Bronze-level articleJonathan Sarfati

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Sarfati (right) playing chess against multiple players. This chess match has been going on for 13.5 days, but he insists it was really just 6.000 minutes and holds up a broken sundial as evidence, in spite of several large working clocks in the room.
The divine comedy

Creationism

Icon creationism.svg
Running gags
Jokes aside
Blooper reel

Jonathan Sarfati is an angry man who is a vocal proponent of Young Earth Creationism. Despite his own insistence on using logic he often resorts to emotional appeals and name calling.

He is also startlingly ignorant of what the Theory of Evolution is. In Refuting Evolution he describes the theory as being "not just about ape-like creatures turning into humans [...] [but] a philosophy trying to explain everything without God."[1]

Contents

[edit] Association with Creation Ministries International

See the main article on this topic: Creation Ministries International

Sarfati is employed by Creation Ministries International (CMI), the Australian Creationist organisation.

He supported CMI in its internecine schism with Ken Ham's US-based Answers in Genesis. CMI and Sarfati suffered in this conflict, as Ham stole CMI's magazine subscriber list and substituted his own publication, denying CMI of much of its income. Sarfati showed poor judgement in supporting CMI's CEO, Carl Wieland, as the vendetta was largely between Ham and Wieland and if Sarfati, as a CMI "luminary", had shown Wieland the door early in the multi-year dispute, CMI's position could have been salvaged. As it is, CMI was dealt a mortal blow.

Finding an insufficient market in Australian churches, Sarfati has been forced to try and crack the U.S market with a speaking tour. CMI's website no longer lists him as a member of its Australian staff but instead as with its "U.S. Office". There is some evidence that lingering animosity from Ham's AiG has AiG sabotaging Sarfati's efforts in the U.S.[2][3]

[edit] Scientific qualifications

Sarfati has done proper science (i.e. not creation science) in his career. He is a physical chemist with a B.Sc with third class honours, and a Ph.D.[4] He has published several papers in secular scientific journals, including in Nature, the most cited scientific journal in the world.

He is also a chess master, was New Zealand's national chess champion in 1987–88, and managed to play a draw against Boris Spassky.

[edit] Self-promotion

Sarfati's ability to sell books or gain speaking engagements is based on his perceived authority within creationist circles, and his status as a "towering intellect". Thus, much material on CMI's website and in their printed matter is cringe-inducingly laudatory.

One article, An Awesome Mind,[5] incorporates hyperbole such as:

  • "Very few people interested in creation/evolution issues would not have heard of Jonathan Sarfati. His books have become best-sellers — standard fare for Christians wishing to engage those who hold to evolutionary/long-age ideas. One of the reasons they have become such a powerful tool for Christianity is the amazing flow of his clear, crisp trademark logic, which has ‘skewered’ and silenced many an evolutionary detractor."
  • "Here was someone the Lord had blessed with a brilliant mind like a steel trap"
  • "Jonathan’s response systematically demolished their arguments."
  • "The value of having a formidable talent who can quickly provide such solid answers — especially to Christians who feel intimidated by a barrage of the so-called ‘facts’ of evolution — cannot be overestimated."

If such fanfare fails to drive home the point, the article goes on with a section titled Audiences in awe, describing Sarfati's unsurpassed abilities. In relation to an exhibition of his chess skills,

  • an observer conveniently stated "This is astounding. World-class. The world’s media should be here."
  • "It is truly astonishing to watch. [...] For most ‘mere mortals’ like me, this kind of ‘brain power’ is an almost unimaginable gift."

The article concludes that Sarfati is a "privilege to know".

Interestingly, Sarfati is himself the chief editor of the Ex Nihilo magazine in which this piece appeared. This piece (one example of many) carries the byline of Gary Bates, Sarfati's colleague, and who works "one desk over" from Sarfati. Sarfati's self promotion has reached such giddy heights it would make a North Korean dictator blush.

[edit] Partner in crime

One of Sarfati's staunchest allies is Gary Bates, author of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection.[6] Bates is a fervent supporter of the Christian UFO movement[7] along with Hugh Ross. As with all things creationist, the true account of UFO-related phenomena is found in the Bible (demons and angels), but this true account is covered up by the liberal, atheistic government conspiracy.[8]

[edit] Personal abuse in arguments

Sarfati's debating technique is infamous for a "take no prisoners" approach that is so offensive, it regularly brings the reproach of other, more irenically-minded Christians. A Christian review of Sarfati's Refuting Evolution[9] says Sarfati is "blinded by his own ideology and has probably never honestly and open-mindedly faced the main issue about which he writes", noting that Sarfati attacks Old-earth creationist Hugh Ross as a false teacher in need of Biblical rebuke. This is typical. Sarfati frequently retreats to "X calls himself a Christian, but..." succumbing to the classic "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy. Sarfati repeatedly and clearly implies non-Young Earth Creationists are barely saved, and are otherwise misguided, apostate, ineffective or tools of Satan for failing to take a literalist, presuppositionalist approach to scripture. This approach is typical of the more histrionic Creationist organisations, but Sarfati is its exemplar: Giving lip service to the idea that other Christians can sincerely disagree about doctrine without heresy, but taking the gloves off in personal argument, conducting desperate ad hominem rejoinders, and casting aspersion on any adversary's salvation or motivations.

Comments on fora where Sarfati has editorial control reveal repeated instances of Sarfati removing comments from those who rebut him and him then crowing over his "speechless" opponents. Sarfati also regularly retreats to name calling, referring to "celebutards" or "Commissar Obamov".

[edit] Socrates

Sarfati has been known to employ the nom-de-guerre "Socrates" in online forums[10][11], even when commenting on himself. This is sufficiently well known that it is unlikely he still uses it when aiming for anonymity.

[edit] Publications

  • The Answers Book: The 20 Most-Asked Questions About Creation, Evolution & the Book of Genesis Answered! (with Don Batten, Ken Ham, and Carl Wieland) (1990)
  • Refuting Evolution (1999)
  • Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of "Progressive Creationism" (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (2004)
  • 15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History (with Don Batten) (2006)
  • By Design: Evidence for nature’s Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible (2008)
  • The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution (2010)
  • Refuting Evolution 2 (2011)

[edit] Seminars

Sarfati gave two at the 2007 Seattle Creation Conference:

[edit] See also

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[edit] References


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