Wednesday, 15 October 2008

From the Wiki - an update from "Our Correspondent"

With thanks to our correspondent who went to see Paul Taylor speak earlier this year and then submitted this piece for our wiki;
Intro

Paul Taylor is the Head of Media and Publications of Answers in Genesis (UK/Europe) in the UK.  He has a Chemistry degree (BSc) from Nottingham University and many years experience as a schoolteacher and department head.  As with all AiG UK staff, he has no formal qualification in biology, geology, astrophysics or theology.

Despite this lack of scientific training, Taylor is one of three speakers at AiG's 11-person operation in the UK.  As such, he holds the AiG line, insisting that the Bible is inerrant and that the entire universe was created in just 6 days.  Taylor has written two books: 'The Six Days of Genesis' and 'Truth, Lies and Science Education'.  He is a frequent speaker at churches, although sadly he chooses not to answer questions at these events, instead running a stall of books and DVDs at the end of his sermon.

The Blog


Taylor has stated controversial opinions on a number of issues.  His blog requests that all contributors abide by a statement of faith that runs to a full 19 points, including such choice gems as: "That Christ is the vine and Israel is the true branch(es). The church is the wild branch that is grafted into the true vine.", and that God "has foreordained everything that happens" (so much for free will!).  The original forum failed to attract any postings other than the Statement of Faith itself.  It has since been re-launched in a new format and has rocketed to three posts at the time of writing.  All three are tests from Taylor.

The blog also includes a link to a 'J6Dpedia'.   The link is now broken, but according to WikiChristian this was "an online Bible commentary with a 6-day-creation viewpoint."

The blog itself is primarily concerned with invective against Christians who disagree with Taylor's opinions, atheists, the European Union, secular schoolteachers and anyone else who Taylor dislikes, in roughly that order of frequency.  Taylor has also used it to express his disaproval of religious tolerance.

The Science


In his public speeches, as in his blog, Taylor devotes much of his energies to attacking perceived heresies.  He argues against the day/age theory on scriptural grounds, pointing out that no-one takes other Biblical phrases (such as Josua's attack on Jericho) as having taken thousands of years (though he neglects to mention that Adam is condemned to die "the same day" as eating the fruit from the Tree).

When it comes to science, Taylor is on shakier ground.  He has several set-piece talks, and what follows is not an exhaustive listing of all his claims.  Some of his more unusual claims are that:
  • All creatures were created by God as vegetarians and T Rex teeth were designed for eating mangoes (he doesn't mention the other predatory features such as forward-facing eyes and a small digestive system, not does he seem aware of evidence of bite-marks on some fossil dinosaurs).  He further backs this up by pointing out that modern carnivores are able to survive on a vegetarian diet, using the example of the lions in London Zoo which survived on a diet of cabbages during the Second World War.  The Zoological Society of London has responded to this claim in an email from their press office:

    "In fact, the lions and other carnivores were not put on a vegetarian diet.  In his article 'The History of London Zoo' (The World of London Zoo, p.74), John Edwards writes: '...the carnivores were kept alive with comparative ease, because the Zoo was sent a lot of condemned meat from bomb-damaged buildings, as well as the corpses of dogs from Battersea Dogs' Home.'  Lions cannot live on grass. Like domestic cats, they would only eat grass as an emetic."
     
  • The Australopithecine fossil 'Lucy' was fully ape-like, with no human characteristics.  As part of this, he claims that Lucy did not walk upright, and devotes much time to attacking the Natural History Museum's reconstruction of Lucy, which shows her with human-like feet, despite the Lucy remains not having any feet.  In conversation, Taylor has admitted that he is aware of other Australopithecine remains that do have the feet preserved.  These feet are intermediate, with a grasping toe but a human-like heel, and would have been suited to an upright gait.  Taylor shows no recognition of the fact that the pelvis and spine of Autralopithecenes are also distinctly bipedal.

    Taylor's criticism of the Natural History Museum for using a reconstruction alongside replicas of the Lucy fossils stands in sharp contrast to his enthusiastic endorsement of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, with its displays of humans playing with and riding dinosaurs, something flatly contradicted by all the available fossil evidence.  
  • Traditional Creationist solutions to the 'starlight problem' (how light from stars millions of light-years away can reach the Earth in just 6000 years) fail - a changing speed of light would have many consequences we do not observe, and starlight created already en route to Earth would imply a deceptive creator (something that Taylor cannot countenance).  Instead, he subscribes to the 'White Hole Cosmology' - the idea that the entire universe is inside the event horizon of a massive white hole, with the Earth at its centre.  Aside from a few obvious problems (why can we not see this nearby 2 light year-wide radiation source from Earth?  Why doesn't the relativistic compression of 14 billion years worth of starlight into 6000 years fry the Earth?), this is considered pseudo-science by every qualified astrophysicist in the world, not leastly as is requires us to assume that the Earth is in a uniquely priveledged position in the Universe, an assumption that has been unpopular since Copernicus' day.  It also contradicts measurements of the cosmological constant.  In his talks, Taylor breezes over these points by simply saying they are 'technical'.
  • Taylor, like many Creationists, actually accepts most of what Darwin said.  However, he seeks to distinguish between 'microevolution' - apparently defined as 'evolution on a scale that Paul Taylor can reconcile with his interpretation of the Bible' - and 'macroevolution', which is everything else.  As an example of 'microevolution', Taylor uses the Brassicas - the Family of plants that includes the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, rapeseed, mustard, radish, horseradish, cress and watercress, as well as Taylor's personal bugbear the Brussels sprout.  Taylor is happy to accept that all these plants evolved from a single common ancestor.  However, he offers no explanation for how we can tell that these specific plants evolved from each-other, but that other plants such as peas did not.  Could this be because if he did explain his reasoning, it would also support evolution at much greater levels than he can accept?  It is also strange that Taylor is able to accept evolution at the Family level among plants, but rejects the idea that humans, chimps, gorillas and orang-utans constitute a similar Family.  His only justification for this is the concept of 'information', though he does not explain how we can tell whether a pea contains more information than a cauliflower.  
  • Taylor says that we should take the Bible literally.  However, his interpretation of what constitutes a 'literal' reading of the Bible can be quite unusual, and often seems to owe more to his personal opinions than the text.  He claims that the Bible predicted relativity on the basis of verses such as Psalm 90: "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night".  He also gives this strange non-sequitur on his blog:

    "I believe that education is part of the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28:'And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.'"


  • He has also claimed in public that Gregor Mendel discovered natural selection prior to Darwin.  




  • Our full wiki entry on Paul Taylor can be seen here.

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