Review: Telling Lies for God: Reason vs Creationism By Ian Plimer

Dr. J. Sarfati

Shrill and unscholarly, even by anti-creationist standards

May 28, 2001


Readers should be aware that Plimer is a member of the Humanist Society of Victoria. Its membership application (1994) says 'I subscribe to the objects and rules of the Humanist Society of Victoria in order to create a society in which a person may reach their full potential free from supernatural beliefs'.


It's difficult to believe that anyone could honestly claim that his book was respectful to religion and not anti-Christian when it's full of puerile mocking of the Scripture, which Jesus said "cannot be broken" (John 10:35). He also claims on p. 278 that belief in life after death is evidence that one has not been 'taught how to think'. It seems the main reason for this tirade against creationism is that it challenges his religious faith.


He uses about every unfair rhetorical trick in the book, including leading questions and guilt by association. Despite being subtitled 'reason vs. creationism', Plimer seems incapable of stringing two logical thoughts together. Plimer even brags about deceiving creationists in several places. So if he thinks that dishonesty is justified when attacking creationism, then how can a reader be sure that he's not deceiving them elsewhere for the good of the 'cause'?


In fact, Plimer's book has the dubious distinction of being the most embarrassing anti-creationist book for many anti-creationists. His fellow anti-creationist Jeffrey Shallit described this as 'a shoddily-written polemic that, in places, verges on the hysterical' and documents examples of poor grammar, straw-man arguments, and the worst academic sin, plagiarism. Another sceptic, Jim Lippard, has described some passages in the book as being 'nothing less than a dishonest hatchet job', and uses Plimer as an example of 'How not to argue with creationists'. An anti-creationist scientist, Ian Hore-Lacy, says that Plimer 'displays a surprising ignorance of nuclear physics'.


Plimer made many serious allegations against the Creation Science Foundation, now Answers in Genesis. Note that the charges were investigated by a committee chaired by well-known anti-corruption campaigner and former Chief Magistrate of New South Wales, Clarrie Briese, who was then a part-time commissioner with the NSW Crime Commission. And the rest of the committee all had impeccable public reputations, independent of CSF/AiG. The investigation concluded: "The grave allegations and/or innuendo against the ethics of CSF and its directors are not supported by the evidence.... CSF and its directors have been often and seriously misrepresented [in Telling Lies ...]."


Finally, “every single allegation” has been answered point-by-point by Answers in Genesis on its web site. Because of all this, it's just a shame that 'anti-stars' (negative numbers) aren't available for reviewer rankings.


Plimmer Disgusts Even The Militant Evolutionists


 James J. Lippard adds these comments to Sarfati’s review:


“Sarfati definitely has his biases (as do I), but his criticisms are pretty much on target here. I recommend reading the reviews of Plimer's book by Jeffrey Shallit, William Grey, and myself which can be found on the web--all of us are critics of creationism who found significant fault with Plimer's book.


“One of the best parts of Plimer's book is the critique of the Noah's Ark story, but that was not original to Plimer. It was derived from Robert A. Moore's article, "The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark," published in the Creation/Evolution journal and which you can also find online on the National Center for Science Education's website. Unfortunately, Plimer neglected to cite Moore's article in his book.”


Lippard also wrote an article in the journal Creation/Evolution entitled, “How Not To Argue With Creationists.” Under the heading, “A Smear Letter” Lippard quotes from a form letter from Plimer which says,


“Furthermore, if you were at the debates in Sydney (18.3.88) or Brisbane (30.3.88), you would surely have noticed an entourage of young people (principally boys) accompanying Gish and who continually touched him. This is commensurate with testimony from elsewhere which throws enlightenment on Gish's personal life and which makes Jimmy Swaggart look like a moral guardian of the faith.”


…. Lippard acknowledges that “he was accompanied to the Australian debate only by his wife, his host, and his host's wife.” Lippard then gives his “Analysis: Plimer's letter, on university letterhead, is a serious ethical lapse. The statements are unsupported ad hominem innuendo…”



Book Review of Ian Plimer

Telling Lies for God: Reason vs. Creationism

By Jeffrey Shallit


“Creation "science" is bunk.

My personal library contains about a dozen volumes exposing the fallacies behind creation "science", many of them excellent. ….Plimer's new book is a shoddily-written polemic that, in places, verges on the hysterical.


Creationist arguments are nearly always completely bogus (sometimes they are only partially bogus). But rather than address the arguments scientifically, Plimer often chooses to attack straw men of his own devising. …Even more serious is the lack of attribution for large sections of the book. ….Much of the material on pages 53-72 of Telling Lies for God is apparently lifted from Joyce Arthur's article [4]. (Joyce Arthur kindly brought this to my attention.) ….Plimer seems to believe that the battle against creationism is a gutter fight. …. 

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