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The Revised Quote Book (Talk.Origins)

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The Revised Quote Book: Looking at how Creationists Quote Evolutionists is the title of a series of articles in the on-line magazine Cretinism or Evilution on the Talk.Origins Archive website.


The magazine with the abusive ad hominem title itself lasted for all of five issues (with Nos. 4 and 5 combined) from 1995 to 1997. Issue 3 started a series on looking at the quotes contained in The Revised Quote Book, published by the then Creation Science Foundation (now Creation Ministries International) and edited by Dr. Andrew Snelling. The Revised Quote Book is a list of quotes, primarily from evolutionists, arranged in order to build a case, but with extremely little commentary.

Despite intentions to continue to examine the quotes in this book, no such further examinations were published in the remaining issues of Cretinism or Evilution. The contents of issue 3 appears at first glance to list eight or nine quotes being examined (one is in two parts), but in fact only three quotes are examined!

Furthermore, despite the introduction saying "In each issue, we will examine one or more quotations that appear in The Revised Quote Book, not merely for accuracy of reproduction..." the fact is no attempt is made to dispute the accuracy of them. In the case of the remaining quote the author attempts to show how it is misquoted by ignoring the book's stated reference and looking for another source!

The author quotes Andrew Snelling saying, "Efforts have been made to replace quotes from older publications with near-identical ones from modern sources ..." Clearly this is not saying that every quote has been replaced with a modern one, nor even that they tried to replace every such quote, yet the author feels compelled to point out that a quote from Darwin is not "modern"! [1]

Quotation Context

Out of context quotation

The first quote tackled by the author is from Dr. Richard Dawkins, in which it states,

The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less can we believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer.

Talk.Origins has this to say regarding the quote:

By lifting this brief sentence out of its original context the editors of The Revised Quote Book make it sound like Dawkins is in favor of teaching the instantaneous creation of animals and plants as part of a "two model" approach to "origins."

This is a complete fabrication. Nothing in that quote or within the immediate context of, The Revised Quote Book is said in relation to any such thing.

Old out of context quotations

The Revised Quote Book quotes Charles Darwin who is considered the founder of the modern evolutionary theory by many evolutionists. Darwin was quoted as saying:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

After explaining the context in which Darwin wrote the quote, the Talk.Origins author comments:

Obviously, he was not admitting that the origin of the eye was an insuperable difficulty, as the editors of The Revised Quote Book wish to deceive their readers into thinking.

But the editors of The Revised Quote Book do not indicate that Darwin thought that it was "an insuperable difficulty"! The Talk.Origins author has himself taken this quote out of its context and made it seem as if the editors are saying something that they are not. In The Revised Quote Book, the quote is introduced under the heading And Natural Selection ('Survival of the fittest'), preceded by a quote from Dr. Colin Patterson in which he comments that natural selection is not enough and another—chance—mechanism is being invoked. It was introduced with the comment, "Darwin suspected it". There is no attempt to show that Darwin thought that the origin of the eye "was an insuperable difficulty".

Old, Out of Context Quotations from French Scientists Parts 1 & 2

The remaining quote examined by Talk.Origins is attributed to Prof. Louis Bounoure. He was former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research;

Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless. (Prof. Louis Bounoure as quoted in The Advocate, Thursday 8 March 1984, p. 17)
So far as the research below demonstrates, this quotation appears to be a mistakenly jumbled combination of statements made by two different people at least 36 years ago!

Apart from some background information on what French scientists thought of Darwin's ideas, the remainder of part 1 of the article ignores this quote in favour of discussing other, incompletely-specified, quotes from a different author. Only in part 2 does it return to discussing this quote.

Since the Revised Quote Book stated that "Prof. Bounoure" had served as the "Director of Research" at the "French National Centre of Scientific Research" I wrote the Center [The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique = The National Center for Scientific Research]. I asked them about the exact origin of the quotation and received the following reply, dated March 3, 1995 ... Here is the information I was able to gather:

So instead of checking the source provided by The Revised Quote Book, the Talk.Origins author asks someone else where they think the quote may have originated! Their detective work may in fact be correct, but if so, it reflects on someone other than the compilers of The Revised Quote Book who, as far as we know, accurately quoted the source they cited. To emphasise that point even further, Andrew Snelling points out that he (with the help of others) spent time "painstakingly checking each reference, insisting on the source in full being held on file before any quote had a chance of passing".

Creation education in Italy and South Africa

Although going off topic, the Talk.Origins article discusses science education in Italy and South Africa (parentheses are by the Talk.Origins author).

Speaking of science education in European countries, Omni (Sept. 1987) published a letter by a Mr. Fabio Femino of Messina, Italy, who said that "The doctrine of creation has been taught in Italy's public schools -- by law -- since 1929, displacing the theory of evolution." [Note: Italy remains one third Catholic, one third communist, and one third apathetic toward Catholicism and communism. -- ED.] Mr. Femino continued, "There are no Italian popular science books in bookshops. Popular science magazines are almost unknown. Astrology and witchcraft, however, are spreading fast." [So, teaching creationism to the youth is no cure for either communism or the occult! -- ED.] And, as apartheid South Africa has taught us, teaching creationism in public schools and churches for a hundred years can also go hand in hand with racism. In fact, some of Carl Sagan's episodes of his popular science program, COSMOS, were banned from being shown on public television in South Africa strictly because they dealt with evolution.

However, one thing the author doesn't tell us is whether the law in Italy is actually enforced and what the students are actually taught. He says that "one third of the population is Catholic, one third communist, and one third apathetic toward Catholicism and communism", but most Catholics are evolutionists, all communists are evolutionists, and most creationists are not apathetic toward either group. Thus it seems unlikely that creation is taught in Italian schools in any more than a nominal way at best, leaving the authors second parenthetical comment floundering for credibility.

Similarly, although the previous government of South Africa was nominally Christian, creation science was generally not taught in schools, and evolution was in the official textbooks. The author of apartheid in South Africa based his ideas on those of Nazi Germany.