Peer-Reviewing the Bible

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Feb. 13 2008 2:09 PM

Peer-Reviewing the Bible

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Normally, peer review is a valuable step in the publication of scientific research. Scholars submit new discoveries to academic journals, which, in turn, solicit independent experts to assess the reliability of the work.  Answers Research Journal, a new "professional, peer-reviewed technical" publication of "interdisciplinary scientific … research," has streamlined this process by inviting the submitting scholars to suggest who should review their work (Page 5). Here the goal is not to ensure that research meets academic standards of scientific inquiry, but rather to ensure that the scholar's conclusions conform to a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The journal is published by Answers in Genesis, "an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry" that also runs the Creation Museum. The editor-in-chief of Answers Research Journal, geologist and creationist Andrew Snelling, wants "to ensure that the Creation and Flood model is given the best possible development." To that end, he urges potential contributors to ask themselves whether their research "is formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework," and to provide "evidence of faithfulness to the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of Scripture." (See excerpts from the ARJ  Instructions to Authors  below and on Pages 2-5.)  Snelling also demands rigorous adherence to style principles. (Page 4: "Use lowercase creation in most cases, except in a list of biblical events, especially 'Creation and Flood,' 'the Creation Week,' and 'Day One.' ")

As an extra incentive to participate, those with "a reason for not wanting their biographical details publicized on the AiG website" (such as seeking tenure at an institution with more rigorous notions about scholarship) may use a "pen name" (Page 2). In a recent ARJ microbe forum, two "independent scholars" (purportedly, Ph.D.s at "prominent research facilities in the eastern part of North America") submitted abstracts under the pseudonyms "Luke Kim" and "Ira Loucks" because they "prefer to keep their creationist credentials hidden for the moment until they achieve more seniority."

Thanks to Hot Document reader Jeremy Yoder for the tip. 

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