Is Answers in Genesis, probably the site most highly-regarded by young-earth creationists and much used as a source by Marcsana, a reliable and reputable source that is above quote mining?
To start with, AiG touts the book That Their Words May Be Used Against Them – Quotes from Evolutionists Useful for Creationists, a 500-page book of nothing but hundreds of quotes, without context or information. It’s clear from the title of the book what its purpose is- and that purpose is most definitely not careful, thoughtful scholarship. Indeed, of the four quotes from scientists that I discussed in my first installment on quote mining, all four appear in this book! Undoubtedly, many of the creationist quote mines in existence are drawn totally from this compendium. No scholastically-responsible organization would promote such a book; this is even lower than a Cliffs Notes of creationism in scholarship.
This book-shilling takes place on AiG's own quote mine page. To explore all of the problems here would take a book- not only are the usual out-of context quotes offered here, there are quotes over a century old, quotes from sources that have nothing to do with evolution at all,
vicious personal attacks
Both of these statements [on atheism]1,2 were made by an arch-enemy of creationists, scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. His irrational atheism, the reason for his opposition to creationism, showed quite plainly in these two statements that the argument over creation/evolution is not about facts. When it comes to science, Asimov claimed to be interested in reducing the lack of knowledge, but when it comes to God, Asimov preferred to remain ignorant. And let’s not forget that this is exactly what Asimov was—deliberately ignorant. He was always interested only in the facts which suit him, not in all the facts, as is plainly shown in these two quotes.
and even quotes from mass murderers .
The first link on this page, after the book sale, is “99 Quotable Quotes.” A quote mine within a quote mine! The vast majority of these quotes have absolutely nothing to do with science and are not from scientific sources, unless one considers the Satanic Bible or News of the Weird works of science. I will take a look in my next posting at some of the ones that sound even marginally scientific.
In addition. AiG also has a series of webpages, variously called “Quotable Quotes” and “Quotes to Note,” featuring the latest quotes they have mined, again, with no context or explanations. In many cases, the true origin of these quotes is impossible to track down- many are said to be from lectures, often given in another language.
Many of the quotes that AiG cites are remarkable in their lack of context. Without any explanation or background, these quotes are so innocuous- or so true- as to puzzle non-creationists as to their reasons for inclusion- are they objectionable simply because they mention evolution or the political machinations of creationists? These are a few such quotes, presented in their entirety as they are on AiG's webpages.:
From “99 Quotable Quotes.”
43 “Human beings are made up mostly of water, in roughly the same percentage as water is to the surface of the earth. Our tissues and membranes, our brains and hearts, our sweat and tears—all reflect the same recipe for life, in which efficient use is made of those ingredients available on the surface of the earth…”
“But above all we are oxygen (61 percent) and hydrogen (10 percent), fused together in the unique molecular combination known as water, which makes up 71 percent of the human body.
So when environmentalists assert that we are, after all, part of the earth, it is no mere rhetorical flourish. Our blood even contains roughly the same percentage of salt as the ocean, where the first life forms evolved. They eventually brought onto the land a self-contained store of the sea water to which we are still connected chemically and biologically. Little wonder, then, that water carries such great spiritual significance in most religions, from the water of Christian baptism to Hinduism’s sacred water of life.”
Al Gore, “Earth in the Balance”, pp. 99-100
45 “Human evolution, of course, is responsible for our very long period of childhood, during much of which we are almost completely dependent on our parents. As Ashley Montagu first pointed out decades ago, evolution encouraged the development of larger and larger human brains, but our origins in the primate family placed a limit on the ability of the birth canal to accommodate babies with ever-larger heads. Nature’s solution was to encourage an extremely long period of dependence on the nurturing parent during infancy and childhood, allowing both mind and body to continue developing in an almost gestational way long after birth.”
Al Gore, “Earth in the Balance”, p. 229
59 “As for the claim that evolution is an unproved theory, that’s nonsense, Evolution is a fact, established with the same degree of confidence as our ‘theory’ of disease, and the atomic ‘theory’ of matter. Yes, there is lively debate about the particular evolutionary mechanisms that caused particular changes, but the existence of evolutionary change is not in doubt. Our own bodies provide walking evidence.”
Jared Diamond, “Who Are the Jews?”, Natural History Vol. 102, No. 11, November 1993, p. 19
60“Actually, there is superabundant evidence for animals evolving under our eyes: British moths becoming darker since the Industrial Revolution (industrial melanization), insects evolving DDT resistance since World War II, malaria parasites evolving chloroquine resistance in the last two decades, and new strains of flu virus evolving every few years to infect us.”
Jared Diamond, “Who Are the Jews?”, Natural History Vol. 102, No. 11, November 1993. p. 19,
From Quotable Quotes:
The problem won’t go away—we face a highly organized, well financed effort to legislate creationism—religious doctrine—into public education. … individuals opposing this effort to introduce theology masquerading as science into biology classrooms desperately need the help and support of professional biologistsTaken completely out of context, as AiG did, these quotes, if anything, support the theory of evolution. Of course, in many cases, AiG has convoluted arguments elsewhere on their site that attempt to refute the premises behind some of these quotes. But, standing alone without background, explanation, or reason, these quotes in and of themselves seem like statements of reason, not the ranting of the disillusioned.
Wayne A. Moyer
National Association of Biology Teachers (U.S.A.)
in Bio Science March 1980