Notes on Francis Hitching and the Watchtower Society
The rest of the Creation book does no better. In paragraph 5 on page 143 it cites an article in Scientific American ("Adaptation," p. 213, New York, September, 1978) by zoologist Richard Lewontin, a noted evolutionary theorist. He is supposed to have "said that organisms 'appear to have been carefully and artfully designed.' He views them as 'the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer.'"
The question at the bottom of the page further emphasized Lewontin's purported view: "What recognition does a zoologist give to design and to its originator?" Now, picture the answer a typical reader at a bookstudy would give to the question: "Well, as the paragraph shows, Richard Lewontin views the design of organisms as evidence for their being created."
A check of the Scientific American article shows that Lewontin said something very different from what Creation claims. In saying the above things he is alluding, not to his own viewpoint, but to the general viewpoint scientists in the 19th century had about nature. After describing what had been the general view of how the great variety of life forms came about, and stating that Darwin had tried to account for both its "diversity and fitness," Lewontin said:
Lewontin's point was that organisms only appear or seem to have been carefully designed. Clearly referring to the 19th century view, he said:
The rest of the article shows that Lewontin considers the viewpoint highlighted in the above quotation as erroneous, and that it has been corrected by the work of Darwin and his successors in the 20th century. In fact, the article is devoted entirely to demonstrating how the adaptation of an organism to its environment can be explained by natural, not supernatural, mechanisms. The abstract for the article is quite clear: "The manifest fit between organisms and their environment is a major outcome of evolution."
This complete misrepresentation is similar to what Creation did with a quotation from Popular Science magazine on page 96. Lewontin specifically complained about this practice:
Lewontin also complained about the practice of misquoting scientists, in the magazine Creation/Evolution, Fall 1981, on page 35:
It is one thing to cite and describe opposing viewpoints. It is something else again to repeatedly attribute those opposing views to an author or to a publication that merely describes them, especially when it is evident that the description is for the purpose of dismissing it.
On a final note, it is likely that Creation got Lewontin's statement wrong via poor scholarship rather than dishonesty. Apparently the author was too lazy to do his own research, or he might not have mangled the quotation so badly. Lewontin's statement was apparently lifted from paranormalist Francis Hitching's book The Neck of the Giraffe, page 84 (page 65 paperback). Hitching's quotation of Lewontin is identical to Creation's, but his book was published in 1982, whereas Creation was published in 1985. Hitching apparently in turn lifted this from the creationist publication Impact, No. 88, October, 1980, from the article "Creation, Selection, and Variation" by Gary E. Parker, a well-known creationist. On page 2 Parker wrote:
See the magazine Creation/Evolution, Fall 1981, pages 35-44 for more details.
As has been stated, Francis Hitching has lifted arguments from creationists without attribution. The Watchtower Society has done the same, as will be shown here. We will examine several examples.
Impact is a monthly publication of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in El Cajon, California. The institute is a six-literal-day creationist, trinitarian organization, which would ordinarily be condemned in Watchtower publications. In one instance, on page 180, footnote 3, Creation took its information directly from Impact. Arguing that many evolutionists use "the weight of authority" of scientists to get people to believe evolution, Creation said:
Checking footnote 3 we find that it refers to Impact, September 1981, p. ii., which contained an article by Henry M. Morris complaining about Isaac Asimov's treatment of six-literal-day creationism. It said:
So Creation uses what is essentially a trinitarian religious magazine to make its point. It should be noted that Impact did not mention any specific evidence for its claim in the material Creation referred to. On page iv, however, it said:
This statement is misleading at best. Many investigators have found that few creation scientists have done any serious scientific work after becoming associated with the "scientific creationists." A background check of so-called "creation scientists" shows that many of them have degrees from 'diploma mills' or from organizations like the ICR. They often become engrossed, like physicist Robert Gentry, in trying to prove the earth is only six thousand years old. Outfits like the Institute for Creation Research have often misrepresented the credentials of "scientists" on its staff in order to make them look more authoritative than they really are. In actual fact, there are extremely few scientists or serious biologists who do not "believe in evolution." So Creation's last statement is not true and is based on a statement by prominent member of "Christendom," which has been demonstrated to misrepresent the credentials of its staff.
There is far too much information on these so-called creationist's scientific credentials to present here, but it is clear that the Creation book's reference is itself merely an appeal to authority rather than evidence -- an authority the Watchtower Society normally rejects, at that.
The above material shows that many of Creation's arguments came from Francis Hitching or six-literal-day creationists without attribution. Many of Hitching's arguments certainly came directly from six-literal-day creationists, which Creation has borrowed in turn. How many Jehovah's Witnesses are aware of this connection?
Chapter 4 of the Creation book relies heavily on the writings of paranormalist Francis Hitching, who has already been shown to have borrowed heavily from six-literal-day creationists. Here is another case in point. On page 44, paragraph 18 states:
This is misleading for several reasons. For one thing, no direct reference is given showing how this number was obtained, who derived it, what the conditions were, how long the time period was, etc. It turns out that it was taken from pages 67, 70-71 (pp. 50, 52-53 paperback) of Francis Hitching's book The Neck of the Giraffe, in a panel entitled "Can Life Form by Chance?" That is why Creation says that "evolutionists acknowledge" the probability to be only one in 10113 -- Creation calls Hitching an evolutionist because the author didn't bother to find his credentials. The argument, of course, is not attributed to anyone in particular, even though it is lifted from Hitching.
It gets worse. Hitching was merely quoting someone else's argument, which he reproduced in some detail with full attribution. The panel quotes Dr. Jean Sloat Morton, apparently a six-literal-day creationist, writing in Impact, December 1980, number 90. Impact is a publication of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, and is quoted elsewhere in Creation. Hitching's quotation said:
Creation is really plagiarizing the work of a young-earth creationist in the ICR pamphlet Impact, via Hitching. Note also that in the aforementioned paragraph, Creation claims that "Evolutionists acknowledge the chances to be 1 in 10113." That is an outright lie. It is not an evolutionist who is making the claim, it is a creationist.
In any case, this is a commonly used creationist argument, and is based on incorrect assumptions such as life must have originated completely in a form that we recognize today with DNA, RNA, enzymes, etc. No one today knows enough about biology to make even an estimate of the probability of proteins arising by chance, much less that for life itself.
Even in minor ways, Creation manages to distort what the original author of the Impact article said. The statement that "mathematicians usually consider 1 chance in 1050 as negligible" is turned into "any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening." The statement that "Sir Arthur Eddington has estimated there are no more than 1080 (or 3,145 x 1079) particles in the universe" is turned into "an idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe." There is an obvious migration from tentative statements to authoritative, and a "dumbing down." The author of Creation has no idea what he is talking about and is clearly dishonest.
The above material clearly shows the "Keystone Kops" nature of Watchtower science writings. This was noted in a somewhat more scholarly manner in the following opinion by author Alan Rogerson (Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 116, Constable, London, 1969):
The Bible says that its author is a God of truth, and so it would seem that a passage from James Moffatt's translation of Job 13:7-12 is applicable to the Watchtower Society's method of dealing with science:
A Bit of Creationist Humor
From Science and Creationism, Ashley Montagu, ed.; Oxford University Press; 1984; p. 359; article "Repealing the Enlightenment" by Gene Lyons which originally appeared in Harper's Magazine, April 1982. At the 1981 "monkey trial" in Little Rock Arkansas, Dr. Norman Geisler of the Dallas Theological Seminary was called as a defense witness. Lyons wrote: