Mammoths and Creation Science

Posted on February 6, 2011


You may have heard about another attempt to clone a woolly mammoth.  This project is being carried out by scientists from around the world, and it’s pretty cool. Meanwhile, at places like the Institute of Creation Research (ICR), Creation Scientists are doing something else.  Instead of participating or trying to resurrect a competing extinct animal, they are following the mammoth story in the news and trying to reinterpret the results. As you can read in this ICR article, they believe that the discovery of viable DNA would prove that woolly mammoths were around recently:

“If a scientist ever successfully clones a mammoth, it will be partly because the source DNA was not very old.”

Although the discovery of this DNA is well within the scientific community’s understandings and predictions, the ICR is leading their readers to believe that the discovery of this DNA itself somehow challenges modern scientific conclusions about the age of the earth.  They are waiting to jump out and yell “we told you so!” if the scientists succeed, but are not actually willing to bet on the mission’s success or conduct their own attempt.

Here’s the thing, the ICR and Answers in Genesis believe that every animal was around “recently,” and they even argue that representatives of all creatures, including dinosaurs, stepped off the ark no more than 4,500 years ago.  If that’s the case, Creation Scientists should be able to uncover DNA from dinosaurs, trilobites, and other animals which evolutionists claim to have been extinct millions of years ago just as easily as those scientists discovered mammoth DNA (especially since mainstream science is allegedly off by billions of years and only the creationists know the truth).  Finding T-Rex tissue would be a real shocker, and that would give Creation Science credibility and media attention.  If they make a relevant discovery, then we can test their claims of persecution. If they aren’t adding to the progress of science and medicine, they can’t complain about being ignored.

The other statement they were trying to make in the article is even stranger:

“If a scientist ever successfully clones a mammoth, it will be partly because the mammoth was a variety within the elephant kind”.

So an elephant may give birth to a mammoth, and this is evidence that animals only produce after their own kind?   These are two different species. Evolutionary biology predicts they are related, but the ICR is trying to argue that this proves Genesis 1:24-25 (that animals produce after their kind) and that the elephant “kind” includes mammoths and mastodons.   The word “kind” is not clarified in the Bible, and determining which animals would be sorted into which kind is a speculative, human endeavor they call bariminology.

The conclusions of Creation Scientists are immediately accepted and propagated by many Christian leaders and broadcasters eager to have answers (no matter how weak) to the challenges of biological, geological, and cosmological discoveries.  They bypass the rigors of peer-review and other checks and balances, claiming that academic bias has pushed Creation Scientists into the margins and denied them a fair say.  By casting all established scientists as rabid atheists out to get them, these proponents distract their listeners from examining the questionable methods with which they gather their information.  If they do not step up their game and do some real science, then I can only hope that more Christians will recognize this faulty system and prevent messy logic from dulling their ability to think critically and come to sound conclusions.