reverse their stand, not some secular notion of equality. Henke continues.

While Dr. Dini’s objections seem to be limited to anti-evolutionists, the AiG leadership discriminates against a much broader group of individuals (that is, anyone that is not a YEC) which makes them utterly hypocritical. For example, at their employment webpage, AiG states:

All applicants are required to submit a written testimony and written statement explaining their position on Creation (no more than one page each), and be in complete agreement (with no qualifications) with the AiG Statement of Faith.

Their “Statement of Faith” clearly excludes atheists, theistic evolutionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moslems, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, agnostics and old-Earth creationists from employment at AiG.  Because YECs view homosexuality as being incompatible with Christianity, YEC organizations would no doubt also discriminate against open gays. Furthermore, because conservative Roman Catholics accept seven apocryphal books in their Old Testament “scriptures” (a total of 73 books in their Bible), the AiG statement “The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God” would also preclude them from employment.

This is hardly an appropriate comparison. The fact is, AiG and many other creation groups are openly religious organizations and to survive they must hire persons who can carry out their mission and purpose, which is religious. Dini works for a state college which does not have a religious purpose, mission, or goal. Its goal is wholly secular. Henke continues:

In their warped and hypocritical “worldview,” the AiG leadership wants to have the freedom to deny employment and association with individuals they don’t like, but they object to Dr. Dini having the personal right to eliminate himself as a reference for people he views as incompetent.  While Dr. Dini appears willing to give a student an interview, it is absolutely certain that if any old-Earth creationist ever applied to the ICR “Graduate School” his/her application would never get any farther than the garbage can.  Old-Earth creationists desiring to attend a graduate school will simply have to find another institution besides the ICR.  Considering the ICR’s horrible record on “research” and historical accuracy, a student should easily be able to find a superior graduate school.

First of all, the last claim is pure name calling and it is hardly appropriate for a PhD to resort to ad hominem attacks. It is not a matter of AiG not liking someone, but the fact is they must hire persons who can fulfill their mission in order to achieve their mission. Secondly, I understand that ICR will accept any qualified student, be he or she YEC, OEC, theistic evolutionist, or atheist.

AiG wants us to believe that individuals, like Dr. Dini, are nothing more than religious “bigots.”  Perhaps they are or, perhaps, because YECs believe in magical fruit and talking snakes rather than sound biology, certain people don’t want to risk their reputations by endorsing them for jobs and graduate school applications*.

This is akin to saying that he does not want to risk his reputation by recommending a Afro American for a job! A basic doctrine of Jews, Christians, and Muslims is the account in Genesis which Henke is making fun of here. Will Dini only recommend atheists? If Henke refuses to recommend a creationist, this may absolve him of some blame but only relocates the bigotry elsewhere. This does not speak very well for other academics or academia as a whole. Henke then states

Michael Matthews, Jerry Bergman, Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati and other YECs often claim that YECs are “victims” of “discrimination,” but how many recommendations have they written for atheist students?  If AiG personnel don’t like Dr. Dini’s policies, perhaps they should set a better example and eliminate their much more extensive and prejudicial employment policies.

My guess is that all of these persons have written fair recommendations for atheists and anyone else based solely on their academic performance. I have written hundreds in my 35 year long college teaching career. Actually, because for most of my career I have taught in secular colleges and universities, most all of my recommendations were for persons that either were not creationists or I did not know what their beliefs were in this area (and I do not ask them as Dini indicates he does).

If they want to continue to discriminate against applicants for employment on the basis of religion, maybe they should just stop complaining when certain scientists return the favor.

Is Henke here admitting that discrimination does occur and that it should occur? More importantly, two wrongs do not make a right. If creationists discriminate against an atheist in giving recommendations (and no evidence was given by Henke that they do) this does not justify discrimination against all creationists as Dini has openly stated he practices. Employment is a different matter—for a Christian college to hire atheists would mean the end of the college—people attend a Christian college because of its world view, and if there was no religious difference between a Christian and a secular college—except price—most Christians would probably attend the local state college where costs are less than 25 percent of a Christian college.  Christian colleges could never compete and would soon be out of business. This charge by Henke is either naive or malicious (or both).

* A reviewer of this paper asked “What if evolutionists were ridiculed for believing in ‘magic” chemicals that, over time, became living cells, or ‘magic’ mutations that can endow living things with de novo capabilities and structures?”


Henke, Kevin R.  2004.  “Young Earth Creationists’ Hypocrisy on Discrimination.”

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